June is the perfect month for ‘National Cherry Tart Day’. Cherries are ripe and ready for picking, at least in California! Cherries are delicious to eat out of hand and are also delicious in whatever dish you decide to incorporate them into. The three main varieties of Cherries available in Southern California are Bing (the sweetest), Mt. Rainer (also sweet) and Queen Anne (in recent years not so easy to find) which are a tart cherry that is perfect for making pies or jams and jellies.
To make a Cherry Tart you will need several components, namely a base for your tart, a custard filling and your cherries. Let’s start with the base. You can use a standard pie crust or a sweet tart crust which is perfect for tarts, large and small. The tart crust will consist of flour, sugar, salt butter, eggs and water and vanilla.
The next component would be the custard filling which consists of eggs, milk, sugar, butter and again vanilla or better yet, almond extract which will enhance the flavor of the cherries. Almonds, Cherries, Peaches and Nectarines all have similar enzymes which contribute to the flavor of the fruit. Adding Almond Extract to Cherry, Peach or Nectarine pastries will enhance the flavor of those fruits.
Lastly, you will need the Cherries. For my Cherry Tart, I used sweet Bing Cherries. First place the Cherries in a colander and rinse the under cold water. Shake out as much of the water as possible and then put them in a bowl that has been lined with paper towels or a clean dish towel. Set the Cherries aside while you prepare the other components.
The first component that you want to prepare would be the Tart Crust as it is easier to roll when it is chilled. For the complete recipe please see the recipe section of this blog. sweet-tart-and-pie-pastry/ Once your tart crust has been prepared, flatten it to disc about 1” thick, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the Custard for the filling.
For the Custard filling, please see the recipe section of this blog. pastry-cream/ When you have finished cooking the Custard, place it in a bowl; let stand until it stops steaming and then cover with plastic wrap, being sure to place the plastic wrap directly on top of the Custard. This will insure that a skin does not form on top of the Custard. Refrigerate the Custard until you are ready to prepare the tarts.
The next step would be to roll out and bake the Tart Shell. If you are making a large tart (8 or 9”) you can roll out the dough in one piece. Be sure and lightly dust your rolling surface with flour. Flatten the Dough into a round disc and roll out to approximately ¼”, using a stockinette covered rolling pin. You can rub flour into the stockinette which will prevent the rolling pin from sticking to the dough, without adding additional flour to your dough which would toughen it.
If you are going to make individual tarts, divide the dough into several sections, depending on the size of your tart pans. In the photo below, the pan I am using has 12 tiny tart indentations. The dough should have been divided into 12 pieces. In the case of the tiny tarts, you can just flatten the dough and then minimally roll it out to fit the pan. Once you have fitted the dough into the pan, take your rolling pin and run it around the rim of the pan to cut off the excess dough. Many tart pans come with removable bottoms which makes it easier to remove the tart from the pan, especially in the case of the larger tart. With the smaller tart, you can easily lift the baked crust right out of the pan.
To bake the crusts, first poke holes in the bottom with the tines of a fork and then place a piece of foil into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Place some pie weights on top of the foil. Pie weights can be aluminum weights that you buy in your local culinary shop or dried beans that you keep just for this purpose. Once the beans are used for weights they can no longer be cooked.
Bake the Crust at 325 F. with the weights for about 15 minutes. Then remove the weights (you can easily lift out the foil as it doesn’t get too hot – and then just dump the weight back into their container.
Brush the Crusts with an Egg Yolk beaten with a little cream of milk and then return to the oven until they are a light golden brown – about 10 more minutes.
Remove the baked crusts from the oven and once they are cool enough to handle place them on a serving plate. This would be for the individual ones. If you are making a large tart, remove the sides of the pan but leave the crust on the bottom or if you can easily remove it without breaking it, place it on a serving plate.
