Mini Tarts With Custard Cream

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Crostata & Mini Tarts with Custard Cream and Wild Plum Jam

Listening to: Sogna Fiore Mio – Ancient Southern Italy song by L’Arpeggiata

Crostata & Mini Tarts with Custard Cream and Wild Plum Jam | Hortus Natural Cooking

I am a firm believer in saying your dreams out loud.
Speak up to the universe, and you will set in motion enough energy for the Universe to provide for you.

Zaira, who entered my life one quiet, foggy day in January in Venice, is proof of this.
She, too, is a firm believer that all you want you should pray for to the Universe, and have faith that what is yours will eventually be given to you – or better, given back, as wishes were just things that have always belonged to us and that need be given back at the right time in our lives. Just ask, she says, and have faith, without demanding or expecting anything, for each wish has its right time that we are not to know beforehand. This kind of quiet firmness shines through her eyes and glows through her soul, and turns her to a sort of ethereal goddess to my eyes.
Sometimes you have to wait. Sometimes it’s quicker. But many times it’s about that patient, calm waiting game. That’s why the ‘no expectation’ factor is so important.

I have spent a good chunk of my life feeling a laggard. I was the last one to kiss a boy amongst those my age. I was the last one to date someone. It took me a whole 24 years to find one real girl friend, and nearly 26 to find a guy who actually does not think what I do is weird. Now, the moments are treasure most are the moments I spend with them, moments I can’t resist the urge to capture with my camera.

I realize that we all spend a good chunk of life feeling like this, and forgetting our achievements. I was the first to learn to read and write (I taught myself), I was the first to learn english fluently (I taught myself), an I was the first one to establish a business. I am now 26 and have learned that there is a right time for everything. And another time has come for me.

Crostata & Mini Tarts with Custard Cream and Wild Plum Jam | Hortus Natural CookingCrostata & Mini Tarts with Custard Cream and Wild Plum Jam | Hortus Natural Cooking

Having been driven by wanderlust my whole life, my sudden urge to nest has taken me by surprise. I guess my wanderlust time is slowly but surely starting to transition to a will to just stay get some piece and quiet in a place I can call home. It took me 25 years to feel at home in this little corner of the world, and now that I do I can’t wait to leave more of a mark of my own here. Of course, I’m thinking of things that had never touched my mind before, like kids and marriage. It’s the kind of thing you never believe when they tell you when you’re 16.

But, most of all, I am feeling the urge to make Hortus get a little larger. I want to find a place a new home, one where I will be able to host workshop, wine tastings, foraging trips, pasta classes. One with a wood fired oven. I don’t only want to host the crazy expensive photography workshops, I also want to host retreats on all themes, about Italian food, vegetarian food, local herbs, edible flowers, wine. An all-round experience. I am restyling the website (this time for good I hope), making it prettier and faster, and preparing a few downloadables too.
I am saving and working hard, so that I might have my own place within a couple years. I want to make videos, collabs, have people over, have little gatherings, and set up a proper B&B other than the AirBnB I am running now here in Gradara. Of course, it might take much longer. But I am saying it out lout, as a sort of good luck wish.
In the meantime, the only thing I can do currently to make more of a home around myself is cook. The cooking that will happen in my own home will inevitably be different from my mom and grandma’s (my grandma still makes her tomato sauce with pancetta and calls it healthy), but some staples will remain. I like to dream of a future where my children will hide under the table and steal strozzapreti when (they think) I’m not seeing, just like we did as kids.

But when everything seems impossible and faithless, I learned that, as Zaira says, all you have to do is ask. Ask for your wishes, ask for whatever you need, have tons of faith, work hard, but do not obsess. Ask, if anything, just in case. It won’t go through 9 times out of 10. But if you ask 100 times you’ll have gotten it 10 times, and that’s all the times you need.

