Tag Archives: Food

Savory Summer Tart

17 Jul

I’m always looking for a new recipes that use artichokes, I just love them. I found this recipe on Pinterest for a Spinach, Artichoke and Caramelized Leek Tart, I prefer my name, it’s shorter and easier to say. We were going to our friends for dinner, so I made it but didn’t bake it, covered it with foil and off we went. I popped into the oven when we got there, served it up and there wasn’t a crumb to be found. Everyone agreed it’s a keeper!

There is a real depth of flavor between the sun-dried tomato spread, the caramelized leeks, artichokes and spinach that you get in every bite. It is a delicious appetizer that you can make ahead and pop in the oven when your guests arrive that will be ready in just 30 minutes.

Ingredients for Tart:

1 Tbs butter

2 cups chopped leeks (about 2 leeks, white and pale green parts only)

1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and patted dry

4-5 cups fresh spinach

1/2 tsp fresh thyme

2-3 cloves of garlic, minced

Kosher or Sea salt

Ground pepper

Water

1 Sheet of puff pastry, thawed but still cold

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Sun-dried tomato spread

Ingredients for Sun-dried Tomato Spread

1 Tbs olive oil

1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

8 ounce jar sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped

1 1/2 Tbs tomato paste

1/4 red wine vinegar or red wine

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/2 tsp dried thyme

Salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

2. Heat butter in a large skillet over low heat. Add the leeks with a pinch of salt and stir to coat with butter. Allow the leeks to sweat for about 8 minutes and the turn the heat up to medium. Allow the leeks to slowly caramelize, stirring frequently. As a brown glaze forms on the bottom of the pan add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water at a time, stir to incorporate the glaze back into the leeks. Once they are nicely caramelized (about 10 to 15 minutes), add the garlic, artichoke hearts and thyme. Cook for another 3 minutes, add the spinach. Cook until spinach is nicely wilted, season with a bit of salt and pepper. Turn off and set aside.

To make the Sun-dried Tomato Spread:

3. Add 1 Tbs olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Sauté  the onion, stirring occasionally for 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and tomato paste. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer mixture to food processor. Add red wine vinegar, basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Pulse until all ingredients are well combined. Set aside.

4. Roll out the puff pastry until it is approximately 11 x 15 inches. Place the dough on the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll the edges slightly and crimp. Spoon the sun-dried tomato mixture over the puff pastry evenly. Place the artichoke, leek, spinach mixture over the top. Sprinkle with cheese.

5. Bake the tart for 25 to 30 minutes or until the edges are golden and firm.

Let sit for about 10 minutes to set until serving…peace and good eats!

 

 

 

 

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Artichoke Tapenade…that Ain’t no Choke!

13 Feb

In my last post I wrote about cookbooks and mentioned David Lebovitz, well this recipe is from his cookbook My Paris Kitchen. As I was reading it (yes, reading a cookbook) I saw this recipe for an Artichoke Tapenade with Rosemary Oil, there are few things that I enjoy more than a good artichoke dish. I don’t like rosemary oil though, so I used regular olive oil. This is my new favorite, easy to make and delicious!

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Ingredients

14 oz can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered

1/2 cup pitted green olives

1/3 cup olive oil + more for drizzle

1 Tbs capers, rinsed and squeezed dry

1 Tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Sea salt or kosher salt

Directions

In the bowl of a food processor, puree the artichoke hearts, olives, olive oil, capers, lemon juice, garlic and cayenne pepper until smooth. Taste, and season with a bit of salt if necessary. (I did not add any salt, the olives and capers did the trick.)

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Serve drizzled with olive oil or rosemary oil if you prefer, along with toasted baguette, crackers, toasted pita or flat breads for dipping.

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Serves 6 to 8. Will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

 

Cookbook Collection or a Collection of Cookbooks?

26 Jan

I love cookbooks. Only recently did I actually start to read them, like a book. I always used to just look for a recipe, find it, make it and be done with the book. I never really looked at a cookbook as a book, but they are; it’s right there in the name.

