October – Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes with Miso-Tahini Sauce

October – Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes with Miso-Tahini Sauce

This small plate elevates roasted vegetables to a new high. It could serve as a vegan main course if you tossed it with some brown rice or put it on top of a crisp pizza crust.

It’s also perfect as part of a tapas spread with flat bread, some dolmas, feta and olives.

Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes with Miso-Tahini Sauce

Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes with Miso-Tahini Sauce

End-of-season tomatoes or even out-of-season ones would be fine as they are roasted to concentrate their flavors. The miso-tahini sauce further enlivens the dish and would also be delicious on a baked sweet potato or butternut squash, or as a dressing for green or grain salads.

Serve this just out of the oven or at room temperature.

The recipe comes from the cookbook the Weekday Vegetarians by Jenny Rosenstrach. It’s a cookbook I recieved for Christmas this past year and have just started using more frequently.

the Weekday Vegetarians

the Weekday Vegetarians

Their premise is that, as a family, they agreed to be vegetarians during the week and only eat meat on the weekends. There are lots of interesting recipes most of which are very vegetable forward.

Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes with Miso-Tahini Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of small eggplants (if you can get Fairy Tale ones, those would be perfect…I couldn’t)
  • 1/2 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 8 Italian plum tomates or 10-12 smaller ones
  • freshly chopped flat leaf parsley for garnishing

Sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons of tahini
  • 2 teaspoons of white miso
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice, or squeezed juice of 1/2 small one
  • 2 teaspoons of maple syrup
  • 3-6 tablespoons of water

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Cut the eggplant into 1-inch-thick slices and toss them with the olive oil in a large bowl, add salt and pepper. If you manage to get smaller eggplants, cut them in half. Place them in a single layer on the parchment lined sheet pan.
  3. Cut the tomatoes in half (or quarters if large) and add them to the same bowl, coating them with the remaining oil. Nestle them between the eggplant slices.
  4. Bake on the lowest shelf of your oven for 20 minutes, then turn the eggplant slices and return the sheet pan to the center of the oven. Bake for an additional 10 to 20 minutes until the eggplant is browned and crispy and the tomatoes are shriveled. I removed the eggplant slices and returned the tomatoes to the oven for another 10 minutes as they needed more time.
  5. Meanwhile prepare the sauce. In a small bowl or jar combine the tahini, miso, lemon juice, maple syrup and 4 tablespoons of water. Whisk or shake the jar vigorously to combine, adding the additional 2 tablespoons of water to thin it if needed.
  6. Transfer the vegetables to a serving platter, drizzle with the tahini-miso sauce, top with choped parsley.

You can serve this warm or at room temperature.

Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes with Miso-Tahini Sauce

Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes with Miso-Tahini Sauce

Note: My tahini sauce was so thick it was impossible to measure. I processed it in a small food processor until it was smooth and pourable. That made it much easier to manage.

Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes with Miso-Tahini Sauce

Roasted Eggplant & Tomatoes with Miso-Tahini Sauce

October – Marinated Cherry Tomato Bruschetta with Mozzarella

October – Marinated Cherry Tomato Bruschetta with Mozzarella

Marinated Cherry Tomato Bruschetta with Mozzarella

Marinated Cherry Tomato Bruschetta with Mozzarella

Late fall and winter are my favorite seasons of the year. I know it’s unusual, but I love the rain. I probably wouldn’t feel the same way if I had to deal with snow and freezing weather. But, I’m lucky enough to live in a place where the temperatures rarely get below 35 degrees F. I do miss the wonderful fresh ripe tomatoes of summer though.

In most places cherry tomatoes are available 12 months of the year, and with a little doctoring they can be quite delicious even in the dead of winter.

This is the perfect way to perk them up. Add a little pesto and mozzarella and you’ll swear it’s late August.

Marinated Cherry Tomato Bruschetta

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 10 oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)
  • Crushed red chili flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Slices of mozzarella or a ball of burrata
  • Pesto
  • Baguettes, halved and toasted

Method:

  1. In a large bowl, add the tomatoes, oil, vinegar, capers, anchovies, a pinch of chili flakes, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Stir well to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and rest on the countertop (if serving immediately) or in the refrigerator for 8 hours or up to overnight. Bring to room temperature before preparing.
  2. Top each toasted bread slice with a smear of pesto, a slice of mozzarella, and some of the tomato salad.
  3. Or, top the bread with tomato salad and a piece of burrata.
  4. Garnish with microgreens of some chopped basil, if available.

With a glass of wine you would swear it was still summer.

Marinated Cherry Tomato Bruschetta with Mozzarella

Marinated Cherry Tomato Bruschetta with Burrata

Marinated Cherry Tomato Bruschetta with Mozzarella

Marinated Cherry Tomato Bruschetta with Mozzarella

I think the folks at Fiesta Friday will enjoy these, something to keep in their back pocket to cheer up a dark day in February. This week is Fiesta Friday #453, come on over and join Angie and the gang at this virtual blogging party.

