Fruit Tart with Lemon Cookie Crust

Summer fruit is here, and we have the best of it right out our door.  Fresh cherries, peaches and blueberries all ready at the same time inspired this dessert for Sunday dinner ……  Don’t you just love Sunday Family Dinners??  We sure do.

Fresh Fruit Tart with Lemon Cookie Crust

The best of the seasonal cherries, peaches and blueberries retain their fresh bright flavour in this dessert – no cooked fruit here!

COOKIE CRUST

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. For crust, in a medium bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon peel, the baking powder, vanilla, and salt; beat until combined. Add egg; beat until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour (or knead gently until combined).

lemon cookie tart

Press dough onto the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch round tart pan with removable bottom.

tart shell

If you don’t have a tart pan with removable base, use your springform pan.  It worked just fine …. at least until I get myself some tart pans with removable bottoms!

Line crust with a double thickness of foil. Bake crust for 6 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for 6 to 7 minutes more or until crust is lightly browned. Cool crust on a wire rack.

CREAMY VANILLA CUSTARD

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 cups milk

Whisk all ingredients together in sauce pan, and stir over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in:

1 tsp vanilla

Cover surface of the custard with a layer of plastic wrap and allow to cool completely.

GLAZE

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup juice (something that works well with whatever fruit you are using)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

In a small saucepan, stir together cornstarch and sugar.  Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring often to prevent clumps.  Allow to boil long enough for the liquid to lose the cloudy look of cornstarch.  Set aside to cool slightly.

ASSEMBLY

Leave cookie crust in tart pan, and spread the custard in an even layer.  Make sure the custard is cool at this point, you don’t want your fruit to get cooked!  The beauty of this dessert is that it really showcases the mouthwatering flavour of fruit that is in season, and you don’t want to lose that.

Arrange fruit over custard layer.

Brush glaze over fruit, just enough to set the fruit and keep the vibrant colours.

Cool completely before serving.

Basil Chive Vinaigrette

Nothing smells like fresh basil – definitely my favourite herb.  Summer is the only time of year I make this vinaigrette, when the basil is plentiful and salads grace every meal.

Basil Vinaigrette 1

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 oz (45 g) fresh basil leaves (about 2 cups leaves)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup really good quality extra virgin olive oil

Blend all ingredients, except for the olive oil.  Give it a good whiz, until all the herbs are bright flecks of green, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil until creamy and smooth.

Basil Vinaigrette 2

I really think this needs either an immersion blender or food processor to get the consistency.  If you don’t have either, chop herbs very fine and whisk it all up.

This will yield about 1 pint jar, and I’d suggest trying it in a variety of ways …

Basil Vinaigrette 3

salad dressing   ~   vegetable dip   ~   blend with cream cheese for a spreadable bread topping   ~   toss with zucchini ribbons   ~   brush over grilled chicken or seafood

 

Chicken Flautas with Tomatillo Sauce

You never know where you will find a mouth watering bite in Mexico City.  These chicken flautas, crispy and crunchy on the outside with tender tasty chicken inside, were served out of a spotlessly clean corner of a car wash!!

Flautas 4

Keep it simple, just the way it should be.  Using cooked, shredded chicken put a small amount on a tortilla and roll it up.  Secure with a toothpick – don’t skip this step otherwise the moment you put it into the hot oil it will want to unravel.

Flautas 1

Cook in heated oil (350 degrees) turning gently, just until the tortilla is browned & crispy.  Do not overcrowd the pan or the temperature will drop.   As they are finished, set aside in a warm oven until you are finished.

Flautas 2

Garnish with slivered lettuce, and serve with mexican crema, alongside a dish of tomatillo sauce.

(I made my tomatillo sauce by heating the tomatillo sauce and adding enough chicken broth to make a light consistency)  Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed.

…….an easy cheat on the crema is to add a bit of lime juice to sour cream….

