Onion and Bacon Tart

January 26th, 2016

Onion and Bacon Tart 5

I dare anyone to tell me that they wouldn’t love to eat a combination of buttery flaky pastry with caramelized onions and crispy bacon.  The current contest on the FOOD52 website is to present your favorite appetizer to share with friends.  This is not my recipe.  It belongs to Cathy of the blog Bread-and-Milk.   I didn’t enter the contest, but I did decide to be a recipe tester.  I guess you can figure out why I chose the Onion and Bacon Tart to test. My middle name should be “Tart”, but not in the pejorative sense.  Whether sweet or savory, some of my favorite eats have been tarts.

Onion and Bacon Tart 1When I first read the recipe for this tart, I thought there was way too much filling for the size of the tart pan.  But after the onions were caramelized to a deep golden brown, they had melted to just the right amount.  There is a small amount of egg and cream to bind everything together so that the filling is lusciously rich.  I do need to mention the pastry also.  It has more butter in it than what I would normally use.  But the finished pastry is very sturdy.  That is just the results that work for this appetizer.  You can pick up a small slice and eat it out of hand.

Onion and Bacon Tart 3The slice shown on the plate could easily be divided into two pieces and served on a platter to be passed around.  It would be a neat two bite appetizer.  But I was not hosting a cocktail party, so David and I enjoyed this savory tart with a green salad for dinner.  I love testing other people’s recipes.  It forces me to follow a recipe as written and suspend judgement.  In this case, Cathy knew exactly what she was preparing and I was happy to follow her lead.  Go on over to Food52 to see all of the wonderful appetizer recipes.

ONION AND BACON TART

Dough

  • cups All purpose flour
  • teaspoon Salt
  • cup Unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup Ice water

Onion Filling

  • Onions, thinly sliced
  • tablespoons Butter infused olive oil
  • 1/2 pound Thick cut Bacon, diced
  • 1/2cup Heavy cream
  • Egg
  • tablespoon Thyme
  • teaspoon Rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic powder
    1. Prepare dough, combine flour salt and butter in a food processor. Pulse until small balls form then add water until dough comes together. Roll into a disk and cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate for 30 minutes.
    2. Prepare Filling, heat olive oil in a nonstick and gently sauté onions until translucent and caramelized. Next sauté bacon, until crisp. Combine onions, bacon, cream, egg and thyme rosemary and garlic powder.
    3. Pre-heat oven to 375°. Roll out dough, 1/8 inch thick and press into a 4 X 13 rectangular tart tin. Dock the dough with a fork. Spoon in the onion mixture and top with salt and pepper bake for 45 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Crock Pot White Bean and Sausage Soup

January 7th, 2016

Crock Pot White Beans 2

Guess what I got for Christmas?  Yes, I broke down and asked for a new crock pot.  I thought long and hard about it.  I own two; one in Lake Lure and one in Florida.  The one in Lake Lure died this year and the one in Florida was on its last legs.  Both were very, very old.  My hesitation came because I don’t use a crock pot all that often and I thought maybe I could do without one.  But there are times when they come in handy and this new one has some features that my old ones did not have, including a meat temperature probe and a programmable set and forget cooking mode.

Crock Pot White Beans 1

 

A warming soup sounded like the best first recipe to try in the new slow cooker.  It has been rainy and cool in Florida since the holidays, so while I dismantled the Christmas decorations I set the crock pot up to take care of our dinner.  I soaked the dried cannellini beans overnight to give them a head start.  To the pot I also added sauteed turkey kielbasa, sauteed red peppers, celery and onions with garlic and tomato paste.  The liquid ingredients were a mixture of chicken broth and water.  Near the end of cooking I added diced canned tomatoes and Tuscan kale.

Crock Pot White beans 4

Top this lovely soup with toasted bread crumbs and you will feel warm and happy.  I am happy that I have a new crock pot.

CROCK POT WHITE BEAN AND SAUSAGE SOUP (Adapted from William Sonoma)

    • 3 Tbs. olive oil
    • 2 lb. kielbasa sausages, cut into rounds
    • 1 large yellow onion, diced
    • 3 celery stalks, diced
    • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
    • 1 Tbs. tomato paste
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced
    • Red pepper flakes, to taste (optional)
    • 4 cups chicken stock
    • 2 cups water
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 fresh thyme sprig
    • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
    • 1 fresh sage sprig
    • 1  lb. dried cannellini beans, rinsed, soaked overnight and drained
    • 1 can (14 1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
    • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
    • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 1 bunch Tuscan or regular kale, washed, stemmed and chopped, about 3 cups

    Drain soaked cannellini beans and add to crock pot.  In a large skillet saute kielbasa rounds until lightly browned.  Add to crock pot.  In same skillet saute onion, celery and red bell peppers until wilted.  Add the tomato paste, garlic and pepper flakes and stir together until mixture is fragrant.  Add the mixture to the crock pot along with the chicken broth and water.  Place the bay leaf and a tied bundle of the herbs, plus the salt and pepper to the pot.  Stir to combine.

