Monday, January 31, 2022

Garlic, Garlic, Garlic

Lots of Garlic!

If you like garlic and chicken and lemon and yogurt and Mediterranean seasonings, this dish is for you!

They say that the second time's the charm...hope so since this is the second time I'm writing this up to post. I had it all ready, photos and all, and while I was looking to see what month and year the magazine Bon Appetit had printed this recipe, I knocked the magazine against the mouse and somehow erased the whole post! Let's try again.

Sometimes I have trouble getting to sleep. If I've just finished a book, as happened a few nights ago, I often will look at an old issue of a magazine. Bon Appetit are my favorites ones. Going to sleep with visions of a good meal in my head is a great way to do it. That's exactly what happened because I found this recipe, Za'atar Chicken with Garlicky Yogurt. I picked up a few things at the grocery store the next day, but not everything I needed because that would require organization, something that seems to have gone out the window with the pandemic. So, the next day when I made it, I substituted a yellow onion for the red onion, some minced cilantro for the coriander, and low fat Greek yogurt instead of whole milk yogurt.

I do recommend getting chicken with skin on it because the roasting produced lovely, crackly skin. Za'atar is a blend of sumac, dried herbs, and sesame seeds. It can usually be found at Middle Eastern markets, specialty foods stores and online. I buy mine at Penzey's Spices and theirs is delicious.

I served mine with some pine nut couscous from a package, reconstituted with boiled chicken broth. I also served a couple of grilled zucchini. Each cut side was sprinkled with, what else?, garlic salt. It was a great combination and the couscous soaked up the garlicky yogurt sauce, roasted garlic cloves, and oily za'atar drizzle and chicken juices beautifully.

Za'atar Chicken with Garlicky Yogurt
form Bon Appetit magazine, April 2019 issue

4 chicken legs (although I only used thigh pieces with skin on), about 2 1/2 pounds total
2 medium red onions, cut into 1"-thick wedges (although I used yellow onions)
2 heads garlic, halved crosswise, plus 2 cloves garlic
1 lemon, quartered, seeds removed
Kosher salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups plain whole-milk Greek yogurt (although I used low-fat)
3 tablespoons za'atar
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest (and I added the juice of the lime to the za'atar drizzle, too)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Arrange chicken, onions, halved garlic heads, and lemon in a 13"x9" baking dish; season liberally with salt (including on both sides of chicken pieces). Pour in oil and toss everything to coat. Turn garlic cut side down and nestle it in so it is in contact with the the baking dish. Roast, rotating pan halfway through, until meat is almost falling off the bone, 50-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, finely grate 1 clove garlic into a small bowl. Add yogurt, a big pinch salt, and 1 tablespoon water and mix well. Set aside to come to room temperature.

Remove baking dish from oven and transfer onions, garlic, and lemon to a plate. Cover with foil to keep warm. 

Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees F. and continue to roast chicken until skin is golden brown, 10-15 minutes more. Transfer chicken to a cutting board, cover with foil to keep warm, and let rest 10 minutes. Set aside pan juices.

Finely grate the remaining garlic clove into another small bowl. Add za'atar, coriander, lemon zest, lime zest and lime juice. Mix to combine. Pour about 1/3 cup reserved pan juices into za'atar mixture until you've reached an oily, drizzle, consistency. Mix in a pinch of salt.

Spread reserved yogurt mixture over a platter and arrange chicken over top. Scatter onion, garlic, and lemon around; drizzle it all with the za'atar oil mixture. Serve at once.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Butternut Squash in a Quiche

I'm a firm believer that you can put almost anything savory in a quiche. If you look at the index of recipes, you'll see that I've made quite a few variations. The first quiche I ever made was quiche lorraine, a classic for a reason. Now that I only have one kind of cheese that I cook or bake with (almond milk ricotta), the frequency of making quiche has gone down. Still, every once in a while I feel the need, and this time it was joined by the need to use up some recently roasted butternut squash.

In case you don't have any roasted butternut squash in your fridge, let me remind you how easy it is to make. You take a butternut squash, any size really, and carefully cut it in half from stem to blossom end. You scoop out the seeds and stringy bits in the seed cavity, line a baking sheet with foil, spray the foil with cooking spray, then put both squash halves on the foil, cut side down. Roast at 450 degrees F until the squash is tender. I check by poking a sharp knife into the should slide in easily. Let the squash cool, peel it, and you are ready to use it. 

