roasted vegetable tart

July 13, 2010

A customer has been telling me about this tart for a while. She was in the store this morning, and we talked about it again. The basic directions are to make a tart with a cheese layer, then top it with roasted vegetables.

On the way home from work I picked up a package of feta cheese, a tub of ricotta cheese, and a box of butter.

I raided my fridge, my mom’s fridge, and the garden for fresh vegetables and herbs. Beets, basil, eggplant, zucchini, leeks, thyme, corn, and tomatoes. All from the garden, market, or csa. We were loaded with stuff. I washed and chopped up the beets and leeks and put them in my cast iron casserole and started roasting them. Then I made the dough for the crust. It needed to chill in the fridge for a while, so meanwhile, I peeled and chopped the eggplant and zucchini, and added them to the roasting vegetables, one at a time.

Next I mixed up the base layer of the tart. A package of feta cheese, 3/4 of a tub of ricotta cheese, and a little bit of prairie breeze cheese. To this mixture I added some chopped pickled pimentos, a handful of chopped basil, and some black pepper.

Time to roll out the dough and prebake the crusts.

I made two crusts, and put them in the oven for a little while first to bake so that they were nice and crispy when I was finished. While they were baking, I chopped some tomatoes, and cut the kernels off of a few ears of corn. I sauteed this in butter, with fresh basil and salt.

When the crusts were finished baking, I took them out and layered the filling. The cheese mixture first, then the roasted vegetables, finishing with the corn and tomatoes for color.

I put the tarts back in the oven, and baked them for about an hour (I think..). I took them out and served them right away..they probably should have sat for a few minutes to settle first, but I was a little behind schedule…

Just a little note: I had a few pieces of tart left and put them in the fridge overnight. They tasted way better cold and the next day!!

first place bread…

June 20, 2010

This year started out with bread. Plain and simple. 3 cups flour, 1 1/2 cups water, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon yeast. Mix the ingredients together. No kneading necessary. Let the bread rise for a long time (about 18 hours) and then bake in a hot hot hot dutch oven.

If you use the same sized dutch oven that we used, beware of your bread sticking to the top and burning. Like ours did.

My mom went to check on the bread, opened the lid, and couldn’t find the bread. She thought that I had taken it out, but wasn’t sure why. Then Kathy saw it hanging for dear life from the bottom of the lid. It was probably the best part of my day. So funny.

I was ready at this point to throw the bread away. Not particularly disappointed, mostly because I got such a good laugh out of the whole thing. My mom however, set to diligently scraping off every bit of charred black. We entered the bread, and to my complete surprise won first place for it…

Go figure. I guess that it must have tasted a lot better than it looked.

enchilada bake

June 20, 2010

I love recipes that have the word bake in the title. It implies something hearty, and, well, baked. For our main course entry in the dutch oven competition, we made an enchilada bake. I should really say, my mom made and enchilada bake.

For the layers, she included tortillas,

a delicious home made tomato sauce with fresh bell peppers, a mixture of sour cream and ricotta cheese, grated prairie breeze cheese, and black olives.

Simple simple simple. And then on with the coals.

Coals on top, coals on bottom. There is a specific number that you are supposed to put on for the different sizes of dutch ovens, and for different baking temperatures.

And the result was delicious. Hot and bubbly. To top off the dish she made a fresh salsa of tomatoes, jalapenos, cilantro from the garden, and a touch of green onion.

Note the extensive use of oil cloth…

For the dutch oven cookoff we made a whiskey sour cherry spoon bread. A not too sweet cake, rich with butter, and filled with fruit. Cherries soaked for a few days in whiskey and sugar.

We preheated the dutch oven, melted the butter, and then added the cake batter. Then we carefully spooned in the sour cherries.

Then lidded the dish, making sure not to get any ashes in the cake, and set it aside to cook.

We whipped cream with vanilla and powdered sugar to serve with the spoon bread.

A simple and satisfying dessert.

I love the idea of strawberry pie. Fresh fruit, cream, and a buttery crust are all I need to be happy (for a few moments anyways). Oh, and maybe a sprig or two of mint, too.

Last night I got home with more strawberries than I knew what to do with. Well, not really, but there were a lot. Before bed, I mixed up a batch of pie dough. 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 stick butter, and a bit of ice water. I put the dough in the fridge over night, and this morning I rolled it out, pricked it, and popped it into the oven. I left the pie crusts on the counter to cool and ran off to work.

This afternoon, I came home and filled the pie shells with a whipped cream and yogurt mixture. It is one of my new favorites: very simple, fresh, and delicious. I used greek style hung yogurt mixed with sugar, lime zest and lime juice, and vanilla. To this mixture I added the whipped cream.

On top of the pies I added strawberries (whole around the edges, and sliced with sugar in the middle. I threw in a mango as well here. To garnish the pies I picked some mint from the garden.

