Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Go Garten Or Go Home

The Tarts bond over many things, like food and....uhhh, food...and...wait, we know, there's something else...oh yeah, it's food. And although we aim to keep it healthy when we can, periodically we choose to Go Garten or Go Home. As in Ina Gartin, aka The Barefoot Contessa, aka The Goddess of All-Things-Crispy-And-Tart. We will never forget when Danielle busted out these cookies at a dinner party and we both nearly fell off our chairs. Hands down, there ain't a cookie out there that can one-up an Ina. Is she heavy-handed with butter, sugar and all-things-bad-for-you?

Absolutely. Does that scare us? Hell no. And her recipes are incredibly friendly if we choose to go healthy. We can substitute rice milk for heavy cream, agave for refined sugar and...wait, how often do we really do that? Almost never.

Here's the reaction of Erin's gluten-free, sugar-free Hotcake when he found out we weren't going 'healthy' with Ina's Apple Crostada...(Click on link for recipe)...

Sorry Hon! 'Go Garten or go home!' Oh, wait. You are home. Sorry Hon!

"Hey Erin! A little help over here!"

Oops. No food processor, so Danielle is improvising with a mixer and a towel. Oh well, as long as it goes in the oven like this...

"Think it's done, Danielle?"

"Who cares, Erin? Let's slap some whipped cream on that sucker and slam it!"

Dude! Look at that! Unbiculously yummy! It really pays to 'go Garten.' Now if we could just go home with Garten...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Scarfing Seattle

My (Erin's) hotcake surprised me with a trip to celebrate the anniversary of the day we met. Awwww! His plan was to explore a new city on foot, check out some museums and chill. He chose a city new to the both of us. "Seattle! I've always wanted to go to Seattle!" I quickly hugged him, then hit my MacBook, planning my attack on all the eateries this glorious city has to offer. Ham did his best to add some destinations to the itinerary, "How about the Space Needle, Hon? Or the Aquarium?" But I was already gone. He'd lost me, and therefore himself, to three days of coffee houses, green chai tea shops and pizza joints. Oh, oh, oh, and the donut shop down near Pike Place. "We have to go there Ham! I MUST TRY THOSE DONUTS!!!

Now, I've lived in Los Angeles for years and have yet to discover all of its treasures. So, seizing Seattle in 3 days? Sure. I'm a Tart and I live in a parallel Universe where I can bend time. Oh wait, this is supposed to be a romantic, relaxing getaway with my husband, isn't it? Well, sorry Hon. I'm a Tart and I was completely upfront about that. Let's swallow Seattle!

First stop...donuts!

Donut shop at the end of Pike Place Market. I'm not even looking at Ham. I'm lost to the sugar.

Stunning flowers at Pike Place. I wanted to bring some home for my fellow Tart, but we can't eat them, so what's the point?

Serious Pie
We ate here.
A lot.
We ate a lot here.

The name fits. Seriously.
We seriously ate a lot here.

Frans Chocolates...What???!!! I don't know how I got them home without eating them myself, but Danielle managed to scarf down her souvenir within ten minutes.
("Five minutes, Erin. Five.")

Other places we did manage to make it to, thanks to a sincere talent for bending time...Delancy (delish!), Pink Door and Six Seven.

And by the way, I did end up relaxing. I kind of had to; the sugar crash was a killer! And this view from our room at the Edgewater did NOT suck.

All in all, it was a great trip. And the sweetest thing about Hotcake at my side! Thanks Hon! And thanks Seattle! We love you!

Will definitely bring my Tart the next go-around. So, Herb Farm, watch out. The CrispyTarts are comin' for ya!

Monday, October 12, 2009

What'choo talkin bout Mr. P?

We know it's the end of tomato season, but since Tarts aren't known for their timing, we just HAD to tell you about this Greek salad from Campanile Restaurant in Los Angeles. We love a good salad, but the Greek versions we've had, are just that...good. It's not often we have one that makes us sit up and say "What'choo talkin' bout, Willis?!" Or in this case, re: Mark Peel, Owner/Executive Chef of Campanile, "What'choo talkin' bout, Mr. P?"

In order to find out what Mr. P is talkin' bout, we bought Mark's new cookbook and we got the Greek Salad low-down from Erica Lins, Chef de Cuisine at Campanile, aka Mrs. E. (Btw - this Tartalini can cook her face off.)

We got a rough sketch of this masterpiece from Erica and decided to give it a go. We eyeballed the measurements, so please forgive us if this is slightly off.

