So, I keep meaning to make a dessert for new recipe day, and then I keep eating too much junk/chips/cookies during the day to really justify making a dessert for my new recipe. Alas. On the plus side, this gave me another fun and exciting thing to do with leeks! I really love leeks, although I’m still working on finding new and exciting ways to cook them, especially in ways they aren’t overpowered by stronger flavors. So, since I had a leek, and I was searching for spring vegetables, I found this recipe, which I didn’t really adjust all that much.
1 leek, halved and sliced
1/2 bell pepper (any color, I used red), thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 pinches dried thyme
wine wine (maybe 3 tablespoons)
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup polenta
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese
First step is making the polenta. Sauté the leek bell pepper and garlic in the olive oil. when they start to soften (5 minutes-ish) add thyme, salt, and pepper to taste, and a couple tablespoons of white wine (I never measure, just pour some direct from a bottle). Then saute until just shy of done. So, the original recipe said to stick the polenta on top of the veggies, but that really doesn’t work with the soft/fresh polenta. So, the best thing to do is stick the polenta in a small baking dish, with the veggies on top, then the goat cheese and bake at 400 just until the cheese has melted. Serve warm.
This turned out really well. My taste-related issue on my end was that I wish I had cooked the leeks for a little less time, but that’s about it. I had massive issues with the assembly, as I used too big of a baking dish, tried to spread soft polenta on top of the veggies, and then just sorta shoved the veggies to one side, the polenta on the other, sprinkled the whole thing with goat cheese, and baked it that way. But it tasted good. Song of the Week: Put on your Sunday Clothes from Hello Dolly! So for reasons I’m still not totally sure about, I started listening to this on repeat recently this week. But it’s a fun, cheerful, song and I do enjoy it so, why not?
I ended up doing a ton of cooking over the weekend, many of which were of the “let’s play with food” variety. There were breakfast burritos, mashed potato/spinach fritters, baked fritter dough, a roasted eggplant tower and cupcakes. Like I said, there was a lot of cooking. However, I kept forgetting to take pictures of all of the things I made. So this blog post will be on the eggplant tower thingy because it is the only one I remembered to take a picture of.
1 medium eggplant, thinly sliced
2 ounces goat cheese
1/4 cup tomato sauce
pine nuts for garnish.
Step one is to roast the eggplant. Slice it fairly thinly and brush with olive oil. When I say brush I literally mean take a pastry brush and use that to coat both sides of the eggplant with olive oil. Eggplant are little oil sponges, if you toss them like normal veggies it gets absorbed and you end up using a ton of oil. Sprinkle on a little salt and roast the eggplant at 400 until they are tender all the way through and shrunken, about 30 minutes you should probably flip them after 15 minutes so both sides are cooked properly). Once the eggplant is cooked, set it aside and let it cool.
Get two ramekins, and place about a tablespoon of sauce on the bottom. Add a layer of eggplant, and then some goat cheese crumbles. Then more eggplant and then more goat cheese – don’t worry about gaps, or the fact they aren’t perfect. I did about 4 layers. Once you placed the last eggplant layer, cover with another tablespoon or so of tomato sauce. Garnish with pine nuts and bake in the oven at 350 until the cheese is melted and the sauce bubbling, about 20 minutes.
I was super proud of myself for how well this turned out. The melted cheese mixed somewhat with the sauce which tasted awesome, and nothing really overpowered anything else, and wasn’t swimming in sauce. It was just tasty. And only requires a few ingredients! Not really a weekday recipe, but a good one to impress someone your making dinner for without actually having to do a lot of work. I had this with a glass of white wine (a Chilean sauvignon blanc) and some roasted asparagus. Song of the Week: Shambala by Three Dog Night, as sung by Rockapella. I had a long discussion (with much viewing of YouTube videos) with a friend about the differences between newer pop-a capella, old school stuff, and more choral/classical a capella a couple days ago. He was not overly impressed by Pentatonix, but we both appreciate the more old school stuff, so I’m going with Rockapella today.
So I’ve been back to trying to do more and different things with kale for the past several weeks. And I came across this recipe which seemed interesting. Now I wasn’t interested in the exact way they prepared the “grandma’s pie” thingy, but I was curious about the way they decided to prep the kale so I decided to combine it with pizza dough and make a fairly simple sauce-less pizza recipe.
