Tarte au Tomates

My lovely neighbors have this incredible garden (*jealous*) and they have been sharing plenty of it! With the gorgeous tomatoes they brought over this week, I made one of John’s favorites – a tomato tart. It’s simple and flavorful. I even got to share some with my neighbors who asked for the recipe…so I thought I should share.

You can use any kind of hard salty cheese, typically I’ll use pecorino, Parmesan, gruyere..comte..I could go on.

Tomato tart (Tarte au tomates) – 4 main course servings/ 16 appetizersIMG_0558
1 sheet of packaged puff pastry
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup finely grated hard/salty cheese
4 sprigs of thyme
3-4 tomatoes, different varieties, thinly sliced
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional: greens and red onion salad

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Lightly salt tomato slices and allow to sit while preparing pastry, they’ll release quite a bit of water.

Roll out your puff pastry on a floured surface to a 10in X 13in rectangle. Place on prepared baking sheet. Spread with mustard, leaving a 1.5cm border. Scatter with cheese, thyme leaves from 3 sprigs (discard stems), then layer the tomato slices on top, slightly overlapping – season to taste with freshly ground pepper. Fold in pastry edges to form a border, lay fourth sprig of thyme on the center and drizzle tomatoes lightly with olive oil. Increase temperature to 425 degrees F and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven, use leaves from garnish thyme to sprinkle over tart, discard the stem.

Optional:
A typical way to serve is to dress lettuce leaves and red onion or shallot with a light dressing: champagne vinegar (1 teaspoon) + olive oil (2 teaspoons)

Serve hot or at room temperature, slice tart into 4 or 16, garnish each slice with a few lightly dressed greens and onions.

Bon appetit! Happy cooking!

Pork Belly Gyros

Now that we’ve finally moved, and things are settling – I’m back in the kitchen. I made these gyros for our first dinner party, along with a mezza platter, Greek salad, roasted herb potatoes, and way too much other food.

It’s an easy-ish recipe, count about 1 lb of pork belly per 2 people. I also suggest setting a bowl of extra tzatziki on the table, it seemed my guest preferred to drizzle more sauce on the gyros.

Pork Belly Gyros – 8 servings
4 lbs boneless, skinless pork belly
4 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons dried marjoram
1 tablesoon oregano
2 tablespoons dried thyme
1 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoons za’atar
4 shallots, sliced 1⁄4″ thick
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sumac
Shredded romaine lettuce
2-3 tomatoes, cored and sliced
4 9″ pocket pitas, halved
Tzatziki

Heat oven to 275 degrees F.

Place pork belly on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Combine the following in a bowl garlic powder, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, black pepper, cumin, and za’atar. Rub dry spice mixture on pork belly. Roast for 40 minutes.

Increase the temperature to 375 degrees F; roast 40 minutes more. Let cool; slice into 1⁄2″ strips. Heat an 8″ cast-iron skillet over high heat, sear individual slices to crisp the fat.

To assemble the gyro, stuff pita with pork belly, cucumber, tomato and romaine – drizzle with tzatziki and serve.

Happy Cooking! Bon appetit!

I apologize for the lack of photo – our friends decided to assemble their own gyros, and I wasn’t fast enough with my camera. I’ll be sure to add a photo at a later time, when I make these again!

Nutella & Halva Babka

Have you tried Halva? In Mediterranean culture, it’s served after dinner as a sweet and nutty treat! It’s made from sesame paste and pistachios. It pairs really well with Nutella, and so I thought how fun could this combination be in a babka. I served this sliced, with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on the side..it was delightful.

You may notice I’m using disposable bread pans…almost all my baking goods were packed – and John refused to dig for them. They worked out well though, and no clean up.