March – Fennel and Celery Salad with Lemon and Parmesan

March – Fennel and Celery Salad with Lemon and Parmesan

I’ve seen several versions of this recipe. David Tanis from the NY Times published one and it also appeared in a 2014 issue of bon appetit. This recipe is a combination of both those recipes. The salad can be made ahead. Prepare the vegetables and toast the pine nuts, then dress it just before serving to take advantage of the crispness of the celery. It will begin to soften after an hour. It will still be delicious and makes great leftovers for lunch the next day, but it won’t have quite the same freshness.

Fennel and Celery Salad

Fennel and Celery Salad

I have finally overcome my own aversion to celery, this salad definitely helps. It wasn’t that I ever actively disliked celery (although I do dislike celery salt) and more that our CSA box of the time had a huge head of celery week, after week, after week. It became tiresome to find ways to use it up.

I used a mandolin for slicing the celery and fennel, a sharp knife works as well. They were cut about 1/4 inch thick.

This would be the perfect salad for a spring BBQ. Spread it out on a platter rather than in a bowl to take advantage of all those wonderful textures.

Fennel and Celery Salad

Fennel and Celery Salad

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice plus the zest from 1 large lemon
  • 1 or 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Dressing Preparation:

  1. Put the lemon juice, zest and garlic cloves in a small jar or bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the olive oil and shake or stir to mix. Set aside for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Remove the garlic cloves before dressing the salad.

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 medium fennel bulbs, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 6 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • About 4 ounces of parmesan, thinly shaved or thickly shredded
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/2 cup of mint leaves, roughly torn
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Salad Preparation:

  1. Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet (tossing frequently) or 350 degree F oven for 8-10 minutes. Watch them carefully as they will go from toasty brown to burnt quickly.
  2. Place the fennel and celery in a bowl, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove the garlic from the dressing, give it a shake or a whisk. Pour over the vegetables, and toss well. Adjust the seasoning as needed.
  4. Transfer to a platter, add the parmesan and sprinkle over the parsley and mint.

Enjoy!

Fennel and Celery Salad

Fennel and Celery Salad

October – Puff Pastry Savory Tarts

October – Puff Pastry Savory Tarts

Having a package of puff pastry in the freezer is like money in the bank. It’s easy to create wonderfully impressive appetizers or even full dinners in almost the blink of an eye.

You are limited only by your imagination and the contents of your fridge, pantry and/or garden.

My preference is for tarts that highlight vegetables but no one is stopping you from adding a little tuna or sausage or prosciutto. Cheese is nice, but any kind works. I’ve used parmesan, goat cheese, cheddar, mozzarella, ricotta and fontina. All of them are delicious. But, if all you have is Monterey jack…go for it.

There are is vegan puff pastry out there, and delicious vegan cheeses. They have come a long way in the past few years. Don’t let that stop you.

You will find the recipes for the Puff Pastry Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Chives and Blue Cheese and Puff Pastry Pizza with Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes, Sliced Zucchini Flowers, Basil and Balsamic Drizzle here. That post is from May of last year.

 

I still have a glut of zucchini in the garden although I think it will soon come to an end. This year I discovered a way to prolong the harvest. Zucchini grows on vines, so trimming the older, ratty looking (or powdery mildewed) leaves encourages new growth and continued fruiting. I also fertilized the vines when I did the first pruning, something I didn’t do last year. Zucchini are considered heavy feeders.

As a complete aside, does anyone else think it is strange that the plural of leaf is leaves? Why not leafs? Leave has another meeting entirely. Just a random thought there.

Puff Pastry Zucchini Tart

Puff Pastry Zucchini and Ricotta Tart

 

Puff Pastry Tomato and Mozzarella Tart

Puff Pastry Tomato and Mozzarella Tart

 

Following are the ones for the two other tarts, Zucchini and Ricotta and Tomato and Mozzarella.

I modified the zucchini tart from a galette recipe on Smitten Kitchen who adapted the filling from a Cook’s Illustrated tart. It’s rare to find something entirely new in cooking, we all riff on each other.

Zucchini and Ricotta Tart

Ingredients:

  • I sheet of puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 large of 2 small zucchinis, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • 1 medium clove of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon of pesto (or a tablespoon of finely sliced basil leaves)
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon of water

Method:

  1. Line a sheet pan with several layers of paper towels, spread out the zucchini slices out and sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt. Let them drain for about 30 minutes, then gently blot the tops of the zucchini dry with other paper towels.

