Can one be an “accidental cookbook author”? Is such a thing possible? Yes…I am living proof that by just being in the right place at the right time some amazing things can happen totally by accident! I so enjoy working and styling food for cookbooks and have worked on many over the years. I, on the other hand, have never been particularly interested in doing one of my own. So it was even sweeter and more fun when I got this pre-release cookbook cover image from Spring House Press and there was my name right under Zack Browns! Me, the accidental cookbook author!
As a “tease” I am going to share with you one of the 24 recipes I conjured up and developed, tested and styled for this book with Zack who was a joy to work with. If you have not already heard about his potato salad Kickstarter project then a quick look here will tell you more. All the gorgeous images are the work photographer Danielle Atkins. The person who brought us all together…who was the glue…is J Spinks…art director extraordinaire.
How I got involved with Zack’s Kickstarter is another story, but that is all in the cookbook. This was a labor of love that I worked on just for the absolute fun of it as well as my interest in pursuing projects that are works of good.
Later on there will be some cookbook giveaways and other fun stuff. Today I share with you a yummy spring potato salad recipe, “Egg, Apple & Smoked Trout Potato Salad with Cider Dressing”, to tease your potato salad palate, . Enjoy!
Egg, Apple & Smoked Trout Potato Salad with Cider Dressing
Tossed with pepper arugula and watercress and smoky trout, this entree potato salad is exquisite. The apple slices and cider vinegar add a fresh dimension. Served with good crusty bread and a chilled white wine, it’s just what spring calls for.
1 lb baby Yukon gold or honey gold potatoes
2 tart apples, thinly sliced
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 handful watercress
1 handful baby arugula
8-10 ounces smoked trout, separated into chunks
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
Bring potatoes to a boil in salted water. Reduce heat and simmer, about 20 minutes, until potatoes are knife tender. Drain and set aside. Once cool, cut each potato in half.
Toss apples with the juice of 1/2 lemon and set aside.
Make the dressing: Put the egg yolks, additional lemon juice, and a dash of salt and pepper in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to mix. With processor running, drizzle in olive oil until mixture has thickened. Add the mustard and vinegar. Pulse to blend. Taste and adjust seasoning.
To serve: gently toss the potatoes, apples, watercress, arugula and trout with the dressing. Place mixture on a serving platter or individual plates. Scatter sea salt and pepper over salad. Top with egg pieces and drizzle with additional olive oil if desired.
Every summer as The Plum Tree on my street becomes laden with ripening fruit it looks like it is about to topple over. The owner is clever in using large sticks and boards to prop up the limbs that without some intervention would no doubt break off. The Plum Tree needs a bit of trimming here and there, a little bit of pruning love, but, alas, it is not my tree.
On the other hand, I have been enjoying the fruit of this tree for 10 years this summer. This year has a wonderful crop. I picked a small boxful this weekend…many from the ground and a few from the tree. It is never good to be greedy with another’s fruit! Here is what they looked like when I got them home…..
….rinsed & drained…..
,,,,cut in half & cored….
….topping off my easy-to-make almond cake batter….
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.
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
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
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.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Roll out dough and fit into two rectangle tart pans with removable bottoms, trimming edges, or 2 pie pans.
In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, Parmesan cheese, yogurt & salt & black pepper until well blended. Set aside.
Evenly scatter the sliced leeks over the bottom of each tart shell and ladle the egg mixture over the top.
Sprinkle the top of each tart with caramelized shallots & chopped bacon. I added the bacon to one tart and made the other vegetarian.
Decoratively place the asparagus spears over the tops of each tart gently pressing into the filling.
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.
The September tomatoes…the ripe red ones that hang on vines starting to droop, vines heavy with green tomatoes that will never see red…these ripe homegrowns are the sweetest of the season I think. They are summer’s last gift before it is all a memory.
What to do with the last few tomatoes just picked? A BLT…a jar of tomato sauce…a pie? Yes. I love to make pies. A deep savory pie it will be.
A crust using fresh lemon thyme from my garden along with some freshly ground black peppercorns is where I will start.
I am a fan of the springform pan for tarts & pies as well as for cake. A straight sided savory pie is just so beautiful.
Thick sliced homegrown tomatoes salted and draining on paper towels before adding to the pie helps pull out some of the water before using. I do not want this pie to be too watery.
The spinach & ricotta filling is creamy enough to hold up the next layers.
Filling topped with thick sliced toms and crispy, thick sliced bacon torn into pieces.
1 1/4 cups unbleached flour with a pinch of salt added
1 stick cold butter cut into small pieces
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp freshly ground black peppercorns
a few tablespoons cold water
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 med homegrown tomatoes sliced thickly/or 1 large tomato & some cherry toms
1 cup whole fat ricotta
3 large eggs
1 cup fresh spinach steamed, drained & chopped
4 slices thick bacon, cooked crispy & broken into pieces
sea salt & freshly ground black peppercorns
For crust put the flour, pinch of salt, thyme leaves & pepper in a food processor & pulse a few times. Add cold butter pieces, pulse a few more times until incorporated.
With machine running drizzle in ice-cold water until a dough ball forms. Flatten dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes before rolling out.
In the meantime, place thickly sliced tomatoes on paper towels & sprinkle with some sea or kosher salt. Let sit for 20 minutes. This will pull some of the moisture out of the tomatoes. Right before adding to the pie pat dry again with dry paper towels.
Preheat oven to 350. Roll chilled dough out on a floured board into a circle large enough to fit into & half-way up the sides of a 9″ springform pan.
Spray pan bottom & sides with cooking spray. Fit dough into the pan bottom & half way up sides. Crimp and fold to make an even top edge. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl whisk together the ricotta and eggs, 1/2 tsp each salt & pepper, until fluffy. Stir in drained & chopped spinach. Mix well.
Sprinkle the crumbled feta over the bottom of the dough. Top with the ricotta-spinach mixture. Add tomato slices. Scatter the crispy bacon pieces over all.
Bake for 35-45 minutes or until puffy & golden brown and center is set. Cover with a sheet of foil if the top starts getting too brown. Let rest for 20 min. before cutting.