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Posts tagged ‘Swiss Chard’

Swiss Chard Tart

I just unearthed some old files, two of which were noteworthy.  One was filled with menus I’ve kept over the years from memorable meals out or from restaurants I was reviewing for a local weekly newspaper many years ago. The menus were grease-stained and creased and typed in every imaginable font and printed on every imaginable kind of paper and they brought back many, lovely memories.

The second file was full of clippings.  They are mostly from the New York Times and are lengthy articles with gorgeous recipes with vast ingredient lists. I guess the fact that this file ended up in an unmarked box in the basement for over 10 years is noteworthy in-and-of-itself . . .. Ironically, the title of the first piece in the file is “In a Berkeley Kitchen, A Celebration of Simplicity.” The menu discussed in this piece is: brine-cured roast turkey, fresh oysters, terrine of foie gras, bagna cauda, pork sausages, and cranberry upside-down cake. Simple?

Swiss Chard Tart

It’s not that I don’t occasionally cook fancy meals or that I no longer like reading about elaborate, delicious feasts, it’s just that in my professional life of  Cook With What You Have I am focused on demonstrating how truly simple and satisfying the plainest of dishes can be. Whether you’re short on time or money or both, it is possible to bring good, real food to your table occasionally and possibly even often. I actually think  Alice Waters (of the above piece) would sign on to this too. . . . it’s just that she has access to ingredients and means many of us only dream of. . .

The star of the show.

In any case, the recipe I want to talk about today is kind of a happy-medium between “Alice Waters simple” and “really simple”. It’s a Swiss chard tart I’ve been making for a while now and it’s both refined and rustic, quick as tarts go, but still a bit more work than a fast soup or pasta. It calls for lemon zest and nutmeg (the fancy ingredients) but if you have neither on hand, it’s dandy without too. It, like this recipe and this one, showcases one of the must abundant, prolific, and tasty vegetables in our region. And ironically, the tart dough recipe comes from David Lebovitz, who was the pastry chef at Alice Waters’ restaurant Chez Panisse for many years.  I love savory tarts and have been making them more since the discovery of this tart dough that does not require blind baking (baking just the crust first, filled with dry beans or pie weights) and is incredibly easy to handle thanks to the egg in the dough. I’ve also written about this Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart that uses the same crust. So if you’ve been put off by tarts and the finicky doughs that crumble and break, try this. It makes you look really accomplished and fancy and is delicious. And if you’re really short on time you could even skip the crust and just bake the custard and veggies in a cake pan or cast iron pan until slightly puffed and cooked through.

Swiss Chard Tart

Preheat the oven to 425ºF

1 recipe Tart Dough (recipe follows)

1 large bunch of chard, leaves only, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon butter

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 eggs

1 cup whole milk

Zest of 1 small lemon  (optional)

3 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan (or Gruyère or just plain old cheddar if that’s what you have)

A few pinches of ground nutmeg (optional)

Heat the butter in a wide skillet; add the onion and cook it over medium heat until it is translucent and soft.  Add the garlic, and the chard leaves by handfuls, if necessary, until they all fit.  Sprinkle in a large pinch of salt.  Turn the leaves over repeatedly so that they are all exposed to the heat of the pan, and cook until they are tender, 5 minutes or more.

Make the custard.  Beat the eggs; then stir in the milk, lemon peel (if using), grated Parmesan, and a few scrapings of nutmeg. Stir in the chard and onion mixture. Taste and season with salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Pour the filling into the prepared tart shell and bake until the top is golden and firm, about 40 minutes.

Tart Dough

–Adapted from David Lebovitz

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
(or ¾ cup apf and ¾ cup whole wheat pastry flour)

4 1/2 ounces, about 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

2-3 tablespoons cold water

Make the dough by mixing the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and use your hands, or a pastry blender, to break in the butter until the mixture has a crumbly, cornmeal-like texture.

Mix the egg with 2 tablespoons of the water. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the beaten egg mixture, stirring the mixture until the dough holds together. If it’s not coming together easily, add the additional tablespoon of ice water.

Gather the dough into a ball and roll the dough on a lightly floured surface, adding additional flour only as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the counter.

