Sunday, September 8, 2019

Yotam Ottolenghi's Most Exquisite Caramelized Garlic Tart {A Must Make}

I'm an expert at procrastinating and I have a LONG list of recipes that I have been putting off for one reason or another. Maybe the ingredient list is too long, or the recipe takes too long, maybe the ingredients are hard to source and/or they're too expensive, and then there's also the fact that maybe my family might not like the recipe and I'll be the only one to eat it.

Yotam Ottolenghi's Caramelized Garlic Tart has been on my list for years now and I've put it off because I didn't think I could source the Goat Gouda cheese it requires. I also put it off because it's fussier than most recipes I make, requiring the advance forethought to thaw puff pastry and use pie weights, etc. Plus, I wasn't sure if my family would like this one, and I was sure that I would, which means that I'd very likely be eating the whole thing myself.

So thanks to this week's theme, Procrastinator's Special, I had the push I needed to make the recipe. I didn't think I'd find the Goat Gouda cheese, but it turns out my market had it. Score! What I wasn't prepared for is my store to be completely out of garlic! WHAT?? Thankfully I got the last package of already peeled garlic and went ahead and used that, which turned out to be somewhat of a blessing since this recipe required 3 heads of peeled garlic!

Now I was dealing with the high cost of the recipe. Puff pastry, goat cheese, goat gouda, creme fraiche, fresh herbs, heavy cream, etc. You get the drift. This is a $30 tart. I don't usually cook recipes that costly, but every once in awhile it's nice to splurge.

Now we've come to the part that holds me back from a lot of recipes: the family isn't going to like it. Well, let me tell you something, EVERYONE LOVED THIS TART! It is seriously up there with some of the best recipes I've made on my blog!

You've probably seen this tart all over the place. It is, after all, one of Yotam Ottolenghi's signature recipes. Mostly, you've seen recipes of the tart with all it's caramelized garlic glory, but what you haven't seen is the inside of the tart, with all the creamy goat cheese. Holy cow, this tart is glorious, it's perfectly seasoned, and it needs nothing else. It is complete and total perfection! It's tangy, creamy, sweet, with the most lovely mild garlic flavor, herbaceous, crispy, buttery, and flaky. You won't believe how delicious it is. You'll find yourself going back for another slice and dreaming about a time when you can make it again.

This is hands down a MUST MAKE recipe. It's worth the trouble to source the ingredients, worth the time, worth the cost, and just plain worth the fuss. It is absolutely exquisite!

"I think this is the most delicious recipe in the world" - Yotam Ottolenghi's friend, Claudine, after testing it for his book Plenty

Caramelized Garlic Tart
Adapted from Plenty
by Yotam Ottolenghi
Serves 4

13 ounces puff pastry
3 medium heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
3/4 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon chopped rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped thyme, plus a few whole sprigs to finish
4 -1/2 ounces soft, creamy goat cheese (such as chevre)
4-12 ounces hard, mature goat cheese (such as goat gouda)
2 eggs
6-1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
6-1/2 tablespoons creme fraiche
black pepper
Parchment paper, pie weights (or beans) for baking tart

Have ready a shallow, loose-bottomed 11-inch fluted tart pan (I have a 9" tart pan and it worked just fine). Roll out the puff pastry into a circle that will line the bottom and sides of the pan, plus be sure to have a little extra puff pastry hanging over the sides as it will shrink while baking. Line the pan with the pastry. Place a large circle of waxed paper on the bottom and fillup with pie weights or dried beans. Leave to rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Place the tart shell in the oven and blind bake for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and paper, then bake for 5 to 10 minutes more, or until the pastry is golden. Set aside. Leave the oven on.  

While the tart shell is baking, make the caramelized garlic. Put the cloves in a small saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a simmer and blanch for 3 minutes, then drain well. Dry the saucepan, return the cloves to it and add the olive oil. Fry the garlic cloves on high heat for 2 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and water and bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, rosemary, chopped thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Continue simmering on a medium flame for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the garlic cloves are coated in dark caramel syrup. Set aside.