    Draining zucchini

    Draining zucchini – they will release a lot of liquid

  2. In a small bowl whisk the olive oil and garlic together. In another bowl ix the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, 1 teaspoon of the olive/garlic mixture, and the pesto together. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Heat the oven to 410 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface, roll into an 11 inch square and place in the center of the prepared parchment lined baking sheet. With a knife, make a shallow cut about 1 inch in from the edge. Be careful to not cut all the way through. Brush the edges with the egg wash.
  5. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the bottom of the pastry, leaving the border uncovered. Shingle the zucchini attractively on top of the filling. Drizzle with the remaining garlic and olive oil mixture.
  6. Bake until the filling is set and the edges are golden brown. This took about 25 minutes in the middle of my oven.
Zucchini and Ricotta Tart

Zucchini and Ricotta Tart

Tomato Tart with Mozzarella

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese
  • 2 plum or small tomatoes (or 1 large heirloom tomato), cored and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons of finely sliced basil leaves (I didn’t have any)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll it out into an 11-inch square and place in the center of the prepared backing sheet. With a knife, make a shallow cut about 1 inch in from the edge. Be careful to not cut all the way through. Or form a crust by folding over the edges about 1/2-inch. Brush the edges with the egg.
  3. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese evenly over the dough, then poke the dough all over with a fork, make sure to go all the way through the dough. Note: I forgot this step and the entire center puffed up like a balloon when it was baked, sigh. It was ok though as I just poked it down and you couldn’t really tell after the filling was added. Don’t you forget it and poke after the parmesan is added. 
  4. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Removed from the oven and cool.
  6. While the crust is baking and cooling, place the tomato slices on a triple layer of paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 30 minutes. Place a second double layer of paper towels on top and press firmly to dry the tomatoes.
  7. In a small bowl, combine the garlic and olive oil, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  8. Once the crust is cool, sprinkle mozzarella evenly over the bottom and layer the tomato slices over the mozzarella. Drizzle with the olive oil/garlic mixture.
  9. Bake until the crust is deep golden brown and the cheese is melted, 10 to 15 minutes.
  10. Let cool on a wire rack before slicing. A pizza cutter make short work.

And you might want to know where I was going with these amazing tarts. Do you? We have been having ‘puppy play dates’ with a friend’s retriever and our own Shanna. They are both now 5 months old, Inyo is 2 days older than Shanna. While the puppies play, the adults have wine, wonderful conversation and gourmet snacks. It’s a lot like what we used to do when our children were young. We have been rotating who is responsible for the food and the snacks have become increasingly wonderful as we are challenged cookery wise. It’s a lot of fun after the months of isolation cooking for just our own family.

Here are Inyo and Shanna, exhausted by several hours of active play. They look very pleased with themselves, and happy.

Inyo and Shanna

Inyo and Shanna

Even though he is about twice her weight, she gives as good as she gets.

I am going to take this to Fiesta Friday #401 hosted by Angie. If you would like to join the party or take a look at the recipes, craft or decorating ideas…just click on the link to this virtual event.

 

May – Puff Pastry Pizza

May – Puff Pastry Pizza

I have been wanting to make this for weeks but it kept getting pushed to the back of the menu.

Imagine it…crisp puff pastry that flakes and crackles when you bite in, creamy melty cheese, and some interesting additions. It’s like a pizza croissant. Oh my! This was amazing. It’s perfect for a summer snack out on the deck or patio with friends, I’d add a glass of rose or white wine to round out the celebration. Cut it into small strips or slabs, larger ones for a whole meal. Use whatever ingredients you have on hand. In my book almost anything is possible and allowable on a pizza. It’s the perfect food.

Puff Pastry Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Sliced Zucchini Flowers and Blue Cheese

Puff Pastry Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Chives and Blue Cheese

Puff Pastry Pizza with Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Balsamic Drizzle

Puff Pastry Pizza with Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes, Sliced Zucchini Flowers, Basil and Balsamic Drizzle

I don’t have an actual recipe, fly by the seat of your pants and your own families preferences. You will need a frozen package of puff pastry. Defrost it in the fridge for a few hours or on the counter for 40 minutes.

While your oven is preheating to 410 degrees F, unfold the pastry (there will be 2 sheets) onto separate parchment lined baking sheets. Crimp the folds together if necessary, then use a small sharp knife to make a shallow cut about 1/2 an inch from each edge. Try not to cut all the way through to the bottom.

Once your oven has reached full temperature, bake the unfilled pastry sheets for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and add your desired filling. I recommend you not make it too runny, you want the bottom crust under the filling to remain crisp.

Here are a couple of ideas:

  1. Spread caramelized onions in the center on one sheet, top with thinly sliced fresh chives and blue cheese crumbles. Garnish with chives, add a few chive flowers before serving.
  2. Thinly slice fresh mozzarella to the center, add halved cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced zucchini flowers and basil. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar before serving.

Once you have added your topping, bake for an additional 10-12 minutes until hot, melted and browned.

This is fancy stuff without fancy time on your part.

Serve it for lunch or dinner with a green salad. To me this is perfect alfresco dining.

Puff Pastry Pizza with Mozzarella, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Balsamic Drizzle

Puff Pastry Pizza with Mozzarella, Sliced Zucchini Flowers, Cherry Tomatoes, Basil and Balsamic Drizzle

 

Puff Pastry Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Chives and Blue Cheese

Puff Pastry Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Chives and Blue Cheese

I’m going to cut this into enough pieces to share on Fiesta Friday #330 hosted by Angie. Fiesta Friday is a collection of posts about food, gardening, fashion, and crafts…a virtual party. Come on over and take a look and/or add your own link. Please read the link rules first. This week’s cohost is Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau

Thank you for visiting, I would love to hear how you are doing. And finally, have a wonderful weekend. Stay safe and well.