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Spring in My Tart - Salmon & Asparagus Vol au Vent + Lemon Mustard Glaze

Spring in My Tart - Salmon & Asparagus Vol au Vent + Lemon Mustard Glaze

Spring has arrived! Today I spotted a blue jay, which, has always been the true marker of Spring. The Cardinals brighten a winter landscape and the blue dashes with Spring’s riot of green! And with that, it is almost binary switch in my kitchen. I want more green on my plate, more vegetables and more fresh looking and tasting stuff. I am not sure how much I can garden this year, as last year’s patch has been completely razed and no longer viable. So, I am definitely focusing on being more mindful of getting produce that is in-season in the local environs (North East for me and ignoring California!). I am also angling towards quicker meals that allow me more time with family and yet bring a touch of special….

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Berry Picking... Galettes... and 10 Years...

Berry Picking... Galettes... and 10 Years...

It has been a life changing year! And, really looking back at the the last 10 years when I have been blogging, I am at a loss for words to describe the transformation I have been through. That tonguetied-ness has been a reason for my quiet here. But…. I’ll try…! :)

So, as I was reflecting on 10 years of blogging and trying to figure what that milestone head would read, I realized that it was not about blogging but how one small step into this world, changed my entire life. Not entirely on its own, but like a stone gathering momentum, it set things in motion, it tweaked things in me, opened my eyes to certain qualities in myself and others, met so many interesting people, changed careers….. Starting this blog just created a little path in a new forest and that took to a place that I would never have imagined myself to be in 10 years ago - physically, metaphysically, emotionally, psychologically.

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(Y)ellow, (Y)ellow, How Are You?

(Y)ellow, (Y)ellow, How Are You?

When I was about 10, my parents bought me an yellow dress for my birthday. It was a knee length yellow and white striped thing, with puff sleeves, and, plain yellow bib like flap on top and skirting at the bottom. The bib and skirting were embroidered - "Sweety" and "But Naughty", in sprawling cursive letters. It was my favorite dress for many years; even when it faded and frayed, and, I outgrew it in height. I loved the color, such a happy tone but more than that, at that time still an introvert, I thought the writing was terribly clever.

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Cherry Marzipan Tart With Cognac Cream

Cherry Marzipan Tart With Cognac Cream

Cherry tart is but a simple one yet an elegant one filled with the nuttiness of both the oat and almond crust as well as the marzipan creamed for the frangipane filling. To top it with fresh cream whipped with a pour of cognac was rather natural. Cherries and cognac have a relationship not exactly incestuous but yet very wicked and very very alluring. Then, I must needs macerate the fruit in cognac, after all. That was the final layer and it was decadent!

I don't think I need to elaborate how amazing this tart was. Light, fruity and indulgent all in a bite. It does happen to be gluten free, but I must insist that as incidental as it is, it is also essential; The crust made with simple ground oats and almonds enhances the flavor. It may not be quite as good if you replaced it with a rice and bean based gluten free blend as it would have no added flavor. You can certainly use a regular wheat crust if you are able to and it will be good. This crust, however, is perfect for this tart...

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Husk Tomato Tart with Glutenfree Corn Crust

Ground Husk Tomato Corn Galette

I had not been to the Union Square market in over a year and I guiltily made my way through the stalls that I so regularly patronized only sometime back. I was half hoping the stall owners would not see me and half hoping they would remember me. Okay, I confess, I would have really liked one of them to have spotted me and given me a wide smile of recognition and the "It's good to see you again" cheer. But, hey, whom am I kidding! This is New York City, land of the fleeting, transient, and anonymous.

After the first five minutes, I realized I was not going to run the risk of accusatory stares of "Where the heck were you?!". Neither was I going to be enveloped in warm embraces of "Welcome back!". So, I huffed about it for a space of two minutes and then decided to simply accept it and move to leisurely engaging with the produce which has always been a more productive way of spending time anyway. Mooching along the aisles and dodging the crowds, I made my way through the various produce stands. More importantly, I was looking to prove that there was nothing here that was not in my own little weekend farmers' market, where, by now and by virtue of going there literally every week, the vendors said hello to me!

Ground Husk Tomato

I nearly made it to the end without anything really caught my eye. It was the same couple of great vegetable and fruit stands, the honestly, arrogant goat cheese guy, the lovely flower shop and the shop in the corner that has the best ricotta I have ever tasted outside Italy. Then I walked into a random vendor whose stall I don't remember ever buying anything from. There was a huge mound of what looked like gooseberries. I love them but I remember they are terribly pricey at my market. The sight of the large quantity here gave me hope that this may be more affordable.

