Tarting up February!

mmmm, CRUST!

I like to think I know myself pretty well, in terms of food-type oddities and  proclivities. As such, I know that February irritates me. It’s such a bleh month in the middle of everything, and there is a distinct lack of interesting produce. I’ve already gone nuts over squash, waaaay back in the fall… I love sweet potatoes but I eat them all the time anyway…and there is a depressing amount of fruit available. As in, local and seasonal fruit, if you please (Besides, strawberries in winter just look sad. All pale and anemic. I would much rather eat them in the summer, thankyouverymuch).

BUT.

I discovered a solution to this problem.

Waaay back in September, over Labor Day weekend, I procured some fresh peaches (thanks, Dave Lakey!). I fought the urge to eat them immediately, and instead sliced them up and threw them into the freezer. All neat and nicely labeled, I was determined that they would remain in there, until the dead of winter (aka February), when nothing grows and I was itching for some summer fruit. Genius, clearly.

Over the weekend, when I spent a bit more time thinking about/researching/drooling over pie and tart recipes than actually thesising, I realized the time for peaches had arrived! And oooooh was that a good decision…

THIS. Is what happened.

peeeeachesss!

Fresh peaches in February! Can you ask for anything better? It’s like summer in a bite. And a healthy bite, no less! The crust has healthy fats from olive and canola oil, and the custard is made with yogurt instead of cream. And fruit is the most important part! It’s totally justifiable to have this for breakfast.

okay, so the pictures of this weren't super fantastic... but the crust was beautiful! clearly my favorite part.

Peach Custard Tart

Crust is slightly adapted from the Garden of Eden blog, and the custard is adapted from Eating Well, here. Makes one 11” tart.

For the crust (most low maintenance tart crust EVER):

  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 2 tbsp milk of some kind (I used plain soymilk)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl, stir together flour, salt, and sugar (no need to sift). In another small bowl, whisk together olive and canola oil, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Add liquid into dry, and gently stir until just combined (be careful not to overstir). Gather this up and plunk it down into your tart pan (in the absence of a tart pan, a pie dish is fine)… then flatten the dough on the bottom and up the sides by pressing gently with the flats of your fingers (this is the fun part!). Try to get it to an even thickness all around and up the sides, about 1/8″.

messy, but delicious.

For the filling!

  • 4-5 peaches, sliced (mine were frozen. I ran them under cool water until I could separate them into slices, but didn’t defrost the completely to prevent peach mush)
  • 3/4 c turbinado sugar
  • 3/4 c lowfat plain yogurt*
  • 3/4 c milky beverage (soymilk again for me)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp organic cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

*The original recipe called for greek yogurt… but Kira and I, being the frugal/practical types that we are, decided to try it with regular yogurt, since that was what we had on hand. Excellent decision, as it turned out deeelicious. Either type is fine!

This is ridiculously easy: dump all the above ingredients in a bowl (except peaches), and whisk until smooth. See? Easy.

I told you the crust was pretty!

Preheat the oven to 400. Arrange the peaches around the bottom of the crust (they don’t have to look pretty). Pour the custard over the top, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover the edges with foil to prevent excess browning (I did a rather ineffectual job, but I like the rather caramelized edges, so… not a big deal!). Reduce oven temperature to 350, and pop it back into the oven for another 40 minutes to an hour. Mine was done at about an hour and 10 minutes—I checked it at 40, and then put it back in for 15 minute intervals. You want a knife to come out clean when inserted into the center. Let cool before eating, about an hour and a half, to make sure the custard has time to set.

This is EXCELLENT cold. In fact, I think it might be better cold the next day, once the flavors have had a chance to get to know each other. It is also excellent with a blob of vanilla ice cream, of course.

uh oh... evidence!

I am the Queen of Orange!

it's hiding... can you tell what it is?!

Yet another orange dish.

Who’s surprised?

Yeah. Didn’t think so. That’s okay though, you’ll thank me later,  just wait.

Besides, it’s fall! What do you expect?! I’m trying to be more of a seasonal eater. And by this I mean I want my insides to resemble the fall color which has exploded all over trees in Salem, and caused them all to look like they’re on fire… Then I really would be a seasonal eater, so there! Instead of having technicolored insides on account of sprinkles, I can have autumn-inspired innards! Teehee. I am the Queen of ORANGE!

