Anh-Minh

Strawberry Jam Tartlets

by Anh-Minh on May 21, 2015

StrawberryJamTartletsIf you’re still figuring out what dessert to make for a Memorial Day get-together, we’ve got just the thing: Melina Hammer‘s Strawberry Jam Tartlets.

The recipe was originally published in Issue No. 19/Spring 2015 of Anthology … but reader Christine contacted us after she noticed that the amount of butter seemed off. And she was right. After some additional testing, we realized that the pastry turns out better with 1/2 cup of butter—rather than the amount (2/3 cup) that was in the published recipe.

Below is an updated version of the Strawberry Jam Tartlets recipe. My mouth is watering just thinking about these!

Strawberry Jam Tartlets

Makes 24 tartlets

PASTRY
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1 free range egg
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
zest of 1 lemon
2-3 tsp heavy cream or whole milk

FILLING
1 10-oz jar strawberry preserves
3 tbsp Grand Marnier, triple sec, or other orange liqueur
confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)

1. For the pastry: Place flour and sugar into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse just until the mixture has pea-sized bits throughout. Add the egg, nutmeg, and lemon zest, then pulse just to combine. If the mixture looks crumbly, add cream or milk one teaspoon at a time. Pulse again briefly until the dough comes together, then turn out onto cellophane, pat into a disk, wrap in cellophane, and refrigerate until firm, at least 20 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/4″ thickness. Using a fluted cookie cutter about 2-1/2″ in diameter (slightly larger than the holes in a mini-muffin pan), cut rounds. Re-roll any scraps to make more tarts. Gently press the rounds into the mini-muffin pan, so that the fluted edges come up the sides. If the dough becomes too soft to work with, chill it in the refrigerator again before pressing into the molds.

3. For the filling: In a mixing bowl, stir the preserves and liqueur together. Drop a teaspoonful of the mixture into each pastry shell. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Allow tarts to cool in the pan for a few minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool a few minutes more before serving. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and enjoy!

{ Image and recipe by Melina Hammer }

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soane1During my trip to London last fall, one of the highlights was visiting Sir John Soane’s Museum. The former residence of the distinguished architect has been turned into a museum, filled with art and antiquities. The interiors appear essentially as they did when he passed away in 1837.

Since museum-goers aren’t allowed to take pictures—and I’m not sure when I’ll be in London again—I was thrilled to receive an email with these images: They depict the Soane’s private apartments and model room, both of which open tomorrow. The public now has access to the newly renovated spaces for the first time in over 160 years. If you’re around London or planning a trip there, I highly recommend adding the museum to your itinerary. (And I’ll be so jealous!)

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{ All images ©Gareth Gardner }

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Lemon Meringue Pie

by Anh-Minh on May 1, 2015

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I am definitely a dessert person, but I prefer my sweets to be simple, not overly complicated with too many flavors and embellishments. Which is why this pie by Melina Hammer is right up my alley. Plus, I love that it comes with a heartfelt story, one that might just prompt you to whip this up for Mother’s Day. Of course, you could do a test run this this weekend, too! — Anh-Minh

One of my favorite desserts always on rotation is my mother’s lemon meringue pie. I have fond memories of her dabbing and twirling the meringue before sliding the pie into the oven for that golden kiss on its top-most surfaces, the final touch before we kids eagerly devoured it.

This pie is both rich and light. Its textural variety—with the crumb crust bringing it all together—is perfection. As far as desserts go, this feels like a great way to celebrate spring, and makes for a satisfying but not too-heavy end to any meal.

As I’ve encountered lemon meringue pies over the years I realize that her creation resembles a key lime pie more than the customary gelatinous lemon meringue pie—often similar to my mother’s in name only. I have never liked lemon meringue pies made with corn starch, which when used imparts a gelatin-like, bouncy filling.

Her recipe was passed to her from her mother and uses sweetened condensed milk. Its addition produces a filling more like lemon curd, and is fantastic in its custardy richness.

This time around baking the pie, I made a few tweaks. Some which I would repeat, and one that I wouldn’t. I normally use a typical pie tin, and this time around chose a fluted tart pan. It isn’t well-suited to a crumb crust. It worked out, but there were a few profanities uttered once I realized the extra work I made for myself. The other choices were great: I added an additional egg, I baked the crust rather than simply chilling it, and I baked the filling briefly to set it before adding the meringue, which, as it sat out, proved to be quite useful in preserving its shape.

