A great friend of mine is getting hitched and having a camping style wedding. In honor of her and her man, I had some fun with the elements of one of summer’s best treats…s’mores!! I know it’s technically fall, but it’s 100 degrees here and fall is good camping weather in these parts! These are some abstract interpretations but, seriously, try rolling your roasted marshmallows in toasted unsweetened coconut when making s’mores. It is F-ing TRANSCENDENT!

Burnt marshmallow still life on black.

Deconstructed s'mores

When Molly was up for showing me how she makes homemade lasagna noodles rolled entirely by hand I was pumped. I can’t eat them but, man was I happy to shoot her making these beauties (and housing all the layers between noodles)! This lasagna was a BIG hit in our houses. It’s chock full of flavorful vegetables and the perfect satisfying dish for any meatless Monday (or wednesday, or thursday…). I actually think I like it better than it’s meaty cousin. GASP! Shhhh don’t tell, snitches get stitches!

Molly’s artisanal noodle making was so very beautiful to shoot that I’ve included more images than usual to take ya’ll on the “maker’s” journey with us. Kick back and enjoy because there’s plenty of work to come when you make and roll your own lasagna noodles the old-fashioned way;) You can do it! Let’s see those muscles!

Woman cracking an egg into a pile of flour to make pasta.

Woman cracking an egg into a pile of flour to make pasta.

Woman kneading dough to make pasta.

Woman pulling and flipped fresh rolled pasta dough.

Woman cutting freahly made lasagna noodles.

Sauteed pan of vegetables including squashes, onion and tomatoes.

Woman assembling a vegetable lasagna with homemade noodles.

Woman assembling a vegetable lasagna with homemade noodles.

Woman assembling a vegetable lasagna with homemade noodles.

Woman spooning vegetable sauce.

Woman assembling a vegetable lasagna with homemade noodles.

PASTA
  • 3 c.+ All purpose flour
  • 4 Eggs
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1 tbsp of warm water
~ Form a volcano shape with the flour and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
~ Crack eggs into the well of the flour.
~ Using a fork begin to beat the eggs and slowly draw in the flour the combine. As the dough starts to come together, use your hands to knead. Add warm water or more flour to get a tacky, yet firm consistency.
~ Let the dough rest for 1 hour. Divide dough into 4 equal parts. Using a rolling pin roll (or a pasta maker if you have one!) out each ball like your life depends on! Roll the dough to approximately 1/8 of an inch or thinner.
~ Use a paring knife to cut each sheet into 3-4 inch strips. Each sheet will yield 3-4 strips. Lay the strips out flat to dry while make the ragu and herbed cheese fillings.
VEGGIE RAGU
  • 1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Yellow Squash
  • 1 Green Zucchini
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh herbs (we used Basil, Thyme, and Rosemary)
  • 1/4 c. light dry red wine (we used Pinot Noir)
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
Chop all of the fresh veggies into bite size pieces. For the squash and zucchini quarter then slice.
~ Heat olive oil to a large skillet at medium heat. combine squash, zucchini, peppers, and onion to skillet. Saute for 5-7 minutes until all of the veggies begin to soften.
~ Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
~ Add in tomatoes and red wine. Let the mixture cook down stirring occasionally to break up whole tomatoes. Season with parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand for another 30 minutes.
HERBED CHEESE FILLING
  • 1 container whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh herbs (we used Basil, Thyme, and Rosemary)
  • Fresh ground pepper
Combine all ingredients and stir well add more pepper and herbs to your liking.
Layering and baking: 
~ Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
~ Use an 11X13 baking dish to layer the lasagna in. Coat the bottom of the pan with the veggie mixture and then lay down the first layer of pasta. Add a thicker layer of the veggie mixture on top of the pasta and then dot with tsp. size spoonfuls of the HERBED cheese mixture. Layer again with pasta and repeat. You should have enough pasta and filling for four layers.
~ After the last layer of pasta, add the last of the veggies and cheese plus shredded bits of mozzarella cheese, more herbs, and pepper. Bake for 35-45 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and lightly golden! Let it cool for 10-15 minutes for serving. Voila : )
 Homemade vegetable lasagna with handmade noodles.

There can never be too many ways or variations to make eggs! In our house, they are the ultimate fast food. I poach them in leftover chili and soups and it makes every leftover dish richer and more nutritious. I actually don’t understand why there isn’t a restaurant dedicated to putting eggs on EVERYTHING! Seems like a no-brainer. If you know of such a restaurant please fill me in!