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When I really started to enjoy cooking and learning new things about cooking I started to buy lots of cookbooks. And I got them as gifts because I guess people liked my cooking and wanted me to cook more, or perhaps they didn’t like my cooking and thought I needed cookbooks to make me a better cook? Either way I love them and have recently started reading them, really reading them and to my surprise there is a lot to learn and not just about cooking but the people who have written them. My new favorite author in the world of cooking is David Lebovitz. I highly recommend you get at least one of his cookbooks; he has great recipes and stories of Paris, what could be better than that? Being in Paris and reading it, I suppose.img_5002

My other favorites are the ones that my Mom gave me. I have her old and tired Fanny Farmer, one she made as a fundraiser for the church and my Great Grandmothers cookbook. It’s fun to read and see the notes that my mother wrote and my Great Grandmother. img_5004After the last few years I have gathered what I now refer to as a collection. And I will keep adding to it. I just wish I had a bookcase in my kitchen because my table isn’t going to hold much more. I will keep buying them and reading them; really reading them to learn, be entertained and hopefully become a better cook!img_5003

 

 

The Anatomy of a Dinner Party

4 Mar

If you read my last post then you know that my husband and I love to throw dinner parties, now I will tell you how it’s done. When you say the words “dinner party” people automatically think it means it has to be formal but not in my world. I do think that dinner parties should take place in the dining room with a beautifully set table. In my world there are 3 kinds of dinner parties:

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Mexican Fiesta tabletop.

Take Out Dinner Party – This is when you haven’t seen particular friends in a while and want to squeeze some time to see them but time is limited so you order take out.

Casual Dinner Party – A casual meal such as salads, tacos or flatbread pizzas for a fun night with friends.

Formal Dinner Party – This a planned event from beginning to end, complete attention to detail and a gourmet meal.

To start with, chose a theme. Pick a country or a region, a movie or even a song. I’ve done A Night in Greece, Italian Countryside, Mexican Fiesta, A Parisian Valentine and I even threw a Breakfast at Tiffany’s dinner party for my girlfriends. When you start with a theme everything flows from that, which makes things easier and fun.

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Parisian Valentine tabletop.

Once you’ve decided on a theme you can make your list; invitations, music, menu, decor and guest gifts.  From the menu you can create your shopping list. I like to have each recipe in front of me while I make my list so I don’t miss anything; no one wants to run the grocery store last minute when you’ve already began to cook.

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Menu, I don’t always type it but sometimes it’s nice.

Now I know that gifts for the guests are not customary but I like to have a little something for our guests to take home and I use them as place cards.

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Mini Champagne bottles as place card guest gifts.

Invitations of course can be done via an on-line site but I prefer a paper invite sent through good ol’ fashioned snail mail. Who doesn’t like to get something in mail that is not a bill or advertisement? I know I do. Be creative and do something fun by making them yourself or go visit your local card shop for something pre-printed that fits your theme. No matter what you do for the invite your guests will love getting it in the mail.

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Love a good spread!

Music is key. Actually, good music is key. I really like Pandora for music; they have just about any kind of music you could need. We recently got The Dot and play it on that, but before we had her I would use our television widget. Pandora has everything from Paris Cafe to martini music on the Frank Sinatra station. And if you end up having a dance party in the living room you can always change the station to dance music!

Ah yes the menu…the most important part. Chose wisely so that you can enjoy your guests and aren’t stuck in the kitchen the whole time. Hors d’oeuvres and a theme cocktail are a great way to start the evening. Once the cocktail “hour” is over I like to serve either a salad or soup before the main dish and then of course dessert.

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Jalapeno margaritas as the cocktail for our Mexican fiesta!

As much as I love to cook, decorating for a dinner party is always my favorite part. The flowers, candles, props; so much fun to be creative and change up dinner table. I also like to dress the part, for example for my Parisian Valentine dinner party I wore a black jumper with a white blouse, a scarf tied around my neck, a beret and red lipstick.

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Mini loaves of French bread for each guest at our Parisian Valentine party.

The guest gifts, they don’t have to complicated or expensive. One of my favorite things to use are the mini booze bottles with name tags tied to them. A small bag of homemade cookies or brownies, a tiny plant or cactus, a pretty soap, the ideas are endless.

Yes, throwing a dinner party can be a lot of work but it is also lots of fun. Creating memories around the dinner table, eating great food…doesn’t get better than that.

 

Dinner Parties, A Lost Art

25 Feb

Here in the Northeast it is not patio season and hasn’t been for a while. So what do we do to entertain, we throw a dinner party.  As you’ve heard me say before, my husband and I love to entertain and we love to throw a good dinner party. From what I hear it is not so common anymore. When I tell people they usually say something like “really, how fun, no one does that anymore” but recently when I told the woman at the shop where I was buying a gift for our guests she said “oh wow, now that’s a lost art!” I guess it is. But not in our house.

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What’s better than good friends, good food and lots of laughs? Nothing in my book. The first thing I do when I decide to throw a dinner party is to come up with a theme. I am big on themes. It can be anything; pick a favorite city or country, type of food, a movie or even a song. Everything springs from the theme, the food, the music, the decor and even the dress code can.

