Sunday, April 23, 2017

Apricot Rose Tartines

One of the food delights I'm enjoying this year is a monthly gathering with a few foodie friends. Each month we pick a theme (like chocolate or pasta), and create a menu based on that theme. This month's theme was a spring-inspired high tea, with a menu infused with edible flowers and herbs. My contributions were these apricot rose tartines and some cucumber radish tartines.

I looked at a bunch of recipes, and drew inspiration especially from recipes in Wild Spice and Honey and Co., but ended up cobbling together something pretty distinct from anything I found online or in my slowly growing cookbook library. If I were a really legit food blogger, I'd make these tartines again to refine the ingredient quantities, instructions, and photography before blogging about them. But who has time for that? (And who can eat that much mascarpone without becoming ill or large?) So I've done my best to capture what I did, but these tartines were far from an exact science.

Apricot Rose Tartines
Yield: about 40 tartines
HercheyK original

2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup water
6 whole black peppercorns
1/2 of a cinnamon stick
Approximately 40 dried apricots
1 tsp. orange blossom water
8 oz. mascarpone cheese, softened
1/2 cup fresh rose petals, very finely chopped
1 Tbsp. dried lavender buds
Fresh lemon zest, from about 1/2 of a lemon
Fresh orange zest, from about 1/3 of a medium-small orange
1 (8.3-oz.) baguette, sliced into rounds
A couple handfuls shelled pistachios
Fresh mint

To a medium saucepan add sugar, water, peppercorns (keep them whole), and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat so it's somewhere between a rapid simmer and a slow boil. Let the mixture cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove from heat.

While the sugar mixture is cooking, cut up your apricots into fat matchsticks--about 4 sticks per apricot. When your apricots are cut and your sugar mixture is finished cooking, fish out the cinnamon stick and peppercorns. Add the orange blossom water and the cut apricots to the pot. Stir it so the apricots get nicely coated with the syrup. Breathe in the glorious fragrance. Put a lid on the pot and pop it into the fridge (on a potholder) to chill and steep.

To make the spread, combine the mascarponerose petalslavenderlemon zest, and orange zest in a bowl. Stir to combine well. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the tartines.

Slice the baguette into rounds. I ended up with I think 43 slices not counting the ends, but it'll vary based on the exact length of your baguette and how thick your slices are.

Heat a dry skillet over medium-low heat and toast the pistachios for a few minutes, until they just start to toast. Be sure to shake or stir them frequently to keep them from burning. Remove them to a plate to cool. Chop them fairly finely.

Now's a great time to wash your fresh mint and set it out to air-dry. Right before assembling the tartines, chiffonade the fresh mint. Chiffonade is basically just a fancy way to say, slice it into really thin threads.

When the apricot mixture has chilled sufficiently, assemble your tartines. Spread each with a schmear of the mascarpone mixture. Arrange a few apricot pieces on top--about the equivalent of one apricot per tartine. Sprinkle pistachios over the top. Finally, top with a few ribbons of fresh mint.

Note: If you don't have orange blossom water, squeeze in some fresh orange juice or add some orange zest to the sugar-apricot mixture. It won't give you the same floral quality you'll get from orange blossom water, but it should still be quite yummy. However, I very much recommend getting some orange blossom water! It tastes truly magical, and you can get it on Amazon if you can't find it locally. For more orange blossom water uses, see my Orange Blossom Iced Tea post and the Tunisian Orange Almond Cake recipe linked in my Flavor Trip to Tunisia post.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Hungarian Tomato-Pepper Stew (Lesco)

Have you ever had stew for breakfast? As of a few weeks ago, I have!

When my brother came to visit last month, I basically forced him to join in my international cuisine challenge. We settled on breakfast and decided to go with a European country we're less familiar with. 20 minutes of Googling recipes later, and we settled on Hungarian breakfast stew, served over creamy polenta (which is, apparently, a common breakfast element in Romania), with a fried duck egg on top (because I'd just bought duck eggs from some friends, and we were excited to try them).

I'm seriously slacking in the photography department lately, mostly because I've been sharing meals with friends instead of eating alone. Which is an excellent thing for me, but it means I don't have a lovely photo to share with you. Sorrynotsorry.

Hungarian Tomato-Pepper Stew (Lesco)
From The Spruce
Yield: 4 servings (see notes)

1-2 slices bacon
1 Tbsp. oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 pound of peppers, sliced into 1/4" strips - use Hungarian wax peppers if you can find them, or banana, Italian, or green bell peppers, or some combination thereof
4 medium or 3 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1-1/2 tsp. sugar
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sweet Hungarian paprika

In a large skillet, cook bacon according to package directions. Remove bacon to a plate to cool, but leave all that tasty grease in the skillet.

Add in the oil and onion, and cook for about 5 minutes on low heat. Add pepper(s) and continue cooking for 15 more minutes. Add tomatoes, sugar, salt, and paprika to the skillet, and let it cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it looks and feels like a chunky tomato sauce.

Meanwhile, crumble the bacon after it has cooled; stir it into the dish when it's close to being done.

  • This made 4 moderate to generous servings if served with polenta and a fried egg. If you're not making accompaniments, then this recipe may only give you 2-3 servings.
  • I went to the store fully expecting to be stuck with green bell peppers, but they actually had Hungarian wax peppers! The sign said they're medium-hot, so I decided to get one green bell pepper to bring down the heat level, and used wax peppers to make up the rest of the pound. The dish didn't taste super spicy, but I was coughing something awful while Josh was cutting the wax peppers.