Spring + Gardening

May 4, 2015

Potato Frittata

I started gardening about 3 weeks ago. A neighbor and master gardener told me that Good Friday is a date worth noting for planting root and frost tolerant vegetables. I was about a week behind but still feeling ahead since last year I didn’t start working the ground until mid May. Veggies that can be started outside earlier than most are the root vegetables like potatoes, radishes, beets, carrots, turnips, kohlrabi and rutabaga with the addition of some frost tolerant veggies like peas, the cabbage-family and collards. So my first planting of the year included peas, radishes, beets, kale and spinach. I may have been on the cusp with my collards, so I am keeping my fingers crossed. The radishes were the first to germinate, followed by the peas and then beets. The weather has been favorable so I am hoping for a growing spurt.

I started my indoor seedlings about two weeks ago. This included an assortment of peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and melons. The cucumbers germinated first and the melons and tomatoes followed suit shortly after and the pepper family has been little slow. I think they may need a little more sun and warmth than what my home may be providing. I will keep you updated. I plan to transplant these starters outside around the end of May or early June. Basically once there is no chance of a frost, which in Montana, is a really hard date to predict!

I ordered all my seeds from Gurney’s and Rare Seeds and purchased some packets from Home Depot. If you haven’t flipped through a Rare Seeds catalog, I highly recommend you request a free catalog. It is a 200+ page color catalog that is sure to inspire you in the garden. Rare Seeds also pledges as a company that they do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants.

Goliath Spinach, Gurney’s
Black Magic Kale, Gurney’s
Chioggia and Golden Beets, Rare Seeds
Cherry Belle Radish, Home Depot
Sugar Ann Snap Pea, can’t remember where I purchased this seed packet. It was leftover from a year or two ago.

Heirloom Rainbow Blend, Gurney’s
Chocolate Cherry Tomato, Gurney’s (of favorite of mine)
Habanero Hot Pepper Blend, Home Depot
Big Thai Hot Pepper, Home Depot
Tangerine Sweet Pepper, Home Depot
Cucumber Muncher, Home Depot
Sugar Baby Watermelon, can’t remember where I purchased this seed packet. It was leftover from a year or two ago.

Note: It is important to store any leftover seeds in a cool, dry and dark place. I usually place them in my fridge but a cool basement would also work. The seeds must be dry so if you are concerned add a small packet of silica gel to the container or any other moisture absorbent like powdered milk or rice. Certain seeds have a longer shelf life than others. For example, corn and onions may only last 1 or 2 years at best while beans, carrots, lettuce, peas and radishes may keep in your fridge for multiple years. Below is a list of common vegetables and their respective shelf life.

5+ yrs…..Beets, cucumbers, tomatoes.
3 to 5 yrs…..Beans, peas, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, carrots, lettuce, okra, peppers, radishes, spinach, turnips and watermelon.
1 to 2 yrs…..Sweet corn, leeks, onions, parsnips and parsley.

Above are some gardening essential from the Mercantile. Click to shop.

I used this boot tray from Target to hold my indoor starters so I wouldn’t ruin my wooden table when watering.
DIY chalkboard seed makers here or just buy these simple markers for $6 or these copper markets for $10.
These watering cans are worth showing off.
Dreaming of summer picnics with this handwoven tote.
Saving for this porcelain berry bowl.
Still looking for a great pair of gardening gloves that do not make my hands stink.


Baked Potato Frittata

I also thought I would share another asparagus recipe. This is my go to when I have a baked potato leftover from the night before. It might be a good addition to your Mother’s Day brunch menu!

Baked Potato Frittata with Asparagus & Lemon // Serves 2 or 3 as a meal or 8 to 10 as a side

6 eggs
1/2 c. whole milk
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
Handful of asparagus spears (9 oz. or 25 skinny spears)
A baked potato from the night before
1/3 c. feta

Preheat broiler.

In a glass mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, whole milk, cayenne pepper, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Set aside.
Wash and snap off ends of asparagus spears. Cut into 1/4 inch pieces and add to egg mixture. Thinly slice potato.
Spray or butter a 10-inch nonstick skillet. Layer potato slices on bottom. Pour egg mixture over the top. On medium heat, cook until egg starts to set and you can run a spatula around the edge of skillet, about 5 minutes.
Sprinkle the top with feta and broil until the top is set and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let the frittata stand 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittata from the sillet and slide onto a plate or cutting board.

