Over the weekend, I took and impromptu trip to CA to visit my family, and in the process, I made dinner for my mom one night I was there. Since she has many many more cookbooks than I do, it seemed a perfect opportunity to find something for new recipe day. And since she swears by the Greens cookbooks (as does everyone in my family) I decided to make something from one of those. Since it was still effectively summer back in NorCal, I decided to make late-summer Provencal Tartlets. Ok, this recipe does take awhile to cook (about 2 episodes of Star Trek) and it looks like a ton of ingredients, but its pretty straight-forward to do.
1 1/2 cups flour
pinch of salt
1/2 cup butter
several tablespoons cold water
Measure flour and salt into a bowl. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut in the butter until there are no significant sized lumps. If compressed, the dough should almost be able to stick together. Add water, a little at a time, until the dough comes together. The dough should be soft and pliable, but cohesive and not sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.
1/2 smallish eggplant, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
1/2 a red onion, diced
3 large cloves garlic
1-2 pinches dried thyme
1 pinch dried oregano
2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1 cup chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1/2-3/4 cups fontina cheese
Dice all the veggies and stick them in a bowl. Toss with the garlic, olive oil, and dried herbs. Roast at 400 for about 10-15 minutes. The diced veggies means it goes pretty quickly. Stick back in a bowl. Roll out the dough and cut it into circles large enough to fit a cupcake pan. Then line the cupcake pan with the little dough circles. Toss the now-cooked and slightly cooler veggies with the parsley, tomatoes, and cheeses. Fill the tartlets, and then bake for maybe 30 minutes at 375 (until they are golden and the cheese is bubbly. Cool slightly and serve!
Oh man these were good. Lots of veggies to be sure, but since its not a ton of any of them, it can basically be an “odds and ends” sort of filling for the tartlet. I mean, these are all pretty common summer veggies to have, and the only things I bought specifically for the recipe was the fontina cheese (fontina works amazing with eggplant as a general rule). I had this with at California Sauvignon Blanc which I thought was a good pairing. Sav. blancs are good with most summer veggie recipes, and I drink CA wines when I’m in the state as a general rule. Song of the Week: Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon. Another catchy pop song I rather like. My mom said it was her new favorite song this weekend, and since I enjoy it too, I figured it would be perfect for this week.
I rarely eat pasta. I’m not entirely sure why, other than when I crave basic carbs, I just eat bread with some cheese or butter, even if I have to make the bread myself. And when I do eat pasta, I usually make myself Mac and Cheese, or some variant of it, because it is one of life’s ultimate comfort foods (the other two are soup and ice cream). But, this week I decided to make an exception to that, and made pasta with summer vegetables.
Linguine (2 serving)
1 yellow squash, halved and then thinly sliced
1 cup or so cherry tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced
handful of pine nuts, toasted
10 large basil leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, toss with olive oil, and roast them. Now, roasting tomatoes can be done in a variety of different ways, I roasted them at 275 in the oven for about an hour and a half. Once they have roasted, set aside. Boil the pasta. In the meantime, saute the garlic and the squash in some olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. When they are almost done, add some white wine (like 2 tablespoons? – I just pour some directly from the bottle, rather than measure) and finish cooking. Then add the cherry tomatoes, pasta, and basil. Mix the whole thing together and make sure it’s heated through. Serve in bowls, then sprinkle with the pine nuts and parmesan.
This was such a good recipe. Perfect for summer, and full of flavor, and not too complicated. Also, leave off the parmesan and its totally vegan. I’d love to say that I’d make this recipe again, but I doubt it, only because I never seem to make pasta! Ah well, maybe this will motivate me. Serve with white wine of course – whatever you cooked with. I used a torrontes, which is decent, but not my favorite varietal. Song of the Week: A Simple Desultory Philippic (or How I Was Robert McNamara’d into Submission) by Simon and Garfunkel. Way funkier than their normal stuff, but totally amazing and pretty much a string of references. It’s super 60s in the best possible way.
I will impulsively buy things at the grocery store, and deal with coming up with how to use them effectively much later. This week, the impulse buy was yellow squash – which I figured would be easy enough to use. I contemplated making Mexican tartlets, which I’ve made before, but then my brain began to play with the general idea. I came up with turning the tartlet concept into a sort of pizza-type thing, which I am calling Mexican pizza (although admittedly it is neither really Mexican nor pizza, ah well).
Masa Harina dough
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup masa harina
dash of salt
1/3 cup butter
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
Measure flour, masa harina, and salt into a bowl and mix them all thoroughly. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, cut in the butter until there are no significant sized lumps. Mix the vinegar with 3 tablespoons of water and add the mixture, a little at a time, until the dough comes together. If you need more water, add it in small amounts. The dough should be soft and pliable, but cohesive and not sticky. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside while you make the filling
4 ounces crumbled queso fresca
1/2 onion, sliced and quartered
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 ear corn, kernels shaved off
One medium yellow squash, sliced
1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons cumin
Stick the onions, garlic, and corn in a bowl. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the cumin and coat the veggies so they are all coated. Roll out the masa harina dough either into a large pizza, or two little ones. Spoon a layer of salsa over the dough, then add the squash slices. Spoon the corn-onion mixture over the squash, then add the crumbled cheese on top. Bake the pizza for 30 minutes at 375. Serve warm.