This quiche is a nice combination of slices of the butternut squash, slices of cooked Italian sausage, some lightly steamed miners lettuce (or spinach), chopped, and a custard flavored with Italian seasoning and thyme, salt and pepper. You layer the ingredients into a blind-baked pie crust, then pour in the custard and bake. Pretty easy and quite good. You could even use a frozen pie crust. I actually use the pre-made pie dough circles found in the market (Pillsbury ReadyCrusts in my case). Using pre-made pie dough makes this go together very quickly and this kind of quiche is always a hit.

So this is the first time that I've picked and used miners lettuce. It grows wild on our property and this is the perfect time of year to use it, before it flowers. I have a planter that's high enough so the lettuce is pristine and it's also easier to pick being a little higher. My knees have been bothering me lately, so kneeling down to pick greens isn't happening! Still, it's nice to be able to use farm fresh greens in the quiche. Miner's lettuce is pretty mild in flavor, but you can tell it's there. I mixed it into the custard, so a lot of it floated to the top. As you can see from the bottom photo, it cooks down quite a bit...I may have less than 1/2 cup here, but close to that amount.

Tip: If you use a pound of dried beans as pie weights as I do, save them once they have cooled off and you can use them again and again as pie weights...just don't plan on cooking them to eat. At about a dollar and a half for a bag of dried beans, it sure beats the almost $9 you would pay for Pie Weights from King Arthur or a similar amount at Sur la Table.

Quiche with Miner's Lettuce, Butternut Squash and Bacon

1 9inch pie shell, blind baked at 425 degrees F for 10-12 minutes (recipe follows)

½ cup cooked, chopped and drained miner's lettuce or baby spinach, leaves only
½ cup ricotta cheese, crumbled
½ small butternut squash, roasted, skinned, and sliced thinly
1 cooked Italian sausage, sliced
3 eggs (or equivalent egg substitute)
1 ½ cups evaporated milk, or light cream, or soy creamer
¼ teaspoon salt
dash pepper
¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon dried thyme

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sprinkle the bottom of the pie shell with the ricotta cheese, distributing evenly. Place the butternut quash slices evenly over the other ingredients. Distribute the sliced sausage evenly over the ingredients in the pie shell.  Set aside.

In a bowl, beat the eggs lightly, then add the milk and beat with a fork to combine, add the salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, thyme, and steamed and chopped miner's lettuce, and beat with a fork to combine.

Pour the egg/milk mixture over the ingredients in the pie shell. Place in the preheated oven and bake 30-45 minutes, or until set and lightly browned. Cool for 10 minutes before cutting to serve.
Serves 6-8

Pastry Pie Shell

1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup chilled butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons ice water
1 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)

Mix the flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender, or two knives, until particles the size of dried peas are formed.

In a small bowl mix together the egg, ice water and lemon juice (if using). Sprinkle over the flour mixture and toss with a fork lightly. Do not over mix. Gather the particles together in a ball. Wrap airtight and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes. Roll out with a rolling pin on a floured surface until large enough to fill a 9 inch pie pan with some overlap.

Fit into a 9 inch pie pan, smooth to fit, trip excess , tuck edges under and crimp as for any pie crust. Prick lightly all over the surface with a fork. Freeze 10 minutes. Remove from freezer and cover with a circle of parchment paper. Fill the paper with beans or pie weights (blind baking the crust).

Bake at 425 degrees F for 10 – 12 minutes. Cool slightly. Remove and save the beans or pie weights. Fill with filling as called for in recipes needing a pie shell.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Chocolate Pie + Bakewell Tart = Delicious

I'm a big fan of the Bakewell Tart, which has a layer of jam over the tart crust, then a frangipane (ground almond) filling. As long as you have enough jam, it's a real treat. Likewise, I love a good chocolate pie, usually a chocolate custard pie. What happens when you take elements of each and combine them?

You get a delicious dessert of course. In this version, I have regular pie dough, blind baked part way, a chocolate frangipane filling, and raspberry jam at the bottom of the tart/pie. 

