Market Fresh: Arugula

Arugula is a peppery leafy green. It’s often put in the herb section. The tasty leaves are a wonderful addition to pasta or salad (I think this recipe looks awesome!). It is also known as rugola, rucola, roquette, garden rocket, Mediterranean rocket, salad rocket, Roman rocket, or Italian cress (http://www.ochef.com/151.htm).


This week, I made two different appetizers with arugula. We enjoyed both, though I can take or leave prosciutto – I don’t care much for the texture. These were so quick to put together and so pretty!


ARUGULA & GOAT CHEESE TARTINE
(adapted from Ina Garten)
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1 loaf country white bread, French bread, or Italian bread, sliced and toasted if desired (I did not) 
4 oz. goat cheese
4 oz. baby arugula
2 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper

Lay out the bread slices and spread them with the goat cheese. Place the arugula and sliced tomato on top of the goat cheese, drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Serve.

 PROSCIUTTO W/PEARS & ARUGULA
(adapted slightly from Rachael Ray)
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1 bundle arugula leaves (about 1 c. or a little more)
1 ripe bosc pear
1 lemon
1 Tb. fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 slices prosciutto di Parma

Place arugula in bowl. Quarter the pear lengthwise and remove the core. Cut each quarter in half again so you have 8 pieces. Dress the pear with the juice of 1/2 lemon, thyme leaves, olive oil, salt and pepper. Place a few leaves of dressed greens on each slice of prosciutto with a slice of pear and roll up into a tight bundle. Cut each bundle in half, to make 16 pieces (I didn’t bother as there were only five of us but I would for entertaining).

Baker’s Delight: Pear Tart

It’s getting towards the end of winter and I’m getting anxious for summer fruits! It’s the perfect time to finish using up your canned and frozen fruits which would be great in this recipe. Today, I’m using fresh pears. This is absolutely one of our favorite desserts. I made this when we were first married and it’s continued to make a regular appearance. I usually make it with canned, fresh, or frozen peaches and that’s still my favorite way but this is really good!

PEAR TART
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3 Tb. butter, melted
3/4 c. plus 1 Tb. sugar, divided
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. finely chopped pecans
1 package (8 oz.) regular or reduced-fat cream cheese
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
1 large pear, cored and thinly sliced (you can peel if you want)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a tart pan with removable bottom (about an 8-9 inch tart pan). In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to combine melted butter, 1/2 c. of sugar, flour and nuts until crumbly. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of the fluted tart pan.

In another mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1/4 c. sugar, egg, vanilla, and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon; spread over the crust. Arrange pears over cream cheese mixture. Combine the remaining 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1 Tb. of sugar; sprinkle over pears.

Bake at 425 degrees for 10 min. Reduce heat to 350 degrees; bake 15-20 min. longer or until filling is set. Cool for 1 hr. on a wire rack. Refrigerate for at least 2 hrs. before serving. Remove sides of pan and slice. Yield: 8-10 servings.

Off The Shelf: Irish Cookbooks

Margaret M. Johnson has put together several beautiful cookbooks, all with an Irish theme. Each cookbook is full of photographs of the Irish countryside along with mouthwatering pictures of the recipes. If you are at all interested in Ireland, or Irish food, these are a must-see from your local library.

The first of the three books is Irish Puddings, Tarts, Crumbles and Fools: 80 Glorious Desserts. This book features recipes such as Bread and Butter Pudding, Queen of Puddings, Steel Cut Oat Pudding, Sticky Toffee Sponge Pudding, Rhubarb Tarte Tatin, Plum Tart with Oatmeal Crust, Blackberry-Almond Crumble Cake, Apple Fool, Lemon Syllabub, Lemon-Ginger Scones, and Christmas Pudding Ice-cream.

I tried the Pear and Ginger Crumble which I found to be quite delicious. The aromatic yet delicate pears went perfectly with the sharp bite of crystallized ginger and, topped with a crumbly topping,  made for a very “more-ish” dessert.

PEAR AND GINGER CRUMBLE
(Irish Puddings, Tart, Crumbles, and Fools)
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Filling:
3 pounds Bartlett or Anjou pears, peeled, cored and sliced
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/3 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. minced crystallized ginger chips
1 1/2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

Topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 c. quick cooking (not instant) Irish oatmeal (I used regular, quick cooking oats)
2/3 c. packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly butter a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Filling: In a medium bowl, combine the pears and lemon juice. Stir in the sugar, crystallized ginger, and flour. Spoon into the prepared pan.

Topping: In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the butter, and stir with a fork until moist clumps form. Sprinkle the topping over the fruit. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the topping is golden and the pears are tender. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream, if you like.

Serves 6-8.

The Irish Pub Cookbook gives recipes for the kind of heart-warming food you would find in a typical Irish Pub. Chapters include: Starters, Soups, Salads, Hot Pots Meat Pies & Savory Tarts, Meat & Potatoes, Seafood, and Sweets.

I found many of the recipes tempting; Salmon Cakes with Dill and Wine Sauce, Parsnip and Apple Soup, Bacon, Blue Cheese and Courgette Soup, Bibb, Bacon and Apple Salad, Ploughman’s Lunch, Guinness Beef Stew, Bacon and Cabbage, Irish Cream Cheesecake, and Irish Chocolate Cake.

I tried the Farmhouse Vegetable Soup which was delicious and down-to-earth with a distinct taste of parsnips.

FARMHOUSE VEGETABLE SOUP
(The Irish Pub Cookbook)
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4 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 leeks (white parts only), washed and sliced
2 parsnips, peeled and sliced
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 cups vegetable broth
2/3 cup half and half
3 Tbsp. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper

In a stockpot or large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and leeks, cover, and cook, stirring once or twice, for 5-7 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft but not browned. Add the parsnips, potatoes, carrots and stock or broth, cover and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.

Working in batches, transfer the soup to a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. (Or puree in the pot with an immersion blender.) Return the soup to the pot, whisk in the half-and-half, and season with parsley, salt and pepper. Simmer until heated through.

To serve, ladle the soup into shallow bowls.

Serves 4-6.

The New Irish Table: 70 Contemporary Recipes provides more of the same: beautiful photos, gorgeous food, and good recipes. The book is divided into Small Bites, Starters, Main Courses, Side Dishes, and Sweets. Scattered throughout each of these cookbooks are short explanations of various food items or recipes, helping to educate the reader on true Irish food. These books are a delight to look through and Johnson has done an admirable job of creating them.