To assemble the tart, break both types of goat cheese into pieces and scatter in the tart shell.  Spoon the garlic cloves and syrup evenly over the cheese. In a jug whisk together the eggs, cream, creme fraiche, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and some black pepper. Pour this custard over the tart filling to fill the gaps, making sure that you can still see the garlic and cheese over the surface (I went ahead and added the garlic and the liquid to the top, after adding the egg mixture, in order to be sure the lovely caramelized bits of garlic were on top).

Reduce the oven temperature to 325F and place the tart inside. Bake for 35-45 minutes (mine cooked in less than 30 minutes), or until the tart filling has set and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little. Then take out of the pan, trim the pastry edge if needed, lay a few sprigs of thyme on top and serve warm (it reheats well!) with a crisp salad, or without.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Jacques and Julia's Garlic Mashed Potatoes {Made with Fresh Homemade Garlic Powder}

Last Saturday I went to my local Farmer's Market and found the coolest thing, Fresh Homemade Garlic Powder! I picked up the tiny bag and right away I was struck by the most amazing aroma. I have to tell you, smelling this fresh garlic powder was mind-blowing and life-changing for me as a cook. I wish you could smell how aromatic it was, the very essence of garlic with buttery notes. I simply could not stop smelling it. It was intoxicating!

I never thought to question the garlic powder we buy in stores, but after smelling this fresh homemade garlic powder, I could never go back. Please trust me and try sourcing some for yourself, or search online, and find a recipe to make your own. It's so very worth it and would make great gifts for friends and family.

Needless to say, we've been eating everything garlic all week long. I've been sprinkling that garlic powder on everything! So, when I bought a roast on sale and was looking for a potato recipe, Jacques and Julia's Garlic Mashed Potatoes were just the thing!

Instead of peeling 10-15 cloves of garlic, I looked up guidelines for using my garlic powder and found that you can substitute 1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder for each clove of garlic, so I did just that! Now, this is where I'll issue a disclaimer: this homemade garlic powder is very fresh and I felt confident using it in place of fresh garlic. I would not use regular storebought garlic powder in place of fresh garlic.

I loved how easy these mashed potatoes came together with the ease of the homemade garlic powder. It was so much faster than peeling all those cloves and mashing them into the potatoes. However, this recipe is worth making either way. Everyone loved these! The garlic was just the right amount and not overpowering at all. This is a delicious recipe that is perfect comfort food! Jacques and Julia for the win!

Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Adapted from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home
by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin
Serves 6-8

2-3 pounds Yukon potatoes (I prefer Russet) 
salt and pepper
milk (approx 2/3 cup)
4 tablespoons salted butter, plus more for garnishing
2/3 to 1 cup heavy whipping cream 
10-15 cloves garlic (*or fresh homemade garlic powder)

*Note: I had some fresh homemade garlic powder from my farmer's market that is out of this world delicious, so I used that in place of fresh garlic. You can use 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder in place of each garlic clove.

Peel the garlic and place in a small saucepan. Next, pour in the heavy whipping cream and milk until the garlic is covered (I used my fresh homemade garlic powder, 1 cup heavy whipping cream, and 2/3 cups milk). Heat over low heat, watching periodically. If you're using fresh garlic, you'll want the garlic to become so soft it "mushes" when you touch it with a spatula. This process takes at least 20-30 minutes and only gets better the longer you wait. Of course, I wasn't using fresh garlic so I allowed my garlic powder, cream, and milk to cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld. 

Add your potatoes to a large pot, cover with cold water, and add a generous amount of salt to the water. Let the potatoes boil until they are soft and can be pierced with a fork.

Now it's time to marry all the ingredients together.  Drain the potatoes and put them back in the pot on the stove to cook off the remaining moisture. At this point, I always pass my potatoes through a food mill or a potato ricer because that is what yields that very creamiest mashed potatoes. You can do that, or mash them with a potato masher. If you've used fresh garlic cloves make sure you press the garlic through a mesh strainer or mash the garlic with the back of a spatula or spoon. You want to be sure to get the garlic mashed and incorporated into the potatoes! 

