October 14, 2014

Spinach Arugula Tart with a Potato Crust

Spinach Arugula Tart with a Potato Crust

What's the difference between a tart and a quiche? It seems like a tart has less filling than a quiche and possibly fewer eggs.  Also, tarts are usually baked in a pan with removable sides and may or may not have an 'e' on the end. So I'm calling this a tart(e). 

I pinned a pretty picture of a potato crust herb tart from the Sweet Daily Blog about a year ago and have finally gotten around to giving it a whirl. Excellent. Just the thing for anyone who craves the comfort of a warm, savory tart but could do without the pastry crust. The potatoes are soft and crispy and the filling fresh, tangy and flavorful from the cottage and feta cheese and not too eggy ('cause it's not a quiche, right?). 



Spinach Arugula Tart with a Potato Crust

adapted from Sweet Daily Blog 

Makes one 7" tart

2 large russet potatoes
1/2 large onion, diced
1 package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups arugula, roughly chopped
Zest from 1/2 lemon
2 eggs
1/2 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375º

2. Using a mandoline slice first potato lengthwise into 1/4" thick ovals (for sides of pan). Slice second potato into 1/4" thick rounds (for bottom of pan). You may not use all the potato slices. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat bottom with olive oil. Saute potatoes for a few minutes per side until a little golden and tender, adding more oil if needed. Lightly salt and set aside on paper towels. 

3. In same pan you sauteed potatoes in add onions and cook until translucent. Add chopped arugula and stir just until wilted. Set aside.

4. Grease a 7" spring-form pan with olive oil or butter and line bottom and sides with potato, overlapping as necessary. 

4. Break eggs into large bowl and whisk until combined. Add onion and arugula mixture, cheeses, zest, salt, pepper and spinach and mix thoroughly. Pour into potato crust and smooth to edges. Bake for 45-50 minutes until set. Let cool for 15 minutes, release sides and serve. 




October 8, 2014

Apple Dumplings with Cider Cream Sauce

Apple Dumplings with Cider Cream Sauce


I won't lie. There's a boatload of butter in this recipe. But, man, it makes for delicious, flaky, flavorful crust and these little guys have a lot of it. A crispy personal apple pie with a sauce that tastes like melted apple cider ice cream.  An idea from Vanilla Bean blogger Sarah Kieffer. Taste like autumn, plus I get to practice making pastry which I'm steadily improving at, even enjoying.



October 3, 2014

Roasted Tomatoes — Because summer is over and we can turn the oven on now.


Roasted Tomatoes

Every fall I try and hit that sweet spot where the tomatoes are still fresh and cheap at the Farmer's Market and the weather has cooled enough to allow me to run the oven all day. When that happens I roast tomatoes to freeze for winter. I use them in sauce and soup and pizza. They're so much better than canned or the hauled from afar on a truck variety. Put them in freezer bags in one cup portions for long-term frozen storage or cover with olive oil and stash in fridge for a week or so to use on sandwiches, bruschetta, quesadillas and salads. 

September 29, 2014

Salt-Roasted Beets





I've wanted to try a salt-crust for awhile, probably because I'm such a salt fiend. I have at least six varieties in my pantry (grey, pink, black, truffle, flaked, kosher, slab) most of which have been gifts from people who know me well. I salt almost everything. I even carry around a little baggie of it in my purse in case I'm caught with a takeout sandwich or salad that needs a little pop. 

With salt-roasting you bury the food (fish, meat, vegetables) in a sandy mixture of salt, egg whites and herbs. It creates an oven within your oven and cooks the food gently and evenly. When it hardens and browns you crack open the crust to reveal a tenderly cooked thing. 

September 25, 2014

Maple Glazed Maple Banana Bread or How Many Times Can I Use the Word "Maple" in One Post?



Maple Glazed Maple Banana Bread


Nineteen, as it turns out. My thesaurus provides no other option.

My favorites pancakes are at The Egg & I, a breakfast place in Minneapolis. I used to go there in my post-college hangover days, then my post-long-run training-for-marathon days, then my post-childbirth up-all-night-jiggling-a-baby-to-sleep days. Now I just go with the kids when I'm hungry for a big breakfast and too lazy to cook. Their multi-grain "kamikaze" cakes are huge and tender and topped with berries, bananas, nuts and lots of butter and maple syrup. I also love their veggie omelet but today I was thinking about those pancakes when I made this bread (I would've included berries but fresh berries never stick around for long in our fridge).