Crostata & Mini Tarts with Custard Cream and Wild Plum Jam | Hortus Natural CookingCrostata & Mini Tarts with Custard Cream and Wild Plum Jam | Hortus Natural CookingCrostata & Mini Tarts with Custard Cream and Wild Plum Jam | Hortus Natural CookingCrostata & Mini Tarts with Custard Cream and Wild Plum Jam | Hortus Natural CookingCrostata & Mini Tarts with Custard Cream and Wild Plum Jam | Hortus Natural Cooking

This is one of the oldest, most common recipes in our household. ‘Crostata’, a kind of Italian tart, has been constantly present for breakfasts, parties, birthdays and any other time in which jams and eggs needed to be used up. It is one of those treats we confidently serve to our AirBnB guests and always a winner. There is a version of this in my book as well! It is usually stuffed with jam and fruit, but this one is stuffed with jam and custard!! I also made mini ‘crostatine’ versions, which was a super popular snack at school when we were kids, or after playing in the park in the afternoon. This one is stuffed with a jam I made out of rustichelle plums, a kind of wild, small purple plums I found on wild trees all around the countryside. I love to go crazy and decorate a good crostata with lattice tops and flowers, which is a real novelty for a classic Italian countryside home where a grandma still visits. Crostatas have the sole purpose of being large and satisfying, therefore requiring zero need to be pretty at all. But I remember, when I was a kid, me and grandma would make crostata together, and we would put great care in rolling the strips to arrange on top of the crostata by hand, and arranging them to form a diamond pattern. It is one of my dearest childhood memories, and here I present it to you to sort of wish myself the same chance to give these memories to others. I want my dreams to be as poised and elegant and Zaira, and as earthy, fragrant and grounded as these memories – as this crostata.

NOTE: You can flavor the custard with various flowers or syrups, like rose, lavender, elderflower. If using syrup, substitute half the weight of the sugar with the syrup. If using flowers, add the (dried) petals into the milk when you’re warming it, and let it infuse for about an hour or so, then warm it again to make the custard.

Crostata & Mini Tarts with Custard Cream and Wild Plum Jam
 
Makes a big -inch crostata or 8 - inch crostatine
Ingredients
FOR THE DOUGH
  • 200g stone-milled flour (I used Italian 1 type)
  • 20g rice flour
  • 30g almond flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 egg + 1 yolk
  • 80g butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons rum, or other flavorful alcohol you like (the actual alcohol will evaporate with the heat. you can sub the alcohol with any milk if you prefer)
  • Scraped seeds from half a vanilla bean, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Zest from ½ a lemon
  • Pinch salt
FOR THE CUSTARD
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 100g zucchero
  • 40g potato or rice starch
  • 400 ml whole milk (plant milk, especially almond, works equally well)
  • Half a vanilla bean
  • Zest from ½ lemon, peeled in one long stripe
ASSEMBLY
  • Plum jam (preferably wild plum, but if you can't find it, sub any fruit jam you like)
  • 1 egg yolk, to brush the top
  • Almond slivers
  • Powdered sugar to finish
Instructions
MAKE THE DOUGH
  1. Just combine all ingredients together and knead until combined, either with a stand mixer or by hand. The dough should be quite limp and slightly sticky. If it seems too dry, add a tablespoon or two more liquid and combine. Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for 20 - 30 minutes.
MAKE THE CUSTARD
  1. To make the custard, warm the milk until slightly smoking.
  2. Add the egg yolks, sugar and starch to a pot and whisk well, vigorously, until you obtain a smooth mixture. Scrape the vanilla bean seeds and add them to the mixture, then throw in the bean and lemon peel as well (scrape off the white part if it's on the peel). Add the warm milk little by little, whisking constantly.
  3. Turn on the burner to medium heat under the pot. Whisk constantly while the custard cooks, and always keep an eye on it. Once it gets close to boiling, It will go from liquid to solid in just a few seconds, at which point you will have to whisk faster. Once it has thickened to a pourable consistency, turn off the burner and keep whisking for another minute. Let cool, and remove the lemon peel and vanilla bean. You can sprinkle some caster sugar on top to avoid the thin film forming. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
ASSEMBLE & bake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F˚ / 180 C˚.
  2. At this point, you have two options: bake the shells and add the custard and jam later, or bake the cream and jam as well. Baking all the ingredients together is what we always did in my family, and cooking the custard a second time makes the crostata last a little longer (though I have yet to see a crostata lasting longer than a day and a half).
  3. For the 1st option: Roll out the dough between two pieces baking sheet, slightly dusted with flour, to about ⅛ inch / 4 mm thickness. Line the tart pan (or the small ones if making crostatine with the rolled out dough.
  4. Line the shells with baking paper and add some beans or baking beans to avoid it growing too much, and bake until golden, about 15 minutes. When cool, fill with a layer of jam, one of custard, and another spoonful of jam, spreading it evenly. top with almond slivers and fresh fruit slices if you wish.
  5. For the 2nd option: reserve ⅓ dough for the decorations. Line the tart pan(s) just as above, but, instead of baking alone, fill with a layer of jam, one of custard, one of jam, and spread evenly. Decorate the top with leftover dough strips, or cut off shapes like leaves and flowers, and decorate as you prefer. I love making lattices and adding almond slicers all round the edge of the tarts!
  6. Brush the top/exposed dough with the egg yolk.
  7. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until brown gold on top and cooked through. If the dough looks too pale, leave it a few minutes more. This largely depends from your oven.
  8. When ready, let cool before slicing. Keep the crostata refrigerated.