Ok, I’ve made a lot of Mexican-fusion type recipes in my day, and all of them were good. But this was just incredibly delicious. It’s very much a summer recipe. I generally go with beer for Mexican food, a wheat beer or a Hefeweizen works best, although this recipe isn’t spicy. I’m sure if you want, you can add chopped cilantro to the pizza once you pull it out of the oven, or additional spices when you add the cumin to the onion-corn mixture. Song of the week: If I Needed Someone by the Beatles. Rubber Soul is the second-best Beatles album (Revolver is the best) and this is just such a good song. Lesser-known Beatles songs are still better than 80% of all music.
Whenever I’m in internet-land and I come across a recipe that looks awesome but I don’t really want to make/don’t have the ingredients for at any given time I save them to a bookmarks folder so I don’t forget about them. It also, at least in theory, helps me not get too stuck when new recipe day rolls around and I’m not inspired. This was one of those weeks, so when flipping through my folder, I found Tomato Crostata with Honey-Thyme Glaze, and was like sold! I actually followed the recipe pretty closely, just a few adjustments here and there.
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
7 tablespoons butter
Mix the flour, cornmeal and parmesan in a bowl. Cut the butter into chunks and cut into the dry ingredients. If you don’t have a pastry cutter, a fork works extremely well too. Once the butter is in fairly small bits and well-incorporated, add water a little at a time. Mix as you go until a cohesive dough ball forms. Cover in plastic wrap and set aside
Filling and glaze
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 tsp dried thyme
4 medium-sized tomatoes, sliced
grated cheese, either cheddar or gouda preferably
Mince the garlic and saute in some olive oil until it has browned, and then set it aside. Put the vinegar, honey, and thyme into a small saucepan and simmer it for a few minutes – like 5 or so. Then set aside (warning, you won’t use all of it so you can either save it for later, or make a smaller amount. Then you assemble everything. You can make this as one big crostada, or a 2 little ones – I made 2 little ones. Roll out the dough to the desired size. Brush with the honey-thyme glaze. Add the tomatoes, leaving some space at the edge in a somewhat overlapping circle and brush them with more of the glaze. Then add the garlic, a little salt, and the cheese. Fold the edges of the tart over or up a bit, and then I sprinkled just a little more of the glaze. Bake at 425 until golden – around 30 minutes give or take.
This is my fav current tomato tart. Don’t get me wrong, I made a pretty good roasted tomato one a while back, but I like this one more. It’s also a bit on the sweet side, which is fun if you are me and have an insatiable sweet tooth. It does get a bit juicy when baking, but that’s not really a major problem in my book. I served this with a white bordeaux. I have a soft spot for white bordeaux and have excellent experience with most bottles in the $10-15 range. I think rose would probably be too fruity with this dish, but most white wines would probably work. Song of the week: What’s Up by 4 Non Blondes. I binged Sense8 over the weekend (and you should too btw) and one of my favorite scenes involved this song. Combine that with a lot of emotional angst in my real life and you have the perfect song for my week.
Summer means delicious and awesome fresh fruit! It also means delicious and awesome fresh fruit desserts. I love fruit desserts, and even on the east coast there is enough quality fruit for me to celebrate and do things with. This week, I was flipping through one of my cookbooks, and saw a sort of strawberry shortcake recipe, but with “Breton shortbread” rather than shortcake. I’ll be honest, I never liked shortcake when my mom made it. But I had fresh strawberries, so I figured I should this other version.
1/3 cup sugar
6 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
Cream together sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix those in too. When they are all thoroughly combined, add the flour and baking powder (ok, I ran out of baking powder and substituted baking soda – it will work in a pinch but I don’t recommend it). Normally you would add a pinch of salt, but I cook with salted butter, so I don’t bother adding even more salt. A soft dough will form. Stick it in the fridge for a few hours. Once it has chilled, take the dough and mush in along the bottom of a pie plate or cake pan, so the bottom is covered and the dough is relatively even. Yep, mush – there is no reason to roll it out. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 350 and let cool on a rack.
Once the shortbread is done, you can either a. eat it as is, b. add strawberries and sugar to it, or c. add other things, such as a strong cheese, to it. I went with option b.
Slice a bunch of strawberries,stick them in a bowl and add a little sugar. Let them sit until awhile. Once they’ve sat a while, place them on either a slice (if you are making a single serving) or over the whole shortbread if you are making it for a group. Sprinkle the top with powdered sugar and enjoy.
The was very good! The shortbread isn’t particularly sweet, so the lightly sugared strawberries go well with it. The shortbread is, in my opinion, a bit on the dry side. So I’d like to recreate this concept in the form of a trifle. I think that would be fairly awesome. As evident from the title – have this with a cup of tea, preferably as a tea-time snack. Song of the week: The River of Dreams by Billy Joel. Just a pleasant, enjoyable song and there is nothing wrong with that. I also find it very comforting – like a song equivalent of a hug.