Once the dough is large enough so that it will cover the bottom of a 10-inch tart pan and go up the sides, roll the dough around the rolling-pin then unroll it over the tart pan. “Dock” the bottom of the pastry firmly with your fingertips a few times, pressing in to make indentations. (I occasionally forget to do this with no ill effect so don’t sweat it if you forget.) If you don’t have a tart pan you can use a 9 or 10-inch pie pan too. The recipe for the dough is pretty generous so will fit a pie pan too.

Happy Cooking and Eating!

Katherine

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Beautiful, Abundant, Forgiving. . .

. . . and delicious! The wedding cake! Yes it was but that’s for the next post! I’m really talking about Chard, Swiss Chard. Much less sexy but much more practical. Chard is a workhorse of a vegetable and solved my dinner conundrum tonight. I have four plants in the garden and pick a generous bunch at least once a week.

Unfortunately my red chard plants just started bolting so I have less of a rainbow situation now but the white and gold ones are still beautiful.

Chard keeps in a plastic bag in the fridge for at least a week. It’s easy to cook and equally delicious braised for a longer period of time to bring out all its sweetness or quickly sautéed.

In tonight’s iteration I turned it into “Daddy Patties”, so named by my niece for my brother. Not sure why, but the moniker has stuck. Call them what you will, they are a hearty, delicious meal usually devoured by non-greens-loving adults and children with glee, as well as by us greens-lovers!

I had a heel of stale bread to use up today and was a bit lazy and just cut the bread into rough pieces. I love the flavor and texture of the bigger bits of bread in the patties but it does make the patties harder to fry and  flip as they break up more easily. They taste just as good but aren’t quite as beautiful.

My mother used to serve these with rice and a tomato sauce. I don’t usually take the time to make a sauce but it’s a great combo. I serve them with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream or just plain or with a salad on the side.

2 bunches greens (chard, beet greens, spinach, kale, collards or any combination of these)

2 eggs

½ – 1 cup grated cheese (cheddar, swiss, gouda, asiago, parmesan (use the smaller amount if you’re using a hard cheese like parmesan, etc.)

1 cup larger, roughly torn bread crumbs or 1/cup more finely ground ones (or if you don’t have bread/bread crumbs you can  use 3 Tablespoons of cornmeal in the batter instead)

a pinch or two of chili flakes (optional)

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

salt

pepper

oil for pan frying

Wash and coarsely chop the greens. Cook them in ½ cup or so of water in a large sauté pan or pot for a few minutes until they are tender (for kale or collards the cooking time will be a bit longer, but not much). Drain well and squeeze out most of the moisture and chop the greens again. Beat the 2 eggs in a large bowl, add salt, pepper, chili flakes and nutmeg (if using), grated cheese and bread crumbs. Mix in greens. Taste for salt.

Heat a cast iron or other large skillet with a tablespoon or so of olive or safflower oil. When hot spoon  about large spoonfuls of the mixture into pan and pat down with a spatula to flatten. Flip after a few minutes when the underside is golden brown. Cook a few minutes more and serve. They keep warm and hold up nicely in a 250 degree oven.

I Stared Down the Fridge and I Won!

I picked up this phrase from a dear friend and tonight was my night and I did win! I rarely write two blog posts in one week but this one couldn’t wait. And believe it or not, it all starts with Swiss Chard stems.  I have used a lot of chard lately, the leafy part that is, which meant I had collected a good pile of stems in the fridge. They keep well and I just kept adding to the bag. So tonight, in need of dinner, what did I find in the fridge? Chard stems (and not much else)! I usually either dice them and add them to soups or sauces but have also made a gratin in the past, so that’s what I set out to do. It really needed to serve as the main dish tonight so here’s how it turned into something blogworthy.

I roughly chopped half an onion and the chard stems and sautéed those in olive oil for a few minutes. Then I added 1/2 cup of water and covered the pan and braised them for about 10 minutes until the stems were tender.

Then I made a quick bechamel, but for the first time ever used half milk and half veggie bouillon (yes, I know you’re probably tired of hearing about the stuff but it is transformative). Then I remembered that I had a bag of leftover, sliced baguette in the freezer. So out came that and I nearly killed my food processor but I processed those into uneven, biggish, bread crumbs. Then I toasted those with just a little olive oil over high heat to thaw and crisp up just a bit.

Then I added about 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg to the bechamel and grated some sharp cheddar. Oh and I added the liquid left in the chard pan to the bechamel.

