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.

 

April – Curried Sweet Potato Salad

April – Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Curried Sweet Potato Salad – I’ll have some of that!

I have shortened the title of this recipe which should really be Curried Sweet Potato Salad with Toasted Cashews, Garbanzo Beans and Fresh Goat Cheese. Yes, I agree, much too big a mouthful. Serve this warm from the oven if you want a melty cheese topping. You could also let it cool a bit, crumble the goat cheese over the top and refrigerate. It will keep for a few days. Let it come back up to room temperature for the best flavor before serving (although I ate the leftovers for lunch right out of the fridge).

Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Feta could be alternative to the goat cheese. Leave off the cheese if you want to make it vegan.

Pine nuts or pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds) can sub for the cashews.

If you want something sweet in the salad, how about a few raisins? Plump them first for 10 minutes in some freshly boiled water.

Sweet potatoes are one of those vegetables that I could eat every night. Give me a big roasted sweet potato and a green salad, I’m happy. I don’t even think it needs any butter although I often add a big spoonful of Greek yogurt.

Curried Sweet Potato Salad with Cashews, Garbanzos, and Fresh Goat Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds (3 – 4) sweet potatoes, unpeeled but scrubbed – any color although yams are pretty. I used a combination since that was what I had on hand.
  • 4 tablespoons of neutral oil or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup of cashews
  • 1/4 cup of golden raisins (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of mild curry powder (use less if it is hot)
  • Red pepper flakes if you want it hot
  • 1 15-oz can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 4 scallions, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled goat or other fresh white cheese
  • optional – chopped cilantro would be good

Method:

  1. Heat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Line a sheet pan with baking or parchment paper
  3. Cut the sweet potatoes in half, then into 1/4 inch half moon slices.
  4. Put the potatoes into a large bowl with 3 tablespoons of the oil, the curry powder, red pepper (if using), salt and freshly ground pepper. Scrunch them around until they are coated with the seasonings and oil. I find my clean hands the easiest.
  5. Scatter the potatoes evenly on the prepared sheet pan. It’s ok if they won’t fit in one layer. Roast the sweet potatoes for 20-25 minutes until they are beginning to brown on the bottom.
  6. Meanwhile, add the drained garbanzo beans to the empty bowl, stirring them to coat with any remaining oil and seasonings.
  7. For the cashews – heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a small skillet. Add the cashews and cook, stirring, until they begin to brown. Remove the nuts and any remaining oil to a small plate to cool.
  8. If using the raisins, put them in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Drain after 10 minutes.
  9. After the sweet potatoes have roasted for 20-25 minutes, remove the sheet pan from the oven. Carefully turn the sweet potatoes over and add the garbanzo beans to the pan.
  10. Roast for another 15 minutes, then remove and squeeze the juice of 1/2 lime over the pan.
  11. Transfer everything to a serving dish. Squeeze the juice of the limes over, scatter the raisins and cashew nuts (plus any oil) over the top.
  12. Garnish with sliced scallions and crumbled fresh goat cheese.

The garbanzos will get a little crisp from their stay in the oven.

Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Curried Sweet Potato Salad

Curried Sweet Potato Salad

This could be a great side for a BBQ, or an entire vegetarian dinner.

I think the folks at Fiesta Friday #377 would also enjoy it and plan to take it over to Angie’s place for the party. Click on the link to read all the fun blog posts. You will find recipes for yummy food, decorating and craft ideas, plus much more. And please think about adding your own link to the party. This week I am co-hosting the party with Angie.

Quinn agrees as you can see from the first picture.

April – Cauliflower and Black Bean Tacos

April – Cauliflower and Black Bean Tacos

I am not a taco snob. What do I mean by that? If you or your family like those crisp shells from a box sold at the grocery store, I am not one to criticize. Go for it! That’s what some members of my family prefers. Now I wouldn’t order tacos that way in a restaurant. But at home, they are perfectly fine and save me a lot of trouble when I’m trying valiantly to get dinner on the table. I myself prefer a soft whole wheat or gluten free tortilla that I can roll into a big fat burrito; the bigger the better. I want to have to eat it with a knife and fork.