Now add the potatoes (and garlic, if using fresh) back into the pan and add the butter and cream mixture and stir, whipping the potatoes with a whisk or a wooden spoon, until you get the desired creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place into a bowl and garnish with a little more butter.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Giada's Fusilli with Fresh Pomodoro

My friend Carol gave me some lovely homegrown tomatoes from her garden and I knew I wanted to make something special with them. At first I was tempted to make my very favorite tomato sauce on the planet, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Roasted Tomato Sauce, but I'm all about trying new things lately and Giada's Fusilli with Fresh Pomodoro really caught my eye.

I loved the idea of grating tomatoes to make a fresh sauce and let's face it, the sauce has two cheeses (fresh ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano) so, I was pretty much sold. Plus, can we talk about these long twirly fusilli noodles? They are so fun!

This is the perfect summer recipe for those ripe juicy summer tomatoes that are everywhere right now. It's one of those dishes that strikes just the right balance, satisfying and creamy from the cheeses, yet light and fresh from the tomatoes. Plus, the fusilli pasta is light and bouncy and just plain fun to eat. My daughter raved about it and I even caught her hiding the leftovers!

Fusilli with Fresh Pomodoro
Adapted from Giada In Italy
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 6

1 pound fusilli
1-1/2 pounds beefsteak tomatoes (about 4 large tomatoes)
1/4 cup oliveoil
2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
3 fresh basil sprigs
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta, plus more for serving
1-1/4 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook 2 minutes less than the package directions, about 8 minutes (mine cooked about 13 and was still very al dente). Drain well, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the flesh of the tomatoes until you are left with just the skin. Heat a large straight-sided skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the grated tomatoes, the whole basil sprigs, and about a teaspoon of salt to the hot oil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 5 minutes. Remove the garlic and basil sprigs, and stir in the ricotta. Add the pasta, followed by the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Stir to combine and coat everything in the sauce.

Cook for another 2 minutes to finish cooking the pasta and thicken the sauce slightly, adding some of the reserved pasta water if it looks dry. Stir in the chopped basil and serve topped with additional ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano, if desired.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Shrimp Tacos with Crispy Garlic and Salsa Mexicana

These Shrimp Tacos with Crispy Garlic and Salsa Mexicana are the perfect refreshing meal on a hot summer day! Simple and easy to make, these tacos come together in no time at all.

First, we're going to make a quick salsa using ripe garden fresh tomatoes, serrano pepper, garlic, green onion, cilantro, and lime juice. The salsa is fresh and delicious, even more so when the flavors have some time to meld together. Now let's cook the shrimp! We're talking big flavors here!

You can't cook shrimp without lots of butter and garlic and this recipe doesn't disappoint. It starts with butter and three large cloves of garlic. Next comes 2-3 thinly sliced serrano peppers. We are packing some heat here, folks! If you can't take the heat, then you might want to cut it down to one serrano, or maybe even half a serrano. Toss the shrimp in and within minutes you will be sitting down to enjoy the perfect summertime meal!

Shrimp Tacos with Crispy Garlic and Salsa Mexicana
Adapted from Rick Bayless Website
Serves 4-6

2-3 fresh serrano chiles stemmed, seeded, and cut into long slices
2 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2/3 cup chicken broth
 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
vegetable oil
12 fresh corn tortillas
4 ounces (1 cup) shredded Mexican melting cheese*

Note: I elected not to use the cheese.

Salsa Mexicana
1 small garlic clove, peeled
fresh hot green chiles to taste, 1 or 2 serrano
1 medium-large round red, ripe tomato (1/2 pound total)
1/4 cup loosely packed) roughly chopped cilantro
1 small green onion, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
salt, to taste

Heat the butter in the skillet over medium heat, add the garlic and stir for a minute. Stir in the chile strips, black pepper, and broth. Raise the temperature to medium-high and boil until the mixture has reduced to just a few tablespoons and is noticeably thicker, about 8 minutes. 

Add the shrimp and stir until the pieces are nearly cooked through about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, taste and season with salt, usually 1/2 teaspoon. 

Lightly oil the tortillas, lay them by pairs on a griddle or skillet over medium heat, flipping to warm through. Top each pair with a portion of the cheese (if using) and let melt, then top with a hefty amount of the filing and serve.