I made some little one in a fluted pan, so they are more tart-like, and then I made a couple more in small pie pans, so those are like pies. The filling is what makes these special. Melted chocolate is combined with melted butter and a lovely egg and almond meal rich mixture to make the perfect frangipane. Don't overbake these. The center should still be a tiny bit jiggly when they are taken out of the oven.

The recipe is a combination of four or five recipes for Bakewell tarts, plus the addition of chocolate. You can substitute a good pie crust recipe for the ready-made pie dough for an even better tart.

Chocolate Bakewell Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Jam Tarts

1 package ready-made pie dough circles, at room temperature and unwrapped
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperture
4 oz. Scharffen Berger Semi-Sweet chocolate 962% cacao)
1 cup slivered blanched almonds or 8 oz ground almonds
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ cup raspberry jam 

On a lightly floured board, with a lightly floured rolling pin, roll each of the pastry dough rounds slightly thinner to ¼ inch thick. Cut out 4 inch circles and re-roll the scraps to cut more circles until you have 10 circles of pastry. Line ten 3-inch fluted tart tins with the pastry rounds, pushing the pastry into the indentations of the sides. Trim any extra dough at the top of the tins by rolling a rolling pin across the top of each tart tin. Place pastry lined tins on a 11.5 x 17 inch baking sheet that has been lined with foil or a silicone mat. Chill in freezer for 30 minutes.

While tart shells are chilling, cut the unsalted butter stick into cubes and place in microwave safe bowl. Microwave on 30% power for one minute.

While butter is in microwave, chop 4 oz. of Scharffen Berger Semi-Sweet chocolate (62% cacao) finely.
Add to the microwaved butter, stir to blend, then return to microwave and continue cooking one minute at a time at 30% power, stirring after each minute, until butter and chocolate are melted and smooth. Set aside to cool.

After the tart shells have chilled for 30 minutes, line each with a 4 inch baking parchment circle and fill with pie weights (dry beans work well). Blind bake in preheated 350 degree F. oven for 15 minutes, turning the baking pan holding the tart pans 180 degrees after the first 10 minutes for even cooking. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.

While the tart shells are baking and cooling, combine the cup of slivered blanched almonds and ¼ cup granulated sugar. Process in a food processor until the nuts are finely ground. Set aside. )Note: If using already ground almond flour, skip this step, but be sure to add the 1/4 cup sugar in addition to the sugar in the recipe when you mix the almond flour into the eggs.)

Mix the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer until beaten, but not frothy, about 1 minute . Add the additional ¼ cup sugar and the ground almond mix. Mix another minute to blend. Set aside.

Once the tart shells are cool enough to handle, remove the pie weights and parchment circles. Stir the raspberry jam with a fork to break it down to a spreadable consistency. Spread the bottoms of the tart shells with raspberry jam using a total of ½ cup, divided among the tart shells. Set aside.

Into the ground nut, sugar and egg mixture, add the butter-chocolate mixture. Mix well by stirring with a spoon or flexible spatula. When thoroughly mixed, pour into the tart shells, covering the jam and filling almost to the top. Rap a table knife against the side of each tart pan to break up any large bubbles in the filling. 

Place the baking sheet with the tarts on it into the 350 degree F oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until filling rises slightly and is firm at the edges. The center may still be slightly soft. If using smaller pans, time will be shorter. Center may puff up, but should still be soft.

Cool on rack. Remove tarts from their pans and serve warm, room temperature, or cold.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Oatmeal Date Apple Nut Muffins

It's been a while since I made muffins, which is crazy since I used to make them all the time when I had my muffin business. Throwing together a batch of muffins is pretty quick and easy, although there will be a couple of bowls to wash.

I love muffins made with warm dates, preferably with walnuts, too. This time I also included some diced apple and some Irish whole meal flour from King Arthur flour. That flour adds some texture and nuttiness that goes so well with the oatmeal and other add-ins.

The key to good muffins is to barely mix the wet and dry mixtures together. That way very little gluten forms and you get tender, light muffins with a nice crumb. In this version I used melted non-dairy margarine and soy creamer that I soured with lemon juice. Make sure that all of your ingredients are at room temperature for quick mixing. It's also a good idea to check on the moistness of your dates. Mine had been sitting a while, so I soaked them briefly in very hot water, then drained the water off and tossed them in a little bit of the dry ingredient mixture. That last step helps the dates keep from sinking to the bottom of the muffin, plus it makes them mix in more quickly...always a good thing with muffins.

