Tuesday, March 31, 2009

BB: Tomato Goat Cheese Tart (+ another puff pastry treat)

Another great Barefoot Bloggers recipe . . . this time chosen by Anne. I didn't think I'd love this one, but was pleasantly surprised to find out that I did love it . . . and so did everyone else! If you aren't comfortable with goat cheese . . . get over it . . . try this recipe!

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart
1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (1 large onion)
3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

My Directions: Unfold a sheet of puff pastry onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Fold up the edges to make a border/rim. (Use the other sheet for something else - like strawberry shortcake - see below)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Prick the pastry inside the border with a fork and sprinkle with 4 tablespoons of grated Parmesan, staying inside the border.

Place the onion mixture on the pastry, again staying within the border. Crumble goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato on the tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter remaining Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Serve hot or warm.
The original recipe - and original directions are on the Food Network's website.

Make strawberry shortcakes with leftover puf pastry. Cut puff pastry into strips - lightly brush with olive oil or butter - sprinkle turbinado sugar over top - roll up (think cinnamon roll) - pinch together edges - place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper - bake at 425 degrees until golden brown - top with sliced strawberries and homemade whipped cream. (Now fast for the next three days because you ate puff pastry twice in one night . . .)

Monday, March 30, 2009

I'm still cooking . . .

I haven't been blogging much lately, but I have been cooking (a few things):
Chocolate Ice Cream Bruschetta salad
Coffee cake muffins

Recipes coming soon . . . I promise!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Helloooo Spring

I don't know about you, but I'm totally ready for warmer weather! I definitely have spring fever - I'm ready to get out of the house and go somewhere . . . anywhere . . . and cooking hasn't been my biggest priority lately. I thought a few of my favorite warmer weather recipes might help me get back into the cooking spirit, so this week I made Pasta, Pesto and Peas and bread salad (panzanella).

The panzanella is pictured above (I was in a hurry and tossed it on the same plate I used for the picture, so please forgive the sloppy look). I had almost forgotten how much I love this panzanella recipe, which I first tried last summer. It starts with bread and kosher salt, toasted in olive oil (love bread and love salt too) - and if I can keep myself from eating the toasted salty bread by itself, I add chopped tomato, bell peppers, and basil. Normally I add cucumber, but an avocado caught my eye at the grocery store, so tonight it was avocado (which was a good addition). I top it off with viniagrette and capers, toss it together and enjoy. Tonight I actually made my own vinaigrette (normally I use Brianna's), and I was very pleased with how it turned out. Unfortunately, I tried to transfer the unused vinaigrette to a cute little bottle but ended up pouring 75% of it on the counter. Good thing it is easy to make more!

Barefoot Contessa's Vinaigrette
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together.

P.S. Homemade chocolate ice cream is churning right now . . .

Thursday, March 12, 2009

BB: Chicken Piccata

The first March Barefoot Bloggers recipe was Chicken Piccata, chosen by Lindsay of Noodle Nights and Muffin Mornings. I have to admit, I was kind of dreading the whole process of cooking tonight, but this snapped me out of it quickly because it was quick, easy, and tasty! The process of coating the chicken reminded me a little bit of the Barefoot Contessa's Chicken Parmesan, which is one of our favorites. However, if you don't like lemon, you might want to stick with the Chicken Parmesan instead of Chicken Piccata . . . I love lemon, and I was even a little shocked at the zing of the first bite. It's important not to cut back on the butter or the salt, they are crucial to help balance the lemon.

Chicken Piccata
2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 extra-large egg
1/2 tablespoon water
3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs Panko bread crumbs
Good olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
1/2 cup dry white wine
Sliced lemon, for serving
Chopped fresh parsley watercress, for serving
optional: capers

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with foil or parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast in a ziploc bag and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate. Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon, capers, and greens or herbs.

In addition, I need to post the last February Barefoot Bloggers recipe, Meringues Chantilly, which was chosen by BMK of Reservations Not Required. This was a fun recipe for me because I had never made meringues before. They turned out pretty well . . . and the berries and whipped cream were delicious! However, I had a little computer crash and lost the pictures . . . so you can't see the outcome. If you want to see what the other members of Barefoot Bloggers thought of the meringues and see their pictures, click here.

Meringues Chantilly
6 extra - large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whipped Cream, recipe follows
Stewed berries, recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a small glass and a pencil, draw 6 (3 1/2-inch) circles on each piece of paper. Turn the paper face-down on the baking sheets.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a large pinch of salt on medium speed until frothy. Add 1 cup of the sugar and raise the speed to high until the egg whites form very stiff peaks. Whisk in the vanilla. Carefully fold the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar into the meringue. With a large star - shaped pastry tip, pipe a disc of meringue inside each circle. Pipe another layer around the edge to form the sides of the shells.

