Weekend Away // Virginia

I love New York City, but as a girl who grew up amongst the mountains, rivers, and trees, I also love leaving it. This past weekend, Jordan and I went to visit my family in Virginia - my mom’s youngest sister lives there with her husband, three kids, and two dogs and it’s always such a breath of fresh air to be with them. They have a beautiful home with a yard on a tree-lined street filled with colonial style houses that just shine among the red and golden hues of the leaves. We are so lucky to experience their hospitality and generosity time and time again; there is nothing like quality moments with family to recharge my batteries. When we weren’t hanging out at the house chatting, making family recipes, or watching football, we were in downtown Fredericksburg perusing antique stores, drinking coffee from Hyperion Espresso and falling in love with the brioche at Eileen’s Bakery & Cafe (it’s located in an old church with beautiful arched doorways and exposed brick!).

Early Bird Biscuit Co

My favorite little food stop though, was found when we headed south for Jordan’s tattoo appointment, just north of Richmond in an area called Lakeside. Across the street was the teeny-tiny (even by New York standards!!) shop called Early Bird Biscuit Co. & Bakery. It had so many elements of what I want for my bakery someday - classic, delicious items that my customers can count on, mixed with new treats daily, a great cup of coffee, short hours, and closed on Sundays!

The brand had a great vintage feel, and that feeling was further reinforced with their corner pastry case, antique rolling pin display, vintage clock radios, and a screen door entry that reminded me of walking into the home I grew up in - it doesn’t get much more inviting than that.

EBB Corner Display
EBB Counter

We ordered from the lunch menu - Jordan chose pimento cheese and bacon on their ‘biscuit of the day’ which was parmesan-pepperoni, and I went for cheddar/bacon/apple on a classic buttermilk. YUM. Times like 10. We ate them off the back of the car, sipping coffee, and appreciating the slowed-down Southern feel of it all.

Welcome to EBB

If you ever find yourself even within an hour of this charming place, you must seek it out; not only for the delicious baked goods, but also for the kind and welcoming people who work there. You won’t be disappointed!

EBB Mug

WARNING: You may also walk away with a tasty molasses cookie and an old-school diner mug to commemorate your visit!

With a full heart and an empty plate,

Katie

 

 

Market Vegetable Tart

The Union Square Farmers Market is one of the most beautiful things in the city this time of year - loads of gorgeous seasonal produce, piled high on tables with their purveyors offering all kinds of samples and knowledge on what they grow. I always do a lap just to look around, try new things, and admire all the plants and flowers. Then I look at my list, which I’ll be honest, is rarely actually stuck to, and do my shopping! Along with my list basics, I brought home some donut peaches, watermelon gherkins, and some tiny red new potatoes because they all looked so good. I tried these gherkins for the first time at a market with my sister in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago and they taste like tart, crunchy cucumbers - they were not a favorite of my husbands, but it’s nice to get him to try new things and I loved them!

Watermelon Gherkins

I cut a chunk off one of the peaches for a little snack and oh my! it was SO sweet and juicy and peachy! Trying new fruits and vegetables is one of my favorite parts about the market; it's the perfect place to be adventurous because everything there is at its peak of freshness and seasonality so you are getting a true taste for what it is. It’s also a great place for the ‘classic’ veggies because of the height of flavor and I was inspired by the zucchini, yellow squash, scallions, and heirloom cherry tomatoes for this tart. My current obsession for goat feta was also thrown into the recipe!

Summer Market Vegetable Tart // Makes 9” Tart, serves 6-8

Crust:

1 ½ c flour

½ tsp salt

3oz cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1.5oz cold vegan shortening, cut into cubes (I use Earth Balance)

3-4 T ice water

*Alternatively, use a store bought dough and skip down to the shaping and blind baking portion that is also marked with an * below!

In the bowl of your food processor, pulse the flour and salt together. Add butter and shortening and pulse 6 or 7 times, until the mixture is in chunks of about pea size or a little larger, it should not be uniform. One tablespoon at a time, pour the ice water through the feed tube with the motor running, until the dough just comes together - err on the side of not enough water, then stop the motor to check. Too much water can yield a tough dough. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the counter, then remove your dough from the bowl, shaping it into a flat disk and wrapping it in the plastic. Refrigerate for one hour. Prepare vegetables for filling:

Filling:

Favorite seasonal veggies, I used:

1 small zucchini

½ yellow squash

5 scallions

About 1 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced

¼ c creme fraiche

¼ c milk

3 eggs

3-4 T chopped fresh herbs, I used basil and parsley

4oz goat cheese

2oz goat feta (optional, or use regular feta)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice zucchini and yellow squash into ⅛” thick coins and trim the scallions. Drizzle some olive oil on a baking sheet, then place the coins and scallions in a single layer on top, drizzle with a little more oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes, then flip so they brown evenly on both sides, roast about another 10 minutes. Leave on pan until ready to use, and meanwhile, slice your tomatoes and chop your herbs. Turn your oven off so your kitchen is not too hot when rolling your pastry.

*Once dough is chilled, roll out on floured surface to about a 12” circle. Carefully fold in half and transfer to a tart pan with removable bottom; unfold and loosely place into the edges of the pan and over the sides. Do not stretch the dough here as that leads to shrinkage when baked. Trim the edges to a 1” overhang, then fold it in to create extra-thick sides. Press evenly into the flutes of the pan. Prick all over with a fork and place in freezer for 15 minutes while you turn the oven to 400 degrees.

