Peach Tart

Late summer is peach season, a fact that never fails to thrill me. I don’t just like peaches–I love them.  I eat them plain, in oatmeal, in yogurt…and of course, in desserts.

The other day my good friend Yiming came over. We’d planned on baking a chocolate roulade with white chocolate frosting, but we’d planned poorly and there wasn’t enough white chocolate in the house.  Luckily my mom had just purchased an enormous bag of peaches, so we were able to make this delicious peach tart instead.

This recipe is based on an apple tart recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks ever, A Kitchen in France by Mimi Thorisson (who is the author of Manger, a wonderful food blog).

You’ll need….

1 2/3 cups flour

1 tablespoon white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 stick butter, room temperature

1 to 2 tablespoons cold water

4 large peaches

1/4 cup sugar in the raw or brown sugar + 1 teaspoon for sprinkling

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 orange (for the zest)

To make the crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut the butter into small slices and use your fingers to incorporate it into the flour mixture.  Add enough of the water to make the dough smooth and cohesive, then shape it into a ball.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Peel two of the peaches and cut them into small chunks.  Place them in a small saucepan with three tablespoons of the sugar in the raw, the cinnamon, and the zest of one orange, then cook over low heat for about 10 minutes.  Use a potato masher to crush any remaining chunks so that the mixture is pretty homogeneous, like a jam.

When the dough has chilled for at least an hour, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (375 if you have a convection oven).  On a floured surface, roll out the dough so that is about 1/4 inches thick, and place it on a (greased) tart pan, pressing it down to fit to the shape of the pan.  Cut away any excess dough.

Spoon the peach filling into the dough, spreading it evenly along the bottom.  Slice the remaining peaches finely, and arrange them in a circular pattern on top of the filling (as shown below). Sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of sugar in the raw over the peach slices and bake the tart for 30 minutes.  Enjoy!

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Fresh Summer Quinoa

When it gets hot outside, I often crave something simple, fresh, and light for lunch. Quinoa fulfills all these cravings, with the added bonus that it is super healthy. It’s very similar to rice, except it has much more flavor; I’ve always found plain white rice to be quite bland. But like rice, quinoa is a dish to which you can add whatever veggies you have sitting around. I happened to have some baby kale, onions, and tomatoes, and together they made a delicious and fresh summer lunch.

You’ll need…

One onion

1 cup baby kale

1 tomato

1 cup quinoa

olive oil

salt and pepper

About 4 servings

Bring 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to low, cover the quinoa, and leave it to cook, stirring every few minutes.  Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper.

In total the quinoa should take fifteen to twenty-five minutes to cook, and you should check it frequently.  If the quinoa starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, add more water; do the same if all the water is gone but the quinoa is still hard.

While the quinoa cooks, place a pan over medium heat.  Peel and chop the onion.  Add olive oil to the pan when it has gotten hot, and when the oil has heated add the onions to it.  Next, chop the kale into small chunks.  When the onions have started to brown, add the kale to the mix and let it cook.  Season with salt and pepper, then set aside.

Once the quinoa has finished cooking–it should be light and fluffy and the water should be gone–move it off of the heat.  Add the onion and kale mix to the pot of quinoa, then chop your tomato into small chunks and add it as well.  Stir well, then taste to see if the quinoa needs more salt.  Enjoy!

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Italy and Potato Kale Stir-Fry

I feel a bit silly, having written such an inspired post at the beginning of the summer and then neglected to post a single thing until the end of July.

To be fair, most of July was spent in Italy.  After our usual visit to my dad’s parents’ house in India, we met up with my mom’s sister and her family in Rome.  We explored the city for two days, then drove down to the beautiful region of Abruzzo, known for its stunning views and its wines.  Then we drove further south to Puglia for a few days, after which we visited Pompei, spent a few days in Positano, and returned to Rome for a day and a half.

It was a beautiful trip–the weather was perfect, the people were friendly, and we ate some wonderful food.

This last picture is of an appetizer we ordered on our last night in Rome.  It was a sort of stir-fry with potato, kale, onion, tomato, and an egg.  Simple as that sounds, it was delicious–so I decided, as soon as I got home, to attempt to recreate it.

You’ll need…

1 potato

1 tomato

Two to four handfuls of baby kale

1 large onion

1 egg

olive oil, salt, and pepper

rosemary

oregano

About three servings

Place a pan on the stove and turn the heat to high.  Peel and chop the onion into long, thin slices.  Reduce the heat to medium and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  Place the onions in the pan and let them brown, stirring every few minutes so that they cook evenly.

Chop the baby kale into fine chunks.  Once the onions have browned, add the kale to the pan and stir.  Add a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon of pepper (you can taste and add more if necessary).  Meanwhile, peel your potato and chop it into either small chunks or very thin slices.

Cook the onion kale mixture for a few minutes (the kale will not need to cook as long as the onions), then pour the kale and onions out of the pan and onto a plate; set aside.  Add more oil to the pan and place the potatoes in the pan.

