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Spring Pea Soup

 There isn’t one recipe from Ina Garten, aka “The Barefoot Contessa” that I haven’t loved and this is no exception. I’m not a fan of dried split pea soup. But this green pea soup has a bright, fresh taste that’s just perfect to welcome in this Spring that seemed like it would never arrive. The blast of mint in the soup turned even my “I-don’t-like-peas” daughter into a convert. Leave out the crème fraîche if you want. It’s delicious even without it. 

 

Ina Garten’s Spring Pea Soup
2 T. unsalted butter
2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (2 leeks)
1 cup chopped yellow onion
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
(or use vegetable stock to make it vegetarian)
5 cups freshly shelled peas or 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen peas
2/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, loosely packed
2 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup crème fraiche (or heavy cream)
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
garlic croutons (optional)
Heat the butter in a large saucepan, add the leeks and onion, and cook over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until the onion is tender. Add the chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Add the peas and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until the peas are tender. (Frozen peas will take only 3 minutes.) Off the heat, add the mint, salt, and pepper.Puree the soup in batches: place 1 cup of soup in a blender, place the lid on top, and puree on low speed. With the blender still running, open the venthole in the lid and slowly add more soup until the blender is three-quarters full. Pour the soup into a large bowl and repeat until all the soup is pureed. Whisk in the crème fraiche and chives and taste for seasoning. Serve hot with a dollop of crème fraîche and/or chopped chives.

Ina Garten’s French Apple Tart

 Ina Garten, aka “The Barefoot Contessa” consistently writes cookbooks that contain delicious recipes that are also fail proof and easy to prepare. This French apple tart is no exception. It’s always a crowd pleaser with its buttery, flaky crust and thinly sliced apples smeared with a glaze of jelly. The recipe calls for apricot jelly, but my new favorite to brush on fruit tarts is quince jelly, since its pale color doesn’t obscure the fruit that’s below. Besides, I love the tart/sweet flavor of quince jelly.

After mixing the pastry, roll it out and cut it to the size of your cookie sheet.
Place the pastry into a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or a Silpat), carefully arrange the apple slices and dot with butter (stop counting calories and just enjoy this one, alright?)
When it comes out of the oven, brush some warmed quince jelly on top (or some other light colored jelly – I like orange marmalade here too.) Cut into squares and serve. A scoop of ice cream on top would not be unwelcome. Warning – This tart is highly addictive. Ciao Chow Linda shall not be held responsible if you eat the whole thing.
If you haven’t got company coming, and you’re not so good at portion control, (I wonder who that could be?) freeze most of the dough and make a couple of single serving size tarts instead, assuming you’ve got little tart pans. But even if you haven’t, you can even make them freeform. Follow the same directions, and use the same temperature. This way you might still be able to squeeze into your jeans.

 

Ina Garten’s French Apple Tart
printable recipe here

Ingredients
For the pastry:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup ice water
For the apples:
4 Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small diced
1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
2 tablespoons Calvados, rum, or water
Directions
For
the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food
processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to
combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in
small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water
down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come
together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap
in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Roll
the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a
small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan
and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.
Peel the apples and
cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a
sharp knife and a melon baler. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch
thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the
middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of
the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. (I tend not
to use the apple ends in order to make the arrangement beautiful.)
Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.
Bake
for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of
the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the
pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the
air out. Don’t worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart
will be fine! When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly together
with the Calvados and brush the apples and the pastry completely with
the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t
stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.