    Cook the soup on low for 8 hours.  1/2 hour before soup is done, add the drained diced tomatoes and the kale.  Stir into soup.  Return lid to crock pot and continue to cook until kale is wilted, about 1/2 hour.  In a small pan melt butter, add bread crumbs and cook until bread is golden brown.  Ladle soup into bowls and top with bread crumbs.

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Appetizers for New Year’s

December 30th, 2015

Crostini Appetizers

This will be a very quick post, but an important one.  Because we loved these Crostini Appetizers that our DIL made for Christmas, I had to share them with you.  Either one of them would be perfect for your New Year’s Eve celebration.  I plan on making the roasted beet, dill and boursin crostini for our contribution to the appetizer table when our friends’ get together this year.

We celebrate with the same group of long time friends each year.  This year we will be in Hilton Head SC.  We spend three days together eating, laughing, playing cards, shopping, golfing for the guys, and movie going for the gals. The menus vary little from the traditions that we have established. New Years Eve includes numerous appetizers, filet of beef, potato casserole and a gorgeous salad.  New Year’s Day is slow roasted pork, black-eyed peas, rice, collard greens and corn bread.

Either one of these appetizers would be a colorful addition to your appetizer tray.  The radish and butter crostini is very simple and elegant.  The beet and dill appetizer is colorful and delicious.  Happy New Year to all of you.  I look forward to starting 2016 here with all of my blogging friends.

OPEN-FACE RADISH AND BUTTER SANDWICHES

A mandoline or V-slicer makes quick work of slicing the radishes.

2 1/2 bunches radishes, trimmed

Unsalted butter, room temperature

20 1/4-inch-thick diagonal slices baguette, lightly toasted

Maldon sea salt or coarse kosher salt

Place radishes in medium bowl of ice water and chill at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours. Drain radishes and slice thinly.

Spread butter generously over baguette slices and sprinkle lightly with sea salt or coarse kosher salt. Arrange radish slices atop buttered baguette slices and serve.

ROASTED BEET, DILL AND BOURSIN CROSTINI

3 to 5 beets peeled and cut into small dice

Olive oil and garlic powder

Sourdough baguette slices, lightly toasted

Fresh dill fronds

1 50z, package Garlic and Fine Herbs Boursin Cheese Spread

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Place diced beets on small roasting pan.  Coat with olive oil and a little garlic powder.  Roast until cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes.  Cool.

Lightly toast baguette slices.

Assemble crostini;  Spread with cheese, top with dill and sprinkle with cooled diced beets

 

Autumn Crunch Pasta Salad

November 9th, 2015

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Here is another great idea for Thanksgiving.  Salads are not usually a big part of the holiday feast, but why not?  With the heavy stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole and green beans slathered in cream of mushroom soup and french onion rings, something a little lighter should be a welcomed addition.

IMG_6650

The components of this salad are all about Fall; apples, oranges, pecans, baby spinach and dried cranberries.  The pasta is just a small addition that gives the salad body.  I even amped the flavor up by making my sweet Bourbon pecans. This is a refreshing salad for the holidays.  The citrus dressing is light and delightful.

I saw this recipe on Facebook.  It was posted by my DIL’s Mom, Darla.  Since we will all be together for Thanksgiving I think this would be a great dish for our shared table.  Thanksgiving will be at Michael (Our Son) and Kristen’s (Our DIL) home.  They just moved into a new and bigger home that will accommodate all of the family.  We are looking forward to it.  The original recipe, and a much better picture can be found here.

 

Florence skyscape

A few more pictures of Italy.  We spent four days in Tuscany with a much too short trip into Florence.  But there is so much to do in the region that we were happy with our short trip into this historic city on the Arno River.

DAY 12 - San gimignagno 071

We stopped in San Gimignano, the epitome of a Tuscan hill town.  It still has 14 medieval towers standing out of the original 72.  Family towers were important in the 13th century.  The feuding noble families ran the hill towns and expressed their power by how tall their towers were.  Not much has changed over the years has it?  Although we enjoyed visiting the town, it was a tourist trap.

DAY 12 - San gimignagno 030

Our intrepid tour guide groveled to a new low to please us with a good picture. (although the picture is a little crooked). Notice all of the people eating Gelato around us!