I used maple sugar—a pricey alternative to white or brown that has nice maple flavor and is twice as sweet so you use less—and maple syrup. I also browned the butter. Ever since I made this bread with brown butter I don't want it any other way. It didn't have quite enough maple flavor so I added a sweet glaze on top, with a good dose of salt to liven it up. If you have maple extract, I would substitute it for the vanilla. I couldn't find any at my local grocery so will be ordering some online because I think there's a bunch of maple goodies in my future.



September 22, 2014

Yogurt Dressing (especially for lentils)



I'm happy when I've got a container of cooked lentils in the fridge. Peppery and meaty with lots of protein and fiber—they're great with a salad of greens, leftover roasted vegetables, slivered onions and walnuts for a hearty, healthy, quick lunch. But this isn't a recipe for lentils—I just cook them according to the tiny words printed on the bag and you can too. This is a recipe for the simple sauce that is my favorite way to dress lentils—warm or cold. The salty, garlicky yogurt is rich and creamy and provides a zesty counterpoint to the earthly legumes. Happy lentil lunching!

September 11, 2014

Blue Cheese Dressing

Blue Cheese Dressing

Blue Cheese Dressing

I just don't like store-bought salad dressings. They always contain some "weird" flavor that I can't put my finger on even when I search the ingredient list. Sugar? Maybe. Xanthan Gum? Does that have a flavor? But I still occasionally buy a bottle because they're quick. My last purchase was a jar of blue cheese dressing from the refrigerator case that set me back almost $5. I spooned it over a buffalo chicken salad and, yep, was let down. Again, that indefinable flavor.

Serendipitously, a few nights ago my husband came home with a huge, HUGE wedge of Gorgonzola from our local Italian deli (he gets a little panicky when he's procuring food and tends to blurt out things like - "I'll take a pound!" in this case of really good, $20 a pound cheese). So it's a fine time to make a batch of luscious blue cheese dressing. This is creamy and rich and the blue cheese is prominent but not overpowering. I like the flavor of fresh herbs and added chopped parsley—basil would be nice too or you could skip it. Measurements are approximate. Add a little more or less to taste and for the thickness you like.

September 5, 2014

Brown Butter Brownies




I'm such an culinary jerk sometimes. Last weekend our good friends came over for dinner with their two young kids, ages 5 and 7. They live in a distant suburb and we don't get to see them as often as we like so I was really excited. They were bringing some wine from a vineyard we visited on a fun trip to Napa a few years ago and I was in charge of the food. 

September 1, 2014

Corn Soup with Tofu Larb



Corn Soup with Tofu Larb

Did you know they grow sweet corn in Thailand? Me neither, but I googled it after I tested this recipe for Food52's "best warm weather soup" contest and they do.

Kind of fun to discover that our Midwestern summer staple, corn, is a natural and delicious partner to Thai flavors. This soup delivers big corn taste in a broth that's spiked with ginger and cilantro and finished with a pile of crispy Thai-sauced tofu, a riff on larb, which is a southeast Asian staple of minced meat flavored with fish sauce, chili's and herbs.

August 26, 2014

Sambal Chicken Skewers

Sambal Chicken Skewers


I made this because my husband asked me to "cook the cover" which happened to be last June's issue of Bon Appetit. I'm always going through old cooking magazines looking for ideas and I leave them all over the house. This one caught his eye. Chicken cut into chunks, skewered, grilled and basted with a sticky, spicy chili and sriracha sauce. 

I apologize for the lack of photos...my family was sitting at the kitchen counter harassing me about their hunger as I tried to take pictures. And then they ate all of it—fast. And then my husband starting doing the dishes, so I vacated the kitchen—fast, and ran upstairs to listen to the radio and sort my tee-shirt drawer. Don't judge. Everyone relaxes in their own way and getting control of this drawer by sorting my cotton tops into long sleeved, short sleeved, turtleneck and time-to-go and folding them into neat little geometric piles makes me feel like a person who has drawers that look like this, who never miss an appointment, who always get the forms in on time and never walk the dogs in their pajamas with yesterday's mascara raccooning their eyes. Like Babe Paley. Except Babe Paley probably didn't own 23 tee-shirts. Nevertheless, I'm sure her drawers of say, Hermes scarves, looked as good as my tee-shirt drawer does now making it just as effortless for her to choose which scarf to tie on to the handle of her handbag or over her coif as it will be for me to select a tee that perfectly complements my cargo pants or jeans. Babe and I have much in common. 