As recipes go, this has stood the test of time and will be a favorite pie I return to forever. I hope you’ll love it too, making this lemon meringue pie delight a steady go-to in your own home.

Lemon Meringue Pie

graham cracker crumb crust

  • 9 full graham crackers – just over 1 ½ cups
  • 3 tbsp organic cane sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

pie filling

  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk (choose organic if possible)
  • 4 free-range eggs, yolks and whites separated, yolks used here*

*Free range yolks have a more richly orange hue due to the variety in the chickens’ natural diet, and the yolks are more muscular, sitting much taller than regular flabby supermarket eggs. These are a better choice for all cooking.

meringue

  • 4 egg whites
  • 3 tbsp caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp cream of tartar
  1. Construct a pouch out of parchment paper, folding a sheet in half and then creasing both sides over a couple times to close them. Place the graham crackers inside the opening at the top. Lean your weight onto a rolling pin and rock back and forth, crushing the cookies into crumbs. Move across the pouch up and down, side-to-side. Check for stray larger pieces and repeat the process as needed. I enjoy the rustic quality of this toothier crumb, but if you prefer them more fine, just go over with the rolling pin a bit longer, or nix the pouch and give the crackers a whiz in a food processor.
  2. Empty graham crumbs into a mixing bowl. Add remaining dry ingredients and stir together. Pour melted butter in and mix to combine. Use a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon to spread and press the mixture evenly into the pie tin. Check for evenness, carefully pushing thicker areas thinner, and gently pressing to compact. Press along the sides of the tin to ensure the crust edge is even all around. Chill for at least a half-hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake crust for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Combine lemon juice and zest and whisk in condensed milk. Once incorporated, add the egg yolks and whisk to combine.
  4. Pour into room temperature crust and bake 10-15 minutes, until just-set and not browned at all. Cool again on a wire rack. This can be done a day ahead and placed in the refrigerator to chill, and bringing the pie as-is out from the fridge when you are ready to make the meringue. Two tips for meringue: Use a scrupulously clean steel, copper, or glass bowl, and do not attempt to make meringue on a humid day. The moisture in the air will prevent a light and airy meringue from forming.
  5. Add cream of tartar to egg whites. Beat with an electric mixer until just stiff enough to hold a peak. Gradually add sugar a tablespoon at a time and beat in between, until glossy, stiff peaks form.
  6. If you did make the pie a day in advance, preheat the oven to 325°F. Otherwise, lower temperature to 325°F. Scoop the meringue onto the pie filling. With sweeping motions, spread meringue to the edges, all the way to the crust. Use a rubber spatula to make swirling gestures in the meringue, and then bake for about 15 minutes. Start to check after 10 minutes on the doneness of the meringue—you’re looking for brown-kissed peaks, ultimately. Continue to bake if necessary, checking every couple minutes until ready.
  7. Cool on a wire rack, serve, and enjoy. See if you don’t devour every last bit.

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{ Photos and Recipes by Melina Hammer for Anthology Magazine }

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Anthology Issue 19 Cover Even if the spring-like weather hasn’t quite arrived where you live yet … The spring issue of Anthology is coming soon! The subscription mailing is getting under way, and we’ll be shipping to stores soon, too.

The theme for Issue No. 19 is Inside/Outside—and I am especially crazy about this cover, which features the Miami home of event designer David Stark. There are plenty more shots of his interior in the pages of the new issue, along with other wonderful stories. This online preview includes just a sampling. As always, we hope you enjoy it!

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Umami Grain Bowl

by Anh-Minh on March 20, 2015

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I admit: Sometimes, when I’ve got deadline after deadline, I don’t eat as well as I should. Thankfully, Melina Hammer is back on the blog today sharing a recipe that will help get me back on track! —Anh-Minh

This recipe is a continuation, in a way, of the elemental eating created for the start of this year (with the Aromatic Poached Salmon recipe). Centering delicious eating around simple foods can be a challenge, but is hugely rewarding, if done well. With spring officially having arrived (what!?), the vibrant foods we’ll all soon have available don’t need much to make them shine. This kind of meal means we can all eat well, with carefully chosen ingredients that make for a special resonance together.

Added to this is my continued play with flavor superstars like anchovies, seaweed, and bottarga. I tackled anchovies a few years ago after vehemently hating them for years. At some undefined point, I realized I probably didn’t know what a good anchovy experience was and so started to explore. I’ve been in love for a good while, and I add anchovies to any foods where an extra punch of flavor seems like a good idea. (um, hello everyday) The secret is in using good quality anchovies, and the right proportions for the other flavors of whatever it is you’re making.