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We always start off in the kitchen. Now I know these days everyone is all about the “open concept”. I am not. I like a kitchen, a living room and a dining room. People say “oh but then you can’t socialize and cook at the same time” and I say “oh yes I can”. We have a very small kitchen but that’s ok, it works. We start out there with hors d’oeuvres while I finish up cooking then head to the dining room for the meal. Many times we end staying at the dining room table until way after we finished dessert; talking and laughing. Other times we will head into the living room to continue conversation and sometimes even having a dance party.

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Wherever it ends up, I would like to say we always have a great time and I would like to think our friends leave with full bellies and great memories. Stay tuned for my next post on the Anatomy of a Dinner Party…

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Chicken Tagine or Tagine Chicken?

22 Dec

Either way, it is delicious! I wanted to do something different, so as usual I go to Pinterest. Scrolling through all those chicken recipes, I came across several recipes for chicken tagine, I like Middle Eastern flavors so they really appealed to me. The only thing was, there was at least one thing that I didn’t like in each recipe, so I took from the ones I liked and made my own version.

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I hope you enjoy  this as much as my husband and I did. I served it with couscous but you could also serve it with potatoes. If you choose to serve it with potatoes you can add some cubed potatoes to the pot for the last 20 minutes and voila!

Ingredients:

2 Tbs Olive oil

2 Chicken breasts with bone-in and skin on

4 Chicken legs with bone-in, skin on

1 Yellow or Spanish onion, finely chopped

3 Garlic cloves, minced

4 Cups Chicken stock

1/2 Cup Cilantro, roughly chopped

1/2 Cup Parsley, roughly chopped

2 tsp Ginger, minced or 1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp Cumin

1/4 tsp Saffron, crushed

1 Cup Green, pitted olives, reserve the juice

2 Lemons, juiced

Salt and Pepper to taste

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Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Dry chicken pieces and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place skin side down in a single layer in pan.

Brown in batches until skin is golden and crispy, about 5 minutes then turn over and brown other side for about 3 or 4 minutes. Remove chicken and set aside.

Add onion to pan and cook until soft, stirring to mix it well with the olive oil. Once the onion is soft, add garlic and cook for another minute or two.

Add chicken back to pan. Add stock, cilantro, parsley, ginger, cumin and saffron. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer; cook uncovered for 30 minutes.

Add olives, reserved olive juice (I used about 1/2 cup) and juice from the 2 lemons. I also added one of the lemons that I juiced. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for another 30 minutes, chicken should fall off the bones.

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I like to serve it with the couscous and also roasted carrots to round out the meal. And whether you like to call it Chicken Tagine or Tagine Chicken…Enjoy!

Souper Easy Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

29 Oct

Now that soup weather is finally here I decided to make tomato soup. Growing up we always had Campbell’s and I always loved it but now that I rarely eat anything processed or pre-made I thought it was time I grew up and made my own tomato soup. I found a super easy recipe and it tasted great.

As far as what kind of tomatoes to use, you can really use any kind. I did a mixture of Roma and Compari. The recipe called for white onion, not sure I’d use that again, I think I’ll try a Spanish onion the next time I make it. Not crazy about the white onion flavor.

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Ingredients:

6 cups tomatoes, chopped

1 white onion, chopped

Salt

5 or 6 garlic cloves, peeled

2 large red peppers

Red pepper flakes, optional, to taste

2 tsp red wine vinegar

2 tsp olive oil, plus more for roasting

To do:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss tomatoes and onions in olive oil, spread evenly on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. You may need 2 baking sheets, you don’t want them too close together.

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Peel garlic and place on tin foil, drizzle with olive oil, fold tin foil and secure edges, place in oven.

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Roast everything for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping tomatoes and onions half way through.

 

After removing the tomatoes and garlic from the oven, roast the red peppers under the broiler. Turn on the broiler, place red peppers whole on baking sheet. Put under broiler on the highest rack so they are close to the flames. Roast about 2 to 3 minutes each side turning as they get charred.

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Once they are well charred, remove and place in a bowl, cover bowl tightly to allow the steam to loosen the skin. At least 5 minutes. Remove the skins, just be careful, they are hot. You can leave some of the char as it adds a nice flavor to the soup.

Once the peppers are peeled; cut, core and remove seeds.

In batches add tomatoes, onions, red peppers, vinegar and olive oil to a blender, only till the blender is half full. Blend until smooth.

 

As you blend each batch, put the blended batch in a pot over low heat, once it is all blended and in the pot you can taste and adjust the seasoning. You may need to add more salt or red wine vinegar for a little more tang.

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Serve with a loaf of rustic bread and enjoy!

 

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