You will need to stir the potatoes often and well so that they do not stick to the pan.  Add another 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper, and sprinkle the rosemary and oregano.  When the potatoes are browned and soft to touch, add the onion and kale back to the pan.  Stir, and taste to see if you need more salt.

Now turn the heat off (but leave the pan on the stove).  Dice the tomato and add it to the mixture, then crack the egg over the pan.  Stir, and remove from heat.  Voila! This makes an excellent side dish or a yummy lunch, and you’ll be eating like a Roman.

Yes, I’m still alive…

I’m an irresponsible blogger.  There’s no getting around it: my behavior over the last year has been absolutely inexcusable. Not a single post!

In my defense, I haven’t had a proper kitchen, nor have I had the time or resources to do much cooking other than my coffee and morning oatmeal (with apple and cinnamon–very yummy, but hardly blog-worthy).  But all of that is about to change (temporarily)! My freshman year of college is over–yesterday was my last final (you’ll be pleased to know I got an A), and as we speak my parents are in the car, drawing ever closer to the college of St. Olaf.

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Me with my good friend Lucia

Now I guess I’d better talk about college.  It was a great year!  I know this sounds incredibly cheesy, but I’ve made friends who have become like family to me.  I’ve loved all my classes (except for chemistry, which is too difficult and should never have been invented, and psych, in which I had a very boring professor) and learned a ton!  I know more about Medieval theology than anybody in their right mind would ever want to, I can produce a literary analysis paper en francais, I’ve become quite the expert at B.S.ing my way through psychology exams,and if you need someone to balance a chemical equation, I’m your girl.

And now I’m heading home to Iowa City, which I have never truly appreciated.  I always thought Iowa City was kind of boring and quiet, but I’ve missed it this year.  And I’ve also missed my kitchen.

Now that I’m a responsible adult (ha) I’m trying not to eat so much dessert, so you’ll notice that Vivre will be transitioning from a baking-centered blog to a blog about proper cooking.  I’ve done my fair share of cooking with vegetables, grains, and soups, but I want to work with meat! That is my personal goal this summer: get good at meat.

Let’s see–what else has happened in my life? I got a haircut (ten inches off and I hate it. Note to self: do not cut hair short. Ever) and am now impatiently awaiting the growth of more hair.  I’m probably going to major in political science, and I think I’ll be doing pre-med.  Now I’ve got to finish packing the ridiculous amount of stuff I brought with me to college, so I’ll stop writing now and end with some pictures.

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From left to right: Poonam, me, Megan, Monique, and Monica

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Gretchen, Megan, me, Monique, and Maddy

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Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies aren’t just alliterative; they also happen to be amazingly addictive and absolutely delicious! I tried them out on a lazy at-home sort of day and I have never made a better decision.

You will need…

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick butter (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Mix the sugars, salt and butter. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well. Stir in the flour and baking soda, then mix in the chocolate chips. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On lined baking pans place large dollops of dough about three inches apart. Bake 10-12 minutes. Enjoy!

   
   

Mint tea and graduating

I can’t believe how late this post is–it’s already mid June and so much has happened this summer! I graduated from highschool, my grandparents from India visited and I got a job (yes, I know it’s out of character). 

 
So long West High! 
  
Well, what with preparations for my grad party, a housefull of guests, yardwork to be done and working, I’ve sometimes been in dire need of a de-stressor. So I thought, why not try herbal tea?

We have no shortage of mint in our garden (actually, it’s quite invasive) so mint tea it was. I picked two stalks of mint (taking only the top half so each stalk would grow back) and rinsed them. Then I poured a mug-full of water into a pot over the stove and brought it to a boil. Next I added the mint leaves, reduced the water to a simmer, and covered the pot. After three minutes I poured the tea over a strainer and into my mug.

  
Mint tea doesn’t have a very strong flavor, but it’s calming and comforting and supposedly eases stomach pain! Plus, it makes your breath minty fresh. Enjoy!

  

Strawberry Oatmeal

My mom is a doctor, so I’ve grown up being lectured as to the importance of a healthy, hardy breakfast.  And you know what? She’s right. If my breakfast is less than ideal I fall asleep during physics, which is bad because I am currently walking the line between a B+ and an A-, and I still can’t wrap my mind around rotational motion. So I need to stay awake, meaning I need to start my day right, which brings me to oatmeal.

It’s delicious, cheap, simple and filling, not to mention healthy (speaking of health, I went for a run! You should all be proud of me). Especially when mixed with seasonal fruit, oatmeal is a fantastic way to start your day right.
You will need…

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/3 cup liquid of choice (water, milk or a combination of the two)
  • 1/4 cup chopped strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar

Place a pot over medium heat and add the liquid and oats. This will need to cook for a few minutes; keep an eye on it and stir once in a while. When the oats start to bubble and come together, reduce heat and add sugar. Cook a while longer, until oats have reached a nice thick consistency. Add the berries and stir well. Enjoy!