Date Nut Oatmeal Muffins

Makes 12

1 cup all-purpose flour
½  cup whole wheat flour (I used King Arthur Baking's Irish Whole meal Flour)
¾ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup sugar
1 cup quick cooking oatmeal, uncooked
¾ cup chopped dates
½  cup diced apple, core removed before dicing
½ cup chopped pecans
2 eggs or ½ cup egg substitute
2 tablespoons melted butter or non-dairy margarine
¾ cup buttermilk or equal amount of milk or soy creamer mixed with a tablespoon white vinegar or citrus juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Spray the cups of a 12 cup muffin tin (or 2 6 cup muffins tins) with baking spray (or grease with butter or shortening)

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix in the sugar and oatmeal. Gently mix in the chopped dates and apple, coating them with the flour mixture. Mix in the pecans.

In a smaller bowl, mix together the eggs or egg substitute, melted butter and buttermilk until well combined.

Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and quickly, with a few strokes, stir to just mix. Fill each muffin cup about ¾ full. Place the muffin tin(s) into the preheated oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes until golden brown.

Serve hot. These are delicious eaten plain, but very good, too with some butter.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Babes Bake Pepperoni Rolls

Here we are starting off a new year, with all the hopes and resolutions that go with that. It's often a month when we hibernate in various fashions...some to read, some to mull over garden catalogs with dreams of summer and harvest, some to binge watch on Netflix and some to cheer on their team as some sports reach their final efforts for the year. With all of these pursuits, a small treat or spicy little nosh can be just the thing to go with.

This month I'm Kitchen of the Month for the Bread Baking Babes. I chose West Virginia Pepperoni Rolls as that little nibble. It's about 4 inches wide and is rolled up like a jelly roll with the pepperoni filling making a spiral. Not a meat lover? Try the mushroom version or improvise your own filling. The traditional dough is a bit on the sweet side, which is OK if you are adding a layer of spicy pepperoni, but if you filling will be blander or you just prefer a less sweet dough, reduce the can be a little as two tablespoons and still be fine. The dough keeps in the fridge for days, too, as long as it's lightly coated with oil. You can make a few rolls at a time that way...snacks for days!

A number of years ago...maybe 9 years...I visited West Virginia about a month or two earlier than now for a crafts festival. On the way back to my Mom's house in eastern Virginia, we stopped at a gas station and bought the local specialty, Pepperoni Rolls to take back with us. If I remember correctly, the dough was rolled around the slices in the same way you roll dough around cinnamon sugar and butter to make cinnamon buns...or the same as a jelly roll. The difference is that you start with a four-inch in each direction piece of dough, so you don't cut just have a small, delicious bread roll with spicy pepperoni inside. The juices and oils that cook out of the sausage during baking soak into the bread roll so they are a treat not to be missed. At the gas station they came wrapped and sealed in cellophane. I guess that they are a pretty good keeper saved that way. These are even tastier since they are freshly made.

These are great for serving when friends gather to watch sports or play cards or a board game (although with the new COVID variant on the rise you may want to skip that). Good with a beer or a cup of coffee. Feel free to adapt to sourdough starter and to whatever flour you like to use, but do try them with pepperoni and at least the first time avoid adding any other filling so that you get the authentic experience! If you avoid meat entirely, look further down the post for the mushroom version. Sweetie said that he preferred this filling over the pepperoni!

As always, we encourage you to bake with the Babes, and to be a Buddy by sending me an email with the URL of your post and a photo, plus a short description of your bake. Deadline is Jan. 29th. plachman *at* sonic *dot* net. You'll get a Buddy badge and be included in the round-up.

You will also want to visit the other Babes blogs to see what they did with this recipe. Since we are brilliant bakers all, we often bend the rules a bit...or a lot!...with great results.

A Messy Kitchen - Kelly 
Bread Experience - Cathy
Judy's Gross Eats - Judy
Karen's Kitchen Stories - Karen
My Diverse Kitchen - Aparna
My Kitchen In Half-Cups - Tanna

Pepperoni Rolls - similar to what is found easily at convenience stores  and gas stations in West Virginia, U.S.A.