Red Wine Vinaigrette

 

Making your own salad dressings is so easy that it never makes sense to buy them!  Forget the packaged dressings and give it a try.  I made enough of this for our Family Reunion this year and it was a hit.  Remember to taste as you go ….. I ended up eating a lot of lettuce before I got the balance right – hard to do with such a large quantity.

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  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Blend well, stirring until sugar has dissolved.

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Slowly whisk in the olive oil until it is emulsified.

Variations:  This is my basic “house” vinaigrette …. and you can switch it up any way you like, during the summer I like to add in fresh herbs.

 

Dukkha rubbed chicken satay with zucchini ribbons.

Dukkha is an amazing blend of spices and nuts that is very useful to have on hand.  Moist  chicken with crispy bits and tender zucchini, try this chicken marinated in tahini and rubbed with dukkha seasoning.  I guarantee it won’t be the only time you try it!

Dukkah chicken 4

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp liquid honey

1 tbsp tahini

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 lb of boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut in 1 inch pieces

1 small zucchini, cut into long thin ribbons (use a vegetable peeler)

1 small onion, cut into 1 inch pieces

1/2 cup Dukkah

In a large bowl, whisk together oil, honey, tahini, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Blend well, and add the chicken pieces.

Dukkah chicken 1

(This can be done ahead of time, and marinated for up to 24 hours)

When ready to assemble, remove chicken from marinade, (discard excess) and dredge in Dukkah.

Create an assembly line of zucchini ribbons, onion and chicken …..

Dukkah chicken 2

Alternately thread chicken, zucchini and onion onto skewers.  This can be done ahead and kept in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

dukkah chicken 3

 

Place skewers on greased grill over medium heat, close lid and grill – turning until browned.

Transfer to a serving platter, scatter more Dukkah over top and serve with lemon wedges.

If you live in a larger city, I’m sure you can pick up Dukkah seasoning in any Middle Eastern grocery store.  If not, check out my recipe for Dukkah, I like to keep it in my pantry.

 

Creamy Buttermilk Ranch Dressing & Dip

This smooth, creamy and herb packed dressing packs a bunch of flavour into any salad – don’t use as much buttermilk and it doubles as a fan fave for vegetable dip (or chips, but who would do that????…)

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Served this year at the Wittal/Steli Family Reunion 2017, and it was a real hit.

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup mayonnaise (use the best quality you can find)

2 minced garlic cloves

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 – 2 tsp fresh minced parsley

1 – 2 tsp fresh chopped dill

1 – 2 tsp fresh chopped basil

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

just a few dashes of hot sauce

Taste and adjust for seasonings ….. everybody has different condiments, and the level of freshness of your herbs will also affect the taste.  I think I went through a whole serving of salad dipping lettuce leaves in and adjusting for taste!

 

Blend everything together really well and allow to rest in the fridge for a couple of hours before using.  This keeps really well for a week or so in the fridge.

Green Bean and Tomato Salad

 

Green Bean & Tomato Salad

I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen’s website, and with both beans and tomatoes at the market it was a quick and easy side dish – loved it!

Serves 6

1 pound green beans, though if you can find a mix of green and yellow beans, it will be all the prettier
1 pound cherry tomatoes
1 large shallot
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Basil or other herb (optional)

Prepare the vegetables: Top and tail the beans and cut them into large segments. Parboil the beans in salted water until just tender, about four to five minutes. Drain and immediately spread them out to cool. Stem the cherry tomatoes and cut them in half.

Make the vinaigrette: Peel and mince the shallot and put it in a bowl with the vinegar and salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil. Taste and adjust the balance with more vinegar, oil, or salt, as needed. Toss the cherry tomatoes in with the vinaigrette; this can sit for a while. Do not add the green beans until just before serving or they will discolor from the acid in the vinaigrette. For variety, the salad can be garnished with basil or some other fresh herb such as parsley, chervil or hyssop.

Do ahead: Beans and vegetables can be prepared ahead of time. Simply toss with the dressing only at the last minute, as it can discolor the green beans after several hours.