Campanile's Greek Salad - Tartified

1/2 loaf of good quality olive bread
4 Heirloom tomatoes
2 to 3 Persian cucumbers (halved, seeded and sliced at a diagonal)
1/2 a red onion (sliced into quarter moons)
One small block quality feta (not crumbled)
1/2 cup olive oil (if you don't have good quality oil, do 1/2 olive, 1/2 Canola) plus 2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp red wine vinegar, or to taste
One small shallot, finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano, plus 1 Tbsp for tomatoes
Kosher Salt

Squeeze of lemon (Our addition)

Heat oven to 325 degrees F.

Make your olive croutons first; Campanile uses La Brea Bakery's Olive Oval. T
his bread is crazy good and definitely makes the salad unique, but you could buy olive bread from a local bakery or make your own with Kalamata olives.

Don't cut them; Mr. P likes to tear them so they're more rustic.

In a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until crispy. Keep an eye on them...

The only thing that crispy, should be us!

Now, while the croutons are baking, slice your tomatoes. Mrs. E suggests slicing them 1/2 an inch thick, from the top to the base. Spread your tomatoes onto a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Next, make your oregano vinaigrette. Whisk the oil, red wine vinegar, shallot and oregano together, then salt to taste. We tarted it with a squeeze of lemon as well, because, well, we're Tarts. Now Mrs. E suggests mixing a bit of the dressing with the feta and letting it marinate.

We used a softer feta made from goat's milk, which we felt was too soft and bland. Next time, we'd use a flavorful, firm feta made from sheep's milk or cow's milk. We also used too much dressing on the feta and let it marinate too long, which broke it up too much. You want it to be nice, fluffy crumbles.

Now, slice your tomatoes into big chunks and toss with cucumber and red onion (we didn't use all of the onion) and dress to taste, but go easy. There's already oil on the tomatoes and dressing on the feta. Then crumble the feta on top and sprinkle with croutons.

And whallah!

This salad is so epic, all your friends will be asking you, "what'choo talkin' bout?"

And some of them may never leave. Like this guy.

Seriously, dude. Beat it.

We hope you love this salad as much as we do! If not, well...guess it's diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Two-Timing Tarts: Lemon Rosemary Cake with Berry Compote

Is it wrong to cheat on one recipe with another, perhaps skinnier version? We don't think so. Monogamy may have its place in the bedroom, but not in the kitchen.

This recipe from Sunday-Suppers made our mouths water and even though rosemary in cake stopped us in our tracks, "Rosemary? Really?," we opted to give it a go and make this cake 2 voluptuous and one petite. Why you ask? Because we're two-faced? Well...

My Hotcake, (Erin's hub), happens to have a sensitivity to gluten. Frankly, we both feel best when we stay away from this refined, yet tempting charlatan. So I am continually trifling with recipes and my partner, the French, is always up for the challenge to make things healthier, yet equally delicious.

Lets do this!!!

Cake 1:
Lemon Rosemary Cake with Strawberry (or Tri-berry) Compote

We did Sunday Suppers' version almost verbatim. They call for strawberries in the compote; we added blackberries and raspberries.

Cake 2:
Lemon Rosemary Cake with Strawberry Compote
adapted from Sunday-Suppers

2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
2 c agave (called for turbinado sugar)
4 eggs at room temperature
¼ c lemon zest
¼ c rosemary leaves, chopped
3 c spelt flour (called for all purpose)
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
¼ c lemon juice
¾ c buttermilk
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13x9 inch pan. Cream together the butter and agave with an electric mixer until fluffy and a pale yellow color, approximately 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, making sure they are completely incorporated before adding the next one.

Add zest and rosemary.

Sift together all of the dry ingredients in a bowl.
Combine lemon juice, buttermilk and vanilla in another bowl.

Note to Tarts: When squeezing lemons, wear protective goggles.

Alternate adding flour and buttermilk mixtures to the batter, beginning and ending with the flour. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour or until tester comes out clean.

Berry Compote
4 pints of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries
1 vanilla bean split and scraped of seeds

In a medium saucepan, add the strawberries, vanilla bean and seeds. Cook on medium heat for 5-10 minutes. If the strawberries are in season and ripe, they will give up their juice very quickly. Serve at room temperature.

Next time, we might play around with coconut oil instead of butter. Try it and let us know!

Overall consensus for both cakes here at CrispyTarts..."What?!!! What???!!!" And if we had to marry Cake 1 or Cake 2, which would we choose? Hmmm...the party was split 50/50 as they were both scrumptious in different ways. And my Hotcake was so happy he wouldn't share his leftovers.

So we've decided to marry both versions and become Lemon Rosemary Cake Swingers. Don't judge!

Thanks Vivian for the homegrown lemons and thanks Sunday-Suppers for the inspiration!