So we went picking. It rained the whole time. This was not the strawberry picking of Junes passed with the summer sun beating down on our backs, sweat beading at our temples, and the fields bathed in the scent of ripe berries. This was the perfect storm. With fruit.
Imagine our motley trio knee-deep in soggy berry plants, in an unseasonable 55F, with torrential downpours putting our cardboard berry flats to shame. We were pathetic: shivering in our farm clothes, crying about mashed berries left to drown, condemning our need to make strawberry-based products at f + k (along with whoever had the idea to hand-harvest all the berries *cough* me *cough*).
It was worth it though. We got a nice haul and spent the next day in the kitchen cranking out strawberry-rose syrup, strawberry balsamic preserves, and preserved whole berries and ginger in syrup. Check them out here later today!
With some of the berries that survived the kitchen I made a tart—not one gleaming with fruit and topped with cream, but one baked with toasted walnuts, whole wheat flour, and canela. A little something to battle the strange, chilly weather we have had up here in Boston this past week. For those who are not familiar with it, canela is known as Ceylon cinnamon. This is the “true” cinnamon plant, unlike what most of us use every day which is actually cassia, a plant which tastes more like cinnamon than cinnamon does (once you try them both you will find that cassia is also more bitter). Canela works perfectly with strawberries as it doesn’t scream FALL! like cassia, instead lending a homey warmth to whatever it is combined with.
Strawberry Canela Tart with Toasted Walnuts
3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2-3 tablespoons ice water
½ cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons canela
1 cup thimble-sized strawberries, hulled or 8-9 large strawberries hulled and halved
Mix the flours, sugar and salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add ice water one tablespoon at a time, stop when mixture just begins to hold together. Wrap the dough in wax paper or parchment and refrigerate until firm.
Roll dough out to 1/8-inch thick on a floured surface to fit the tart pan you are using. Trim edges of the dough by holding a knife against the pan and pulling gently, horizontally, along the pan’s edge. Chill the dough and pan again until firm.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Poke bottom of tart all over with a fork and fill with pie weights or dried beans in foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the weights or beans and bake for another 5 minutes or so—enough to dry any remaining moist dough. Remove and let cool before filling.
Grind the walnuts in a food processor until they resemble a coarse meal. Add sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla and mix until smooth. Spread filling over the bottom of the chilled tart shell and top with strawberries or strawberry halves—I simply plunked whole berries right into the filling, the filling with rise over them as it cooks.
Lower the oven temp to 315 and bake for 40 minutes or until the top of the tart is a medium-brown.
As change from our typical tooth corrupting fare I’ve decided to share a favorite savory recipe, an early spring Dutch baby perfect for breakfast or brunch. Based on the old Apfelpfannkuchen, or German oven pancake, the Dutch baby is a contemporary dish first popularized in Seattle. This version takes advantage of one of springs first arrivals: green onions. The recipe for this dish is quick and simple, the trick is in the execution.
And by that, in our house anyway, the “trick” is to have Ben do it. Ben, f + k partner, twin, and cook at south Boston’s The Gallows restaurant, is the go-to dutch baby guy around here. This is the first of his contributions to this blog– hopefully the first of many delicious savory dishes to come!
Savory Dutch Baby with Whipped Mascarpone, Scallions, and Balsamic Vinegar
Ingredients (makes about five (5) 8” pancakes):
- 6 eggs
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 ½ cups milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup mascarpone cheese
- 3 large green onion tops (scallions)
- Balsamic vinegar
Start by preparing the condiments, cut the scallions into ¼” thick rings, place the mascarpone in stand mixer and whip at medium speed until the consistency lightens. Preheat oven to 425 degrees (if you do not have a gas range place an 8-12” ovenproof skillet in the oven with 1tbsp butter to heat the pan to temp.
Combine the eggs and milk and blend well by hand. Slowly add the flour while whisking to prevent clumps from forming.
If you have a gas range place the pan on the stove and heat vigorously, add 1 tbsp of melted butter (clarified is preferred) and quickly swirl butter around the pan and up the sides.
Here’s the tricky part! Ladle about 5-6oz of batter into the center of the pan and immediately begin swirling over the gas. It’s important to keep most of the quickly setting batter to the sides of the pan without pushing it more than half way up the sides.