Tacos are great because you can put out the fixings on the counter and let everyone customize it to their own taste. That way of putting dinner on the table is also ideal if you have a mix of vegans, vegetarians, and meat lovers to feed. A taco bar is a lot of fun, you can let you imagination run wild (or not if it’s one of those days). All you need is a wrap of some kind, filling, salsa, cheese (vegan cheese  is not bad), and some sliced cabbage or lettuce. Anything else is icing on the taco so to speak. But do try the pickled onions, their sharpness is very welcome against the smooth and creamy black beans.

This version of a vegetarian filling came from the blog Smitten Kitchen.  I have increased the amount of seasonings, otherwise I followed the recipe fairly closely. It features one of my favorite vegetables, cauliflower. And it’s prepared in my favorite way, roasted until brown and charred in spots. It really is the most amazing vegetable and it’s good for you as well.

Roasted Cauliflower with Black Beans

Roasted Cauliflower with Black Beans

You add the drained black beans to the sheet pan when the cauliflower first comes from the oven, warming them and further flavoring the beans in the seasoning in the pan.

The pickled red onions are definitely addictive. I keep a jar of these in my fridge. They are wonderful on a grilled cheese sandwich (any kind of sandwich for that matter), quesadilla, salad or taco. You can pickle them for 30 minutes to several days, they get better and better.

Pickled red onion

Pickled red onion

Cauliflower and Black Bean Tacos

Pickled onions:

  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (rice vinegar results in a milder pickle)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/4 teaspoon of granulated sugar
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Cauliflower and black beans:

  • 3 tablespoons of olive or other neutral oil
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed, broken and chopped small (they need to fit into the taco)
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 2 heaping teaspoons of ground cumin
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 1 15-ox can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • tortillas
  • 1/2 to 1 avocado, thinly sliced
  • crumbled or shredded cheese
  • optional – salsa, hot sauce, chopped cilantro, pickled jalapeños, sour cream, thinly sliced cabbage or lettuce, sliced radishes, etc.

Method:

  1. Make the pickled onions by combining the vinegar, water, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a small bowl. Add the onion and toss to coat. Set aside or refrigerate until you are ready to eat.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
  3. Line a sheet pan with baking or parchment paper.
  4. Put the cauliflower in a large bowl, toss to coat with the oil, cumin, salt, and red pepper to taste.
  5. Spread on the sheet pan and roast for a total of 25-30 minutes, turning them midway through.
  6. Remove from the oven and squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lime over the cauliflower. Add the black beans to the warm sheet pan. Taste and add more lime juice if you want.
  7. Heat whatever vehicle you want for eating, top with the cauliflower and beans, add avocado, pickles onions and whatever else your taste desires.
Roasted Cauliflower and Black Bean Tacos

Roasted Cauliflower and Black Bean Tacos

For us it was slim pickings that night, no avocado, no cabbage (I did have a lonely head of romaine), and no cheese. But the cauliflower and black bean filling was delicious and easy. We still counted this a wonderful dinner which was worth repeating.

And the leftover cauliflower and black beans were delicious tossed into a salad the next night, this time with crumbled tortilla chips, shredded cheese, avocado, pickled onions and cherry tomatoes. I would consider making a batch just for the leftovers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

August – Easy Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans

August – Easy Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans

I don’t know about you but, for me, it has been far too hot to pull out my big canner. My kitchen has been warm enough the last week without adding to it. Hence this recipe for easy refrigerator pickled green beans. The pickled beans won’t last as long as regular hot water canned beans, but 6 months is plenty of time to enjoy the harvest. They also taste a lot fresher and have a better texture.

As I said in an earlier post, I came home from a week away to find about 10 pounds of green beans had been harvested in my absence. That’s a lot of green beans. We ate a good percentage of them immediately…roasted green beans with garlic and olive oil, simply steamed green beans with coarse salt and olive oil, and in a Greek green bean salad.

Fresh beans

Fresh beans – these were all bush beans

The purple ones turn greenish when cooked. They were among the earliest to mature in my garden and were very prolific.

Oven Roasted Green Beans with Garlic and Olive Oil

Oven Roasted Green Beans with Garlic and Olive Oil

I still had a fair amount of green beans left over after 3 meals. I certainly didn’t want to waste them or throw them into the compost heap.

We like minced pickled green beans on top of avocado toast, it adds a welcome sharp note to the richness of avocado (especially when topped with a soft poached egg). You can also chop them, add a good spoonful of sour cream, and use them as a sauce for steamed or boiled green beans. Or, eat them out of the jar with a slice of sharp cheddar.