Bake for 2 hours, or until the meringues are dry and crisp but not browned. Turn off the heat and allow the meringues to sit in the oven for 4 hours or overnight.

Spread some of the sauce from the stewed berries on each plate. Place a meringue on top and fill with whipped cream. Top with berries and serve.

Whipped Cream:

2 cups (1 pint) cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar, vanilla and orange liqueur and continue to whip until the cream forms stiff peaks. Don't overbeat!

Stewed berries:

1 half-pint fresh blueberries
3 half-pints fresh raspberries, divided
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon orange zest
2 teaspoons framboise (raspberry brandy) Orange Marnier

Combine the blueberries, one-half pint of raspberries, 1/3 cup water, the sugar and zest in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook uncovered over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes. The juice will become a syrup and the berries will be slightly cooked. Off the heat, stir in the remaining raspberries and the Orange Marnier. Set aside.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Spring Risotto

The warm weather here in the Midwest has tricked me into thinking it is Spring . . . this risotto is a great way to transition to spring cooking, because it is hearty and filling . . . and the addition of peas and asparagus give it a definite Spring twist. If I would change one thing about this, I think I might try adding just a tiny bit of lemon juice at the end . . . or maybe basil instead of spinach. . . although it was good as is!

Spring Risotto
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
3/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
optional: 3 lightly packed cups baby spinach leaves
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 pound asparagus, steamed and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Bring the broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over moderately low heat and cook the onion, stirring occasionally, until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add wine and simmer, stirring constantly, until absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 3/4 cup of the hot broth, the salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper and simmer, stirring constantly, until broth is absorbed. Continue simmering and adding hot broth, about 3/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing the broth to be absorbed before adding more, until rice is almost tender and creamy-looking (Ellie says this should take 18 minutes - it took about 35-40 for me).

Add the spinach and peas and cook until the spinach is wilted. Add the asparagus and cook just until the vegetables are hot. Stir in the Parmesan and more broth if the risotto seems too thick. Serve immediately. - Recipe from Ellie Krieger

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Farewell Winter Chicken Pot Pie

Before giving up wheat for lent (yeah, I know - crazy), I had to have one more major dose of comfort food. I had leftover pie crust scraps and a decent assortment of vegetables on hand, so I picked up a rotisserie chicken and made chicken pot pies. The recipe is from The Pastry Queen (Rebecca Rather). We went to her bakery in Fredericksburg, Texas a few years ago (I would go back for the sole purpose of going to the bakery) and her cookbook has been a favorite of mine ever since. I have made these pot pies a few times, but have never taken time to post the recipe until now. Although I didn't use her crust recipe this time, I included it below because it is super easy. Whatever you do about the crust, I think it is fun to use cookie cutters to cut out shapes from the scraps. As you can (kind of) tell, I used a palm tree because my crumbly crust looked like sand . . . and because it's nice to think of sand and palm trees in the winter . . .

Chicken Pot Pie

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 8-oz. pkg sliced mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 purchased cooked rotisserie chicken
8 ounces fresh green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (optional)
1 (8-ounce) package frozen peas (optional)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Dash of hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco (optional)
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Pastry Queen Crust:
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
10 ounces chilled cream cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 large egg

Filling: Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and potato; sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, bell pepper, and mushrooms and sauté about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Stir in the crushed red pepper and add salt and pepper to taste.

While the vegetables are sautéing, skin the chicken, pull the meat off the bones, and shred or cut meat into bite-size pieces. Place the green beans in a microwave steaming bag and steam according to directions on bag. Stir the beans, peas, and chicken into the vegetable mixture. Set the filling aside.

Sauce: Melt butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add flour and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the chicken stock and cook the sauce over medium heat until it thickens to the consistency of a cream soup. Add the cream, hot sauce, salt and white pepper to taste. Pour the cream sauce over the chicken filling and stir to combine. Fill individual 1 1/4-cup capacity oven-safe bowls (or disposable pot pie pans) three-quarters of the way to the top with the creamed chicken filling.

Crust, Assembly & Baking: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the butter into 16 pieces. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse the butter and flour until crumbly. Add the cream cheese, salt, and white pepper. Continue pulsing just until the dough forms a ball. Set the dough on a flat surface dusted with flour. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough out to 1/4-inch thickness. Measure the diameter of the pot pie bowls and cut out dough rounds that are 1 1/2 inches larger in diameter. Whisk the egg in a small bowl. Lay the dough rounds on top of the pot pies, making sure the dough hangs evenly over each bowl. Brush the dough lightly with the beaten egg. Bake the pies for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Serve immediately.