Then I put the chard stems in a casserole dish, covered them with bechamel, then bread crumbs, then cheese. In the oven at 400 for about 20 minutes until nice and bubbly, finish under the broiler and voila! Dinner! It was so much more than the sum of its parts. It was delicious–savory, creamy, crunchy, earthy! We did have an arugula salad (thanks Elizabeth – my super gardener friend/neighbor) too.

Oh and since I’m not writing the recipe out in a formal manner, the bechamel was made as follows: Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan, add 4 tablespoons of flour, whisk and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of veggie  bouillon, first heated up together in a separate  saucepan or microwave. Whisk in the hot liquid and cook over medium heat until thickened, about 7-10 minutes. Add nutmeg.

Buon Appetito!

Homemade Veggie Bouillon & New Classes

I’ve posted April classes – quick dinners and hearty salads! We’ll use all the wonderful spring produce to make quick dishes using eggs and we’ll make creative salads with beans, grains and savory dressings for delicious one-dish dinners. Thanks to many of you for sending me feedback about what you’d most like to learn about. I hope to see you here in my kitchen the last weekend of April for one (or both!) of the classes.

I have a cheap, old digital camera and I have no photography training. And the subject of today’s post–veggie bouillon–is not photogenic. So, forgive the ugly shots and make the bouillon anyway. It’s worth it!

Homemade veggie bouillon paste. Add 1 - 2 teaspoons of the paste to 1 cup of water for fresh, instant broth to use in soups or cook grains, etc.

One of my favorite blogs is Heidi Swanson’s 101 Cookbooks. She blogged about this basic and brilliant idea of making your own bouillon paste in a matter of minutes. (And she’s an excellent photographer so look at her photos.) I taught it in a recent cooking class and sent everyone home with a jar to keep in the freezer for that last-minute risotto, soup, braise, etc. If you have a food processor, all you do is clean the appropriate veggies (carrots, onions, leeks, tomatoes, parsley . . . .) and process them until they are very finely chopped, add lots of salt, process again and spoon into a jar. Done! Nothing is cooked, sautéed, anything. I do love veggie stock but this method of processing things raw gives a wonderful fresh, bright flavor and is quick to make and easy to store and use. When you need the broth, just spoon out 2 teaspoons of bouillon per cup of water (or more or less to your taste) and use in your respective dish. I used it in a spinach and bacon risotto this weekend and it was wonderful. I’ve also been using it instead of water in soups and stews.

I adapted Heidi’s recipe which she adapted from the River Cottage Preserves Handbook.

Homemade Bouillon

This recipe requires a food processor. As Heidi notes you can also just make this with what you have. Onions, celery, carrots and parsley are enough. Use the proportions that make sense to you. Use 1/3 cup salt for each 2 cups of finely blended veggies/herbs.

5 ounces / 150 g leeks, sliced and well-washed 
(about 1 medium)

7 ounces / 200g carrot, well scrubbed and chopped
 (about 3-4 medium)

3.5 ounces / 100 g celery
 (about 2 big stalks)

3.5 ounces / 100g celery root (celeriac), peeled and chopped (about a 3” x 3″ chunk)

1 ounce / 30g sun-dried tomatoes
 (about 6 dried tomatoes)

3.5 ounces / 100g onion or shallots, peeled

1 medium garlic clove

6 ounces / 180g kosher salt (scant 1 cup)

1.5 ounces / 40 g flat-leaf parsley, loosely chopped
 (about 1/3 of a bunch)

2 ounces / 60g cilantro (coriander), loosely chopped (about ½ bunch)

Place the first four ingredients in your food processor and pulse about twenty times. Add the next three ingredients, and pulse again. Add the salt, pulse some more. Then add the parsley and cilantro. You may need to scoop some of the chopped vegetables on top of the herbs, so they get chopped. Mine tended to want to stay on top of everything else, initially escaping the blades.

You should end up with a moist, loose paste of sorts. Keep 1/4th of it in a jar in the refrigerator for easy access in the coming days, and freeze the remaining 3/4 for use in the next month. Because of all the salt it barely solidifies making it easy to spoon directly from the freezer into the pot before boiling.

Start by using 2 teaspoons of bouillon per 1 cup (250 ml), and adjust from there based on your personal preference.

Inspired by The River Cottage Preserves Handbook by Pam Corbin. The U.S. edition of the River Cottage Preserves Handbook will be available this summer.