Crostata & Mini Tarts with Custard Cream and Wild Plum Jam | Hortus Natural Cooking

Basic Herbal Beeswax Balm Recipe for Multiple Uses + Balm Post-Mosquito Bites

Balm agains Mosquito Bites | Hortus Natural CookingIt was June 24th.
I was biking back home after a late afternoon, post-work gym session. The scenery, ever changing throughout the seasons week after week, is astounding here. I bike through sunflower fields, vegetable gardens, and an overgrowth of alfalfa – so, so wonderfully perfumed if let flower – equisetum, and lemon balm.  There is even a little water stream in the trench below that did not succumb to this season’s blistering heat, and gargles joyful, adding its voice to that of cicadas and sparrows.
A little bush of gold catches my attention as I quickly ride past it. I turn back, hunch over it, and can hardly believe my eyes.
A tiny, tiny bouquet of St. John’s Wort (Hypericum Perforatum) timidly sat, half-hidden, to the edge of the road.
I had looked for it through and through around the surrounding fields, only to find a good bunch of nothing. And now that little cluster of golden flowers was there, looking at me, all cute and bright.
I didn’t even have time to snap a photo of it. I picked it, making sure not to damage the roots, brought it home and immediately infused it in some olive oil.
Now that fresh herbs are so vastly available, I re-stocked my pantry with all sorts of herbal infusions (including jams and liquors you might have seen through my Instagram stories). Recently I got back to using essential oils and making concoctions of all sorts, and all the beekepers around here have fresh honey and beeswax, now that the bees are restlessly swarming on all sorts of flowers.  So I got back to making balms – including an extremely useful one against mosquito bites – using my newly infused herbal oils. I shared a face mask on this blog before and it was successful, so here is my natural beauty section opening again!

Depending on the kind of ingredients used, this balm has several uses:

  • alleviates mosquitoes stings (see recipe below!);
  • deeply nourishes the skin (try it on dry hands, or sensitive areas like elbows and heels – do not use on face!);
  • relieves pain from light bruises and burns, especially if made with soothing herbal oils like arnica, marigold or chamomile and maybe a few drops of mint or eucalyptus oil;
  • As a lip balm, if only made with beeswax (or, even BETTER, cacao butter!!) + oil (herbal or neutral) and maybe just a very few drops of essential oils you love to lightly perfume it.

Making Herbal Oils + Balm agains Mosquito Bites | Hortus Natural CookingBasic Herbal Beeswax Balm Recipe for Multiple Uses + Balm agains Mosquito Bites | Hortus Natural CookingBasic Herbal Beeswax Balm Recipe for Multiple Uses + Balm agains Mosquito Bites | Hortus Natural CookingBasic Herbal Beeswax Balm Recipe for Multiple Uses + Balm agains Mosquito Bites | Hortus Natural Cooking

BASIC FORMULA FOR CREATING A BEESWAX BALM
For a basic balm, you only need two ingredients, plus some add-ons which are not really necessary anyway.

