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.

 

September – Zucchini Cakes (in the air fryer or oven)

September – Zucchini Cakes (in the air fryer or oven)

Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

I’ve made these zucchini cakes or fritters several time, they are a big hit each time. They could be the center of a vegetarian meal if you add another grilled vegetable (maybe more zucchini), avocado, and/or a scoop of ricotta or goat’s cheese.

Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

You can cook them in your air fryer or in the oven, both ways turn out wonderfully. I recommend you cook them on a rack if using the oven. Or, preheat your sheet pan before adding the fritters. By cooking them in the oven or air fryer you reduce the amount of fat to a bare minimum.

Zucchini Cakes or Fritters

Ingredients:

  • 2 large zucchini
  • optional: 2 zucchini flowers if available, thinly sliced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, I used gluten free panko
  • 1/2 cup of ricotta
  • 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan
  • 2 cloves of garlic, grated
  • 4 scallions, light green and white parts, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing

Method:

  1. Oven: Preheat to 425 degrees F. If using a rack, line your sheet pan with parchment paper. If not, place your unlined sheet pan in the oven to preheat with the oven and grease it lightly with olive oil before placing the fritters on the pan.
  2. Air Fryer: Follow the manufacturers directions. If recommended (mine does not need preheating) preheat to 400 degrees F.
  3. Grate the zucchini on the large holes of a box grater. Place the grated zucchini in a clean kitchen towel and wring out as much excess liquid as possible. You can work in batches if needed. You can save the juice as it makes an excellent stock or soup base.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the grated zucchini, zucchini flowers, bread crumbs, ricotta, Parmesan, garlic, scallions and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Using your hands, scoop out about 1/4 cup of the zucchini mixture and flatten into a patty. Place on the air fryer rack or baking rack or directly on the oiled sheet pan, space the patties about 1 inch apart.
  6. Brush the patties lightly with olive oil. Bake until golden, about 15-20 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
  7. Sprinkle with more salt before serving. Chives are also nice if you have some.
Zucchini cakes

Zucchini cakes

 

Zucchini Cakes

Zucchini Cakes

I think zucchini flowers are amazingly beautiful and they can be very strange. This one looks like an alien creature.

zucchini flower

zucchini flower

Adding the zucchini flowers to the fritters was an idea from Irene of the blog My Slice of Mexico, thank you Irene.

I’m taking these to share with Angie over at Fiesta Friday #398. Come on over to see all the amazing ideas for recipes, gardening and crafting. This week the cohost is Diann @ Of Goats and Greens

Have a wonderful weekend.

September – Potato Salad with Bacon and Corn

September – Potato Salad with Bacon and Corn

Potato Salad with Corn and Bacon

Potato Salad with Corn and Bacon

New potatoes, crisp bacon, fresh corn and finely chopped onion…that’s my idea of potato salad. Forget the mayo. This potato salad can hold up to a BBQ or a picnic. It’s the mayonnaise that is the major reason for food poisoning in the summer. As well the mixture of flavors and textures is amazing…salty and crisp bacon, creamy potatoes, sharp red onion, and sweet corn. A couple of handfuls of arugula added at the end adds a tart, peppery and slightly bitter element as well as bright green color. I used a simple dressing consisting of apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, olive oil and a couple tablespoon of bacon fat. Go vegetarian and substitute one of the many alternatives out there for the bacon, add a bit of smoked paprika to give the salad that wonderful smokiness.

Potato Salad with Bacon and Corn

Potato Salad with Bacon and Corn

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. of small new potatoes, I used a combination of red and fingerlings
  • 6 strips of bacon
  • 2 tablespoons of bacon fat, reserved from cooking the bacon
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 2 ears of sweet corn
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped finely
  • 2 handfuls of baby arugula

Method:

  1. Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are just tender. For me it was about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to cool slightly.
  2. Cook the corn by your favorite method (grilling would be wonderful). I placed the each ear of corn, husks and all, in the microwave for 3 minutes. The leaves and silk slip off easily. Once cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the husk.
  3. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper lined plate, break into pieces once cool. Reserve the fat in the pan.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
  5. Add the potatoes to the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat. If the potatoes are still a little warm they will absorb the dressing. Add the corn and chopped onion. Taste for salt and if you need a little more vinegar.
  6. Just before serving add the bacon and arugula. Toss again.

