Monday, November 20, 2006


I started painting in my pantry. I knew that I didn't have time to paint the new colors over the entire kitchen before Thanksgiving, but I wanted to give the pantry a peek of the new life to come. I emptied the contents of the all of the cupboards (old houses mean painting inside and out for those storage places), patched a couple of cracks in the plaster, and wiped everything down. I was ready. A first coat of paint inside one cupboard was looking good. I was charged.

Painting isn't one of my favorite things. I don't have the attention span. I get bored, my hand cramps around the paint brush or roller, and my shoulder starts to ache from holding my arm above my head. But, the fresh appearance of the new paint kept me moving...until I hit the walls. The shade that I had chosen for the walls seemed very yellow and garish. It wasn't the calm, soothing shade that I had hoped for. I continued painting with the hopes that the dry paint would reflect the light differently. No luck. I didn't like it. It wasn't what I had in mind.

I am going to finish the pantry before Thanksgiving, leaving the overly bright walls intact. There just isn't enough time to repaint them, finish the cupboards, and replace everything that is currently piled in overflowing boxes in the rest of the kitchen and dining room. The walls are absolutely on my list to redo once the turkey is carved.

I am planning dinner with a redo in mind, too. Hubby is out of town again today and won't return until late. I am on my own, but planning a meal that can be reheated later in the week when I am not. Leftovers aren't usually winners in this house, but some things do seem to just be better the second time around. Asparagus and Leek Tart falls into that category. The flavors of the Swiss cheese and veggies really come into their own the day after baking. Tonight, I will have a slice as I contemplate new kitchen wall colors. Later, I will redo without a worry.

Asparagus and Leek Tart

2 cups asparagus, cut into 1 inch segments
2 tablespoons butter
1 ½ cups leeks, cleaned and sliced, white part only
2 cups Swiss cheese, grated
2/3 cups parmesan cheese, grated
12 inch tart crust, pre-baked and cooled
2 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
½ teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
½ teaspoon fresh marjoram, chopped
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 cups cream
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch the asparagus a few minutes until just barely cooked.
Drain and immediately plunge the asparagus in a bowl of ice water.
Drain again and set aside.
Melt the butter in a saute pan or skillet over medium heat and add the leeks.
Saute a few minutes then cover and turn the heat to low and slowly cook leeks until soft, stirring occasionally, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Set aside to cool.
Sprinkle half the Swiss and half the parmesan cheeses over the bottom of the prebaked tart shell.
Evenly spread the leeks and asparagus in the shell.
Sprinkle the vegetables with the herbs and the rest of the Swiss and parmesan.
In a bowl, using a whisk, beat the eggs, yolks, cream, salt and pepper.
Pour the custard over the filling ingredients.
(Tip: it's easier to fill the tart without spilling over the edge if you put half the custard in a Pyrex measuring cup and pour it into the tart when the tart is already in the oven.) Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until puffed and golden and the custard is set.
(You can check by inserting the tip of a small knife into the center of the tart. It should be soft but not runny.) Remove the tart from the oven, slice into wedges, and serve warm.

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