  1. 15% ORGANIC VIRGIN BEESWAX (Cera Alba)
    Beeswax is rich in vitamin A as well as other vitamins, and is known for its nourishing and repairing properties. Make sure it is organic, or residual pesticides might release into the fat the wax will be melted in.
    If you buy it from a beekeeper, the wax might not be virgin and be of a dark brownish color. In this case, melt it very gently on a bain-marie until melted. The dirt will float to the surface. Scoop if off and let cool. The wax should now be much paler. This process is just like making ghee.
    Vegan Subs: shea butter | Cacao butter | coconut oil (see more info below)
  2. 85% OIL or HERBAL OIL 

    Again, use organic, virgin oils. Olive oil, rapeseed, sunflower, and pumpkin seed, almond oils are some of the best oils to use for this kind of preparations.
    By infusing these oils with specific herbs, you can make herbal oils with more medicinal properties. You can buy pre-made herbal oils or you can make your own if you have access to organic fresh herbs.
    All these oils are only intended for external use.
    The best nourishing and healing plants to use for this purpose are those with repairing, antibacterial and antioxidant properties, which are:

    Arnica (Arnica Montana) – the most used against bruises and muscular pains.
    St. John’s Wort (Hypericum Perforatum) – thus called because its golden flowers reach their balsamic peak during St.John’s day, June 24th. It produces a deep red oil. Do not use if pregnant or if taking medication of any kind.
    Marigold (Calendula Officinalis) & Chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla) – two plants known for their calming, soothing and anti-inflammatory properties.

    Do not underestimate the power of these herbs. Their properties are strong and extremely effective, so make sure you are not sensitive to any of them. St.John’s Wort is so strong that it is advised against its use if on birth control or other medication. Oils like calendula and chamomile are considered the safest and can be used by mostly anyone.
    See here my tutorial for making infused chamomile vanilla oil!
    The best oils to use, both for infusion and to use as is, are those rich in antioxidants and vitamins, preferably odorless: almond, jojoba, sunflower, pumpkin seed. Olive oil is great too but it has more of a smell. Pick the one that is easiest for you to find or afford (I like sunflower as I can get an odorless version that is quite cheap).

  3. ESSENTIAL OILS  

    Essential oils are wonderful concentrations of nature. They make me think of a game I once played called Legend of Mana, where the ‘Mana’ was the quintessential spirit of plants and beings. Well, essential oils are pretty much the same thing. They are not really ‘oils’, but they are soluble in oil and not in water. Each oil has wonderful properties, but must be used carefully. No E.O should be used directly on your skin, and not all are food grade. Some can be even toxic. But, when diluted in oils or alcohol, they give the best of themselves and can be used for many, many purposes. They are a bit of an investment but once you have them they will last a long time and can be used for balms, perfumes, salves, and even recipes provided they’re food grade (it should be written on the package, otherwise ask when buying them).
    If you have skin sensitivities or take medication, make sure to ask your doctor before using them.
    Now I have about 10 different ones and love using them!

The combination of these 3 elements gives you a great formula for basic balms. If you use less beeswax, you will get a creamier consistency. If you use more, you’ll get a stiffer balm. If using vegan alternatives, I recommend using 50% butters + 50% oil.

Basic Herbal Beeswax Balm Recipe for Multiple Uses + Balm agains Mosquito Bites | Hortus Natural CookingBasic Herbal Beeswax Balm Recipe for Multiple Uses + Balm agains Mosquito Bites | Hortus Natural CookingBasic Herbal Beeswax Balm Recipe for Multiple Uses + Balm agains Mosquito Bites | Hortus Natural Cooking

MY BALM POST-MOSQUITO BITES
When last year we gathered for our Gradara Workshops, Betty Liu constantly kept pulling out this wonderful Chinese balm that she’d smother on her mosquitoes stings (sorry for all the Italian mosquitoes, Betty!) that would work magic, and I thought about creating something similar. I clearly remember its strong minty smell, slightly reminiscent of a classic Italian remedy called Olio 31, an oil made out of 31 herbs. This balm uses less than that, but the oils here are perfect for this purpose: lavender is soothing, tea tree has very strong antibacterial properties, mint is refreshing, and bergamot is a great antiseptic, to which you can substitute lemon. Rosemary helps keep insects away and is a good antiseptic (and, IMO, makes this concoction smell fantastic).

