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Posts from the ‘Appetizers’ Category

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


These are simply too easy not to make. I know you carved a pumpkin…so either you tossed those potential crunchy salty delights called pumpkin seeds or they’re in your oven right this minute.

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Roasted Corn Cakes with Tomato Avocado Salsa


I know that it is now, technically, October…however, Los Angeles is not behaving that way and therefore I feel completely justified cooking like it is still seriously summer…as in triple digits!  Also…I wasn’t joking when I said we have been on a serious corn and tomato kick – and this recipe uses both!

I first stumbled on this recipe through Pinterest (you can follow @lizfisch) and then I happened to have everything in the house to whip up a batch.  The best part is that the source of the pin is easy to find.  Thanks to EzraPoundCake for posting the recipe, which actually comes from “Sara Foster’s Southern Kitchen“.  I made a few changes to the recipe from EzraPoundCake, including roasting the corn before shucking and not adding any jalapeno peppers (didn’t have any on hand…and as previously discussed…I can’t take the heat!) to the tomato salsa.

Corn Cakes

3 ears of corn, shucked and roasted
1 cup flour
½ cup cornmeal
¼ cup diced red onion
¼ cup thinly sliced basil
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp. well-shaken buttermilk
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Canola oil for frying
Chopped Tomato & Avocado Salsa (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a brown paper bag or paper towels.
Cut the corn from the cobs into a large bowl, and scrape the stripped cobs with the back of the knife (or a spoon) to release the juices into the bowl.

I find the easiest way to do this is to set a small bowl upside down in a larger bowl and use the smaller bowl as the base for the cob.  The kernels tend to fly all over the place as you are cutting them off and you can maximize the stability of the cob while also catching the majority of the kernels.

Place 2 cups of the corn kernels into a food processor, and pulse several times, until the corn is slightly puréed but still chunky.

Scrape into the bowl with the remaining corn kernels.  Add flour, cornmeal, onion, basil, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper to the corn. Stir to mix.

Add the eggs, buttermilk and butter, and stir just to combine. (Do not overmix.)


Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add just enough canola oil to barely cover the bottom, and heat until sizzling hot.

One heaping tablespoon at a time, scoop the batter into the skillet. Cooking in batches of 4 to 5 to avoid overcrowding, fry the cakes 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown.


Drain on the lined baking sheet, and place in the oven to keep warm while cooking the remaining corn cakes. Serve warm topped with a heap of Chopped Tomato and Avocado Salsa.

Chopped Tomato and Avocado Salsa

Makes about 2 cups

1-2 pints of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 scallion, minced and trimmed
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced
juice of ½ lime
1½ tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1½ tsp. white wine vinegar
kosher or sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and cubed

Place all of the ingredients (except the avocado) in a bowl, and stir to mix. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve, for up to 2 days.

Just before serving, add the avocado, and mix gently.

Once you’ve got everything ready to go, stack two corn cakes on a plate and top with salsa, garnish with more of the freshly chopped herbs, sliced scallions or minced red onion…any or all of them will do.

Anyone still hanging onto summer favorites out there?  Anyone…?  Bueller…?

Okay, I’ll make a promise…I’ll move on to fall dishes, as soon as the LA cools off a bit…I’m not asking for much…let’s say, highs in the 70′s?  Until then, I consider it summer!

Deal!

 

 

Stuffed Squash Blossoms with Shaved Baby Zucchini & Toasted Pepitas


When someone utters the words “…this is the best thing we’ve made…ever!”  ’nuff said.

Squash blossoms are available for only a short period of time in the summer and are the epitome of ‘seasonal’.  They are typically picked in the morning and brought to the farmer’s market that day and are best used within a couple of hours.  This dish is perfectly simple and refreshingly light without being short on flavor.

I spotted the original recipe on epicurious as we were walking through the farmer’s market trying to solidify our dinner plans.  Our modified recipe is shown below.

Besides squash blossoms, in looking for shallots, we stumbled upon green shallots, which I don’t believe I’ve used before.  I am positive the dish would have been delightful with regular, good ‘ole shallots…but I believe the green shallots made it just a touch more special!

Let’s talk tomatoes!  Tomatoes in the summer are serious business.  It is not summer without tomatoes that need nothing other than to be plucked from the vine and tossed in one’s mouth and with a tiny squeeze of the jaw burst forth with flavor and juice.  These miniature (sometimes referred to as Sweet 100′s) citrusy orange delights would have been so offended had we tried to cook them…they would have sprouted legs and walked right out of the kitchen (original recipe called for roasting the tomatoes).