Place pan in the oven for about 10 minutes or until deep golden brown. Dab the top surface dry with clean towel and top with a dollop of mascarpone, a sprinkling of scallions and a drizzle of sweet balsamic vinegar.
Because these little cakes can be a bit challenging I’ve included a corrections guide:
- If the cake puffed in the center instead of the sides it means too much batter pooled in the center of the pan, this could be caused by failing to swirl the batter long enough (allowing time to set) or because of excessive dimpling of the pan (due to old age and use).
- If the cake has a notched or “cleft” edge it may be because too much butter was in the pan resulting in an incomplete coating when swirled.
- If the pancake sticks you need more butter, these babies should release from the pan when turned over every time.
- If there are burnt edges on the pancake it may have been cooked for too long or may have been swirled to high up the edge of the pan.
When we closed shop after a great holiday season in 2010 we were sad, yet determined to bring fig + kindle back and better than ever. Over the last few months we have broken down this business and rebuilt it to be a model for small food businesses everywhere– we wanted to demonstrate that even the notorious confectionery business can be eco-friendly, that small business owners can be a part of their agricultural community, even if they practice their art in sugar.
So we’re officially back with ingredients from local farms, all organic herbs and spices, and wholly recycled or recyclable packaging. We even found a company to print out labels sans gloss and with soy ink! Many of you who have been following us since the start will notice that our signature brittles have been thinned out and joined by marshmallows and sablés (you should also know that our first collection of chocolate will follow shortly!). You will also notice that we are now selling in person at Boston’s SoWa Market and have opened our wholesale business.
Lots of things going on and lots more to come! We will be posting our roster of June events shortly.
In the meantime, why not check out our newly opened Etsy shop?
Around here things have been a bit crazy. We relocated back to Boston on the first of May which involved a five hour car ride with an upset, geriatric cat and three flights of stairs with no elevator. Then we commenced the scramble to get our paperwork, health permits, and supplies together for fig + kindle’s reopening in early June. This, of course, involved navigating Boston’s horrifically bloated beaucracy, taking incorrect buses to industrial neighborhoods, and nearly crying when meeting someone who actually had helpful information– nice old ladies in government offices are a blessing.
Things are pretty well set. Our apartment is filling up with boxes of packaging, chocolate, and herbs, and orders are coming in for the June Tasting Box—something we are super excited to start manufacturing after the June 15th sign up deadline (so quick! Check it out).
With all this running around I have not been in the recipe-making, photographing, blogging mood—long days of running around and sitting on public transportation do not so much inspire creativity in the kitchen. However, with a quick break and an easy classic, we are finally back in the blogosphere.
Panna Cotta is one of those desserts I would have brushed off in my younger years. Not dense enough, not homey enough, not filled with crunchy things or chocolate. Although, recently I have been craving something sweet, simple, and easy to make and this wiggly dessert came to mind. Panna Cotta is essentially cooked cream held together by agar agar or gelatin…call it milk jello if you will…or don’t if that makes you want to gag. It’s almost sinfully easy to make, and a perfect base for summery fruit desserts. However if you, like me, live in a part of the country where virtually NOTHING is producing fruit at this time of year, you can get a little more indulgent with your panna cotta accompaniment.
Being a caramel-crazed household, I decided to make myself and the boys a panna cotta topped with rose honey caramel sauce. The stuff if liquid gold: deep-flavored, rich, and a perfect combination for spring weather that hasn’t quite warmed up yet.
1 tbsp of powdered gelatin
1 cup of cream
1/4 cup of sugar
1 1/4 cup of milk
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla
Place the gelatin and more or less 2 tbs water in a small bowl, set aside to bloom (will take about 5 mins).
Combine the milk, cream, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Stirring, heat until sugar dissolves.
Add the gelatin and continue cooking until no grains remain (1-2mins). Add in vanilla or flavoring of choice.
Pour the cream mixture into ramekins, cups, bowls, or virtually any container you can think of. Leave them on the counter until at room temperature, then place in the fridge until firm (2-4 hours)
Rose Honey Caramel
2 tbs rose petals, chopped
7 tbs heavy cream
4 tbs butter, cubed
11 tbs sugar
2 tbs honey
2 tbs water
1 tsp salt
Heat the cream in a mug until bubbling, immediately add rose petals and cover with a plate. Let steep for 10-15 minutes.