Anyway, on with the show! Eggs in Cocotte are delicately baked eggs in individual portions. Easy to make for a good amount of people (my in-laws will be eating these when they visit over the holidays) and super, fancy pants impressive. It’s a decadent, warming cool-weather breakfast (or lunch, or dinner!).

baked eggs in pots with mushrooms and prosciutto

  • 4 ounces prosciutto, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • olive oil to sauté
  • 9 large meaty mushrooms (shitake, portobella etc.), sliced thick
  • pat of butter
  • 1 Tablespoon cream (1 teaspoon per pot)
  • few large sprigs fresh thyme, miced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/2 cup gruyere, grated
  • 8 eggs
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • toast points for serving

~ Heat oil in a large skillet. Add shallots and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add chopped prosciutto and sauté another few minutes until crispy. Remove from pan and set aside.

~ Melt butter in skillet, then add mushrooms and sauté until tender. In the skillet, toss together the mushrooms, shallots, prosciutto and most of the rosemary and thyme (reserve some for garnishing).

~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

~ Butter or oil the small pots or ramekins. Spoon the mushroom mixture evenly into the bottom of each pot. Drizzle a teaspoon of cream into each pot and divide cheese among the dishes. Make 2 depressions in the mixture with the back of the spoon to cradle the eggs. Crack two eggs in each pot, sprinkle a bit of extra  cheese on top of the eggs.

~ Get a pan big enough to fit the 4 pots and fill it with water so that the water goes half way up the sides of the pots. Either bring water to boil in the pan or, if using a glass baking dish you can let the dish heat in the oven and boil water in a hot pot to fill the baking dish.

~ Place the pots in the water bath and carefully place in oven. Bake for 13-16 minutes though I recommend checking on them at 10 minutes due to differences in oven temperatures.

~Once whites are set but yolks are still runny, remove from oven. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, thyme and rosemary. Serve with toast points.

ENJOY!!!

 pan of sautéed prosciutto mushrooms and herbs

Best HOLIDAY pomegranate pear pie

Yaaaaaaaay the holidays are here and these are a surprisingly delicious little holiday sparkle! They’re easy to make, packed with flavor and texture and great for garnishing cocktails, desserts or just eating right out of a bowl. My daughter loves the tart sweetness of these little cranberry beauties!

Cranberries and rosemary in a pan of sugar syrup

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 cup granulated sugar (to roll it all in)

~ In a saucepan over low heat, heat the water and 1 cup sugar until warm and sugar dissolves. Cool until you can put your finger in the liquid.

~ Wash and dy cranberries. Once liquid is cool enough not to cause the cranberries to burst but still warm, add cranberries and rosemary.

~ Cover and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate and let soak overnight.

~ Strain berries and rosemary and reserve the rosemary infused syrup for holiday cocktails or desserts.

~ Blot cranberries and rosemary with a paper towel so that they sticky but not wet. Then work in batches rolling the berries and rosemary in the remaining sugar to coat. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and let dry until hardened. Eat and smile!!

~ Store at room temperature.

Cranberries and rosemary in sugar

Holiday cocktails with sugared rosemary and cranberries

It’s that time of year again when I have the pleasure of doing my annual pie shoot with my dear friend, Emily-the-Pie-Maven. Ahhhh I love the holidays and this tradition with Emily is truly one of my favorites. Now that she and I both have boisterous toddlers, we rarely have the opportunity to casually cook or chat together. It seems like it’s only once a year, at our pie shoot, that we can speak to each other in complete sentences with full attention without having to stop everything to catch a flying (correction: falling!) daredevil 2-year-old! The calm of the tradition is complimented by the incredible scents wafting through the house and finished by the insane flavor-filled fruits of our labor. Mmmmm.
This year we have a tart and sweet rustic pomegranate pear pie. I’ve included a recipe for a gluten-free press in flourless hazelnut crust which is delicious! The gluten-free crust makes this an open-faced pie. It’s easy to make this pie as pictured with the leaves using your favorite pie crust recipe. Emily hand cut the leaves for this regular flour artistic pie and boy did she nail it! She subbed 1/2 cup of the flour in her usual crust recipe for 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts and it was fantastic! The gluten-free crust cannot make these leaves as it is a press in crust and can’t be rolled;)
The pomegranate molasses in this recipe is a necessary and divine addition as it balances the sweet pear with the tartness of pomegranate. You can buy pomegranate molasses at some grocery stores and Persian markets but it’s easy to make. I’ve included the simple recipe at the end and it’s sooooo good!
Best pomegranate pear pie
GLUTEN- FREE Crust
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts or pecans
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3-4 Tablespoons melted butter or liquid coconut oil
~ Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
~ Mix all but oil. Mix in 3 Tb oil up to 4Tb until the mixture is moist but not sticky. Press evenly into pie pan or 2 cocottes.
~ Pre-bake for 10 min at 375 degrees.
*makes 1 regular sized pie bottom crust or 2 cocottes. Double recipe to make 4 cocottes to accomodate the amount of pear mixture or cut the pie filling recipe in half to accomodate 2 cocottes.
Pomegranate Pear Pie Filling
  • 5 cups sliced bosc pears, ripe but a bit firm and unpeeled
  • 1/2 cups pomegranate seeds plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses (*recipe below)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • Hazelnut Flourless Crust (recipe above) or regular pie crust of your choice.
~ Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
~ Mix sugar, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl.
~ Arrange sliced pears layer by layer over bottom crust, sprinkling sugar mixture and 1/4 cup of the pomegranate seeds over each layer as you go.
~ After assembling the top layer, drizzle molasses evenly over pie/s, sprinkle the last of the sugar on top and scatter little blobs of the butter on top of pie. If using regular crust, place top crust over the filling, pinch around edges and brush with egg wash.
~ Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes then reduce to 350 degrees for 40 minutes or so until golden and bubbling.
~Top with fresh pomegranate seeds.
*Pomegranate Syrup
  • 4 cups pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

~ Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid has reduced to 1 cup (~ 75 minutes). It should be thick like warm molasses. Allow to cool for a while then transfer to jar to cool completely before refrigerating. Can be stored in refrigerator for 6 months or so.

Rustic Gluten Free Pomegranate Pear Pie

Best pomegranate pear pie

Still life of bosc pears pomegranate and holiday greens on blue napkin

We’re not much into Turkey in my family. I understand the historical significance of turkey at the Thanksgiving table, but personally I find it pretty much “bleh”. That said, many people are left wanting without poultry at the Thanksgiving feast so we usually bake up a big fat ham and roast a large chicken for those die hard traditionalists. This is one of those chickens.

My old self, the one who had a bit more time, a bit more sleep, perhaps a bit more motivation, was big into vegetable chopping. I made meals where I’d easily spend an hour just chopping all the veggies often with no meat in sight. In truth, I found raw meat repulsive to all of my senses. Fast forward to when I grew the F up and started cutting the backbones out of chickens and making bone broths from gnarly knuckles, shins and feet. Oh how things have changed!!

While I still love my Brined Thyme Roast Chicken recipe, it requires more planning ahead to brine that bird than I can often muster these days. I spend so much time grabbing a toddler as she ceaselessly tests the laws of gravity! This spatchcock chicken is quick to prepare and leaves you with very little raw chicken-y mess, if ya know what I mean. Time to put on your big kid pants and cut out that backbone!

Crispy, golden, savory miso skin with no fuss and few dishes. What’s not to love?

Spatchcock butterfly miso butter roasted chicken

HOW TO SPATCHCOCK (butterfly) A CHICKEN:

1- Place whole chicken breast side down. Using strong kitchen shears, cut alongside one side of the backbone. Rotate the bird to cut along the other side of the backbone. I freeze the backbone to use in bone broth later.

2- Spread the chicken rib cage open breast down and cut a deep notch in the sternum cartilage to allow it to open easily. Now flip the bird breast side up and it should lie flat and look like a… you guessed it, butterfly. Easy Peasy!

*Tip: I usually spatchcock the chicken in the same pan I am roasting it in, one less raw chicken-y thing to clean. Winner, winner chicken dinner!

  • 1 whole chicken patted dry, approx. 5-5 1/2 lbs
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 3 Tablespoons white miso
  • 1 teaspoon smashed garlic (~ 3 cloves)
  • 1 Tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 pint brussel sprouts
  • drizzle olive oil
  • salt and pepper

~ Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

~ Smash together butter, miso and garlic. I salt the chicken in addition to the saltiness of the miso, but it may be a good idea to taste your mixture as miso can vary greatly and you may not want additional salt. Butter the pan you’ll be using with this mixture, then place chicken breast side up in pan and rub half of the butter mixture under the skin and the other half on top of the skin.

~ In a bowl, toss brussel sprouts with a drizzle of olive oil and scatter around the bird.

~ Sprinkle the chicken and brussel sprouts with thyme, salt and pepper.

~ Roast uncovered at 400 degrees for 1 hour 10 minutes or so for a chicken this size. Cook time will vary greatly depending on the size of your bird, so roast until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh or breast. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

~ Plate the veggies from the pan then bring the remaining juices to a simmer, scraping any little bits of deliciousness off the pan to deglaze it and removing any chunks of skin etc. Simmer for a couple of minutes and pour juices over carved meat.

ENJOY!!!

crystal-cartier-miso-spatchcock-chicken-0068

My darling friend Emily comes from a long line of impressive bakers. She has much coveted pie traditions with her sweet mother and beloved departed nana. It’s so wonderful to keep those beautiful traditions alive from generation to generation. It keeps us grounded and reminds us where we came from and that we are part of something bigger. We are simply a leaf on a giant tree deeply rooted in the past. There is something profoundly comforting in that anchor when this life can sometimes feel as if you’re bobbing like a canoe in the sea! Some traditions, especially those based in food, allow each generation to keep the old but also customize a dish to make it a bit of their own. This pie is exactly such tradition with small tweaks to herbs, spices and ratios to make this an adapted version of a treasured recipe. Beautiful! For the original recipe passed down from Emily’s nana and some family photos of wonderful women check out her mama Lori’s blog.

