Tags: eggs, En Croute, Ham, Julia Child, Michel Richard, Peppers, Puff Pastry, Spinach, Torte Milanese, Tourte Milanese
Remember when I told you about the computer crash of 2010, where I lost almost everything, mainly tons of photos of some of the best goodies I’ve ever made, most of them pretty labor intensive? You see, I was on this roll from September 2010 t0 January 2011 – a fancy shmancy crazy roll. Once or twice a week I was creating showstopping sweet and savory dishes like they were going out of style, and as luck would have it, getting some good clicks of them.
It was an amazing food blog run. I had about 7 posts lined up. The posts weren’t written, but the photos were ready – tucked in and snug as a bug in a rug in my photo program, waiting until I was ready to write and post. Then..the crash.
A twist on Crack Pie, 12-Layer Macadamia Nougatine Milk Chocolate Torte, Cassoulet (which I had to make again immediately since it was a challenge I was co-hosting) , beautiful Quince-Fig Tartlets with Frangipane, and this Tourte Milanese. There were other potential posts lost, but these five bothered me the most, especially the Tourte Milanese.
I cried when I was told that they were so damaged there was no way of recovering them . I cursed, I screamed, but it wasn’t going to bring them back. I threw something, I think it was a banana, but all that did was leave a smudge on the wall.
I’m not a violent person by any stretch, but, damn, when you put so much heart, time and intensity into something and then it vanishes into thin air, you need to throw something. Think of those who don’t back up 100′s of pages of a book they’ve been writing for a year or more..and lose it in one fell swoop – for-ev-er.
Now I pay for an online backup service. More than worth it.
The worst part is..only those 5 creations were annihilated. Most of the so-so potential post photos were recovered or partially recovered. It freakin’ figures.
I never posted the so-so potential posts.
It still bugs me to this day because I will never recreate those photos. I had every step snapped, and for once, I was happy with the results. With artificial light, I didn’t think I could ever do better than those, so I never even attempted to recreate it. The amount of photos plus post processing was staggering. It was hours and hours of work. No way, no how.
Well, apparently my stubbornness and laziness are not as concrete as I thought. Once I saw the theme for this months Daring Cooks challenge, ‘en croute’, the tourte resurfaced aggressively. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I knew it was time to erase the misery of those lost photos and just do it again. I was a mixed bag of excitement (because I love making it) and dread (he thought of all the photo work made me queasy), but with a few days to go, I let it loose and ran with it.
I had to make it easier or I wouldn’t do it, so I bought the puff pastry dough. I had no more homemade puff pastry in my freezer and I wasn’t going to make the puff pastry from scratch this time, no matter how much I enjoy doing so. Time is an issue..energy is an issue. Store bought or bust.
The tourte and photos didn’t turn out as nice as the 2010 annihilated batch, but I’m happy with it nonetheless and glad I could finally share it with you all.
Now to the lady whose blog name I love;
Our lovely Monkey Queen of Don’t Make Me Call My Flying Monkeys, was our May Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to dive into the world of en Croute! We were encouraged to make Beef Wellington, Stuffed Mushroom en Croute and to bring our kids into the challenge by encouraging them to create their own en Croute recipes!
I made individual beef wellingtons back in a 2010 ‘en croute’ challenge, so I decided to take part as a kid, using my own ‘en croute’ recipe. Well, Michel’s recipe, via Baking with Julia, but it’s en croute aka wrapped in dough, so there. It’s also either Italian in origin or a tribute to Italy via the French, or just Michel Richard, since the layers, yellow representing white (what white food is better than eggs? I rest my case) pretty much correspond to the colors of the Italian flag, and Milanee is well..from Milan.
Although this Tourte Milanese looks difficult, it isn’t. You cook eggs and spinach, and roast red bell peppers. The rest is rolling out dough and layering ham and cheese along with the three, and that’s it - unless you feel the need to butcher a pig and make cheese. It makes a beautiful brunch main dish, or anytime main dish. Switch out some of the ingredients for ingredients you like. For instance, broccoli instead of spinach, turkey instead of ham, cheddar cheese instead of swiss. Endless possibilities.
Oh, the 10 eggs? Remember, this serves anywhere from 4 to 8 people, depending on the size of the slices. That’s two or less eggs per person. It sounds much worse than it actually is.
1 pound puff pastry, chilled - homemade or store bought. If using store bought, roll both sheets together for 1 lb, then cut off a 1/4 lb for the top of the torte. Use any scraps to cut out designs for the top, if desired.
For the Eggs
10 large eggs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons snipped fresh tarragon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 large red bell peppers
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 pounds spinach, trimmed and washed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
8 ounces Swiss cheese or Gruyere, thinly sliced
8 ounces smoked or honey ham, thinly sliced
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt
1. Prepare the Pastry: Generously butter an 8 1/2-inch springform pan. Cut off one quarter of the pastry, cover, and set aside. Roll out remaining puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick round. Carefully fit the pastry into the pan, pressing to get a smooth fit, leave a 1-inch overhang.
Roll out the smaller piece of pastry until it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut out an 8-inch circle of dough for the top of the torte and lift it onto a plate or baking sheet. Cover both the crust and the lid with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the filling. If using scraps for cut-out designs, like leaves, place the cut-outs on a separate plate, cover with plastiv wrap and chill in fridge along with top and lined springform pan.