Once steeped, put the mixture through a strainer. Set aside.
Combine the sugar, honey, salt, and water in a medium sauce pot over medium heat. Stir gently until sugar dissolves and then let boil undisturbed until the mixture turns light amber.
Reduce heat and whisk in the cream in three installments—be careful as the mixture will bubble and release a hot burst of steam with each addition.
Place the caramel in a bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.
Add the cubed butter, stir until incorporated.
Pour the caramel into a jar and keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
So our fabulous new website is up (which is why this blog has gone back to it’s wordpress domain), and I must say that our in-house graphics-guy, Daniel Boccato, really outdid himself. Full disclosure: this man also happens to be my significant other, so perhaps I am biased. Please check out the new site and tell us what you think!
You will also notice that the new site has an announcement about our Tasting Box, a new monthly offer from fig + kindle. This box is stuffed full with a number of newly-invented sweets, old classics, and always something different that what we offer in our normal repertoire. The box changes each month along with its packaging; each one is put together to tell a story about the particular time of year from locally-sourced fruits, to new designer wrapping paper.
To give you a sneak peak at June: we have a kraft paper cube, wrapped with green and white hydrangea paper, filled with five sweets:
Local Strawberry Elderflower Jam
Lavender Almond Toffee
Lemon Verbena Marshmallows
Whole Wheat Sablés with Shaved Taza Chocolate, Vanilla Bean, and Maine Sea Salt
Candied Thyme Walnuts
We will be accepting orders for these boxes until June 15th, after which all will be assembled and shipped the following week. Check them out on ETSY.
Please keep a lookout for new announcements as we relaunch fig + kindle in its entirety in June!
It’s Easter. I don’t come from a family that really celebrates the holiday outside of having an excuse to have a picnic, bask in the springtime, and buy lots of candy. When I was a child, traditions hinged upon a manic race to find plastic eggs filled with pennies and candy eating and asparagus. Apparently I come from an asparagus family…whatever that means. It was always around, in or out of season: my grandmother would go rabid at the sight of it at the grocery store. The woman loved her asparagus. I vividly remember her slurping the long strands of boiled, green vegetable dripping in melted butter like steamers. It always made me a little queasy. Boiled asparagus, not my grandmother.
However, now that I am older and wiser and fully capably of slapping my veggies in a broiler, life is better. Asparagus and I have an excellent relationship, especially when olive oil and sea salt are involved.
1 bunch of asparagus (I use a medium-thickness stalk)
1 tbs olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste
Easiest recipe in the world. Wash the asparagus stalks and trim an inch to an inch and a half off the bottom. You can reserve these for a longer cooking process (they are a bit tough if left on here). Line a baking or broiler pan with tin foil and lay-out the stalks in a nice row. Drizzle with the olive oil and give a toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and any herbs to taste.
If using a broiler: Put the asparagus under the broiler for 3 minutes or so– just until the surface begins to darken a little. Turn over and repeat.
If using an oven: Heat up the oven to 400F. Cook the asparagus for approx. 6-8 minutes depending on the size of the stalks and the closeness of the pan to the heating elements. Turn the asparagus over and cook for the same period of time. The cooking in the oven will be slower, definitely, and will yield a less-crispy and more tender stalk.
Things are coming along well for our relaunch in late May. Although, I think if anyone ever told me how difficult and stressful launching a business would be I may not have done it. I think that is what most of my counterparts will say themselves. I am still swimming in insurance paperwork, bugging distributors who don’t call me back, and knocking my head, and Daniel’s, against walls trying to figure out how to get a large enough tempering machine to be able to finally sell our chocolates as a regular offering.
One bright spot though: we just finalized our dates with the SoWa market. If those of you in the Boston-area have not been I urge you to come down for a visit when the season starts. It is an outdoor market with all kinds of artisans, crafters, farmers selling fresh produce and baked goods, and specialty shops like f+k. It is located in South Boston in an area particularly well-suited for strolls along streets lined with classic brick buildings and great little shops.
Here is our schedule for 2011:
Sundays 10am-4pm, 500 Harrison Ave S. Boston
July: 3, 24
August: 7, 14, 28
September: 4, 18, 25
October: 2, 9, 23
Hope to see you there!