Summertime is finally here. The rainy weather has been replaced by brilliant sunlight, longer evenings, and heat. I do not know about your family but our diet takes a huge detour south to the Mediterranean. Lunches become far simpler affairs. Olive oil replaces animal fats. Vegetables from our vegetable gardens and fish take center stage. And our dinners whips away into green salads and delicious soups. One of our absolute favorite soups is Avgolemono, the silky smooth and lemony-bright chicken and rice soup from Greece.…
When life gives you lemons you might make lemonade. I will always make a French lemon tart instead. I have always been an optimistic kind of person. I definitely see the glass as half full rather than half empty. A silent enemy we cannot see is lurking about. Most of the world’s population is living in some form of quarantine as we search for a solution. And while though we are living in an unprecedented time of fear, I see the opportunity, hope, and resilience. Everyone I know has dug deep into their pantries and old recipe books and begun cooking fabulous meals. An explosion of just-baked loaves of bread, cookies of every kind, and other sweets have filled my social media feeds. Stressful times bring out the very best in people. Make this tart and join the covid-19 resistance.
The other day I sat in my house and noticed I had a bowl full of lemons looking for a new home. Normally they turn into preserved lemons; Greek lemon and egg soup; or as the acid for family favorite chickpea salads and bowls of hummus. Today I added my voice to the choir on social media. (ps – please watch my silly movie on how to make lemon tart at home on YouTube and subscribe while you are there)
For father’s day, I made a very simple summer time dessert utilizing two of my favorite flavors, lemon and strawberries. It was the combination of two basic pastry components, Pierre Herme’s delicious lemon curd and a basic panna cotta recipe enhanced with a touch of zested lemon. I wanted to share this quick recipe with everyone. Sometimes simplicity is hard to beat.
I’ve always been a frustrated pastry chef buried deep within the body of a savory chef. My first foray in the kitchen world was at La Brioche Bakery in Montpelier, Vermont baking croissant, danishes, cakes and other sweet treats. I may have gone the route of pastry chef except I hated the bakery hours. Over the years I’ve had the pleasure to work with and learn from some truly great pastry chefs. I lived my secret life vicariously through their confections, never publicly admitting who I truly was deep down inside. Lately since I’ve had quite a bit more time to spend with my wife and son and strangely develop a sweet tooth, I came out of the closet and can freely admit, I am a pastry cook.
The inspiration for my lemon yogurt cake with huckleberry compote came after a visit to Foods in Season, a specialty company in Washington. They started by selling foraged edibles then expanded into one of finest purveyors of seafood, meat, oil and other culinary necessities in America. Over the years they exposed me to several great products like Tail and Trotters hazelnut fed pork, Painted Hills beef, anything with the word Blis in the title, wild Columbia River Salmon and my latest infatuation, wild licorice root that I have been using ever since in my LSD Pizza (wild Licorice, Sausage and Date), largely inspired by pizza genius Gabrielle Bonci. Malia has been my salesperson over the last few years and I wanted to meet her and tour the company (and shamelessly beg for a job there). Last week I dropped off some of my lemon verbena ice cream and she gave me one of my favorite foraged foods, wild huckleberries.
It was raining hard as I crossed the Columbia river back into Portland. I had barely seen rain over the last two years living in Southern California’s hot desert but it got me longing to eat something homey and comforting. I immediately began contemplating what to make. In the past I stuck to savory huckleberry sauces that complemented venison and other wild game meats. I lived in Georgia years ago and noticed there were seven churches on every street, in Portland there are seven coffee shops. It’s hard for me not to think of coffee considering the constant reminder and the weather. Java dreams quickly became sweeter when coffeecake entered my mind. The sweet and tangy lemon yogurt cake is the perfect foil for the sweetness of the wild huckleberry compote. I added the crumb top because I am a sucker for crumb tops. If you cannot find huckleberries just use blueberries in place.
- 2 Lemons, zest and juice
- 1 Orange, zest only
- 1.25 cups Sugar
- 2 Eggs
- .5 cup Canola Oil
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- 1.25 cups Flour
- 1 T. Baking Powder
- Mix lemon zest and juice, orange zest, sugar, eggs, canola oil and vanilla extract together, reserve.
- Mix flour and baking powder.
- Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir till just combined.
- Butter/Flour small ring molds (three inch diameter) or muffin tin.
- Spoon cake batter in halfway, top with one tablespoon of huckleberry compote then one tablespoon of crumble and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until set.
- 1 cup Sugar
- 1/4 cup Water
- 2 cups wild Huckleberries
- 1 Lime, zest only
- 2 teaspoons Cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons water
- Bring water and sugar to a boil and cook one minute, or until sugar is dissolved.
- Add huckleberries and lime zest.and continue cooking till huckleberries release their juice, about three minutes
- Stir in cornstarch and water mixture and cook till thickens slightly.
- 1 cup Flour
- 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
- 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
- 1 stick melted unsalted Butter (4 ounces)
- Mix everything together.