Laurent oh my

But Laurent got his shot of us.  It was just one of many of his professional studies.  We were lucky to have this dear friend as our guide through Italy.  Thank you Laurent and Carole for starting your touring company and allowing us to be your test guests.  You are the best.  If you are interested in traveling in France or Italy by motorcycle or scotters, they will treat you so well. Here is the link.  Ride in Tours is the real thing.

 

AUTUMN CRUNCH PASTA SALAD

  • 5 ounces fresh spinach (half a 10 ounce bag)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups dry small pasta
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 can (15 ounces) mandarin oranges
  • 1 large Granny Smith Apple
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • Optional: Feta cheese
Dressing
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2-4 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon each: paprika, onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon poppyseeds
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Cook the pasta according to package directions.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, prepare the dressing. In a food processor or blender combine the oil (the vegetable oil yields a richer and in my opinion better taste, but the olive oil is healthier and still tastes great), apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, sugar, (adjust — more or less to personal preference, we like a less sweet dressing and use about 2 tablespoons) paprika, and onion powder. Pulse or blend for about 10 seconds. Stir in the poppy seeds.
  3. Drain the pasta once it’s cooked through and immediately toss a few tablespoons of the dressing with the pasta. This helps the pasta soak in the dressing and the flavor.
  4. Chill the dressed pasta in the fridge.
  5. Meanwhile, combine the (washed and de-stemmed) spinach with the chopped celery in a large bowl. Add in the cranberries and a can of drained mandarine oranges.
  6. If desired peel the apple (We like to leave on the peel!) and then slice into thin slices. Toss with lemon juice and then add to the salad.
  7. Pour dressing over the salad and toss. Add in the completely cooled pasta and toss with the rest of the salad.
  8. If you want to toast the pecans, place them in a single layer in a dry saucepan (don’t add anything) over medium heat. Stir constantly until the nuts are barely fragrant — just a couple of minutes. Watch carefully as the nuts are VERY easily scorched/burned.
  9. Alternatively, you can candy the pecans if desired. Check the link in the last paragraph of the blog text for how to candy pecans.
  10. Top the salad with the pecans and feta cheese.
  11. Enjoy immediately.
NOTES
This salad (like most) aren’t very great leftover. If you aren’t eating this immediately, keep the ingredients separate from the dressing and only toss with the dressing right before eating. Top with pecans and feta after dressing the salad.

 

 

Honey-Pumpkin Cornbread and Warming Soup

November 3rd, 2015

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Taking a break from detailing our Italy trip, I wanted to share with you a tasty combination that I made on a recent cold and blustery day.  With thoughts of Thanksgiving in my mind, the idea of a cornbread with the addition of pumpkin sounded like a good combination. As it turned out, it was a good idea; moist, golden and lightly sweetened with honey.  The soup that I made with it came from one of my favorite blogs, Manger.  It is a combination of French lentils, farro and lots of vegetables.

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The feeling I am trying to express in this post is that of warmth and comfort.  The food is the starting point, of course.  But I would like to give you a few more visuals to explain how I am feeling. Perhaps, because I am still dealing with the aftermath of surgery, I need to concentrate on what makes me happy and secure.

Tuscan Villa 1

This Tuscan kitchen made me happy.  There were logs in the fireplace ready for an evening fire on a cool night. ( Wide angle lens tends to make people appear wider).  The gas stove was a dream to cook on and I could have spent an entire vacation in this charming villa.  I wanted to forego the motorcycle touring and just hang out here.

Tuscan Villa 2 View

This was the view from the window.  The church bell rang on the hour all day and all night.  Who needs a watch?

Dream room

This picture is small.  I saw it on Pinterest.  Although it is not necessarily my style these days, it is just like the house that I have seen in my dreams.  I don’t know about you, but I dream about houses.  In my dreams I always have this other house that I have neglected, but that I am very proud of.  I encourage my dream guests to make themselves at home, even though it is cluttered and dusty.  And I wonder to myself in my dream why I do not live there.  It is cozy and comfortable but a little bizarre.  This room lacks that bizarre element, but it is close to my vision.

I am on the mend.  Stitches taken out today.  Life is returning to normal and I am back in the kitchen.  If you are in the mood for some comfort food you will love this cornbread and Mimi’s Soup.

HONEY-PUMPKIN CORNBREAD

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly butter a 9-inch square-baking pan.
  2. Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs, butter, honey, buttermilk and orange zest in a separate bowl. Stir the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture until moistened; transfer to the prepared baking pan.
  3. Bake until the cornbread pulls away from the sides of the pans and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-22 minutes. Cool in the pan 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and cook on a wire rack at least 10 minutes before cutting.

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.