Emily makes just about the flakiest, lightly crisp crust I have ever seen (or heard)! Rarely am I so heartbroken to avoid gluten. My husband tells me that flakey crust is a buttery, delicious delight. Emily cuts the butter into the dough by hand, which she says makes all the difference. I believe it! That crust…hubba hubba!

So go cover your kitchen in flour and start (or preserve) a lovely family tradition!

ps: I meant to post this recipe before the holidays but got wrapped up in my own holiday celebration with my little girl’s first Christmas and meeting all of her east coast family. What a beautiful time:)

 Crystal-Cartier-meat-pies-5675full

* makes 2    6-inch pies (or 1  10-inch pie)

CRUST

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 pound + 2 2/3 Tablespoons butter, chilled
  • 1/4 cup very cold water

FILLING

  • 3/4 pounds ground beef
  • 3/4 pounds ground pork (butt/shoulder)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoons allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoons pepper
  • 1 egg white, beaten for brushing crust

~ In a large bowl, cut butter into flour until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Sprinkle in water 1 Tablespoon at a time and toss with a fork until dough begins to come together. Gather into a ball and divide dough into 2 equal balls, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

~ In a large dutch oven, saute onion and garlic. Add beef and pork and cook through. Mix in herbs and spices.

~ On a large floured surface, divide one dough ball in half (if making mini pies, if making 10″ single pie do not divide dough) and roll out one of the halves. Lay in a 6″ pie tin. Using a slotted spoon, spoon filling into crust until flush with top of pie pan. Roll out other half of dough ball, place over filling and seal and trim edges. Brush crust with egg white. Repeat for remaining 4 pies.

~ Bake at 375 degrees for around 30 minutes until golden brown.

ENJOY!!

Looks at that perfect crust! YUM!

Crystal-Cartier-meat-pies-5675CRUST

 

Thank you to these inspiring matriarchs….

hardy-women

Oh my gosh life has been crazy and I haven’t had half a second to post anything at all! Oh well, sometimes that’s the way it goes, right?

Anyway, I just wanted to share my first shoot getting “back on the horse” after giving birth to our Sweet P, who I call Pickle so much she’s definitely going to think it’s her legal name! I can’t believe how much time has already gone by. I guess I blinked too long!

This lovely spanish picnic style shoot for EatingWell magazine was the kind that required a lot of up and downs on a ladder. Not the most ideal post-partum shoot but it was beautiful and fun to get right back in it and with my little newborn P too!

You may spy with your little eye a two-week-old Pickle attending this very sophisticated Spanish picnic! We have too much fun! HA!

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015Copyright Crystal Cartier all rights reserved 2015

Holy smokes this recipe is AMAZING! It’s one of those winter meals I could be gross enough to eat every single day and just get hopelessly fat. Every. Single. Day. Sure it’s a formidable amount of cheese and cream but, hey, it’s cauliflower not pasta so that has to count for something, right?! RIGHT?!?!?!? Ha! Anyway, this is crazy delicious, silly easy and may just help warm you through these bitter cold nights most of the country is suffering. Bletch! Try it, you’ll love it! Nevermind how very wintry it looks. So lovely…

cauliflower, cheese, casserole, holiday, christmas, thanksgiving, recipe, dinner, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier

  • ~2 pounds cauliflower, a large head – washed and cut into florets
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup 2 % milk
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • few slices crusty sourdough bread, torn into bites
  • 4 ounces meaty mushrooms, shitakes or trumpet really sing here but any mushroom will work
  • butter, enough to saute mushrooms
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh thyme (or 1/2 Tablespoon dried thyme)
  • 1/2 cup gruyere cheese, shredded

~ Prepare and ice bath in a large bowl in the sink.

~ Heat the oven to 400°F and grease a baking dish with butter or cooking spray.

~ Blanch the cauliflower in salt water for 2 minutes. Drain, plunge into ice bath until cooled, drain again or dry VERY well.

~ Heat a generous amount of butter in a skillet and saute mushrooms with rosemary and thyme until softened and fragrant.

~ Whisk together the cream, milk, cheese and the eggs, season with salt, ground black pepper. Reserve a bit of this mixture and toss the remainder with the cauliflower and bread. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Pour the reserved portion of the mixture over the cauliflower in the baking dish (this makes the top beautifully cheesy;). Bake for 35 minutes or so until the liquid is absorbed and the top is golden brown. Bake time may vary depending on the depth of the baking dish used so keep an eye on it.

Savor and ENJOY!!!

 cauliflower, cheese, casserole, holiday, christmas, thanksgiving, recipe, dinner, food photographer, food photography, crystal cartier

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