Classic Fruit Tart

This is a great end-of-summer tart recipe. I used plums for this tart, but you can use any fruit really- the recipe is that simple. My Mom has made this a number of different ways (my favorite is the gooseberry!) prompting me to finally buy a tart pan and make it myself. She also gave me the book with the recipe for the tart dough- The Tenth Muse- My Life in Food by Judith Jones.  In the book, Judith Jones (Julia Child’s publisher) has a recipe for a Gooseberry tart and a Strawberry and Rhubarb tart that are delicious. Here is my take on it:

Tart Dough


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. sugar (only for sweet tarts)
  • 8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp. cold water


Mix flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter into small pieces, drop them into the food processor tube, and pulse for 15 seconds (or as Ms. Jones writes “long enough to say ‘alligator’ fifteen times”). Pour in ice water and process long enough to say “alligator” ten times. Transfer the dough to the counter and work it with the heel of your hand. Gather the dough together in a round. Sprinkle with flour, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate at least 20 minutes or until ready to use.

Plum Tart


Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Thinly slice 4-5 plums. Set aside. Roll dough out into a circle (or long oval if using a rectangular tart pan). If dough is very cold, let it warm up slightly at room temp first. Transfer dough to tart pan, tucking it into the inside rim firmly. Trim dough if needed. Paint the dough with 1/4 cup of jam (I used apricot and raspberry).

Arrange the plums (or whatever fruit you are using) on top and sprinkle sugar over them. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees, then lower the heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 45 minutes.








Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook

My Mom recently gave me this cookbook which she had autographed by the author Amanda Hesser:

“for jeannette-
eat like you mean it!

 all the best, amanda hesser”

Very cool.  It’s an immense cookbook, both in terms of content and actual size. It includes a compilation of the best recipes published in the New York Times over the past 150 years(!).  The most interesting part is the timeline set out in the beginning of each chapter that chronicles food trends for each decade (did you know the Caesar salad came into vogue in the 1940’s?). This fun feature and the author’s own comments for each recipe almost makes you forget that there are no pictures (this usually drives me crazy- what is it supposed to look like?!).

This is the first recipe I’ve made from the cookbook- a great way to use up an abundance of summer vegetables!


  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 medium squash
  • 1 medium zuchinni
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme or oregano (or 1/2
    tsp. dried)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, peeled and cored
  • 6 basil leaves, finely chopped


Chop squash and zucchini into 1/2 inch cubes. Trim ends of eggplant but do not peel. Cut into 1/2 inch slices and cut each slice into large cubes. Generously sprinkle the eggplant with salt and place in a colander. Weight it down with a plate and let stand for one hour to drain (I was skeptical, but it really does drain liquid! but in a pinch, I bet you could skip this step).

Place heavy skillet over medium heat and add oil. When hot, add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until onion is soft, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the eggplant, zucchini, squash, herbs and pepper. Add bay leaf and cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Chop tomatoes and add them to the eggplant, along with the basil. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until thick. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot or cold. We enjoyed it over couscous and again over slices of thick bread.

*Notes: the recipe was originally printed in the New York Times on June 3, 1965: “A Flair for Languages can Add Flavor to Menus” by Craig Claiborne.  The
recipe was adapted from Mrs. Jacques Kayaloff (although the notes in the cookbook state that the recipe may actually be the work of Mrs. Kayaloff’s cook, Lee Faith).


It is blazing hot here in D.C. and a cold bowl of gazpacho soup is the perfect thing to eat. Especially when you have a new Cuisinart Food Processor!  This recipe is my mother-in-law’s and it is the best gazpacho recipe- ever. It’s flavorful, chunky and so thick that you can stand a piece of bread up in it. Just the way I like it! As soon as I got the food processor home and unpacked, this is one of the first things I wanted to make! MUCH easier than chopping all the ingredients by hand and less messy than making it in a blender.  

6 tomatoes
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 medium red onion
1 medium green pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp vinegar (red wine or sherry)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
pinch of sugar
2 slices day old bread (country white or Italian chopped in cubes) (optional)
1 cup water or 1 1/2 cups tomato juice
Hot sauce (to taste) 
Plunge tomatoes into a big pot of boiling water for 30 seconds (this makes it easier to peel). Remove from water, peel and chop. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Serve with fresh basil leaves.  Simple as that! This soup tastes even better the next day, after being refrigerated for awhile. It may become too thick, and if so, you can add more water or the tomato juice to reach your desired consistency (we like ours pretty chunky).

And a picture of Tony in our Garden for good measure!

Pesto Duo

It’s that time of year again when our garden produces more basil than we know what to do with!









I also got one of these from my parents for my birthday!









Enter PESTO. versatile, freezeable, and an easy way to break in a new food processor!

Here are two easy recipes:

Classic Basil Pesto










  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper (or to taste)
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


In blender or food processor, pulse basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper. Gradually add oil to form a smooth, thick consistency. Stir in cheese at the end and give the mixer another spin or two to achieve desired consistency. Add more salt and pepper (or oil, or cheese) to taste.









Pea Pesto

I have to admit, I made this recipe after reading that it was one of the dishes Giada de Laurentiis was serving to William and Kate (sorry, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) during their recent trip to California. It was really easy and a good alternative to traditional basil pesto (especially as a base layer for paninis!).










  • 1 10-ounce package of frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


In a food processor or blender, pulse together the peas, garlic, parmesan cheese and salt. With the machine running, slowly add in the olive oil until it is well combined, which takes about one to two minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread on thick slices of baguette or ciabatta and top with sliced tomatoes.