Note: If you do not have a leftover baked potato you can use one or two Yukon Gold potatoes. You will need to soften the potatoes by parboiling or sauteing prior to layering the slices on the bottom of the pan. If you choose to saute in olive oil, be sure to just soften the potatoes not fry. You don’t want crispy potatoes. The recipe turns out equally delicious but this step does add a little time to otherwise an incredibly quick recipe.


Vogue Gardening + Apple Frangapaine Tart Drizzled with Salted Caramel

October 30, 2014

Vogue Gardening


It has been a couple weeks since my last post. I have been busy traveling and also testing apple recipe after apple recipe, both savory and sweet. I tried an apple and brussel sprout pickled slaw that topped my favorite squash soup. I grated apples for a chia seed breakfast porridge. Of course a variety of pies, tarts and galettes. But I finally decided to share this apple frangapaine tart drizzled with salted caramel. I thought it might be a Thanksgiving Dinner worthy dessert! It is quite simple but does include multiple steps. If you are in a pinch, the prep time could be greatly reduced with store bought dough, almond cream, and caramel. But the homemade version is well worth the time. Plus this recipe makes two tarts. One for eating directly from the oven, the other is meant to be frozen and baked on a cold morning.

I have also wanted to try Aran’s Gluten Free Apple Hazelnut Oat Cake and Cider Baked Apples.

I had the pleasure of working with the very talented Trisha Jones earlier this Fall. She is self-taught photographer that strives for a more natural, less edited imaged to truly capture what is unique about the subject. Trisha resides in Three Forks, Montana and covers the valley shooting expressive portraits. Her ambition and energy is contagious and I hope to collaborate again. You can view some of her work on Instagram here and Facebook here. Thank you Trisha for this vibrant shoot.

Picking Apples


Apple Frangapaine Tart Drizzled with Salted Caramel


1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Make the almond cream. Scrape into a bowl and set aside.
3. Butter tart mold and make pate sucree dough.
4. Spread a thin layer of apple butter on the bottom of the crust and then refrigerate for 15 or so minutes. If you do not have apple butter, it can be eliminated.
5. While dough is chilling, peel and core 3 apples. Thinly slice and try to keep the shape of half an apple.
6. Spread half the almond cream on top of apple butter and arrange apples on top.
7. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until crust is golden brown and the frangapaine is puffed and golden.
8. Make the salted caramel while tart is baking.
9. Drizzle salted caramel over tart and serve. Best eaten the day of!

Note: The second assembled tart can be frozen for up to 2 weeks. Bake directly from freezer, adding several minutes to baking time.

Apple Frangapaine Tart Drizzled with Salted Caramel


WHAT YOU’LL NEED For the Pate Sucree Dough // Recipe from SF Baking Institute

329g (2 2/3 c.) all-purpose flour
142g (1 1/8 c.) Powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. Baking powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
148g (1 stick + 2 Tbs.) Butter
112g (~6 large) Egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
66g (2/3 c.) Almond flour

Sift the flour, powdered sugar, baking powder, almond flour, and salt and add to a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle.
Add the butter and mix on medium low speed until mealy (course corn meal texture).
Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix on low speed until the dough comes together.
Divide dough into two equal discs. Use parchment paper to roll out. Sometimes I place a yardstick on each side of the disc while I roll out dough to help get the correct thickness (~1/4 inch). Do not pull or stretch dough when forming to mold. Trim edges at an angle starting with the outside. Place on a baking sheet. Makes (2) 4.5-inch x 13.75-inch rectangular tarts. I used this tart mold here.


WHAT YOU’LL NEED For the Almond Cream

1 stick of butter, room temperature
½ c. granulated sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 ¼ c. almond flour
¼ c. all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. rum

Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and rum and scrape the bowl as needed. Add the almond meal and flour and mix until incorporated. Almond cream can be refrigerated up to 5 days or frozen for 2 months.


WHAT YOU’LL NEED For the Salted Caramel

½ c. granulated sugar
¼ c. cream
2 Tbs. butter
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Heat a small saucepan over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, sprinkle a small amount of sugar into pan and allow the sugar to melt without gaining too much color. Continue to sprinkle sugar and swirl pan to fully melt each addition. Once all the sugar is completely melted, cook to a deep reddish brown. (Note: the lighter the color of caramel, the sweeter.) The color can change rapidly. Be cautious to avoid burning the caramel.