Substitutions
If you do not have rosemary EO or do not like it, feel free to omit it.
If you wish, you can sub lavender EO for basil EO.
You can sub Cajeput EO for Tea Tree EO (both have similar functions, but cajeput has less of a strong smell)

VEGAN OPTIONS FOR BEESWAX: if you do not want to use bee products, there can be some alternatives.Two great options are Shea butter and cacao butter, which will get you more of a cream than a balm. I would also say coconut oil, if you’re ok with it being liquid with the heat. In this case, use 45 g coconut oil instead of the wax.
You can also do it in an alcohol solution: make a 85% alcohol solution by combining – with  – water, and add the essential oils mentioned below. Store in a dark bottle away from sunlight, and dab on mosquito bites with some cotton.

This amount makes two small lip balm-like containers, or one larger 40 ml jar. Just double the amounts if making more, but if it’s your first time using these ingredients just make a little and see how your skin reacts. Though this works for me and actually helps against insect stings, it might not be the same for you. But I love it regardless because of the smell!

Balm Post-Mosquito Bites
 
Ingredients
FOR THE HERBAL OIL
  • A 250ml / 1 cup clean jar
  • ½ cup active plant parts (flowers, leaves) of one of the following: chamomile or marigold (flowers only), or St.John's Wort (flowers & leaves)
  • Enough organic virgin oil to cover. Olive oil is great, or choose sunflower, almond or rapeseed for options with less odor.
FOR THE BALM
  • 7 g (about 2 heaping teaspoons) virgin beeswax (See note above for VEGAN alternatives)
  • 30 g (about 2 tablespoons) herbal oil or virgin, organic, odorless oil such as sunflower, rapeseed or almond
  • 20 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 20 drops Tea Tree EO
  • 10 drops Mint EO
  • 10 drops Bergamot or Lemon EO
  • 5 drops rosemary EO
  • EXTRA: 5 drops, or a capsule, tocopherol (vitamin E)
Instructions
MAKE THE HERBAL OIL
  1. Add the herbs to the jar and cover with oil. The herbs should take up about half the jar, while the oil should get up to ¾. Store in a cool, dark place for about 30 days, then filter through a muslin cloth into a clean jar. Store in a dark, cool place.
  2. ST.JOHN'S WORT OIL IS THE EXCEPTION: this plant is fully activated by the sun, so leave it to infuse in full sunlight. After a few days, the oil will start to turn red. Once ready, after 30 days, and filtered, store in a dark place.
MAKE THE BALM
  1. melt the beeswax gently over a bain-marie. Make sure you do it this way, or too harsh a heat might ruin its properties.
  2. Once the wax is melted (stir it every now and then), remove from the bain-marie and add the oil. The wax will probably form some lumps but it will smooth off as it cools. Wait for it to get to a slightly creamy consistency, and add the essential oils and extras if using. Transfer to a small glass container (I used a small Weck jar with a clip lid), and let solidify completely.
  3. Store preferably in a dark place (even your bag is fine), and it will keep for quite a long time, especially if you added tocopherol.
MAKE THIS A BALM TO PREVENT MOSQUITO BITES
  1. Add 10 drops geranium oil, and 10 drops citronella oil. Do not skip the lavender!

Do you make any DIY beauty products? Let me know!

USEFUL LINKS
This recipe was possible thanks to these (unsponsored) sources (most info is in Italian!)
Marco Valussi – Oli Essenziali Istruzioni per l’Uso
Eden Style Magazine
Essential oils sources: ZenStore | Erbamea | Puress.Oil

Panino with Roasted Peppers, Pesto & Arugula {Midsummer Potluck for Peace}

Panino with Roasted Peppers, Pesto & Arugula {Midsummer Potluck for Peace} | Hortus Natural Cooking

There are noises here.