Nutella & Halve Babka – 2 1 lb loaves
For the dough:
1 cup water, warmed to 115°
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon
4 1/2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 eggs, lightly beaten
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cubed and softened, plus more for greasing
For the filling + syrup:
2/3 cup Nutella
2 cups crumbled pistachio halvah
1/3 cup water
6 tablespoons granulated sugar

Combine water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon sugar in a large measuring cup, let sit about 10 minutes. Add the flour and salt to the bowl in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook; set aside. Add 1/2 cup sugar and eggs to yeast mixture and whisk to combine. Turn the stand mixer onto a low speed, and slowly pour in the yeast-egg mixture. Increase the speed to medium, adding butter, 2 pieces at a time, until a smooth dough forms. Place in a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Grease two 9″ x 5″ loaf pans; set aside. Divide dough into 2 balls; working with 1 ball of dough at a time and on a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12″ x 10″ rectangle, about 1⁄8″ thick. Use an offset spatula to spread half the Nutella on the dough, leaving a 3⁄4-inch border all around. Sprinkle half of the halvah over the top.

Starting at one of the short ends, roll dough up tightly; slice dough in half lengthwise using a serrated knife (gently saw), leaving 1⁄2″ of dough connected at the top. Twist the strands together and pinch at the end to seal.

Carefully place the dough in prepared pan; repeat with remaining dough and filling. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm area until doubled in size, 45 minutes more. Repeat the process to make the second loaf.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake babkas on the middle rack of the oven, rotating halfway through, until golden and cooked through, 45-60 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

While the cakes are in the oven, make the syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan, place over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar dissolves, then remove the pan from the heat. As soon as the cakes come out of the oven, brush them liberally with the syrup.

Let the loaves cool for about 30 minutes, then remove them from the pans to cool completely to cool on a wire rack.

Happy Cooking! Bon Appetit!

Osso Buco Pies

Happy Christmas!

This year I went with something a little different for Christmas Eve dinner, it would certainly be delightful on any cool night, but we thought it was something special. If you don’t have a New Year menu planned, and expect guests this would be the perfect dish – not only can you make it earlier in the day, plate it, and refrigerate so you just need to pop it in the oven for 30 minutes – you can make it 2 weeks ahead and freeze it.

My butcher didn’t have spare bones to make veal stock, so I cheated! And boy am I glad for it – Knorr makes an excellent veal bouillon that worked in a pinch, if anything the flavor was more intense which is perfect for this dish.

Osso Buco Pies – 4 servings
Filling:
4 thick veal shanks, tied with kitchen string to keep meat attached to the bone
2 tablespoons olive oil Plain flour, for dusting
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups dry white wine (Chardonnay)
4 cups veal stock
10 ounces white button mushrooms, thickly sliced
4 shallots, thinly sliced
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 thyme sprigs
Pie Pastry:
12 ounces flour
3 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
8 ounces unsalted butter (2 sticks), diced
1/3 cup iced water

For the osso buco filling, preheat oven to 285 degrees F. Season the shanks to taste, lightly dust with flour and shake off the excess. Heat the oil in a wide/deep saute pan over medium-high heat, add shanks to pan and brown well all over (about 6-8 minutes), then set aside. Deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up the little bits, then add the stock, mushrooms, shallots, garlic and thyme. Return the osso buco to the saute pan, season to taste, cover and braise in the oven, turning meat halfway through cooking, until the meat is fork tender, about 3-3 1/2 hours. Cool osso buco in the braising liquid, skim off fat that rises to top and discard thyme.

For buttery pastry dough, pulse flour, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a food processor to combine. Add butter and pulse just until butter forms pea-sized pieces , then continue to pulse while adding iced water until clumps of dough form, adding more water 1 tbsp at a time if necessary. Transfer to a work surface, bring dough together and divide into 4 equal pieces and shape into discs. Wrap individually in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to rest. Dough will keep refrigerated for a day, or frozen for a month.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Divide the braising liquid and mushrooms among 4 deep, baking dishes (about 2.5 inches deep, by 5 inches wide). Remove string from shanks and place a shank in each dish.

Roll out each dough disc to a 6.5 inch round on a floured work surface and cut a hole in the centre (I used the end of my pastry tips). Lightly brush rims of dishes with eggwash, place a pastry round over each, with hole in dough over bone. Press pastry edges to seal and brush tops with eggwash. Place on a baking tray and bake until pastry is deep golden and filling is bubbling (30-35 minutes). Cool pies briefly on a wire rack, then serve.

Happy Cooking! Bon Appetit!