Mushy Peas

We traveled to Paris and England over the holidays and had an amazing trip! While in England, we enjoyed our fair share of the classic: fish and chips! I’ve had fish and chips before, but I’ve never  heard of the side dish that came with it- mushy peas! Apparently this is traditional English pub fare and despite the name, it is really good! So when we got back I knew I had to try to re-create them.

I went right to the “proper” source for a recipe- Jamie Oliver (he is like royalty over there).


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch spring onions, chopped  (I used a yellow onion)
  • 1 handful fresh mint (optional)
  • 1 pound frozen peas
  • 2 large knobs butter
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


“Heat the oil in a pan and add the chopped onions, mint, and peas. Cover and leave for a few minutes to steam. Mash with a potato masher. You can do this with a food processor as well, just pulse it until smooth (I used my immersion blender). Whether mashing or pulsing, when it’s done add the butter and season very carefully, to taste.” I add a tablespoon or two of milk because it seemed rather dry.

 They were really good, but not as good as the ones I had in the English pubs! I’ll have to keep at it…

Golden Boar Pub

The Rose and Crown

Meanwhile, since we’ve been back I have…

1. … started to put milk in my tea  

(in my commemorative William and Kate engagement mug, of course…)

2. … am going through serious Cadbury withdrawal

3. …become slightly obsessed with the Royal Family

The Royals

(on my to-read list!)

4. … started using the phrase “BRASS MONKEYS”  

(it doesn’t mean what you think)

 whenever possible (as in, “Brrr… it’s brass monkeys out there today!”)

5.  …. found my knight in shining armour


6. … continue to wait for my acceptance letter to Hogwarts!


Baked Brie and Onion Puff

Here is a quick and easy appetizer just in time for the holidays! This is an elegant twist on the standard cheese and cracker fare usually found on coffee tables this time of year. With just a few ingredients you can easily make this upgrade.  All you need are onions, brie, puff pastry, butter and an egg. Let’s start with the onions….
Here is what you’ll need to succeed:

Yes, those are my swim goggles. I highly recommend wearing a pair while attempting to thinly slice four large onions…

I didn’t shed a single tear! 

Next, add all of those onions to a pan and start to caramelize. Caramelized onions are amazing on anything really, including leftover turkey sandwiches,  so while you’re going to the trouble, I recommend making some extra!

While working on the onions, take the puff pastry out of the freezer and let it thaw on the counter. Also, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Next, place a piece of parchment paper on the counter and roll out one sheet of puff pastry. Place three big scoops of onions in the middle. Place the wheel of brie on top of the onions (leave the rind on- I promise you won’t taste it). Quickly whisk an egg in a small bowl and then lightly brush the edges of the puff pastry with the egg wash.

Next, start folding the pastry up over the cheese, pressing the seams together to seal. Then flip the pastry round, seam side down, on a parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the top of the pastry with the egg wash. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Yum!

Here is the complete recipe for two baked brie puffs:

Baked Brie and Onion Puff

adapted from The Food Network


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 large Vidalia or Spanish onions, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 2 (5-inch) rounds brie cheese
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and saute until just brown, about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of water and cook stirring often, until dark golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Roll each sheet of pastry to a 12-inch square on a marble surface or parchment paper to prevent sticking. Divide the caramelized onions in the center of each pastry. Put a brie round on top of the onions and brush edges of both pastry squares with beaten egg. Fold pastry up and over cheese to completely enclose the cheese in the pastry. Press the seams together to completely seal. Arrange each pastry round, seam side down, on a silicone mat or parchment lined baking sheet. Brush the top of each pastry round with beaten egg. Bake until golden brown. 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand 15 to 20 minutes before indulging. Enjoy!

Mixed Mushroom Soup

Trick or Treat! 

To kick off the start of Fall (a.k.a. soup season!) I made this amazing and hearty mushroom soup this past Halloween weekend.  I will treat you to the recipe at the end. But first, in the spirit of Halloween, a few tricks and treats from this past weekend: 

Friday night we went to an event at the National Zoo.

…where we enjoyed treats provided by Magic Hat Brewing Co.


… and Tony tried to trick some of the residents of the gorilla house.


On Saturday, I was reminded what a treat it is to live in D.C. where the National Mall is only a short metro, cab, bus, car ride away. Apparently everyone in D.C. had the same idea, so after considerable effort getting there, we reached the Mall to attend this:  

The Mall was packed with people dressed up in costumes and carrying all types of signs. 

It was so crowded, we couldn’t see or hear anything. The trick was to remember to record the event before we left the house and then watch it later from the warm comfort of our couch! 

Sunday was Halloween and while some of us wanted to go out and get some treats with the other kids….    

We told him he wasn’t going to trick anyone with that tail sticking out!

So we stayed in and enjoyed this delicious treat instead:  

Mixed Mushroom Soup

adapted from Whole Living

Serves 4 (about 7 cups)


  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced and rinsed
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms (white button, cremini, oyster, and shiitake), rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (we didn’t have any, so I omitted)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained (I used two cans)
  • 1/2 cup marsala wine (optional) (I omitted)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth


Soak porcini in 1 cup warm water until softened, about 20 minutes. Lift porcini from liquid and coarsely chop; strain liquid through a colander or cheesecloth-lined sieve and reserve.

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium. Add leeks; season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, porcini, and chopped mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 7 minutes or until mushrooms just begin to brown. Add fennel seeds, bay leaves, tomato paste, and tomatoes, and cook for 3 minutes. Add marsala (if using), porcini liquid, and broth. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Discard bay leaves before serving. Serve with a grating of pecorino or parmesan cheese.  We had this with grilled swiss cheese sandwiches on rye bread. Perfect combo!

Taking a picture of a steaming bowl of soup is quite tricky!