Actually, when I say Queen of Orange, I’m rather reminded of William of Orange, and England’s Glorious Revolution in 1688. And no, I did not look any of those facts up… I am in fact a history nerd to the max, and those fab factoids were actually pulled out of AP European history brain from waaaay back when in sophomore year of high school. Yeeeahh. That’s right. I could also list you quite a bit of British royal genealogy… but I’ll save you the boredom ;) You’ll just have to trust me. Anywayyy. Back to the food, which is why you’re here, right?!

This is how much I love squash:

Like, A LOT. Fat, roundy orange squash. Or alternatively, butternut and acorn are good too… Which are not exactly roundy and fat, more like tan and elongated, or green and oddly lumpy, respectively. Whatever, to each his or her own squashiness, right?!

Because Kira and I realllyyyy love squash, we decided to make a new dish tonight… risotto! BUT. Because I’m a health nut, we made a healthy one. Hooraayyy!! But SO delicious, don’t get me wrong. Mmmmm. This risotto is actually made with barley, not rice. (Would that make it  barley-otto? Or barlotto?) Which is quite a bit more nutrient dense than rice, for the win! In fact, barley is realllyyy good for you: lots of soluble and insoluble fiber, which is handy for a number of things (including lowering blood cholesterol!), as well as vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It also has eight amino acids and has is low on the Glycemic index, which is good for blood sugar. Wheeee, whole grains!

Barley seems to be another of those foods that I apparently imprinted on as a small child (hmm… tofu and barley. can you say hippie-granola?! Jeez, no wonder I wear Birkenstocks all the time). Barley cereal was my FAVORITE when I was pretty little— I distinctly remember my mom going to a specific store, where she knew an employee who would get me my special barley cereal. Apparently we could only get it there… I do remember him being awfully nice, hehe. And my mutti was wonderful to go get the cereal for me!  I guess I never really grew out of the barley phase, as I LOVED this dish.

Like I said, you’ll thank me for the orangeness later :)

Butternut Squash and Barley Risotto (or Barlotto)

Serves… a lot? We made half and still have lots of leftovers. I’ll provide the measures we used. Adapted from here!

Acquire this business:

  • 1 butternut squash, cubed and roasted
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 thingy of garlic (I prefer the handy frozen squares from Trader Joe’s! It eliminates silly mincing and squishing)
  • 3/4 cups whole grain barley (I bought mine in bulk from Whole Foods)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3/8 cups grated Parmesan
  • awkward baggie of frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
  • a judicious sprinkle of nutmeg

How to procure tastiness and gastronomical delight:

Firstly.

Roastify your b-nut squash! Preheat your oven to 450. Peel the squashling, and deseed it with a spoooon. Cubify it. Toss the cublets with a good glug of olive oil, salt, and peppahhh. Roastify the cublets for about 30 minutes, stirring onceish. When removing them from the oven, try not to get blasted with a huge puff of ridiculously hot steam. Seriously oven, I do NOT need that extreme of a facial. Set aside until needed.

Secondly.

In a smallish pan of some sort, bring the broth and water to a simmer, then lower heat just enough to keep it toasty. In a saute pan, saute the onion in olive oil. Cover and cook on medium until onion is softening, about 8-10 minutes. Add in garlic. Add barley, and let it toast for about 4 minutes over medium heat. Stir in wine, and continue stirring until it has been absorbed.

Now prepare to stir for the rest of your life.

At least you’ll have tasty risotto!

Add about a third of the broth/water, and half of your squashlets. Stir/simmer until absorbed, about 20 minutes. Continue to add liquid, stir, and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. This probably took Kira and I about a half hour, to have all the broth be absorbed and the barley to be cooked through.

Off the heat, stir in the remaining squash (assuming you left some out, not a big deal if you don’t want to), peas (another babyhood fave… what can I say, I was a gastronomically advanced child), parmesan, sage, and nutmeg. Salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh basil (of course).

Enjoy the gastronomically delightful orangeness!