Duke’s Mayonnaise: Pimento Bow Ties

I recently entered my recipe for Pimento Bow Ties in the Duke’s 100th Anniversary Contest – I was a runner up to the winner who submitted Alabama White BBQ Sauce – I’m in no way sad about this! Since my recipe was a runner-up, it’s still mine, and I thought, finally, I could definitely go ahead and share my recipe you with y’all!

Pimento Bow Tie Crisps – 4 dozen
2 1/4 cups White Lily all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon diced pimentos, drained, patted dry
8 ounces Duke’s mayonnaise
1 cup grated aged white Cheddar cheese, packed
1/2 cup grated orange Cheddar cheese, packed
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 tablespoons ice water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and cayenne pepper. Add the mayonnaise and pimentos, pulse until coarse in texture.

Place the flour mixture in a large bowl, add cheeses and mix until combined. Drizzle in the water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Test dough by squeezing between fingertips, it should stick together.

Lightly flour work surface and gather the dough on it, press into a rectangle. Fold into thirds, 2 times. Wrap tightly in cling wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside.

Remove the dough from the fridge and let it rest at room temp for 10 minutes. Cut the dough in half and return the unused half to the fridge to repeat the process later.

Lightly flour work surface and roll the dough into a rectangle 12 to 14 inches long horizontally. The dough should be about an 1/8 inch thick. Cut horizontal strips to 1 1/4 inches wide, then cut the d
ough in vertical segments to form strips that are 2 inches wide.

Place 2 inch strips on the prepared baking sheet, to create a bow tie, give each rectangle a twist.

Bake for 15-18 minutes minutes or until light brown. Allow to cool on baking sheet.

Serve or store in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.

Happy Cooking! Bon Appetit!contest

Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole

WAIT! I know what you are thinking – Amanda, a casserole? I can assure this is not one your mother would have whipped up, it doesn’t involve processed “cheese-like” product. We were wanting comfort food, so I created a roux, and with the help of heavy whipping cream and shredded cheese…I made my own cheesy sauce.

Cheesy Broccoli Rice Casserole – 6 servings
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
1 package (16 ounces) frozen broccoli florets
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces Kraft Triple Cheddar Cheese finely shredded (you can use whatever blend you like, this is our preference)img_0081-2
1/3 cup reduced fat milk
1 can Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
1 1/2 cups cooked long grain white rice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large saute pan over medium heat, add the onion and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in the broccoli, cook until lightly browned.

To make the cheese sauce melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan, whisk in the flour. Cook for about 1 minute, while continually whisking, add the cream in a steady stream. Whisk in the shredded cheese, until completely melted.

Add cheese sauce, milk, condensed soup, and rice to saute pan, combine – turn off the heat.

Pour mixture into 2-quart shallow baking dish, and bake for 30 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Let dish rest for 5 minutes, and serve.

Happy Cooking! Bon Appetit!

Pork Chops with Roasted Pears and Shallots

It’s FALL y’all! My favorite season is upon us – and it’s finally “cool” (it’s 80 F today) enough to get in the kitchen.  I decided to kick things off right, with roasted pears, shallots, thick-cut pork chops and a pan sauce.

Also, a little update on me: Things have been hectic since my last post, we’ve decided to sell our home – so I don’t get the chance to get in my lovely kitchen and cook as often as I’d like during this process, which means less posts. I assure you once this miserable process is over…I’ll be back in the kitchen.

Pork Chops with Roasted Pears and Shallots – 2 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minceddscn5972
3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed
2 bone-in pork chops
3 shallots, peeled and quartered
2 Bosc or Anjou pears, quartered and cored
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon flour
1/2 cup pear juice
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Mix oil, garlic, and chopped thyme in a roasting pan. Add pork, shallots, pears, and toss to coat in mixture. Remove pears. Place roasting pan over medium heat, and brown pork on all sides, turning, about 4 minutes, remove from heat.  Roast pork until thermometer inserted into center registers 145 degrees F, about 15 minutes. Place pork, shallots and pears on serving dish – cover with foil to rest.

Meanwhile melt butter in roasting pan, over medium heat, whisk in flour. Add broth, pear juice mixture to the roasting pan and boil until sauce thickens, scraping up browned bits, about 7 minutes.

Divide pork among 2 plates, garnish with shallots, pears and sauce.

Happy Cooking! Bon Appetit!