Yield: 20 rolls

1 cup warm water (100 degrees F/40 degrees C)

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 (.25 oz.) package active dry yeast
5 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 (8 oz.) package sliced pepperoni

Dissolve the 1/2 teaspoon sugar in 1 cup warm water in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast over water and let stand for 5-10 minutes until yeast 'blooms'.

Mix flour, 3/4 cup sugar, and salt in a large bowl. If mixing by hand, stir in the yeast mixture, beaten eggs, and the melted butter. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured clean work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. If mixing in a stand mixer, Put the yeast mixture in the stand mixer bowl. With a wooden spoon, stir in 1 cup of the flour mixture. Place the bowl in the stand mixer and attach the dough hook. On low speed, add the flour mixture, a cup at a time in the beginning, and by tablespoons when the dough almost clears the sides of the bowl, until you have a soft dough. Knead with the mixer for 8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic.

 Lightly oil a large bowl, then place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a light cloth or a clean shower cap, and let rise in a warm place (80 to 90 degrees F, or 27 to 32 degrees C) until doubled in volume, about 1 1/2 hours, although with colder weather in the Northern hemisphere it might take longer.

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a cookie sheet.

Punch down the dough, and divide it into 20 equal pieces, about the size of a golf ball. Using your hands, flatten each piece into a small rectangle, about 4 inches square. Place 3 slices of pepperoni down the center of each dough square, overlapping the slices. Place another row of 3 slices next to the first. Roll the dough around the pepperoni slices, pinch the edges closed, and place the rolls on the prepared cookie sheet.

 Bake the rolls in the preheated oven for 14-16 minutes. until the bottoms are lightly browned and the tops are barely golden.

 Eat while still a little bit warm, but do allow to cool enough for the fat from the pepperoni to cool enough that you don't burn your tongue. Enjoyable dipped into warm marinara sauce.

If you are looking for a version with no meat, you may want to try this mushroom filling. It is mellower 
in flavor than pepperoni, but still delicious.

Mushroom Filling Instead of Pepperoni

After you have flattened the dough into the 4-inch square, place 2-3 rows of thinly sliced mushrooms, about 4 oz. regular white or brown 'button type,  that have been sautéed in 1 tablespoon olive oil, a pinch nigella seeds, 1/2 teaspoon ground Hungarian paprika or smoked paprika (your choice) and 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt, then the mixture cooled. After placed the sliced mushrooms as pictured, roll up like a jelly roll, just as you do with the pepperoni filled ones, and seal the edge where dough meets and the ends. Place the roll on the baking sheet as you would a meat filled roll and proceed with the recipe.

Elizabeth was kind enough to convert the recipe to weights - a far better way to measure ingredients for bread indeed. Can't wait to see her version, no matter what West Virginians would think of it. I'm thrilled with variations.

"Because I'm a freak, I have converted all the ingredients into grams."

1 cup [240 grams] warm water (100 degrees F/40 degrees C)
1/2 teaspoon [2 grams] granulated sugar
1 (.25 oz.) package [7 grams] active dry yeast
5 cups [625 grams] all-purpose flour
3/4 cup [150 grams] granulated sugar
2 teaspoons [12 grams] salt
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup [113 grams] butter, melted
1 (8 oz.) [227 grams] package sliced pepperoni

Monday, January 10, 2022

Awesome Mushroom Tart on an Almond Freeform Crust

I love getting cookbooks for Christmas! This year I received quite a few of them, so it was challenging to pick the first recipe to make out of a new cookbook. Dorie won out...which is not surprising since her recipes are always top notch. Who is Dorie? Dorie Greenspan , one of my favorite cookbook authors, especially for baked goods. The book, received from my darling daughter and her amazing beau, is called Baking with Dorie. It has lots of sweets that I'll get to later, but the recipe that spoke to me was for a freeform tart topped with mushrooms. It's official title is Free-Style Mushroom, Herb, and Ricotta Tart. You start with a thin, crumbly crust made with almond flour and all-purpose flour, so not gluten free. This crust has lots of herbs in it. As a matter of fact, the whole tart has lots of herbs in it. The crust is topped with a ricotta-rich filling which also has herbs in it, and that is topped with cooked mushrooms...with more herbs. Then to 'gild the lily', you top the whole thing with dressed micro-greens and a drizzle of oil. I added a small amount of chopped walnuts since I used walnut oil for the drizzle and I think they added some needed crunch. Sweetie liked his tart warmed up and it really did taste better that way than at room temperature as called for in the recipe.