All 6 assorted mini pies made it safely into town in my pie baskets.

green tomato tart

May 30, 2010

What to do when you get paid in green tomatoes?

At the end of a morning of playing music at the farmer’s market, we received a collection of  treats from many of the different vendors! Among the items was a bag of green tomatoes, and I took them home to try to make a green tomato tart. I had a recipe in mind that I wanted to try from Lee Bailey’s Country Desserts, one of my favorite cookbooks.

The crust was very simple, a mixture of flour, powdered sugar, and butter, pressed into the bottom of the tart pan. No rolling out, and it tasted delicious! I am going to remember this for other recipes…

Then I arranged apple and green tomato slices around, covered with lemon juice and dusted with a sugar and flour mixture. (You are supposed to use corn starch, but I didn’t have any.)

The recipe only called for three tablespoons of sugar in the tart. At the end you are supposed to add 1/2 a cup of blackberry jam. I didn’t have any blackberry jam, and wanting to use up something that I had in my cupboard I substituted a jar of spicy jalapeno pepper jelly. I wasn’t sure if it would go…green tomato, apple, vinegar, and the sharp bite of pepper, but it ended up tasting pretty good.


May 23, 2010

My sourdough starter was tipsy last night when I pulled it from the fridge. If you let the starter go for a long time in between feedings, the sugar turns into alcohol and a layer of liquid forms at the top of the jar. The starter is totally fine, but super sour! I fed my drunk starter a cup of flour and a cup of water (as per usual) and set it out over night.

This morning I mixed most of the proofed starter with flour to form a moist dough, and set it out to rise under a completely soaked a tea towel. I wanted to leave the dough out all day to see what happened with the longer rising time. When I got home, the dough had reached the towel covering the top of the bowl (it was in a big bowl), and it felt nice and stretchy. It is my understanding that the longer rising time allows for more gluten develop, which causes the dough to become more elastic.

I kneaded the air out of the dough and formed it into a little loaf, and set it out to rise again. (The usual.) The result? Nice, even ballooning. When I put the loaf into the preheated dutch oven it fell a little, as usual, but maintained its shape well, and puffed up a lot during baking.

I nipped into a heel, still warm (a big no-no I know..) and it was nicely crunchy on the outside, with an even, lemony sour dough. Probably should have let it cool before slicing though. Good results, with timing that might work better for me.

1. Feed starter the night before.

2. Quickly throw dough together before running out the door to work.

3. Reshape bread when home around 6, and let rise.

4. Bake a few hours later. Finished around 8.


May 11, 2010

Erika taught Heli and I how to make crostata in Italy. She showed us how to make it in pretty much the same way her mother (and probably grandmother, etc, etc.) made it. Erika made one exception, she melted the butter. Somehow she was able to pull it off, but when I tried to repeat this feat, I ended up with a very very hard tart…

So Heli and I cut in the butter. And then add an egg, and a little milk, and let the dough chill. If you have an extra jar of jam, this is the perfect desert. Sweet, but not too sweet, and fresh with the zest of a lemon in the crust.

We made ours with Heli’s apricot jam. With the left over dough we made a mini crostata with pear butter.

We latticed the tops, and drove the tarts into town to bake at the store (again..).

We had a little tart for my mom’s birthday, and snacked here and there for the rest of the afternoon…

bird crackers

May 11, 2010

My sister and I made bird crackers a few days ago. We found the recipe in a Good to the Grain, a book that we just got into the store (my sister’s recommendation). The book includes recipes for quite a few different whole grains including bird crackers, which turned out deliciously! (We made them specially for my brother who was studying for finals over the weekend.)

Bird Crackers are basically glorified pie dough, if you ask me. The recipe calls for “regular” (wheat) flour and barley flour. We added butter, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, and a little sugar.

We substituted cheese for grated hard-boiled egg yolk, as we (at least I) just couldn’t really wrap our minds around this combination. The cheese was delicious anyway.

The crackers are rolled out (one time only for truly flakey crumb), cut into rustic pieces, and brushed with milk and topped with sea salt and extra sesame and poppy seeds.

We baked the cookies in a toasty oven, and tested our two cookie sheets to see which was better. The fancy All Clad beat out the plain old (good and sturdy) cookie sheet hands down! I was actually surprised at how well it worked! Even baking, delicately crispy edges, etc…

My jar of sourdough starter keeps growing. I have gotten into pancakes, and last weekend I decided that buckwheat sourdough pancakes would have to be the next thing. I made them on Sunday while my sister was in town, and then started a loaf of bread. The starter still had a little residual buckwheat, and the loaf of bread that I made turned out a bit darker and denser than the last. I am quite curious to try it…probably for breakfast in the morning.

I have gotten a little lazy with measuring, and seem to be getting the feel for what makes a good dough. My favorite recent trick is to dampen the towel that is resting over the bowl while the dough is rising. It seems to prevent the outside of the dough from drying out which allows it to rise more easily (I think, anyway..).