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Dairy Dreams

I have a mixed relationship with dairy.  I was a kid who had to be bribed to drink milk, even if it was heavy laden with chocolate Quik powder.  Since childhood, if I eat cereal with milk, its sole purpose is to the wet cereal.  I drain the milk off every spoonful and discard what’s left in the bowl.

I’m ambivalent to ice cream.  I’ll eat it.  In fact, a favorite summer activity is to go for a drive where the destination is somewhere to eat ice cream.  I’ll never say no to the trip.  For me, ice cream is a vehicle for mix-ins or toppings.  I seldom order an ice cream that doesn’t contain pieces (chocolate chips, chopped up cookies, cookie dough, candy or nuts).  Plain ice cream requires hot fudge.

On the other hand, I could never live without cheese.  I’m slightly lactose intolerant, but I’m willing to live with the side effects.

I am always enchanted by the idea of making ice cream, enough that we own an ice cream maker, though we seldom make the effort.  David Lebovitz’s Buttermilk Ice Cream, this week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays, offered the needed excuse.

This recipe was so simple to prepare.  Sugar and corn syrup are dissolved in heavy cream which then chills overnight.  Stir in buttermilk before freezing in the ice cream maker.  There was leftover peach tart, so rather than serve the ice cream drizzled with olive oil and salt, I served the tart à la mode.

Unfortunately, it was not a hit.  I’ll admit that the corn syrup helped with the iciness that my homemade ice cream often has.  Another positive: the ice cream wasn’t too sweet. Other than that, neither of us liked it.  It tasted too much like frozen milk, more specifically buttermilk, and not enough like ice cream.  What a bummer to pour the rest down the drain.

I’m guessing mine might be the minority opinion.  To see whether my Cook the Book Fridays friends were fans, check out their links here.

Better Late Than Never

I’ve been struggling with my posts lately.  There is too much going on the world at large.  News has captivated my attention, and when I sit at the computer, I end up reading more and more news.  In comparison, taking time to write about what I cooked or ate seems insignificant and irrelevant.

I did make the other August recipe assignment on time, but failed to share the results.  Eggplant caviar is a smooth dip, similar to Baba Ganoush but without any tahini.  Once the eggplant is charred and roasted, it is quick to put together.  Served with pita chips (and maybe some hummus), this is a nice nibble before dinner.  David Lebovitz’s version is tasty, but I preferred the one we made for French Fridays with Dorie which included chopped fresh tomatoes.

Others from Cook the Book Fridays share their opinions here.

Here’s hoping that I’m timely in September.




Tart Art

Ratatouille Tart

I LOVE making tarts, savory or sweet. Certainly I make my share of quiches, but, honestly, I like anything in a pastry shell. My tart pan with its removable bottom is one piece of kitchen equipment I could never do without. An empty pastry shell is excellent vehicle for turning leftovers or random vegetables in the refrigerator into an elegant-looking meal.

My go-to pastry crust recipe comes from Mark Bittman. Last week, by way of David Lebovitz, I discovered another pastry crust that you must add to your repertoire. This one is a press-in crust made from MELTED butter. The technique is unusual but oh-so-easy. You melt butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt in the oven until the butter browns. Then, you stir in flour and press the dough into the pan. The baked crust is incredibly flaky. The only caveat is that David doesn’t recommend using this crust for a wet filling.

To test out the recipe, I made a beet green tart (sorry, no picture) and found myself falling in love with this crust. All week, I’ve been dreaming about other fillings to try. I was thinking about something with roasted zucchini, when the perfect inspiration came along.

I had all the required vegetables from my CSA share, so I made Ratatouille Tian (from the delightful Clothide of Chocolate and Zucchini’s new book). This mélange of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and onions is gorgeous to behold. Howard, of course, doesn’t eat eggplant or zucchini, but we had friends coming for dinner, so I had people to share it with.

Ratatouille Tian

The tian made more than we could eat; more than half was leftover. For lunch, I packed the leftover tian into a pastry shell and topped it with crumbled goat cheese for a Ratatouille Tart. It was everything I hoped for.

What other summer fillings can you suggest I try?

Ratatouille Tart
Serves 4 to 6

Pastry shell, baked in a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom (try this recipe)
3 to 4 cups ratatouille (from Ratatouille Tian or your favorite recipe)
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to 350F. Fill the pastry shell with ratatouille, as decoratively as possible. Scatter the crumbled goat cheese over the filling evenly.

Bake for 20 minutes, until filling is warm and cheese starts to brown.

Fairy Tale Eggplant: So tiny, aren't they cute?

Fairy Tale Eggplant: So tiny, aren’t they cute?