Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Blooming Brunch

Several weeks ago I attended my second photography course at the Santa Fe Workshops. The focus of the class was studio lighting, and while I decided that artificial lighting is quite technical and not something I want to focus on right now, I came out of the experience with a greater understanding of light in general. It is always surprising to discover how complicated this one aspect of photography can be and I feel as though I will never stop learning how I can better manipulate the light in a particular setting. 

While attending the workshop, I stayed in a room at a retreat center next to a monastery. It was so quiet- only the sound of the old furnace clanging away, a solitary bird's song just out the window and the muffled silent falling snow. For me, it seems like being alone is much more difficult in the winter. I think it is something to do with the fact that spending more time indoors contributes to the feeling of  isolation. But as the weather warms and I can open the windows and step right outside, being by myself doesn't bother me nearly as much.

Now spring has sprung and I have enjoyed seeing the arrival of new wildlife and blooming fruit trees. The sunny, temperate days have inspired me to cook with fresh and bright ingredients- juicy red strawberries, tart citrus, tender leafy greens like kale (perhaps one of my favorite foods of all) and crisp, colorful root vegetables. I can begin baking with fresh eggs again as our chickens lay more often, making sweet treats like shortbread dusted with powdered sugar. And there is no doubt I will use the new rabbit casserole every chance I get :) 

Kale and Tomato Strata (GF)
Serves about 8 

2 cups whole milk
8 large eggs
8 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound gluten free bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (about 8 cups)
2 bunches of dinosaur kale, chopped
8 Italian plum tomatoes

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, 2 cups Gruyere, cayenne, salt and pepper. Add the bread cubes and kale and toss to coat. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish, then top with tomatoes. Cover dish and refrigerate overnight.
The next day,  preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sprinkle strata with remaining 1/2 cup Gruyere and bake, uncovered, until golden brown and slightly set, about 45 minutes. Turn off the oven, but keep the strata in the oven for 10 minutes more before serving.

Recipe adapted from Food Network Magazine

Shortbread with Grapefruit Curd and Strawberries (GF)
makes 12 shortbread "scones"

3 cups almond flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1 cup strawberries, hulled and cut in fourths
grapefruit curd
powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Whisk together almond flour and baking powder. Mix in the oil, honey, vanilla and eggs to create a soft dough. Dust a sheet of parchment with almond flour and roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 12 rounds and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack. Sandwich the shortbread with grapefruit curd and sliced strawberries. Dust with powdered sugar.

Recipe for shortbread "scones" from Theresa Cutter of Healthy Chef: Purely Delicious 

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