I am often made fun of for appreciating things that come in small proportions (read: I love anything that is small or comes in a miniature size).  Prime examples of such behavior: I refuse to use anything other than the mini-taster spoons when eating ice cream from a shop; we shouldn’t even talk about the number of small bowls that crowd my cupboards; and I am addicted to small notepads and mini-books and have recently discovered some half-size mechanical pencils; so my love for baby vegetables should not surprise anyone!

How can you resist these little guys!?!

Make sure to roast the pepitas, the nuttiness and the crunch are very important for the final dish!

For squash blossoms

2 teaspoons olive oil
1-2 oz mild fresh goat cheese (6 tablespoons) at room temperature
1 tablespoon heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted until they puff
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
6 male squash blossoms with stems (not with baby zucchini), stems trimmed to 1 inch

Filling:

Stir together goat cheese, cream, pumpkin seeds, basil, salt, and pepper in a bowl and set aside.

Pipe filling into each blossom and twist ends of petals gently to close.  We used a ziplock bag and cut off the tip to pipe the filling into the squash blossoms.  Chill them covered, until ready to fry.

*We realized that we should have made the mixture immediately upon returning from the farmer’s market and filled the blossoms as soon as possible as the flowers were open when we bought them and closed up tighter and tighter as the day went on making it more difficult to fill them later on without ripping the delicate petals.

For vinaigrette and shaved squash

1 tablespoon rice vinegar (not seasoned)
1 tablespoon minced green shallots
2 tablespoons mild extra-virgin olive oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3-4 baby zucchini, rinsed and stems discarded

Purée vinegar, shallot, oil, pepper, and salt in a blender until smooth and emulsified.

Slice squash paper-thin (lengthwise) using a mandoline, then overlap squash slices decoratively on 2 plates.  Do this shortly before frying the blossoms and plating the dish, otherwise the slices will dry out.

For tempura batter and frying

6 cups vegetable oil (preferably canola or grapeseed)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup chilled sparkling water

Make tempura batter and fry blossoms:
Heat 2 inches of oil in a 3-quart saucepan to 350°F on thermometer.

Set a bowl in a larger bowl of ice and cold water, then whisk together flour and salt in smaller bowl. Then whisk in sparkling water until combined well.

Working in batches of 2 or 3, coat blossoms in batter, lifting each out by its stem and letting excess drip off, then fry, turning, until batter is crisp (it will not brown), 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Transfer blossoms as fried with a slotted spoon to paper towels, drain, then season with salt.

For topping

2 tablespoons green (hulled) pumpkin seeds, toasted until they puff
Handful of small basil leaves (preferably Thai) or sliced larger leaves
1 cup small cherry tomatoes (sweeter the better), halved lengthwise or served whole 

Assemble plates:

Drizzle vinaigrette over squash slices, then arrange 3 fried blossoms in middle of each plate. Sprinkle remaining oven-dried tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, and basil around blossoms and season with salt and pepper.

Serve immediately and enjoy with a glass of white wine – we went with a 2008 Russian River Chardonnay.

The crisp raw zucchini where perfect paired with the crunch of the tempura and the richness of the goat cheese…add in the juicy tomatoes and the acid from the vinaigrette…and it was perfection!  Seriously…perfection!

We are dying to make this again…but just might have to wait until squash blossoms are back in season next summer!

What are your favorite completely seasonal dishes for summer?

 

2011 Meals in Review | part two


as promised…

2011 Meals in Review | part two

July

Gorgonzola Chicken Pasta Salad (a la D’Amico & Sons)

German Potato Salad

Summer Tomato Caprese Stacks

Bastille Day & a Little Liberté with Scallion and Chive Smoked Salmon Spread

 

August

Sour Cream Verde Enchiladas

 

September

Heirloom Tomatoes Bread Salad with Burratta

Zucchini, Summer Squash and Brown Rice Casserole

 

October

Tomato and Gruyere Tart

served with a little salad

Fresh Linguine with Mizithra Cheese and Lightly Dressed Arugula

Traditional Beef Empanadas (made mini!)

A little sampling of delicious items…cheese, olives, toasts, etc.