I made this salad up to step 6 several hours ahead. Chill in the fridge but bring it to room temperature before serving.

I would enjoy some of that

Shanna would like some potato salad please

Serve this as a side at your Labor Day BBQ.

I think the folks at Fiesta Friday will enjoy it. It’s Fiesta Friday #396 hosted by Angie. Come on over and enjoy the virtual blogging party. It seems like everything is going virtual again!

Stay well and safe.

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.

March – Sheet Pan Mushrooms, Spinach and Sausages

March – Sheet Pan Mushrooms, Spinach and Sausages

A sheet-pan dinner, also known as a traybake in other countries, is an easy and time saving option during the week. The NY Times cooking section had a recipe for sheet-pan roasted mushrooms and spinach and I wanted to…

1. add a protein and

2. compare the sheet pan to the air fryer

‘What would happen if I added the spinach for the last few minutes in the air fryer?’ I remembered seeing a recipe for sheet pan sausages and thought ‘What would happen if I added sausages to the mushrooms and spinach in the sheet pan?’

Hmm…It would be a one pan dinner. Something we all could use during the week. 

I am going to share this with the Fiesta Friday group party. It’s Fiesta Friday # 371 and I am the co-host with Angie. Come on over to read the other posts with creative recipes, craft or gardening ideas.

So, here it is from start to finish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. cremini mushrooms (or any combination that looks interesting and wonderful), trimmed and sliced thickly
  • 1 small onion, sliced into wedges
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed (I only used 1 tablespoon for the air fryer)
  • 4 Italian sausages or any kind that are your favorite
  • Kosher slat and freshly ground pepper
  • 5-6 large handfuls of baby spinach – about 2 6-oz containers

Method:

  1. In a large bowl toss the mushrooms, onion, garlic with the olive oil until everything is evenly coated

For the oven:

  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with foil or parchment paper.
  2. Spread the mushrooms and onion on the lined pan, nestle the sausages among them. After 10 minutes, turn the sausages over.
  3. Roast for 20 minutes total.
  4. Then add the spinach to the sheet pan (if not using sausages you may want to add a bit more oil to coat the spinach), tossing with the mushrooms and roast until wilted, about 5 more minutes total. Turn and toss the spinach and mushrooms after 3 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Note: we found that the sausages added enough additional oil that none was needed.

Mushrooms, onion, and sausages

Mushrooms, onion, and sausages – before

Mushrooms, onion, and sausages

Mushrooms, onion, and sausages – after

For the air fryer: 

  1. Set the air fryer to 370 degrees F for 20 minutes (see my post about air fryer mushrooms here)
  2. After 15 minutes add the spinach and toss to combine, you may need to add a spritz of olive oil.
  3. After 3 minutes, toss again.

I didn’t use the sausages in the air fryer although there is no reason they wouldn’t work.

Air fryer spinach and mushrooms

Air fryer spinach and mushrooms

And here are the ones cooked on the sheet pan:

Sheet pan spinach and mushrooms with sausages

Sheet pan spinach and mushrooms with sausages

Both methods were easy and resulted in a delicious side dish or meal. My husband preferred the sheet pan dinner, he found the mushrooms meatier. I liked the slight crispness and lighter air fryer dinner. Without the sausages this would make a delicious vegetarian/vegan dinner, serve it with polenta or another starch. Leftover mushrooms and spinach made a lovely filling for an omelet.

Air fryer spinach and mushrooms

Air fryer spinach and mushrooms

Sheet pan spinach and mushrooms with sausages

Sheet pan spinach and mushrooms with sausages