As with many Dorie Greenspan recipes, you can play around a bit with this recipe...use whatever herbs appeal to you or that you have on hand, mix up the mushrooms that you use, and so on. It's also a great recipe for entertaining since each of the components can be made in advance. It might seem like a long recipe, but you can make each component on a different day if you like; the spread one day, the mushroom topping another day and the crust the day you will serve it, so it's really quite manageable. You can also do it all on the same day as I did and serve it that day. 

Once it's all together I would recommend putting it on a sheet pan or cookie sheet and heating it for about 10-15 minutes at 325 degrees F. The cheese filling becomes more savory and the mushroom flavor takes over. When it's at room temperature the mushrooms are more subdued in flavor, which is a shame if you have bought the more expensive wild mushrooms.

That said, we loved, loved, loved this tart. It will go into my regular rotation and will be even better in the warmer months of the year when fresh herbs are so easy to get.

Free-Style Mushroom, Herb and Ricotta Tart
from Baking with Dorie, Sweet, Salty and Simple
Six servings

Raggedy Edged Almond-Herb Crust
1 1/2 cups (204 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (50 grams) almond flour (or an additional 1/3 cup (45 grams) all-purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons, 4 oz. 113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits (I used non-dairy margarine)
2-3 tablespoons minced fresh herbs (a mix is good - parsley, thyme, chives, dill, rosemary, scallion greens or any of them by themselves)
1 cold, large egg, lightly beaten

Put both flours and the salt in a food processor and pulse to blend. Add pieces of butter and do long pulses about 15 times until it looks like crumbs, not sand. Scrape work bowl and under blade as needed.

Drop in the herbs and pulse only to blend. Add the egg in three additions, pulsing after each addition until dough forms clumps and curds. Pinch and it should hold together. If not, add a splash of water and pulse again.

Turn the dough out and gather into a ball. Knead a few time to make dough cohesive, then gather and flatten into a disc. (I substituted the working dough with heel of your hand for the kneading and the results were good.)

Place the dough between two sheets of parchment and roll to a thickness of 1/8 inch, rolling into a rough circle of dough with ragged edges. As you roll, now and then lift of and replace the parchment...both sides in make sure to not crease dough. Remove top sheet, prick dough all over with a fork, replace parchment and slide parchment/dough/parchment sandwich onto a baking sheet. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or freeze for at least one hour.

When ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Peel top sheet of parchment, place it on a baking sheet, place the dough on it and cover with the other sheet of parchment, loosely, to keep tart from browning too much. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until crust is golden around the edges. Remove the top sheet of parchment and bake for and additional 2-3 minutes to firm up the crust and give it more color. Transfer baking sheet to a cooling rack and let crust cook to room temperature. Can be made ahead but best to use within 8 hours.

The Tart

1 Raggedy Edged Almond-Herb Crust
1 recipe Ricotta Spread
1 recipe Mushroom Topping
Extra-virgin olive oil or walnut oil or toasted sesame oil
A handful of micro-greens tossed with oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper
A couple tablespoons toasted walnuts, chopped roughly

Ricotta Spread

1 cup (212 grams) ricotta
1/4 cup (60 ml) plain yogurt, preferable Greek
1/2 shallot, finely chopped, rinsed in cold water and patted dry
2 scallions, trimmed and finely sliced
1-2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs (see description in Raggedy Edged Crust above)
Fine sea salt and freshly grounds black pepper to taste

Drain the ricotta and yogurt if needed. Put into a bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk to combine. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve the tart. If liquid has accumulated, drain it off before using on the tart. Spread can be refrigerated up to two days.