Same with the other umami stars. In an effort to demystify exotic (to me) ingredients, as well as to adapt them to my own cuisine preferences, here’s the scoop: After roasting my own seaweed for another project—so easy to do, it turns out—I’ve wanted to put it on everything. It’s like potato chips from the sea …  So good. And good for you.

Bottarga is my newest foray into “weird food.” Bottarga is the cured egg pouch from mullet (or tuna), and is briny, tangy, and basically delightful. Like caviar but served shaved or grated—more fruit leather than jam, if that makes any sense. In the Mediterranean, bottarga is a traditional food, but it has also gained a widespread gourmet popularity thanks to chefs and foodies.

General rule of thumb with each of these flavor stars: A little goes a long way. You don’t need to be knocked out by these flavors, unless you like that type of thing. But, a little “Mmm … What is that??” as you eat, is a good thing. Taste a tiny bit of each. Get familiar. Then taste as you go, to season appropriate to your own preferences.

This tasty grain bowl can be eaten warm, but the nice thing about it is that it doesn’t have to. Each element can be cooked in advance and allowed to cool to room temperature, or refrigerated and then pulled from later. Which, because you didn’t have to sweat doing it all at once, makes the layers in color, texture, and flavor even better! Perfect for getting out to enjoy this much-anticipated spring.

Umami Grain Bowl

Serves 4

for the bowl

  • 1 cup black rice
  • 2 cups veg or chicken broth (use homemade for better flavor)
  • 2 handfuls broccolini, woody ends of stems trimmed
  • 2 heads radicchio, cut into wedges
  • 1 cluster beech mushrooms, ends trimmed and separated into smaller clusters
  • 2 farm eggs
  • olive oil, for sautéing
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

for the vinaigrette

  • 3-5 anchovies (buy jarred so you can see if they are still pink—a sign of freshness)
  • 7 cloves roasted garlic (sometimes I roast heads of garlic, but this time around I bought a ready-made jar of roasted garlic to simplify)
  • 1-2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • juice from half a lemon
  • pinch red pepper flakes

to garnish

  • bottarga
  • roasted seaweed, cut into thin strips
  1. Make a paste of the anchovies and roasted garlic in a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have one, use the flat side of a knife to flatten and smear each on a cutting board. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add the mustard, lemon juice, vinegar, pepper flakes, parsley, and olive oil, and whisk to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Set aside.
  2. To cook the rice, pour the broth and rice in a saucepan. Heat on high to bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat to low, and simmer for a half hour or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice al dente. Remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil and then carefully lower in the eggs. At a gentle boil, cook the eggs for 6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a bowl filled with ice water. When cool enough to handle, peel away their shells. If you’re assembling the bowl later, refrigerate the eggs after the ice bath, and wait to peel the eggs until that time. The cooked eggs will keep 5 days refrigerated.
  4. For the attractive vegetable piles nestled on top of the grain, I prepared each veg in separate sauté pans. You don’t have to for practicality’s sake, but if this presentation appeals to you, do the same.
  5. Over medium heat, sauté the mushrooms until tender and golden, about 5 minutes. A small sprinkle of sea salt and pepper is okay here, but keep in mind the salty-savory flavors you’ll be adding and hold back the usual salt.
  6. Even more briefly, sauté the broccolini in a little olive oil. Add a splash of remaining stock or water, just to soften the membranes a little. As soon as they have become shiny and bright green, remove the pan from the heat.
  7. Over medium-high heat, get the skillet nice and hot and hard sear the radicchio wedges in olive oil. Three minutes a side is a good starting point. Transfer to a serving platter.
  8. Toss the rice and vinaigrette together. Portion out the rice into bowls. Add a cluster of the mushrooms and some broccolini. The natural curve of the broccolini stems makes a perfect home for a half custardy 6-minute egg. Either allow people to add the radicchio to their plates table side (they are dramatic arranged on a plate for everyone to appreciate), or waive ceremony and nestle a couple wedges beside the other veg.
  9. At the table, Use a microplane to grate a little bottarga over the earthy mushrooms and bitter-sweet charred radicchio. Add a cluster of seaweed strips over top, and dig in. The sweetness of the broccolini, the custard egg, the flavorsome rice, and all the other flavors make for a punchy symphony that is incredibly satisfying.

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P.S. If you’re looking for more great springtime recipes, I recently shot the dishes for Mark Bittman’s The New York Times feature on California produce. They’re as delicious as they are beautiful!

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