2. Make the Eggs: Whisk eggs, herbs, salt and pepper together. Melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat and pour in the eggs. Gently but constantly stir the eggs around in the pan, pulling the eggs that set into the center of the pan. Slide the eggs onto a plate, without mounding them, and cover immediately with plastic wrap. You want a loose, soft scramble since the eggs will be baking for a little over an hour.
3. Roast the peppers: place whole and untrimmed, directly over the flame of a gas burner. As soon as one portion of a peppers skin is charred, turn the pepper. When black and blistered all over, drop into a bowl…cover with plastic wrap and let steam (I throw them all in a paper or large ziplock bag and seal it shut) for about 20 minutes. Use your fingers to rub off skin – DO NOT rinse under water, you lose flavor. Cut each pepper once from top to bottom, cut away the stem, open the peppers, and lay them flat. Trim away the inside veins and discard the seeds; season peppers with salt and pepper and set aside, covered, until needed.
Alternatively, lay the peppers on a baking sheet and place them under the broiler, turning them as each side chars Then continue to skin and seed them as instructed above
The peppers release a lot of liquid once roasted. Make sure the peppers are dry (blot with paper towels) before adding them to the tourte. I cut up the roasted peppers because sometimes you end up with big or whole pieces pulling out with each forkful.
5. Cook the spinach: in a large quantity of boiling salted water for 1 minute to blanch it. Drain spinach in a colander, rinse with cold water, and press it to extract all of the excess moisture. Heat the oil, butter, and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Add blanched spinach and sauté for 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and add a little heavy cream. Bring quickly to the boil and stir so it mixes with the spinach. Remove the spinach from the skillet with a slotted and set aside. Once it’s coole, squeeze as much liquid out before adding it to the tourte.
6. Assemble the Torte: Remove the pastry-lined springform pan from the refrigerator and layer the filling ingredients in the following order: (quick tip: Sprinkle a little dry bread crumbs or grated Italian hard cheese on the bottom of the raw crust before adding first layer of scrambled eggs to protect against a soggy bottom crust)
- half the eggs
- half the spinach
- half the ham
- half the cheese
- all the roasted peppers, laid flat
Continue layering in reverse order;
- remaining half of cheese
- remaining half of ham
- remaining half of spinach
- remaining half of eggs
With each layer, make certain that the ingredients are spread to the edge of the pan. Fold the excess crust in over the filling, and brush the rim of crust you’ve created with the egg wash. Center the rolled-out top crust over the torte and gently push the edge of the top crust down into the pan, pressing and sealing the top and bottom crusts along the sides. Brush the top with the egg wash and cut a vent in the center of the crust. Use the point of the knife to etch a design in the top crust, taking care to cut only halfway into the dough. Chill the fully loaded tourte for 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking.
20 minutes prior to baking; position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F
7. Bake the Torte: Place the torte on a jelly-roll pan, give it another coat of egg wash, and bake it for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until puffed and deeply golden. Remove from the oven and let rest on a rack until it reaches room temperature. Run a blunt knife or offset spatula around the edges of the pan and release the sides. Let cool for 20 – 30 minutes before cutting.
Tags: Arugula, arugula pesto, Basil, Fettuccine, garlic, Lemon, Olive Oil, pesto
About two weeks ago, the Sunday after the bombings in Boston..I started to think about life in a whole new perspective. It’s not a perspective I might follow – just errant thoughts…pondering….weighing options.
These thoughts led to my remembering an old friend, someone who was there for me through thick and thin for many years, as I was for her. She had some issues that were alarming at times, so much so that I found myself unconsciously pulling away from her bit by bit..a slow, torturous break-up. She was starting to scare me and I told her that many times. She would just laugh wickedly.
Tags: cooking, flank steak, Ginger, grilled flank steak, Hoisin Sauce, marinated flank steak, Recipe, Sake, Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce, Sriracha Sauce, Wine
Happy New Year! I always like to start the New Year with a BANG, and if you call the flu..make that the death of me flu, a BANG, then I guess I did. Remember that ear infection I was talking about Christmas Eve? That was a precursor to almost two weeks now of misery. I am one hot mama, and I’m not speaking in a physical sense. I’ve still got the fever, baby.
SO, my holiday consisted of bed rest and lots of fluids. Writing this post is not easy. I write a paragraph..take a break..lather, rinse, repeat.
Tags: apples, caramel, cottage cheese, Egg Noodles, Hanukkah, noodle kugel, sour cream, upside-down noodle kugel
So, it’s the 7th night of Hanukkah and I’m finally putting a Hanukkah post up. Why so late, you ask? (as if ‘late’ isn’t the norm for me) – because Thursday night was the first Hanukkah dinner we had at home and I didn’t cook or bake anything prior to that.
Yes, I know.. Hanukkah is associated with foods fried in oil, such as latkes and sfganiyot (jelly or whatever filling suits your fancy – filled doughnut) to commemorate the miracle of a one-day supply of oil miraculously burning and giving light for eight days. But, obviously we don’t just eat fried foods to celebrate Hanukkah, a misconception a former coworker of mine had for years..resulting in her scolding me for ordering a tuna salad sandwich for lunch several years ago..
“Lisa, give me that sandwich..you’re only supposed to eat fried foods during Hanukkah – get some fries!”
I’m dead serious.