While the crusts are baking, you can finish preparing the Cherries. You can use the Cherries uncooked, but cooking them slightly, brings out the flavor and add a natural syrup to them which coats them and preserves them. The first thing you have to do though is to remove the pits. There are several ways to do this. The easiest is to use a Cherry Pitter that will remove the pits from multiple Cherries for you. If you don’t have this type of Cherry Pitter, then you can use one that remove the pits, one Cherry at a time. Barring that, you can do what we used to do when I was small and that was to use a large tapestry needle to remove the pits individually from each Cherry. That was always my job after we had gone Cherry Picking and my Mother made Jams, Jellies and Pies. Today, though if you have the proper tools, it is much easier to do.
Heat a sauté pan and add about half cup of wine (I used Marsala but you can also use Madeira, Burgundy or even Kirsch, which is a Cherry Liquer. Bring the liquid to a simmer and then add the Cherries. Cook until the Cherries release their liquid and continue cooking until the liquid becomes syrupy. This will take from 5 – 10 minutes but no longer. Transfer the Cherries to a shallow bowl and allow to cool.
Place the Custard in the bottom of the Tart(s) and then add the Cherries to the top. Refrigerate until ready to serve. In the case of small tarts, one per person (depending on the size) should be sufficient for each person. The Tiny Tarts pictured would be perfect for a Dessert Buffet which would allow each person to sample several desserts without becoming too overloaded with sugar.
Try this version of Cherry Tarts or try creating your own. Whichever you do, you should enjoy making them and your family and/or friends will enjoy eating them!
On a whim (almost) I decided to try out Nearby Naturals Mushroom Grow Kit. They have a monthly plan that I decided to try. Not knowing that you could choose which type of mushroom you wished to receive I just went with the plan and hoped that what I got wouldn’t be Lions Mane because of all the Mushrooms I have ever eaten, this one is the first that I have not actually liked. They have sort of a mealy taste if you slice it and cook like a normal mushroom. They can also be torn apart and cooked like noodles but they are too soft in this form for my taste. The reason they are called Lions Mane is because when they are pulled apart the individual spores look like lions mane.
Well, my Lions Mane grew to full size from nothing in less than two weeks and here is where my adventures start. In trying to figure out what to do with them, I went on line to see what other people were doing with them.
The first thing I tried doing was to slice and fry them. I served them with Spinach, Asparagus and sliced Tomato. This was okay but not something I would want to do again. The on-line video showed the chef just loving this sliced mushroom?
Another instance was ‘Egg Drop Soup’. The on-line video used only water and corn starch as a thickener. I decided to go the traditional ‘Chinese Way’ and use Chicken Broth along with some other vegetables. This was okay and palatable but still something I would not do again. With this recipe you pull apart the individual spores and they look like noodles. They were somewhat soft though and did not taste like noodles.
For the recipe for the soup go to http://www.sylveeeskitchen.com/egg-drop-soup-with-lions-mane-mushrooms/
My final recipe for this crop of Lions Mane Mushrooms is ‘Fried Rice’ Lions Mane. I took the remaining Lions Mane and extruded them through the medium shredding blade of my Food Processor. I also shredded some Carrots and slivered some Green Onions. I then proceeded to fry the ingredients as I would have for Fried Rice.
For the complete recipe go to http://www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/dinner/vegetable-fried-rice/ and substitute the Rice with the shredded Lions Mane Mushrooms. For a photo of the Rice please go to https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4166532770023611&set=p.4166532770023611&type=3
We love Oatmeal/Raisin Cookies but it seems that we had overlooked the remainder of the last batch that I made. They were inside our Cookie Tin (Coincidentally one that was a commemorative tin for Quaker Oatmeal. The Cookies were still good, if a little on the dry side. And since I love recycling leftovers and turning them into new dishes, I decided to recycle the Cookies.
I broke them up and put them in the Food Processor.
I measured the resulting ‘cookie meal’ and then added what I decided would be enough flour to make a viable waffle batter. I then added a proportionate amount of Eggs, Milk and Butter. And voila, we had Oatmeal/Raisin Waffles for Breakfast.
