Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tropical Meringue Tart, with lime, coconut, and sesame

First off, I'm quite honored to be a finalist for Saveur Magazine's Best Baking and Desserts Blog! Thank you to whoever it is out there who was a big enough fan of this blog to submit a nomination. I heard the news in the middle of a week that was riddled with rejection letters and hearing a lot of "no"s and "you're not good enough"s, so it feels pretty good to be recognized for some accomplishment, even if it's just me prattling away here and in my kitchen every week or so!

Lots of off-line things have been happening for me this week (things so big that the Saveur news only registered as a tiny blip on the radar), but I'm still in the middle of processing them all before I feel like I can talk about them here on the blog. In the meantime, though, I wanted to share one of my latest flavor obsessions: limes.

Oddly, this year more so than in any previous year, I've become horribly impatient about wanting warmer weather. It's uncharacteristic of me, because I'm so warm-blooded that I usually prefer the cold. Maybe, though, it's a symptom of too much non-stop stress, and I just need some sun, sand, a warm ocean, and a couple of nice, deep breaths. Barring a currently-impossible trip to the beach, limes have been the next best thing, their sweet, tart crispness reminiscent of frozen drinks and fish tacos. Ah, the fish tacos.

This tart des tropiques is my 'I wish I were in the tropics' spin on my favorite kind of pie: the lemon meringue. Here instead, nestled in a slightly nutty sesame seed crust, is a sweet and tangy and lusciously creamy lime curd--not quite as bright but more subtly flavored than lemon curd--covered with fluffy and puffy clouds of lightly-caramelized coconut meringue and sprinkled with some toasted sesame seeds and dried coconut chips for some extra crunch. The lime flavor here is definitely the star, with just a whiff of coconut, like the faint scent of the tropics that wafts through the warm night air when you're sitting in a rocking hammock strung between two palm trees on the beach, soft sand at your tiptoes and the ocean gently, softly ebbing away in the close darkness.... sigh.

Lastly, in other news, the second issue of sated is almost done! More news on that front to come very shortly. Stay tuned!

Read on for recipe....

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spring Quiche, with butternut squash, peas, and feta

Lately, I've been really into meals that I can cook once and then easily eat for the next few day or so, given the perpetually increasing number of items on my to-do list, sigh. (My recent motto for life alternates on the minute between "Focus" and "Don't panic" whenever I look at said list!) Apparently, quiche is perfect for this make now-eat tomorrow mentality--so much so that it didn't lose its impressiveness when I made it one day and served it the next when friends came over for lunch. Also, it's like this wonderful meal-in-one, when you pack it with vegetables and serve it topped with heaps of fresh baby kale.

This particular quiche is inspired by a frittata that an acquaintance made when I visited Australia back in 2007. She took me on a picnic in the Blue Mountains (which are absolutely amazing, btw), and out of her picnic basket, she pulled this almost magic frittata that was densely packed with floating cubes of butternut squash, fresh peas, and feta cheese. The effect of the cubes of cheese and squash and the spheres of green peas surrounded by pale yellow egg was gorgeous, like abstract mosaic art. Until that day, I never thought I liked frittatas--they were way too much egg and not enough anything else, in my opinion--but that one definitely changed my mind.

...and I've been thinking about that frittata ever since. So I tried my hand at replicating it in quiche form, surrounded by a flaky whole wheat pie crust to satisfy the carb-loving part of me. :) Inside is a myriad of textures and flavors: bursting fresh peas, a little bit of bite and sweetness in the butternut squash, salty almost-brininess from the feta, and a bit of garlic to top it off. The egg here is really just an accompaniment, something to hold everything together (deliciously). :)

[click on photo for a larger image]

Read on for recipe....