For the Salsa Mexicana: Drop the garlic and chile pieces one at a time into a running food processor, letting each get finely chopped before adding the next. Cut half the tomato into quarters and add it to the food processor, along with cilantro. Pulse 4 to 6 times until you have a coarse puree. Scrape the mixture into a bowl. Cut the other half of the tomato into 1/4" pieces and add to the bowl along with the green onion. Taste and season with lime juice and salt. This salsa is best if eaten with an hour or two but it will keep for a number of hours in the refrigerator.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Giada's Lemon White Pizza

So, white pizza has always been a favorite of mine. I don't like lots of pizza sauce on my pizza. In fact,  I'll just go ahead and admit that I don't even really like pizza sauce on my pizza. There, I said it. Feel free to call me crazy.

I'm just there for the cheese. And the crust. Giada's Lemon White Pizza reminds me of Italy and all the lemons on the Amalfi Coast. There is nowhere I'd rather visit than the Amalfi Coast. It's number one on my list of travel destinations. Maybe one day.

In the meantime, I'm getting my lemons from the Kroger here in Georgetown, KY. It's not the same, but I have a good imagination. I bought the best ricotta I could find, some fresh mozzarella pearls, and some fabulous Parmigiana-Reggiano. We have a Murray's cheese shop inside my Kroger so I am able to get my hands on some quality cheese.

The pizza comes together quickly. Warm the dough and let it rise. Roll it out on the backside of a large baking sheet.  Mix the ricotta, lemon zest, salt, and oregano. Spread it all over the pizza crust. Top with fresh mozzarella. Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown and bubbly. Top with a drizzle of olive oil (I say so), Parmigiano-Reggiano, red pepper flakes, and torn basil. Give it a squeeze of lemon if you really wanna get wild. Take a bite and close your eyes...

The pizza is light and delicious. There is a hint of lemon and the blend of three cheeses makes it so creamy. The fresh basil really adds a touch of freshness. Keep your eyes closed. It's summertime in Amalfi and there are good looking Italian men everywhere. You can hear their accents, you can feel the breeze, you can smell the sea. You have a delicious slice of pizza in one hand and a glass of Limoncello in the other. It is paradise.

Lemon White Pizza
Adapted from Giada's Italy
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4-6

1 (16-ounce) ball of store-bought pizza dough
1 cup whole milk ricotta
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
all-purpose flour, for dusting
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Place the pizza dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a towel, and allow it to rest in a warm place for 1 hour.

Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450F.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, lemon zest, salt, and oregano. Set aside.

Using a touch of flour to prevent sticking, stretch out the pizza dough to an 11 x 6" inch oval. Turn a rimmed baking sheet upside down and drizzle with the olive oil. Place the dough on the baking sheet. spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Divide the mozzarella evenly over the ricotta.

Place the pizza on the lowest rack in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the pizza to the upper rack and bake an additional 10 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Remove the pizza to a rack and sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano, basil, and red pepper flakes. Cut into pieces and serve. 

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Ina Garten's Plum Tart

When I think of Ina Garten I think of two things. Number one: she cooks a lot of chicken for Jeffrey (she is definitely the Queen of Chicken).  Number two: she makes a lot of desserts with plums.

Plums are definitely underrated so you tend to notice when someone makes a lot of plum tarts and plum cakes and plum jam, like Ina does. The world should listen to Ina because the woman definitely knows good food and can be relied upon. So, PLUM DESSERTS for everyone! Really, people. Plums are both sweet and tart and they make some fabulous desserts. Please jump on the plum train while they're in season. You'll be so happy you did!

This plum tart is dead simple! It's so easy a little kid could make it. So you really have no reason not to give it a try. The crust doesn't require any rolling or any fussing about whatsoever. In fact, the crust is more of a crumble that is just pushed into a tart pan. Then you just cut the plums and place them on top before covering it with more of the crust which serves as a "crumble topping." It could not be any more simple!