Mushroom Topping

1 tablespoon unsalted butter (I used non-dairy margarine)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) mushrooms - a mix is good - ordinary ones from the market are fine, too - cleaned, trimmed and sliced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced (to taste)
3 tablespoons white wine
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 scallions, trimmed and finely sliced (I only used one)
2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs (see description in Raggedy Edged Crust above)

Warm the butter and oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the bubbles have subsided, toss in the mushrooms and garlic and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms are brown and tender and the pan is almost dry. Pour in the wine, stir and cook until it's almost evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove the pan from the heat. Leave the topping at room temperature for up to 3 hours or pack into a covered container and refrigerate for up to 2 days; reheat in a skillet with a little water before using.

To Assemble and Serve the Tart:
Place the crust on a baking sheet and cover with the ricotta-yogurt spread.

 Stir the scallions and herbs into the mushroom topping and spoon it over the spread. 

Scatter on the walnuts and drizzle with the oil.

Reheat the tart in 325 degree F oven for 10-15 minutes, just enough to warm the tart. Remove from the oven, slide onto a cutting board or plate, and top with dressed the micro-greens. Cut the tart at the table using a pizza wheel or a long chef's knife. Serve at once while still warm.

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Gingerbread Syrup

There is a local coffee place that is a sort of community gathering place on Hwy 116 at Bloomfield Rd. It's called Hardcore and they make great lattes. Sweetie loves their gingerbread lattes so he treats himself now and then when errands take him that way. 

Just before Christmas I found a recipe for Gingerbread Syrup and thought that it would be fun to make it for Sweetie so that he could doctor his morning coffee with some of it and a splash of cream. Not quite the same but probably still delicious if you love the flavors of gingerbread like he does. 

He tried it this morning in his coffee, with a small amount of cream. He said it was delicious and quite a bit gingerbread, but needed more milk or cream, so if you try it, heat a little milk or cream to add to your coffee, or make a latte if you have the machine for it!

It was also quite tasty over some coffee ice cream. I'll bet you can think of more uses for it...over lemon pancakes? Over baked apples?

Gingerbread Syrup

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 cups water
2 tablespoons molasses
pinch of salt
2 cinnamon sticks
1 1/2-inch (4 cm) fresh ginger, roughly chopped
8 allspice berries (I used 1/4 teaspoon ground)
8 whole cloves
4 black whole peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients except for vanilla in a saucepan. Cook, whisking occasionally, to dissolve the sugar and continue until the liquid thickens, 10-15 minutes.

Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract, cover, and let steep for 30 minutes.

Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl with a pouring spout. Discard the solids in the strainer. Use while warm, or cool and pour into clean, sterile jar(s) with tight-fitting lid(s). Refrigerate up to 2 weeks. Makes approximately 2 cups.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

Easy Seasonal Appetizer

If you are anything like me, you get a lot of suggested recipes on your smart phone. One of the ones I like to check out is Allrecipes. Recently they had a colorful, easy and delicious appetizer which worked well for a dinner before Christmas. We basically catered the whole deal, appetizer to dessert, as sort of a Christmas gift to my sister who lives three hours (about) away from here. All of the components were packed up and brought (including the patter for serving, mostly because I knew everything would fit nicely on sister has beautiful platters which I could have used), and then I put it together on site.

We are fortunate in having a huge rosemary shrub, so I was able to bring lots of rosemary. If you are purchasing yours, you can tuck in sprigs for color, but they don't have to be so one eats the rosemary!

I bought two tubs of plain mozzarella balls and then marinated one tub (drained) in olive oil, Italian herbs, and minced garlic. It's usually less expensive than the ones you buy marinated and you get to make sure you use good ingredients. I like Penzey's Italian mixed herbs, but use your favorite herbs. Let the cheese balls marinate at least a day and up to a week before serving on this appetizer.

You can adjust this for your preferences. The prosciutto wasn't part of the original recipe, but I knew that it would be appreciated by this group. Marinated mushrooms would also be good, as would roasted red pepper strips.

Appetizer Wreath or Platter for the Holidays 

Make a wreath shape or other shape with fresh rosemary sprigs on a large platter or cheese board. Add mixed olives, red and yellow or orange cherry tomatoes, mozzarella cheese balls, plain and/or marinated, and, if desired, thinly sliced prosciutto gathered into roughly ball shapes. Include toothpics and small plates or cocktail napkins to hold the olive pits.