For exact directions on how to recycle the cookies go to Recycled Oatmeal Cookies
As you will see when you read the recipe the recycling did not stop at Waffles. Since we are currently a household of two people and the resulting Waffle Batter was enough to feed four people, I decided to make muffins from the leftover Waffle Batter. Surprisingly, the Muffins turned out to be an excellent accompaniment for our breakfast the following morning. Same ingredients, but turned into a completely new item. The Muffins were served with Scrambled Eggs and Bacon. Fortunately, we were able to finish the Muffins over a couple of days and did not have to recycle them anymore.
There are a couple of ways to make an “Enchilada Casserole”.
#1 – use up leftover enchiladas
#2 – just use tortillas and the other ingredients for enchiladas
If you do not have any leftover enchiladas the simplest way to make the casserole is #2. Either way you make it, it is going to taste the same. The last Enchilada Casserole I made was of the second variety. My husband thinks he doesn’t like Chicken whereas I love Chicken if it is cooked properly (that is, fried, or roasted with lots of garlic, etc.) My husband Ev loves Turkey whereas I think Turkey can be pretty tasteless except at Thanksgiving. Anyways, my Go To Poultry is Chicken whereas Ev’s is Turkey. In between we also like Cornish Hens and Ev loves Duck and Turkey, neither of which are my favorites.
To get back to the Enchilada Casserole, here we go. First of all you are going to need some Enchilada Sauce. You can either buy it canned (usually too spicy for my husband) or make it yourself. If you use canned sauce and it is too spicy, just tame it down with a little Tomato Sauce or Tomato Juice. You can also add a bit of sugar to it.
The photo in the picture was made via the second version. So, here goes. Usually I make my own Sauce but this time it was a jar of Enchilada Sauce purchased from Whole Foods. It turned out that this was going to be a little too spicy for my Husband, so I tamed it down with Tomato Juice.
#1 – Choose a baking dish that is going to be large enough to hold a whole tortilla. 12 x 12 or a 12″ round casserole should do it.
#2 – Cover the bottom of the Baking Dish with a small amount of Enchilada Sauce.
#3 – Pour about 1/4″ to 1/2″ of Enchilada Sauce into a 12″ Frying Pan. Heat it up until it becomes warm and then soften the Tortillas, one at a time in the Sauce. I usually do just then as needed in the assembly.
#4 – Place the softened Tortilla in the Baking Dish. Scatter some of your Protein (this can be diced Chicken, ground Beef or even Shrimp) on the Tortilla. Add some Enchilada Sauce, some shredded Cheese, diced Olives, minced Cilantro, sliced Green Onions, etc. (Whatever choice of ingredients that you like)
#5 – Add another softened Tortillas and proceed as in # 4. I usually make it to be about 3 or 4 layers and then put more shredded Cheese on top with sliced Olives, minced Cilantro, etc.
#6 -If you want your Casserole to be spicy add some chopped Jalapenos or the Pepper of your choice.
$7 – Bake in a 350 degree oven until the casserole is hot and the cheese on top is melted. This will take about 20 – 30 minutes depending on your oven.
Serve Hot with Crema (Sour Cream). You can add Mexican Rice and/or a Salad to go along with the Casserole.
This recipe should serve 2-4 people depending on appetites and other dishes served with it. i usually add a Salad to the meal. You could also serve it with Mexican Rice.
If you are stuck in the house and have a bunch of leftovers either in the refrigerator, pantry or freezer, you may want to check out my ‘Culinary Makeovers’ Articles to help inspire you to create new dishes with your leftovers. Just go to the Search Box and type in Culinary Makeovers and you will be directed to a number of recipes that may give you ideas as to what to do with your leftovers.