Remove from heat and add warm cream mixture in batches, stir rapidly. Be careful, the mixture will splatter and steam. Add vanilla extract and stir until smooth. Sometimes it helps to reheat the caramel after adding the cream mixture for a smooth consistency. Cool until slightly thickened. Caramel can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Apple Frangapaine Tart Drizzled with Salted Caramel

Vogue Gardening – Wheat

September 29, 2014


We finished seeding the wheat last week so I thought it appropriate I post the recipe for my favorite whole wheat crust. This is a family recipe that I often adapt with different ratios and flour types. I use the recipe shared here mostly for galettes since the wheat I use is stone ground straight from the field. The result is a grainy and rustic crust. Perfectly suited for a galette.

Ripe juicy peaches are the fruit of choice. But other stone fruits like plums, nectarines, or pluots are equally delicious substitutes. Since stone fruit season is near its end, apples might be the better option. Basically this is whole wheat crust recipe that can easily be adapted to suit the different fruit seasons.

I added a dash of ground tamarind to this peach galette. I first experienced tamarind while celebrating my sister’s marriage in the Yucatan. I had never heard of it let alone tried it. But if it was in the margarita form I was sure to take a liking to it! And indeed I did. Tamarind is a tree indigenous to tropical Africa but because of its many uses has spread worldwide in tropical and subtropical zones. The tree produces an edible, pod like fruit that is best described as both sweet and sour. I purchased my tamarind from Butterfly Herbs in Missoula, MT. A must stop for me every time I am in the area. The store has a whole wall showcasing a large variety of spices, teas, rubs, coffees, you name it.

Whole Wheat

Peach and Tamarind Galettes // makes 2 galettes and serves about 8 to 10


2 2/3 c. flour
1 c. shortening
1 tsp. salt
1 beaten egg for egg wash


6 ripe peaches
4 Tbs. honey
2 Tbs. tapioca flour
2 tsp. tamarind

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Cut the shortening into the flour with a butter knife until incorporated and about pea size. Add 7 to 8 Tbs cold water. Start with 5 Tbs. Continue to cut until flour, shortening and water come together. Add more water until it is sticky, but not too sticky. To check the dough, pinch with your fingers. If it stays together its done, if it falls apart it needs more water. Using your hands, form dough into a ball. Divide in two.

Lightly flour working surface and rolling pin. Roll out two crusts. I sometimes place a sheet of parchment paper on the counter with a little flour and roll out dough on parchment paper. Then the dough can be easily transferred to a baking sheet.

In a glass mixing bowl, core and thinly slice peaches. Add honey, tapioca flour, and tamarind. Mix so all peaches are coated.

Leaving a 2-inch border around edge, arrange peach slices close together in a circle on the dough. Arrange the remaining peaches in a smaller circle in the center. Fold the border partially over the filling, pleating the dough in loose folds. Brush the folded dough with a beaten egg. Slide the galette with the parchment onto a baking sheet. Bake the galette until the pastry edge is deep golden brown and inside is bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes.

I served warm with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of equal parts ground tamarind and sugar.

Peach Galette with Tamarind

Pistachio Macarons with Lemon Swiss Buttercream

March 24, 2013

Easter Sunday is around the corner and I hope you find yourself remembering the joys of childhood while cultivating fresh and youthful traditions.

Baskets. Bunnies. Eggs. Fancy and frilly dresses. Jelly Beans. Peeps. Pastels. Tulips.


I thought I would share a couple photos from my first endeavor wearing the hat of French pastry chef. the confectionery. the macaron. Although there is much debate whether this sweet meringue-based cookie’s origin is French or Italian. To me, macarons and French Patisseries are synonymous with one another.


I hope these photos might inspire you before Easter Sunday. Provoke you in the kitchen or perhaps through the doors of a patisserie. Whether yours or theirs this cookie is mildly moist and can’t help to melt in your mouth. It should be shared across the table with friends and family. And known to be presented in so many shades of pinks, purples, blues and greens I can’t help to think it’s the perfect Easter treat. READ MORE

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