Tart Crust

Once dough has chilled, crumple up a piece of parchment that is just larger than the tart, and place it on top of the dough and add pie weights (or dried beans like I do!). The crumpling of the paper allows it to reach into the edges and lets the weights actually do their job! Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the weights and bake until the crust is golden all over, 5-7 minutes more. Reduce heat to 375.

TIP: If using beans as weights, allow to cool, then keep in an airtight container that is well labeled as you can use them again and again for this purpose, but not for eating!

While the crust cools slightly, whisk together the creme fraiche, milk, eggs, herbs, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the goat cheese. Chop the scallions into 1” pieces and place them, along with ⅔ of the ‘coins’ in an even layer over the crust. Carefully pour the egg mixture on top, keeping the vegetables in their place. Layer the remaining squash over the filling, then sprinkle with feta. Lastly, lay the tomato slices on top, pressing in slightly so they settle in. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until just set in the middle. Allow to rest for 20 minutes before cutting into it as it will further set up upon standing. Remove from pan and cut into six pieces for a main dish or eight for a side.

Vegetable Tart

I served mine with with side dishes of more farmers market veggies - a peppery arugula salad with fresh peaches & a balsamic dressing and teeny tiny red potatoes roasted with thyme, garlic and olive oil that I topped with creme fraiche. It was an incredibly delicious meal and the man of the house didn’t ask once where the meat was! If you find there are a few too many steps in this for you, feel free to use store-bought crust and just give your veggies a quick saute before placing in the tart. Make it work for you, using your favorite ingredients and flavors. Leftovers are great cold or room temperature for breakfast or lunch the next day too - win!

With a full heart and an empty plate,

Katie


 

Weekend Away // Winnipeg, MB, Canada

My husband and I took a last minute trip to Winnipeg to spend some time with his Grandpa who had fallen quite ill and was in the hospital. Jordan is very close with him so it was tough knowing he was in pain and almost all the family was there but him. Luckily, he was well enough to leave the hospital the day after we arrived, and the good news on his health has poured in ever since - praise the Lord! Because this trip was not planned, and it wasn't during a major holiday as it is when we usually visit, it gave us a chance to explore and try out some new places to eat and drink. My husband grew up there, but a lot has changed and some great locally owned places have popped up since we last visited. If you ever find yourself in the center of North America, here a few places to check out!

DINNER & COCKTAILS:

The Grove Pub & Restaurant

This menu has a bit of something for everyone, but not in an overwhelming way. We split the poutine, which was great, but the crowning glory was the duck breast tacos. Out of this world! The layers of flavor were surprising and perfectly assembled to create a dish unlike any other I've tasted - I mean, there was duck crackling on the top people!! 

Duck Tacos

They also have seasonal drink specials, a great beer & wine list, and happy hour! I sipped on a melon mojito; it was delightful, not too sweet as some tend to be.

COFFEE:

Thom Bargen Coffee & Tea {Fun fact: The name comes from a combination of the co-owners names}

One of the first of its kind in Winnipeg, Thom Bargen offers a curated craft coffee menu, a few locally made pastry items, and a minimalist atmosphere with white walls, large windows, and wood & steel furnishings.

TB Latte

It also houses a leather shop called Wilder in the back that sells its beautifully crafted wares, along with some small batch body care products from a company, Northlore.

Northlore

Little Sister Coffee Maker

The name alone has a special place in my heart because I am a little sister to three of the best siblings out there. This adorable shop is accented with a mint green painted brick wall and matching ceramics for in-house coffee drinkers.

Little Sister

It’s set just below street level but has a great vintage street lamp with a coffee sign to alert the passerby. The owner, Vanessa, is kind and outgoing and really puts her passion into the place! She even has a branded bike rack out front so her customers can lock up and come in for a treat - if you’re ever in the neighborhood, I highly recommend it!

Little Sister Bike Rack

The thing I love most about these two coffee shops is that they are both owned and operated by people my husband grew up with and you just can’t beat supporting young entrepreneurs!

BRUNCH:

The Tallest Poppy and The Osborne Village Cafe

I’m not going to lie, you will be inclined to walk right by both of these places if you judge by looks alone, but once you get their vibe it all makes sense. These two places are not connected in any way, but they both provided amazing, creative, and fresh food in an unassuming atmosphere.

The Tallest Poppy has mismatched everything and wild paint colors, but it also boasts a huge front window and tall ceilings. I highly recommend the breakfast corndogs (what?!) and Jordan said his chicken & waffles were the best he’s ever had - and that’s saying something since we have some pretty great places here in Brooklyn.

The Osborne Village Cafe is set in an old motor inn and we never would have thought of it without the recommendation from a friend. From the outside, you might think it’s your average greasy spoon, but upon walking in, you see their house-grown microgreens and herbs and an ever-changing chalkboard menu of specials that highlight the season’s bounty, local eggs and potatoes and the enticing combinations that the chef is whipping up.

Jordan and Katie

Now, I know that you’re probably not headed to Winnipeg anytime soon, but I wanted to share this little adventure as a reminder to explore your own town, or somewhere close you thought you knew, to see what culinary gems might be hiding out there. It’s so important to support local businesses, whether they are your local or just local to the place you happen to be at the time - you can’t beat the heart & soul these folks put in!

With a full heart and an empty plate,

Katie

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