Valentine Tart

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I made this fresh berry tart for Valentine’s Day. I used lemon-rosemary tart pastry, then filled it with pastry cream. I topped it with fresh organic strawberries, blueberries and raspberries, then glazed it with apricot preserves.

1/4 cup plus 1 tsp sugar

2 Tb all-purpose flour

2 Tb cornstarch

4 large egg yolks

1 1/2 cup milk (I used 1% )

2 tsp vanilla

Separate eggs and remove the thick white chalazae from the yolks. Whip egg yolks on high speed. Add sugar and sift in flour and cornstarch, then whip again until light colored.

Heat milk in a medium saucepan until it just begins to simmer. With mixer on medium-low, slowly pour 1/2 cup  milk into the egg mixture until it is well combined. Scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl and whisk in well. Then pour it slowly back into the pot with rest of the milk, whisking constantly. Cook over low-medium heat and continue whisking while the mixture thickens, then whisk for another minute. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla extract.

Strain the pastry cream into a clean container,

Place parchment paper directly on the hot pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Let it cool on the counter. Pour the pastry cream into the cooled lemon-rosemary tart pastry  and spread it evenly.

Wash berries, then pat dry with paper towels. Cut the green tops off the strawberries and slice them lengthwise

Form a heart shape in the center with raspberries. Fill in the heart with sliced strawberries. Fill in the area outside the heart with blueberries.

Heat about 1/4 cup apricot preserves and 1 Tb water in a microwave. Strain into a bowl. Gently brush jam over the fruit for a shiny glaze. You can glaze the strawberries, then layer them to stick them together, then glaze again.

Smooth Kabocha Squash Coconut Soup

coconut cream heart

This smooth rich soup is made with nutty kabocha squash, leeks and carrots and seasoned with ginger and turmeric. It can be made vegan with vegetable broth. It is rich and creamy from coconut milk. I’ve tried this soup with both regular and low-fat coconut milk, The regular gives a rich coconut flavor.but the low-fat is lower in calories. Chose what’s right for you. In any case, I recommend the most natural coconut milk you can find, with only guar gum added, no preservatives.

You can roast the squash ahead of time. It’s a good way to warm up the kitchen on a frosty morning. If you’re in a hurry, you can microwave it for 10 minutes (stab it first so it won’t explode!)

serves 6 bowls (12 cups)

Ingredients

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1 medium kabocha squash

2 large carrots, peeled

1 tsp unrefined coconut oil (it tastes like coconut)

2 tsp grated ginger root or 2 cubes frozen ginger

3 leeks or 2 cups of sliced frozen leeks

4 cups  vegetable broth or chicken broth

1/2 tsp tumeric

several grinds black pepper

14 oz can low-fat coconut milk

1 1/2 tsp salt to taste

Garnish: 1/3 cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)

Instructions

roasted squash and carrotsPreheat oven to 375◦ Stab whole kabocha several times and place on a foil-lined heavy pan. Roast for 40 minutes.  Add carrots and turn off oven. Let the vegetables sit in the oven for half an hour.  Remove vegetables from oven. Cut squash in half and then let cool. until you can handle it

open-squash.jpg

While squash is cooling, cut leeks lengthwise and slice crosswise. Soak and rinse thoroughly in a salad spinner several times to remove all grit. Alternatively you can pour out 2 cups of frozen sliced leeks and cut the rounds in half.

leeks and ginger.jpg

Melt coconut oil in a large pot. Saute ginger and sliced leeks until they soften.

Add broth to leeks and ginger and heat to boiling.

Slice carrots crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. Scoop out and discard stringy seed pod from the squash. Carefully cut off the thin peel and add chunks of squash and carrot slices into the broth. Stir in turmeric and a few grinds black pepper.

veggies in soup for smooth kabochaSimmer uncovered for 15 minutes.

pour coconut milk into soup.jpgReserve a few tablespoons of coconut cream from the top of the can for garnishing the soup. Pour coconut milk into the broth and stir well.

Let soup cool for 30 minutes.

Pour into blender in batches and blend until smooth.

Stir in salt to taste

Heat soup until ready to serve

toasting pepitasToast 1/3 cup pepitas on a comal or heavy skillet over medium low heat and toss on top of each soup bowl to garnish

Have fun making designs with reserved coconut cream.coconut cream topping.jpg

Valentine’s Heart’s Passion Dessert

Passion fruit is aptly named for the day of love

The fruit is unremarkable on the outside,

but cut it open, and inside is a gorgeous  red and white fruit filled with green juicy seeds

surround it with strawberries dipped in melted chocolate

or present it with passion fruit sorbet topped with a heart-shaped chocolate truffle and chocolate dipped strawberries