I tasted one and it tasted nothing like a gooseberry. Confused, I queried the vendor and I discovered a whole other class of tomatoes! Ground Husk Tomatoes. Related to Cape Gooseberries, they are adorable tiny fruits fully encased in a dried leafy husk. They were entirely intriguing. The guy said he eats them on their own and I can see how that would happen. These are entirely addictive just to figure out the flavor and each one is a little different. Was that a berry like one? or a pineapple one? or perhaps a touch of mango? In any case, nothing like a tomato.

Ground Husk Tomato Corn Galette
Ground Husk Tomato Corn Galette

Obviously, as I mulled about it, I snacked on a fair few of them. But, I had bought a good amount of it as they were rather well priced for its exotic allure. I decided the best use other than eating it raw would be to bake it. I made muffins with them and then I decided to make the galette. That was a momentous decision. You see, since learning that I am wheat allergic, I have not had a tart. Now, that is a sacrifice. It is not just that I love this genre of meals, it is also the easiest full meal to make on any day. I was excited and slightly intimidated about the thought of creating a recipe that was completely gluten free.

I thought long and hard about it. Eventually, I decided to go completely grain free. I figured using any nut or quinoa or buckwheat would lend its own flavor to the tart and I wanted these intriguing berries to play the lead and only role. Cornmeal is both easily accessible and has the cleanest flavor palate for this purpose. It is also extremely crumbly. I thought google may offer some help but I found no recipe that used only corn meal. I decided I had to simple test and try my own.

Ground Husk Tomato Corn Galette

The important thing was to figure a way to overcome the rather crumbly texture of ground corn. It simply does not come together. Psyllium would not work here as it does not have enough fluid to bind to. It had to some form of starch. I settled on potato starch, which, I have at home and is not expensive. The first time I made this I followed standard tart making process of balling the dough, tamping and letting it rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. I learnt the hard way, that the dough seizes up quite a bit when cooled and it takes ages for it to thaw back. The next time, I just rolled it out immediately and it was just fine.

Also, even though the starch helps pull it together, the dough will still be crumbly. You can always just press it into a mold and that is really easy. If you want to make a galette, you will need a little patience, some gentle elbow grease and two sheets of parchment paper. Also, don't get angry with it when it tears as you try to fold it over the filling. Just smile and give it a hug and it will come together just fine. The real binding agent here is a butter, so, don't skimp on it and use it to advantage.

Ground Husk Tomato Corn Galette

I kept this tart clean and simple. Just the husk tomatoes, basil, olive oil, salt and pepper. You need nothing more. The corn crust comes out soft and so let it sit for a few minutes so it hardens into a crispy crunch. That against the sweet flesh of the roasted wrinkled tiny tomatoes is a delight!

Oh! On the question of, did Union Square have anything over my little market? Despite this happy find... Not at all! ;-)

Husk Tomato Tart


For the Grain free Corn Crust:

1 cup corn flour, fine ground {I just used the blender to pulverize the coarse cornmeal I had}

4 tsp potato starch

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

4 T cold butter, in small dice

scant 2 T cold water

For the filling:

1-1/2 cups of de-husked tomatoes

few leaves of basil torn

olive oil to drizzle

salt and pepper as needed

Preheat oven to 400F.

Mix together the corn flour with potato starch with salt and baking soda.

Rub butter pieces into the corn mix.

Add the water and mix to just form a ball. Only if the butter feels melty (like if you are doing this in the middle of a heat wave), cool in fridge for a few minutes.

Place a sheet of parchment paper on the table and sprinkle potato starch on it.

Place the dough ball on the paper and top with another sheet. Gently roll out the dough into a rough circle about 1/4 inch thick.

Remove the first sheet of parchment. Pile the tomatoes in the center leaving a 1 inch border.

Gently fold the edge over the tomatoes. If it tears, simply press the edges to seal again.

Sprinkle the basil, salt, pepper and olive oil over.

Bake for 30 minutes at 400F and then lower to 350F and bake another 15 minutes.

The corn crust comes out soft and so let it sit for a few minutes so it hardens into a crispy crunch.

Garnish with a more basil and touch of oil or balsamic vinegar and serve.


Share your creations tagging @ashafsk on Instagram and hashtag #MadeFromFSK