I heard people say they hate them.
If you walk into the pathways between bushes and trees, the first sound is the almost deafening one of cicadas, orchestrating a simultaneous undertow of a two-note song. There are many birds chirping. Far, in the distance, there is the verse of an animal I cannot tell what it is. And if you listen closely enough, you can hear the waves crashing against the promontory, invisible but present.
Our clothes, rubbing against our bodies. Our breath, getting discreetly heavier as we climb up.
Then, there are the smells. Honeysuckle, mallow, cluster pines, wild mint and lemon balm. And hundreds of bushes of Scotch broom.
Some people say they hate it.
But this is my paradise and, in the midst of apparently nothing, every small detail is enlarged to the size of a mountain.
Beauty exists. Sometimes it exists because it is inevitably there, and sometimes it exists because we decide to see it. Still, choosing beauty is always a personal decision.

Panino with Roasted Peppers, Pesto & Arugula {Midsummer Potluck for Peace} | Hortus Natural CookingPanino with Roasted Peppers, Pesto & Arugula {Midsummer Potluck for Peace} | Hortus Natural CookingPanino with Roasted Peppers, Pesto & Arugula {Midsummer Potluck for Peace} | Hortus Natural CookingPanino with Roasted Peppers, Pesto & Arugula {Midsummer Potluck for Peace} | Hortus Natural Cooking

I have been feeling powerless. Sometimes it is nice, just like when you feel powerless in front of the grandness of the ocean, or the size of the Alps. But sometimes it is just the feeling of actually not knowing what to do, and this is how I have been feeling lately when opening all forms of media. I long for sceneries like these in the photos, and I wish for a world that we are probably not ready for yet. I wish for our only feelings of powerlessness to be as great as those in front of beauty. When you feel that you can do nothing – not even think – because there is actually nothing to do.
This, I learned, is meditation. This is clearing your mind of trivial expectations, judgement and fear that those expectations will not be met.
Our world is going through a dark tunnel – socially and politically. While it is nice that everyone has their own opinion on everything, sometimes I feel that, sometimes, sharing one’s own opinion becomes imposing it. It happens often and it happens without us realizing it.
So I prefer to open newspapers, books and magazines and keep Facebook shut, and carefully select my sources of information.
Saghar from Lab Noon has always been especially sensitive about the subject, so she organized this #summerVirtualPotluck4Peace to send a message of togetherness and enlightenment. This is my favorite way to help share awareness on anything: a potluck with friends. You need to talk about things you believe in but there are ways that work best for each of us.
The truth is that I feel powerless in front of what goes on in the world. But I want to join those who will say something about it, and sharing a little bit of light is all I can do now.
So we went out for a real picnic in the San Bartolo, here between Marche and Romagna, and captured the essence of our beautiful, bare powerlessness, which I can now offer to you through these photos, that I hope you will find as pretty as I do.

Panino with Roasted Peppers, Pesto & Arugula {Midsummer Potluck for Peace} | Hortus Natural CookingPanino with Roasted Peppers, Pesto & Arugula {Midsummer Potluck for Peace} | Hortus Natural CookingPanino with Roasted Peppers, Pesto & Arugula {Midsummer Potluck for Peace} | Hortus Natural CookingPanino with Roasted Peppers, Pesto & Arugula {Midsummer Potluck for Peace} | Hortus Natural CookingPanino with Roasted Peppers, Pesto & Arugula {Midsummer Potluck for Peace} | Hortus Natural CookingPanino with Roasted Peppers, Pesto & Arugula {Midsummer Potluck for Peace} | Hortus Natural Cooking

I never shared a panino/sandwich recipe before because I thought it would be too simple, until I found myself searching the web for interesting pairings. Panini are a huge part of the Italian summertime, and this panino is vegan and so, so tasty. I love adding blossoms and petals to everything lately, as there are so many growing here. If you’re making these panini to take out for a picnic, pack the ingredients separately and assemble on the spot. Prepare a nice basket, blankets and pillows, and go out in the open. Or ‘al fresco’, as Italians would say.
The pickled onions are from Karen Mordechai‘s beautiful new book, Simple Fare.