I never make New Years Resolutions because I am not prone to keeping them. However, I do make lists of things to do. I am more likely to follow through on my lists than on any resolutions I may make. You may ask, ‘What is the difference?’ Well, a Resolution needs to be kept and if you don’t keep it you don’t feel very good about yourself. However, if you make a list and half the items on the list get done, you will feel that you have accomplished something.
So, here is #1 on My List of Things To Do. Use up the Odds and Ends (Large and Small) of food that may be in my Refrigerator, Freezer or even in the cabinets. Having raised 5 Sons, I have found it hard to cook only for 2 people – even though it has been many years since my Sons have grown and left home. So, sometimes I have more than I need and need to use up what I have left. Since I am not a great fan of leftovers, I usually find ways to turn the leftovers into new dishes. (Sort of like the TV Show ‘Chopped’. However, I have been doing this way before Chopped became a show.
The first time I can remember that I started turning leftovers into new dishes was when I got my first blender – actually I still have it. I got that blender back in the days when they were still being made to last and last it has. I remember that I turned leftover gravy into soup. Now, fast-forward to this year – 2020. I have actually turned several items in the freezer into new dishes.
#1 – A Pork Tenderloin into an Asian Stir-Fry. Where I purchase Pork Loins they are sold in packages of two. I actually cooked both at the same time because a couple of my former students came over for a cooking session. We made Chinese Dumplings and Pork Bao. We had a variety of items so we did not use both Pork Loins so I put the leftover one in the freezer. (This was the weekend before Thanksgiving) Last week, I removed the Pork Loin from the freezer, cut it up into bite-sized pieces and stir fried it with Shitake Mushrooms, thinly sliced Carrots, diced Onions, Cabbage and minced Cilantro. The dish took very little seasoning as the Pork Tenderloin had previously been marinated in a Soy Based Marinade. This dish was served with Jasmine Rice (which is an aromatic soft grain rice grown in Thailand). So, this was a multi-cultural dish incorporating the tastes of Japan, China and Thailand. Very tasty, easy to make and used up the Pork Tenderloin and Vegetables still lingering in my refrigerator.
For a recipe for this Stir-Fry go to http://www.sylveeeskitchen.com/recipes/dinner/pork-tenderloin-stir-fry/
Just keep in mind that all the ingredients are interchangeable and you can use whatever you have in your refrigerator.
It is now that time of year when many of us have a Turkey Carcass left from the Family Holiday Dinners. What do we do with this?
- We throw it away.
- We try to take off as much of the meat that is sticking to the bones
- We make Stock out of it which we can use for Soup, Stews or Gravy.
- Take that carcass and put it into your largest pot along with an Onion (with the peel on), Some freshly washed Carrots, (unpeeled) and the top of a (washed) Celery Stalk which usually has plenty of leaves on it. Put that leafy Celery along with a couple of stalks which have also been washed and cut up.
- Add some herbs such as Parsley, fresh Bail and Oregano and whatever else you like.
- Cover everything with Cold Water up to within a couple of inches of the top of the pot.
- Set on a medium/high flame until the liquid starts simmering, then turn down the flame to low.
- Allow this mixture to simmer all day or until you have the desired strength of flavor that you want.
- Once the cooking period over, move the pot to a cold burner and allow it to cool until you feel that you can handle it safely. Place a large Colander over a large Vessel (large pot or huge bowl and pour the cooked stock through the Colander into the Vessel.
- Use the finished stock for Soup right away or pour into smaller containers and freeze until you are ready to use. This stock will be great for Soups, Stews or Poultry Gravy.
I usually use the stock to make a superb Vegetable Soup which is great for Cold Weather Dining. Your needs and taste buds will direct to use this Stock for your own special purposes.
When I was teaching Foods Classes in High School, the students didn’t mind stripping off the meat from the carcass which we then used to make Turkey Ala King or Turkey Salad or Mac and Cheese with Turkey. Stripping off the meat takes a little bit of patience which probably most of us don’t have but if you have a couple of Kids around (over the age of 10) who wouldn’t doing it you can stretch that turkey even further you could have imaged.
