I've become a farro fanatic. I have been making salads lately with farro and whatever fruits, vegetables, and nuts are available in my kitchen. Last night's dinner consisted of farro with Cara Cara oranges, avocados, arugula... etc. I will show -- with ...


Farro with Orange, Avocado, and Arugula and more...

Farro with Orange, Avocado, and Arugula

     I've become a farro fanatic.  I have been making salads lately with farro and whatever  fruits, vegetables, and nuts are available in my kitchen.  Last night's dinner consisted of farro with Cara Cara oranges, avocados, arugula... etc.  I will show -- with approximate amounts used -- my recipe below.  It's hard to go wrong creating your own signature salad.  Just fill it full of combinations you love.  From January until spring, my diet contains large amounts of citrus.  I just crave it this time of year.  If I'm eating a green salad, it most likely contains oranges (blood orange + CaraCara being my favorites), very thinly sliced red onion, and almonds... and a vinegrette using the juice of the oranges and a peppery olive oil; basically how I made my farro salad. Tonight, possibly a farro risotto!

Feel free to change the amounts of the ingredients to your liking...
• 1 cup farro
• 3 cups water
• Salt & pepper
• 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
• 3 large oranges, supremed, and any juices (from the cutting and squeezing of supremed oranges) reserved
• 2 avocados, sliced
• 1/2 cup (more or less) thinly-sliced red onion
• 2 handfuls arugula
• Good quality extra-virgin olive oil
• 1/2 cup toasted, slivered almonds
• 3/4 cup Feta cheese, crumbled

1.  Toast the farro in a dry saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until it smells nutty, about 3 minutes. Add the water and 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover partially, and cook until the farro is tender but still chewy, about 40 minutes.  Drain farro in a colander.
2.  In a large serving bowl, combine the farro, chicken, orange segments (see above to learn how to supreme an orange), avocados, red onion, and arugula.
3.  Using the reserved orange juices, make a vinegrette with equal amounts of juice and olive oil whisked together.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add vinegrette to the farro mixture and toss gently.
4.  Top the salad with the crumbled Feta and toasted almonds.



Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies

     I'm slowly making my way back into the kitchen.  My husband and I took our first trip in two years without our French Bulldog, Bisous.  We went to a part of the U.S. we love, Sonoma and Napa Valleys, where we were welcomed by temperatures in the low 70's.  If you spent any time in Minnesota during this past winter, you will understand just how much we enjoyed northern California's weather...
     The moment we returned home we headed straight for our veterinary clinic to pick up Bisous, where he had surgery for patella luxation the previous week.  Recovery involves 8 weeks of physical therapy, meds, no stairs, no jumping on furniture, etc.  My biggest fear is, when the 8 weeks are up we will find he still has a damaged knee; keeping Bisous still is not an easy feat.  I never knew a Frenchie could be as physically active as Bisous.  I have known many French Bulldogs through the years and not one has come close to Bisous' energy level.  Right before I started noticing the limp/skip in Bisous' step, I saw him racing circles through our backyard moments before he flew over an entire raised bed in our garden.  His size, weight, and activity level have not been his body's friend.  In the information that was sent home with us from our vet, I read that 30 to 40 percent of dogs that have patella luxation in one knee will eventually have it in the other.  The best thing I can do for Bisous is cut back on the amount of food he eats.  Bisous was given to us by the breeder, at eight weeks of age, with Giardia.  He was on heavy duty, hard on his system, meds for over four months.  During that time we did everything possible to get him to eat, since the drugs killed his appetite.  He now loves his food and sits in front of his empty bowl staring into it and crying.  It's hard not to give him everything he wants.

     I have not left our house since we brought Bisous home.  Up until yesterday I have always been here with him.  But we went next door last night for dinner (easy enough to run home occasionally and check on B).  I made an appetizer (one that I need to bake again and photograph) plus, the cookies in this post.  The Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread is a recipe by Alison Roman; photos of which are all over Instagram.  NYT Cooking shared the recipe, and... voila! ... dessert last night along with Rudesheim Coffee.  The falling snow outdoors was the perfect backdrop. 

Salted Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies

•recipe by Alison Roman, via NYT Cookiing
•yield: 24 cookies

• 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons salted butter, cold (room temp if you're using a handheld mixer), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/4 cup light brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 6 ounces semi-sweet or bittersweet dark chocolate chopped (not too fine, you want chunks, not little shards)
• 1 large egg, beaten
• Demerara sugar, for rolling
• Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