Panino with Roasted Peppers, Pesto & Arugula {Midsummer Potluck for Peace}
 
Ingredients
FOR THE PICKLED ONIONS
  • 1 cup good white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
FOR THE ROASTED PEPPERS
  • 2 large yellow peppers (green or red are also delicious)
  • Pinch salt
  • 4-5 basil leaves, julienned or finely chopped
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  • Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
FOR THE PANINO
  • Slices sourdough bread (your favorite!)
  • Pesto (use vegan pesto if vegan)
  • Roasted Peppers
  • Pickled Onions
  • Dried tomatoes preserved in olive oil
  • Arugula and wild arugula blossoms
  • A few pretty mallow petals or other wild flowers
  • ADD ONS: a good chevre or pecorino, or avocado if vegan
Instructions
PICKLED ONIONS
  1. Prepare a clean glass jar that can fit all the ingredients.
  2. In a pot, combine the vinegar, salt, sugar and bayleaf and heat, stirring, just until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
  3. Add the onion slices to the jar and pour over the warm pickling liquid. Top with the bay leaf and let cool, then refrigerate for a few hours before using. Keeps in the fridge for several days.
ROASTED PEPPERS
  1. Add the peppers whole to the rack of an oven, preheated to 220 C˚ / 430 F˚. Roast, turing every now and then, until completely cooked through. The peppers will release moisture and they will turn very soft. Roasting could take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, so check often.
  2. Once very soft, take them out of the oven and let cool. The skin will come off easily, so peel them, cut them into ½ inch strips and remove the core and seeds.
  3. Add the strips to a shallow dish, and toss with the basil, salt, plenty of olive oil and a good drizzle of balsamic. These peppers will also keep in the fridge for a few days.
PANINO
  1. If taking the panino out for a picnic, I suggest packing the single ingredients and assembling them on the spot, as all the ingredients are kind of moist. Use good quality or homemade sourdough bread, so the slices will be delicious even if not toasted or if they have been left out for a while, as sourdough bread tends to stay soft for days.
  2. Layer all the ingredients to your heart's content and dig in with friends! Aged goat cheese or pecorino go wonderfully with this combination of ingredients, but a little avocado will do magic if you want to keep things vegan.

 

And here is the full list of all the participants and all their amazing recipes! I so wish this potluck was real life :)

Saghar Setareh / Lab Noon: Persian Cucumber & “Sekanjebin” Summer Drink

Adventures in Cooking: Strawberry rhubarb pie ice cream sandwiches

An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Spiced Green Beans with Olive Oil and Tomato

Brewing Happiness: Healthy Southern Baked Beans

Cloudy Kitchen: Earl Grey blueberry pie

Cook Til Delicious: Cold Sesame Peanut Noodles

Delicious Not Gorgeous: No Mai Fan

DisplacedHousewife: Strawberry Scone-Cakes With Fresh Orange Blossom Whipped Cream

Donuts, dresses and dirt: Tahini Pavlovas

Floating Kitchen: Blistered Green Beans with Apricots and Chive Blossoms

Ginger & Toasted Sesame: Walnut Bread with Boursin and Prosciutto

Harvest and Honey: Chasing Summer (drink)

Hortus Cuisine: Panino with Roasted Peppers, Pesto & Arugula

On The Plate: Sriracha Scotch Eggs

Ruby Josephine: Halwa d’Tmar (Moroccan Date-Stuffed Cookies)

Tasty Seasons: Grilled Mojito Chicken

Tending the Table: Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts, Parsley and Currants

TermiNatetor Kitchen: Strawberry Shortcakes with Gluten-Free Yogurt Biscuits & Mint Whipped Cream

The Little Epicurean: Halo-Halo (Filipino Shave Ice Dessert)

This Mess Is Ours: Simple Tomato & Avocado Salad

Twigg studios: roasted beet leek and feta quiche

Vermilion Roots: Tofu Salad with Spiced Peanut Sauce

Wood and Spoon: Strawberry Almond Skillet Cake

 

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