Sorry there is no photo here – for some reason I was not able to post a new one. Will render the situation as soon as possible.
It has been a while since I have been active on this blog. Unfortunately I had a ‘Freak Accident’ almost 3 months ago. I was in the garage opening a rather large box. I had gotten one side of the lid open and when I opened the second side, it flipped and knocked me over. Not knowing that I had fractured (my sacrum) I got myself up, finished what I was doing, cleaned the kitchen among other things. But by 11:30 PM and time to go to bed, I could not walk. Crawling was the only way I was able to get to bed but by 4 AM my Husband and I decided to call 911. The Fire Dept. Paramedics came and took me to the local Hospital where X-Rays were taken and it was determined that there were no breaks. Four days later I was back at the same Emergency Room and a CT was taken, and it was determined that there absolutely no breaks. Finally almost a week after the accident I was taken to our Medical Plan’s Hospital where a MRI was taken and it was finally determined that my Sacrum was fractured. For the next 7 weeks, in spite of the pain medication, I endured horrible and torturous pain – my poor Husband had to wear earplugs every time he helped me up – the pain was so horrible that I couldn’t help but scream.
Fortunately, the pain has finally stopped and I am now trying to learn to walk again without support. It will take a while but now I can sit for a substantial period of time whereas for the first six weeks after the accident I could not. Even though I am still hobbling about, I am able to move around in the kitchen and cook and bake, so time now to get back to my blog. Please keep checking back for new Blogs, Recipes and Kitchen Fun.
It seems that I have skipped Week 9 – will maybe get back to it sometime. And this week I am taking the recipe a bit further. The Outrageous Pretzel Bars are really that! They consist of a Brown Sugar Cake (Brownie-like) and are topped with a Chocolate Fudge made with Sweetened Condensed Milk and Chocolate Chips. More Chocolate Chips are put on top along with crushed Pretzels. And the recipe is huge – they were cut into 24 Bars but maybe should have been cut into 36. The bars are very chocolaty and filling and one cannot really eat much at a time. That being said, my Husband loved the Bars! He is an avid Chocolate Lover whereas I am not. But they were good, especially the next day after they had time to dry out a little.
I took one-third to my Mahjong Group, froze one-third for one of my sons and we tried to eat the other third. Since my husband is very reserved as to how much he eats and I am only an occasional chocolate consumer, we did have some left over. After a week, the leftovers were thoroughly dried out and of course impossible to eat, but being the improvisor that I am, I just couldn’t throw them away.
My Food Reinvention skills came about when my Sons were small and I got my first Blender. I started using leftovers to make other things. The first was gravy that I turned into soup and so on. I have a really yard time throwing food out so the Outrageous Pretzel Bars were the perfect thing to turn into something else.
I broke up the leftover bars and put them into my Food Processor and chopped them up into as fine a crumb as I could. Then I added about 1/3 cup of melted Butter and 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar. (One could just use a Graham Cracker Crust Recipe for this Chocolate Bar Crust) I did use it as a guide but the Butter called for was too much so I only used about 1/3 as stated above.
Next I pressed the Crumb Mixture into the bottom of my 9″ Springform Pan and baked it for about 5 minutes. You could actually make the pie without baking the crust but the oven was already on for something else, so I did bake it. The problem with baking is that it releases some of the butter and then you have to blot it off.
Next I made the Bavarian Creme. I started out by making a Vanilla Soft Custard which is the base for all Bavarian Cremes. Next I incorporated a cup of Whipped Creme into the Custard. Recipe will be found in the recipe section of this blog.
Once the Creme chilled sufficiently I poured it into the Crust and then chilled the whole thing. When it was ready to serve I took off the sides of the Springform and placed the whole thing, (bottom of pan included) on a serving plate and topped with Chocolate Curls. Next I cut it into moderate portions. The Bavarian Creme was actually much less filling than the original Pretzel Bars themselves.