Spring Leeks & Asparagus Tarts

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“April come she will, When streams are ripe, And swelled with rain…….” (Lyrics by Paul Simon “April Come She Will”)

Somehow the end of March sneaked up on me while I wasn’t looking! I have been very aware of the trees leafing out, the tulips starting to bloom, daylight savings time of course, but the actual dates…not so much.

March was a very busy month for food styling with many photo shoots that needed a lot of my attention as well as a few garden renovation projects that have been taking up the remainder of my time. This morning I realized there is only one more day in March. I felt happy as this is a week I can stay home for a few days,  and a little sad as it is all moving by so quickly. Alas such is life! Is that not April I see on the near horizon?

I made this Spring Leeks & Asparagus Tarts recipe a couple of years ago for a dinner party. Perfect for an Easter brunch or lunch. Enjoy.

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Small leeks just pulled from the garden…

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….thin, tender asparagus, shallots chopped & caramelized……

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…crispy bacon crumbled.

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Flaky buttery pie crusts with just a bit of cornmeal to add some crunch. I just love these rectangle tart pans with fluted edges & removable bottoms. 

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Varicolored eggs…perfect for Easter.

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A scattering of chopped leeks over the crusts, topped with a parmesan-egg mix….

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…caramelized shallots ….

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…decoratively arranged asparagus…one tart with bacon, one without.

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Puffy, warm and ready to eat.

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Spring Leek & Asparagus Tarts

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • For 2 crusts: 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal.1 tsp salt, 1 cup cold butter cut into small pieces & ice water
  • 6-8 small Spring leeks (or 2 regular size leeks), trimmed & sliced
  • 1/2 lb thin asparagus spears
  • 8 eggs
  • 7 slices bacon cooked crisp & chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped & sautéed until caramelized
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup plain Greek Yogurt
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a food processor place the flour, cornmeal & salt &  pulse a few times. Add butter pieces & pulse until mixture is crumbly looking. With processor running drizzle in ice water until a dough ball forms. Remove dough & divide in half forming two balls. Flatten each into a disk, wrap in plastic & chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  3. Roll out dough and fit into two rectangle tart pans with removable bottoms, trimming edges,  or 2 pie pans.
  4. In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, Parmesan cheese, yogurt & salt & black pepper until well blended. Set aside.
  5. Evenly scatter the sliced leeks over the bottom of each tart shell and ladle the egg mixture over the top.
  6. Sprinkle the top of each tart with caramelized shallots & chopped bacon. I added the bacon to one tart and made the other vegetarian.
  7. Decoratively place the asparagus spears over the tops of each tart gently pressing into the filling.
  8. Place filled tart pans on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes or until they are golden brown and puffy. Remove to cool a few minutes before serving on a wire rack. Serve hot or at room temp.

Stormy Turnips and Twisting Tornadoes

This time of year here in Tennessee it starts to warm up, the Daffodils pop up, the Forsythia bushes are ready to bloom, buds are on the trees and tornado season starts. It seems to have started earlier than usual this year. A week or so ago it was one of those late winter, sultry evenings that make me want to sit out on the porch and pretend its Spring. But it was a night of  severe tornado warnings, high winds, brutal rains…a night to stay inside. Wouter was away which made it more eerie to be in the house with the lights flickering, the winds beating against the house & not much to eat in the pantry.

A few days before this evening I purchased these exotic California Black Turnips along with some Black Snow Peas. I had not really thought about what to do with them cuisine-wise, just that I thought they were very beautiful & wanted to photograph them. But there was no way I was going to venture out to a restaurant or  market to procure dinner so I studied them for a while and this is what I came up with.

“Black Turnip-Apple Mash-up with Snow Peas & Asparagus”

For this you will need: 6 turnips (Black or regular type); 1 crispy apple (Braeburn or Pink Lady are great); good butter, kosher salt & black pepper to taste and a good grating of  Parmesan.

To Make:

1. Peel Turnips (Black Turnips are a beautiful white inside), trim & rinse. Cut turnips into chunks and put in a pan of water over medium high heat.  Peel, core & chop apple into chunks and add to turnips in pan. Add a bit of salt to the water. Cook until turnips are soft enough to mash like potatoes.  Mash using a fork or potato masher, adding as much butter, salt & pepper to mixture as you like. Mash until fluffy like mashed potatoes. Set aside. The apple adds just enough natural sweetener to offset the bitter taste turnips can have. A good combination.

2. Next the Black Snow-Peas (I have searched the internet and cannot find any photographs of these beauties. If you read this & know anything about them I would love to hear it.) They are beautiful with mostly dark skins with hints of green. I just popped them into a ziploc bag with a bit of water and cooked them in the microwave until crispy soft and cooked.

2. The Asparagus spears I cooked the same way.

3. To serve I put some of the Black Turnip mash into a shallow bowl & topped with the steamed Asparagus spears & Black Snow Peas adding a bit of sea salt & freshly grated Parmesan.  Surprisingly delicious the mash had a wonderful taste, the snow peas & asparagus were cooked al dente and were the perfect sides. With a glass of wine, I savored my “dry” dinner.

While preparing the Turnips for cooking my mind was wandering and I realized that if you turn a Black Turnip upside down it resembles a tornado funnel! As the Turnips cooked I did this sketch on my kitchen blackboard.

“eat your vegetables”