1.  Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or an electric hand mixer, beat the butter, both sugars, and vanilla on medium-high till it's super light and fluffy (3-5 minutes for a stand mixer; 6-8 for a hand mixer).  Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl and, with the mixer on low, slowly add the flour, followed by the chocolate chunks, and mix just to blend.  If necessary, knead the dough with your hands to make sure the flour is totally incorporated.  At this point, the dough should be smooth with no pockets of flour.
2.  Divide the dough in half, placing each half on a large piece of plastic wrap.  Use the plastic wrap and your hands to form the dough into a log shape.  Rolling on the counter will help to smooth it out.  Each half should form a 6-inch log, 2 to 2 1/4-inches in diameter (my logs ended up around 7-inches).  Chill until totally firm, about two hours.
3.  Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Brush the outside of the logs with the beaten egg and roll them in the demerara sugar.
4.  This is where I found I needed to let the logs warm up a bit.  When I tried to slice the first cookie, it crumbled into pieces.  I kept my dough in the refrigerator overnight and it was hard.  I probably gave them about 10 minutes before I gently began slicing the dough with the serrated knife.  Position your fingers on the dough where you are slicing.  It's a bit awkward, but I had two fingers on the end of the log with the serrated knife between them and the rest of my hand.  If any of the dough breaks off, gently press it into the cookie once on the baking sheet.  These cookies are very forgiving.  Place them on the prepared baking sheets, spacing 1-inch apart.  Sprinkle with the flaky salt.  Bake until the edges are just beginning to brown, approximately 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly before sitting down with a glass of cold milk and trying not to eat them all!



Hello 2018!

     I thought it was time I made an appearance, before LivingTastefully no longer recognizes me and refuses to let me post onto my blog.
     I also want to let you know what I've been up to the past couple of months.  You might find this hard to believe, but I haven't been spending as much time in my kitchen.  I have a new granddaughter who was born in September.  Monday is Liv's day with "Oma Lady"... a name not chosen by me.  The other days of the week, I am usually in my studio (a.k.a. the sunroom).  I started painting again last spring after stopping 45 years ago (geez, that's a long time!) when, at the last minute, I switched from painting to fiber before classes started at the Kansas City Art Institute.  It scared me how consumed I was by painting and didn't think I could live like that.  I'm seeing signs of it again now, but I'm so happy to be painting it doesn't matter.  I feel I have so much lost time to make up.  I had always painted in oils, but decided this time to plunge into watercolor.  It's a struggle.  I found oils easy... watercolor for me is a challenge.  I like to layer...
     After doing a couple of paintings for Liv, my daughter convinced me to start a little business with her.  It will be called Winks & Inks Design.  I abhor the business part of anything I do creatively. That's my daughter's job in our collaboration.  But she has recently returned to her real job after having baby Liv and that has slowed down the launch of Winks & Inks.  Our offerings will consist of birth certificates for framing, invitations, etc., and what I've really enjoyed... paintings with French phrases.  Of course, dogs are playing a starring role in all of these.  The majority of items will be archival pigment ink prints (giclée, if you like), but I will also have some originals for sale, framed in vintage frames (examples below).  I have my sister to thank for that.  She deals in European antiques (German and French) and concentrates heavily on frames and mirrors -- tramp art being both of our passion.  Although, she deals in what I consider rare and sometimes extravagant frames, I prefer them to be very simple. 




     I may occasionally put framed paintings and prints that are available onto Instagram.  If interested, follow me HEREThose of you as passionate about French Bulldogs as I am, can also see the occasional photo of Bisous on my Instagram.  He will be, unfortunately, having surgery this month on a Luxating Patella.  Oddly enough, this hasn't slowed him down.  But the constant limping/skipping made it quite obvious that something was terribly wrong.  He/we will endure an 8 week recovery.  Anyone who knows Bisous well, understands how difficult those 8 weeks will be.  Bisous is not about sitting still. 
     And above...  the Bacon, Green Peas, and Tarragon Tart (recipe HERE).  This tart, and several other recipes, are in David Lebovitz's latest book, L'appart, where he writes about the grueling year-long purchase and renovation of his home in the 10th arrondissement of Paris.  This book totally confirmed my husband's belief that buying an apartment in Paris (or France for that matter) would not be in our best interest.  This week, for the second time this year, I will be making David's French Beef Stew with Olives (also in the book).  My son-in-law said he could eat it everyday.  I might have to agree with him.  The deep-freeze has returned and this stew is perfect Minnesota winter food!


Pizza Rustica... revisited

     I consider savory foods encased in pastry about as good as it gets, and this Pizza Rustica has been in my baking repertoire for many years.  When the temperatures drop and daylight hours wane, I start craving meals like this.

                     The following post is from  Passions to Pastry's 2008 archives:

My daughter was in NYC over New Years.  She was born 18 miles from Manhattan, across the George Washington Bridge, when we lived there for two years in the 1980's.  I spent much of those two years exploring NYC.  I rarely would take the subway.  I preferred walking so I could see everything there was to see.  One day I covered 112 blocks.  When friends came for a visit, we would go into the city and the first place I would take them was a food emporium.  My favorites were Zabar's, Balducci's and Dean & DeLuca.  Luckily, most of my friends felt the same way about food as I did, but occasionally there would be the visitor who was wondering why we weren't at the Empire State Building or the Statue of Liberty.  So, when my daughter was planning her trip to NYC and asked me for suggestions on where to eat, knowing how I roamed and combed that city, I realized the names I gave her were restaurants I read about and would like to try the next time I visited NYC.  Many of the places I frequented when we lived there almost 25 years ago no longer exist.  The average life expectancy for a restaurant in NYC is 2 years.  But it got me thinking about the places I used to go and one of my favorites was the DDL Foodshow on the Upper West Side.  DDL stood for Dino De Laurentiis, movie producer, restaurateur  and grandfather of Giada De Laurentiis of Food Network fame.  My favorite item on the menu was the Pizza Rustica.  I had never eaten it before and this one was really good!  Giada has a Pizza Rustica recipe (possibly her grandfathers??).  I don't know if it's the same one that was served at the restaurant, but it is very good and it's the one I now make and you see in these photos.

PIZZA RUSTICA | Giada De Laurentiis
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 8 ounces hot Italian Sausage, casings removed
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 1 16 ounce bag chopped, frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 15 ounce container whole milk ricotta
• 12 ounces Mozzarella cheese, shredded
• 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
• 4 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped
• 4 large egg yolks, beaten to blend
• Pastry dough, recipe follows
• 1 large egg, beaten to blend

1.  Position rack on the bottom of the oven, and preheat oven to 375˚F.
2.  Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy, large frying pan over medium heat.  Add the sausages and sauté until golden brown, breaking the sausages into pieces, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat.
3.  Into a large bowl, add egg yolks and beat lightly.  Stir in the ricotta, mozzarella, and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.  Add the sausage, the spinach, and the prosciutto, and stir to combine.
4.  Roll out the larger piece of dough on a floured work surface to a 17-inch round.  Transfer the dough to a 9-inch springform pan (I used a 9-inch high-sided tart pan with a removable bottom).  Trim the dough overhang to 1-inch.  Spoon the ricotta mixture into the dough-lined pan.  Roll out the remaining dough into a 12-inch round.  Place the dough over the filling.  Pinch the edges of the doughs together to seal, then crimp the dough edges decoratively.  Brush the beaten 1 large egg over the pastry top.  Sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese over the top.  Bake on the bottom shelf until the crust is golden brown; about 1 hour.
5.  I let my Pizza Rustica set for about 1 hour before unmolding.  The recipe says to unmold after 15 minutes, but I have had the hot filling break through the pastry before, so I like to be certain the filling has cooled sufficiently. 

• 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 12 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
• 1/4 cup cold, solid vegetable shortening, cut into pieces
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 3 eggs, beaten to blend
• 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
1.  Blend the flour, butter, vegetable shortening and salt in the bowl of a food processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Blend in the eggs.  With the machine running, add the water 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough forms.  Gather the dough into a ball.  Divide the dough into two pieces with 1 piece twice as large as the second piece.  Flatten the dough pieces into disks.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.



Savory Zucchini & Gruyére Scones

     Judging by its continued abundance, my zucchini never received the memo that summer is over; I won't complain.  There's nothing better than walking into the backyard and harvesting our dinner.  Or in this case... the makings of a savory scone. 

     My plan is to mix up these Zucchini and Gruyère Scones again, freeze the unbaked disks on a sheet pan, then drop into bags to freeze.  I'll pull them out to bake when I have a pot of soup on the stove this winter.  I'm thinking they'd be perfect alongside a tomato cream soup (RECIPE).

     Or, with an antipasto platter and a glass of wine...

Savory Zucchini and Gruyère Scones

    from the September 2017 issue of Bon Appétit (adapted)
Makes about 12 scones using a 3-inch biscuit cutter.  I used a 2-inch cutter which made almost double that amount. 
• 3 tablespoons baking powder
• 3 tablespoons sugar
• 1  1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
• 3  1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
• 3/4 cup (1  1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes and chilled
• 1 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing
• 2 medium zucchini, coarsely grated, excess liquid squeezed out with a kitchen towel
• 6 ounces Gruyère, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
• Flaky sea salt for sprinkling
1.  Preheat oven to 350˚F.  Combine baking powder, sugar, kosher salt, pepper, thyme, and 3  1/4 cups flour in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse several times.  Add the chilled butter and pulse until the size of small peas.  Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.  Pour in the cream and mix gently with a wooden spoon to distribute evenly.  Add the zucchini and Gruyère and mix into the dough just to distribute.  Using your hands, gently knead the mixture until the dough comes together.  The less you work the dough, the more tender the scones will be.  This dough will be somewhat drier than most scone recipes, but the zucchini will release additional moisture during baking.
2.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 2-inch thick disk.  Place a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the dough and roll out to a 1-inch thick disk.  Punch out scones with the biscuit cutter (it helps to brush the inside of the cutter with oil to help  release the scones); place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spacing about 2-inches apart.  Brush tops with cream and sprinkle with flaky sea salt (if storing unbaked scones in freezer, wait to finish with the cream and salt until baking).
3.  Bake scones, rotating baking sheet halfway through, until golden brown, 30-40 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.