August 15, 2014

Naan

Naan


Naan

My husband called his maternal grandmother, "nan", pronounced "naan" like this flatbread. Fitting because she was a professional baker who hailed from Poland and made dishes that linger in the families memory: rich bread, elaborate cakes for birthdays, donuts she fried fresh in her kitchen, polish cheesecake, soup noodles and so on.  I would've liked to have met her but she passed away before I came into the picture. 

Her food lives on — my mother-in-law has reluctantly shared a few recipes but asked that I please not put them on "that computer thing of yours" (i.e., this blog), which I will of course honor, not wanting to blow the lid off the cooking world by revealing that nana put a pinch of cream of tartar in her donut batter (just an example, I know no such thing to be true). 

August 11, 2014

Tofu Fried Rice

Tofu Fried Rice




I spent last weekend at a horse show in Des Moines, Iowa with my equestrian daughter. It was the last show of the summer, which is always bittersweet. Sweet in that I can wash and vacuum out my car and and have it stay mud-free for longer than a week. Sweet because I now get to enjoy a summer weekend at home in Minneapolis. But bittersweet because some lovely young women who my daughter has rode with for the past few years are off to college and won't be hanging around the barn anymore, talking horses and life and giving my girl a peek into the older teenage years that await.

We all applauded and whistled and shed tears as they rode their last rounds and, driving away from the show grounds, felt their moving on. And while we look forward and expect good things from the next chapter, we mourn the one that is passing. These kids are focused riders who have grown up at the barn and benefited from the generosity of the equine community of parents, trainers, adult riders, grooms, show judges, in-gate guys and office staff who support them, teach them, hold them accountable, occasionally give them a friendly ribbing and keep the whole thing running smoothly (or as smoothly as a horse show can go —another story altogether).

What's special about this world for a child, in addition to the partnership and commitment to their equine partner, is that they have friends of all ages. The friendships come naturally and are free of drama because they share a central thing in their lives, horses and riding. I think this comes as a relief to many girls who don't always have the same kind of ease in their school friendships.

August 6, 2014

Cucumber Soup


Cucumber Soup




The inspiration for this cool and creamy soup came from my little one's driveway garden (the only reliably sunny spot on our city lot) where the cucumbers and parsley are kind of going nuts.

A quick spin in the blender with a few other ingredients makes for a clean, tasty and surprisingly filling summer soup. The yogurt and almonds give it some heft and the olive oil a little fruitiness. Fresh and delicious. It also holds well in the fridge without separating. I had it the next day with a spoonful of leftover rice and it was divine.

August 2, 2014

15 Minute Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

15 Minute Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies


August. Precious August with its blue skies, breezy heat and armloads of pristine vegetables that, if we had them year-round, would make Californians out of all of us. Back-to-school missives are trying to infiltrate our summer mode and we swat them away like mosquitoes, trying to hold off the inevitable return to schedule and routine. 

A day baking in the kitchen doesn't suit my current frame of mind so these peanut butter cookies fit the bill. Just a few ingredients and they take about 15 minutes to throw together and bake. A bit longer if you dip them in chocolate glaze. Store them in the refrigerator—they're even better cold—full of rich peanut butter flavor and the dark chocolate glaze, if you choose to go that route, is a perfect compliment. 

July 29, 2014

Lentil Potato Salad with Feta


Lentil Potato Salad with Feta




I can't resist the cartons of itsy-bitsy potatoes at the farmer's market this time of year. Tender and tasting of earth, which I guess is to say dirt, they cook quickly and pair with just about anything, such is the easy-going nature of these tubers. A quick boil, a gentle smash and they're ready to hang out with green lentils, fresh herbs, a bit of onion, a chunk of feta, lots of good olive oil and a healthy shot of lemon juice. Good warm now, even better for lunch tomorrow.



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