Photo by Alexandra Grablewski
A simple tart made with puff pastry, broccoli, goat cheese and smoked salmon will brighten Mom’s morning. The photo and recipe are from “Sweet Paul Eat & Make.”
Paul Lowe is about the last person on Earth you would take for a devoted home cook and baker, let alone a “crafter.” He’s large, bearded, tattooed — and apparently channels Martha Stewart. Like her, he cooks delicious food and creates purportedly useful items out of common household goods: a bookend made from a fork, for example, or a utensil holder from a hanger.
But Lowe, author of the new “Sweet Paul Eat & Make,” is really channeling his grandmother and aunt. These are the “two little old ladies” who raised him in Oslo, Norway, and whose mantra, he writes, was “fullkommenhet er kjedelig,” which means “perfection is boring.”
“Auntie Gunnvor” and “Mormor” must have been quite the pair, indulging little Paul (“Sweet Paul,” as his godmother called him) with his own set of knives and cutting board in the kitchen, buying him his first cookbooks and encouraging his every culinary and crafting whim.
“If I wanted to go on a picnic, we went on a picnic; if I wanted to bake a chocolate cake, we baked a chocolate cake,” he writes. The cakes, however, tended to be “a bit lopsided.” The crafts they copied from magazines “never quite looked the same as their inspirational photos.” The beauty is that not one of them got discouraged. The food tasted fantastic, and the crafts were fun and “made us happy.”
Lowe brings this feeling of happiness to every page of “Eat & Make,” which just might be the perfect book for Mother’s Day. Full of gorgeous photos and simple delights, it would make a wonderful gift for any mom. You can also use the book to make her a present: an olive oil facial scrub, for example, or a trivet made from clothespins. And it is a great book from which to cook a special meal for your mom. The recipes are delicious, and most turn out quite beautiful, in a lopsided and imperfect kind of way.
The salmon tart here could not be easier, prettier or tastier, and would make a stunning centerpiece for Mother’s Day breakfast. Serve it with a mimosa (orange juice and sparkling white wine), coffee or tea, and fruit salad. A chocolate truffle or some chocolate-coated almonds would end the meal on a sweet note. Because it’s for Mom, go for the best: all-butter puff pastry, wild-caught salmon, organic broccoli. Auntie Gunnvor and Mormor would approve.
Morning Tart With Broccoli, Goat Cheese and Smoked Salmon
Yield: 4 servings
Butter for the pan
1 (13-by-9-inch) sheet puff pastry, thawed according to package directions (preferably Dufours brand; see note)
2 to 3 cups small broccoli florets
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 to 4 ounces crumbled fresh goat cheese
3 to 4 ounces smoked salmon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, with a rack in the middle position. Butter a 9-inch round baking dish or a cookie sheet.
Place the puff pastry in the baking dish; it’s fine if some hangs over the edges. If it’s too big, trim the sides with a sharp knife. Alternatively, place the entire sheet of puff pastry on the prepared cookie sheet. (This way, you won’t waste any pastry.) If using the whole sheet, use the larger amount of each ingredient listed (i.e., 3 cups broccoli florets, 4 ounces goat cheese and salmon).
Prepare a bowl full of ice water and set aside. Bring salted water to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the broccoli and cook for 1˝ minutes. Drain and immediately place the broccoli in the ice water. Drain well again.
Top the pastry with the broccoli, onion and goat cheese, leaving a 1-inch border of pastry. Bake until golden, 18 to 22 minutes. Remove from the oven and top with the salmon and dill. Serve warm.
Note: Most frozen puff pastry sold in supermarkets is made with hydrogenated (or partially hydrogenated) fats, high-fructose corn syrup and other ingredients you might want to avoid. Dufours brand is the closest to homemade; the ingredients are butter, unbleached flour, water, salt and lemon juice. It can be found in some supermarkets and specialty stores.
(Recipe slightly adapted from “Sweet Paul Eat & Make: Charming Recipes and Kitchen Crafts You Will Love,” by Paul Lowe; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014)
Olive Oil Facial Scrub
Yield: 1 cup
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons honey (preferably organic)
˝ cup sugar
Combine the ingredients in a clean jar and stir. Put on lid and label: “To use: Gently massage into your skin in a circular motion. Rinse with warm water and pat dry with soft towel.”
(From “Sweet Paul Eat & Make: Charming Recipes and Kitchen Crafts You Will Love” by Paul Lowe; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014)
Marialisa Calta is a syndicated food writer who lives in Calais.
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