This recipe makes enough pickled beans to fill 3-4 16 oz canning jars.

Ingredients
  • 6-7 cups of blanched green beans 
  • 1 c white vinegar
  • c apple cider vinegar
  • 3 c water
  • 1/4 c sea salt
  • 1 T sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 sprigs of fresh herbs such as dill, mint, tarragon or thyme
  • 1 tsp black pepper corns (I used smoked ones)
Method:
  1. Sterilize your jars and lids by placing them in boiling water for 10 minutes or running them through the dishwasher. Cool upside down on a clean dish towel.
  2. First, make the brine. Bring water, both vinegars and salt, and sugar to a simmer, stirring until all salt is dissolved. Remove from the heat and cool.
  3. Blanch the green beans by adding them to simmering salted water and cooking for 3 minutes. Drain and cool in a colander. I usually add a handful of ice on top of the draining beans and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. Spread them out on paper towels or a clean dish towel to cool completely.
  4. Place a garlic clove, herb sprig and 1/4 of the peppercorns in each jar.
  5. Pack the green beans into the jars as tightly as possible.
  6. Fill the jars with brine to within 1/4 inch of the top, close the jars tightly.
  7. Place in the refrigerator, they will be ready in about 2 weeks and will last for several months.

 

Quick Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans

Quick Refrigerator Pickled Green Beans

I had enough green beans for 3 pint sized canning jars with brine leftover. So I blanched the remaining snap peas from the harvest (only 1 minute this time). I added a slice of fresh ginger and sprig of mint to the one remaining pint jar and filled it with the snap peas. There was just enough brine to cover them to the top.

Snap and Snow Peas

Snap and Snow Peas

 

Quick Refrigerator Pickled Snap Peas

Quick Refrigerator Pickled Snap Peas

Maybe some of you also have a glut of beans from your yard or the farmer’s market…

Just in case you do, I am taking this to Fiesta Friday $343 over at Angie’s. This week I am helping by co-hosting. Head on over to join or check in on the virtual party. You’ll find lots of recipes, both sweet and savory, in addition to craft and decorating ideas.

August – Greek Green Bean Salad

This easy salad would also be excellent with other cooked vegetables, zucchini comes to mind. I came back from a week away with a plethora of both green beans and snap peas harvested by my assistant gardener husband, I used a mixture of both.

Greek Green Bean Salad

Greek Bean Salad

Add cooked white beans or garbanzos or even canned tuna for a complete meal. Since I have a family member that doesn’t enjoy feta, I added a slice when serving rather than mixing it into the salad. This salad is certainly vegetarian but could be vegan if you leave out the feta and anchovy.

Ingredients:

Green Bean Salad

  • 1 ½ pounds fresh green beans, or mix of green beans and snap peas
  • ½ of a medium red onion, minced
  • ½ cup feta cheese (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced mint leaves (or oregano)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • ½ cup pitted kalamata olives, well drained
  • Additional mint leaves for garnish

Vinaigrette

  1. ¼ cup olive oil
  2. 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  3. 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  4. 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  5. 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  6. 1 garlic clove finely minced
  7. 1 finely minced anchovy (optional)
  8. Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Bring a pot of well salted water to boiling. Add the trimmed green beans and cook until crisp tender. The time will depend on the size and freshness of your beans, mine were cooked for 6 minutes.
  2. Drain in a colander and run cold water over them to stop the cooking. Spread on a layer of kitchen towels or paper towels until completely cool.
  3. Combine the vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar and shake until well mixed.
  4. Place the cooled green beans, cherry tomatoes, chopped red onion, chopped fresh mint or oregano leaves, and olives in a large bowl. Toss with the dressing and place the feta, either crumbled or sliced, on top.
  5. Garnish with additional fresh mint or oregano.

This salad can be made hours or even a day ahead. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Greek Bean Salad

Greek Bean Salad

It makes wonderful leftovers…if you have any left.

Greek Bean Salad

Greek Bean Salad

This would be a wonderful side for any kind of BBQ. We served it with a simple grilled chicken marinated in olive oil and lemon juice.

I am taking this to Fiesta Friday #342 hosted by Angie. Please add your own post to the link party and don’t forget to link your post to FiestaFriday.net and the cohost, so you can be featured. Your cohost this week is Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook

Have a wonderful weekend everyone.