Now, I am absolutely crazy for a crust loaded with brown sugar and chopped walnuts and this recipe definitely hits the mark on that. The plums and the walnuts pair wonderfully together. I also love a fruit dessert with a heavy hand of crumble on top and this recipe does not disappoint! In fact, this recipe may very well have more crumble topping than any other! Serve this alone or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it will receive rave reviews!

Plum Tart
Adapted from Food Network
by Ina Garten
Serves 6-8

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
12 tablespoons cold butter (1-1/2 sticks), diced
1 egg yolk
2 pounds firm, ripe plums, pitted and quartered lengthwise (about 6 medium)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine the flour, walnuts, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and the egg yolk. Mix, either by hand or with an electric mixer, until crumbly. 

Press 1-12 cups of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 9-1/2 inch springform or tart pan. Arrange the plums in the pan, skin side down, to form a flower pattern; begin at the outside and work your way in.

Sprinkle the rest of the crumb mixture evenly over the plums. Bake the tart for 40-50 minutes, or until it's lightly browned and the plum juices are bubbling. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and transfer the tart to a flat plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Two Summer Sippers To Help Cool You Down {Berry Spa Water & Cucumber and Lemon Verbena}

 Are you really posting water, Kim? Yes, yes I am. You see, I'm not a fussy person by any means.  I drink plenty of plain old water and I love it just the way it is. Lots of my friends have been troubling themselves by sprucing up their water for years. Lemons, limes, oranges, cucumbers, berries and all kinds of fussy preparations. I always think it looks pretty. I always think, "sure I'll make some of that fancy flavored water too." Then I just never do probably because I forget about it, but then also because I don't really care. I just like water.

So, since I've had spa waters, or flavored waters, on my to-do list for years, you can bet I'm sharing them. Look Ma, I finally did it! And not just one fancy water...I've got two!

The first version is Giada's Spa Water and it's basically lots of quartered strawberries, blueberries, and water. My daughter and I really liked both of the waters, but if I had to pick my favorite this one would be it. I love that it's a bit different and the skewer of fruit on top goes a long way in selling it for me. Plus, I took to spearing the fruit inside the glass with the skewer which upped the satisfaction of the water greatly.

 Spa Water
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4-6

1 pound strawberries
1 cup blueberries
10 cups cold water

Hull the strawberries, set aside 4 whole small berries (for garnish) and quarter the rest. Add the quartered strawberries to a large pitcher. Set aside 8 blueberries (for garnish) and add the remainder of the cup to the pitcher. Top with the cold water and allow it to sit for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

On 4 small skewers or toothpicks, thread 1 blueberry, then a strawberry, followed by 1 more blueberry. Set aside until ready to serve.

Pour the spa water into four 16-ounce water glasses filled with ice. Serve garnished with the fruit skewers.

Whilst (I really like that word) vacationing in Gettysburg, our hotel had some lovely cucumber lemon water in the lobby and I was rather fond of it! I will confess that I liked it so well  I actually poured two glasses each and every chance I got.  

Giada's Cucumber and Lemon Verbena Water reminded me of the water I had in Gettysburg, so I wanted to give it a try. I didn't have lemon verbena, but I do have lemon mint that my mom planted years ago. It grows very well, like all mint, so I gave it a good haircut and put it in the pitcher with some cucumber. It wasn't quite lemony enough, and I really wanted to add lemon slices anyway, so I added a sliced up lemon to the pitcher as well. Delicious and refreshing, much like the water on vacation. This water was my daughter's favorite and she took to eating the cucumbers right out of her glass with her hands. Don't we sound classy?

So there we have it. I finally made flavored waters. We liked them, and I would definitely drink them again, but I don't know if I'd fuss enough to make them myself. Nothing against them.  I'm just not that fussy when left to my own devices.

Cucumber and Lemon Verbena Water
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4-6

1 small cucumber, thinly sliced
6 sprigs fresh lemon verbena, torn
2 quarts (8 cups) water
1 lemon, thinly sliced* (optional)

Put the cucumber slices in the bottom of a large pitcher. Gently roll the lemon verbena sprigs back and forth a few times in your hands to release the scent, then add them to the pitcher along with the water. Add sliced lemon, if using. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Theme: Summer Sippers & Icy Cold Treats