Two large kale leaves, ripped into bit sized pieces
Lemon juice, about ½ lemon
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces goat cheese
Stick the kale in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Set on the counter and let it sit for at least an hour and a half. While the kale is sitting, make the pizza dough.
1/3 cup warm water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package yeast
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4-1 cup flour
Dissolve the sugar and yeast in the warm water, and let it sit til the yeast gets all foamy, about 10 minutes or so. Add the olive oil, and then mix in the flour, a little at a time, until a soft dough ball forms. Knead the dough until it is elastic, then set aside to rise for like an hour. This recipe will make either two little pizza-tarts, or one larger one.
Once the dough has risen, divide it into half, and roll out the dough into a circle. Stick it on a pizza stone. Stick the kale mixture on top of the dough, and then cover with the crumbled goat cheese. Stick in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or so at 400. Serve warm.
This was actually really tasty. It’s also easy and the actual cooking takes very little time. Letting the kale sit for so long meant you could still taste the lemon a bit, which I thought was a nice touch. As you can see from the picture, I had this with Anchor’s Winter Wheat beer, which is really good and paired really well. Song of the week: Late in the Evening by Paul Simon. I’m a big Paul Simon fan and this is a lesser known but really fun song; great to groove to while walking or cooking.
It really is fall now – chilly nights, leaves turning colors, and overheated apartment buildings (ok, that one’s just me at the moment). The return of fall also means the return of butternut squash! I never ate it much growing up, but I have been fully converted to their awesomeness. So I based this week’s recipe on this 5-ingrediant pasta dish, which I found via Buzzfeed.
Pasta with Squash and Pine Nuts
1/2 a medium butternut squash, chopped
1-2 ounces goat cheese
3 large cloves garlic
1 cup pasta
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Chop the butternut squash into smallish chunks and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Cut the tops of the garlic cloves off and stick on a baking sheet with the squash. Roast at 400 until tender. While the squash is roasting, boil the pasta until done (I used macaroni because that was what I had, but the suggestion from the recipe I based this off of was penne). Drain the pasta. Once the squash and garlic are done roasting, mince the garlic. Toss the pasta with the garlic, a little oil, and the goat cheese, add the squash and pine nuts. Serve warm.
This was really tasty! A bit heavier and more filling than I expected, but extremely tasty. I was surprised that it didn’t take too long to put together either. So you should totally make some sort of version of this! Naturally, since its fall, I have moved on to red wines with dinner. This one was a cab-heavy South African blend. I know I’m pretty skeptical about South African wines, but I’ve had a couple red blends I’ve liked. Song of the Week: Take On Me by A-ha. So this weekend I read Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, which btw, is super entertaining – I totally recommend it. Since part of the point of the book is an obsession with 1980s culture, I listened to an 1980s pop soundtrack while reading it. I was debating a lot about which song should be up for this week, but Take On Me is just so 80s, so it won.
Even if you freeze it, eventually an open package of filo dough will dry out. It is a tragic truth I have learned to live with. However, the result of this is that I needed to finish off a package of filo dough that didn’t have too many sheets left over. And I hit on this recipe: Honey-Goat Cheese Filo Triangles. Also it looked delicious! I made a smaller recipe though, and made a couple minor adjustments, but it’s basically the same.
5-6 ounces goat cheese
2 tablespoons honey
1 egg white
5 sheets filo dough
1-2 tablespoons butter
Blend the goat cheese, egg white and 2 tablespoons of honey together with an electric beater. Stick in the fridge for 30 minutes or so. Once you’ve done that, melt the butter and the remaining honey together. Brush over a sheet of filo dough and fold it into thirds. Add some of the goat cheese mixture to the bottom edge and then fold up the sheet like a flag. Brush the top with more butter-honey and prick the top to let steam out. Stick on a baking sheet. When you’ve used all the filling, bake at 375 until golden.
These were good! More savory than I expected, so its not really a dessert per se. One or two of these with a salad makes a nice meal. However this brings me to my issue with the recipe. While these make perfectly good big turnovers, I think they’d probably be way better as little appetizer sized ones, made with a half-sheet of filo. But I haven’t had a chance to test this theory yet. These aren’t super sweet, but they are sweet enough they don’t pair super well with dry wines – I’d suggest a reisling would probably work well – my favorite is the Chateau St. Michelle, which is usually around $10. Song of the week: For the Longest Time by Billy Joel, as sung on How I Met Your Mother. Cheesy? Yes. Awesome? Absolutely.