Niçoise Salad

 

November

Pumpkin Pecan Biscotti

Brioche French Toast

No-Knead Bread

Gougeres

Red Tea, Beef & Sweet Potato Stew

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

Excuse the phone photo…but that’s what’s left of a scrumptious braised rabbit with pappardelle from this place.

Chestnut Pancetta Stuffing for Thanksgiving

My Thanksgiving plate…and no I didn’t overdo it!

Couldn’t be complete without a slice of pecan pie!

The morning after was no let-down with Pheasant and Waffles topped with a Fried Egg and Mushroom Thyme Gravy!!!

 

December

A weekend trip up north found us eating at the Culinary Institute of America’s restaurant in St. Helena.  The Tasting included 5 delectable bites to whet our appetites.

The polenta sitting under the magnificently cooked piece of beef was quite possibly the best thing on the table.

Duck Confit with a Poached Egg and Frisee

Krumkake Christmas Cookies

Christmas Eve bites including Cremenelli Salami – a little hometown pride!

Christmas Dinner – Tenderloin of Beef, Creamy Dill Carrots and Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

Turkey Tetrazzini

The BEST use of leftover beef ever…sliced beef tenderloin topped with a cold Bernaise sauce

And last but not least, Short Ribs Italiano served over Pappardelle!

 

We’re making some artichoke dip and about to head over to friends to ring in the new year!  Tonight is for looking back and tomorrow, we start fresh.

A Whole New Year!

Happy New Year!

2011 Meals in Review | part one


As I’m a bit behind these days, I noticed while perusing my photos from the past year in search of a couple photos for a new year’s card to send out, how many delicious moments we had in 2011.  What follows is not only what we made, but what we enjoyed! 

The delicious moments of 2011…


January

Rosemary Sea Salt Dinner Rolls (recipe credit: Pioneer Woman)

Creamy Pheasant and Wild Rice Soup

Orechiette with Pheasant, Bacon and Spinach

Butternut Squash, Shallot and Goat Cheese Pizza

Pot Roast…good the first time, better the second…

Cumin-scented Butternut Squash with Onions and Wild Rice

Pot Roast Ravioli

Homemade Fettuccini

Boboli’s done right…!  (yes, you are correct…that is an egg cracked on top peeking out from underneath the arugula and parm!

 

February

yummm…pancakes

Delicate Scrambled Eggs with Truffle Salt

A Birthday dinner at Bouchon

Cod Brandade with Tomato Confit and Fried Sage Leaves

Frisée aux Lardons et Oeuf Poché

Croque Madame

Back at home…Cheese Soufflé

Lump Crab Cakes

Valentine’s Day Cheese Fondue

Tempura and Cold Soba Noodles

Baby Artichoke Gratin (recipe credit: latimes.com)

 

March

Fancied-Up Burgers

Seared Scallops with Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Welsh Rarebit

 

April

April brought with it a trip to Vienna for Woody’s work…

Käsekrainer – near perfect street food

Beef Tartare with all the appropriate accoutrements

Veal Medallions

Finally in the homeland…a full plate of spätzle just for me!

A celebratory meal at Meinl am Graben began with a Veal Carpaccio for Woody

Tortellini with Consommé and Crisped Prosciutto

Honestly…I can hardly remember what exactly this course entailed…but I DO remember that it  was incredibly amazing!

The third course of our prix fixe…again…perfection!

Although I can’t say the name of the place…the fare was delicious

A trip to Vienna without Viennese coffee would be a crime!

Back at home…Pacific Spiny Lobster with Fava Beans and Meyer Lemon

Grilled Cheese Invitational…who says no to that…?

Burrata with Cherry Tomatoes…there were plenty more sandwiches and a lot more cheese, but most disappeared before I could get a shot!

And of course, an annual batch of Deviled Eggs for Easter!

 

May

Fried Chicken Salad with Goat Cheese

Onion & Bacon Tart

Minted English Pea & Lemony Feta Crostini

Another birthday was cause for a trip to the Los Olivos region, some wine tasting and of course a meal or two…

Bistro Burger

Spring Vegetable Pot Roast

Ebelskivers

Savory Lentil Salad

House guests meant a trip to the Original LA Farmer’s Market and an Oyster Po’ Boy

June

Chicken Garlic Sausage & Swiss Chard Flatbread

Potato Salad – Two Ways

Poppyseed Cake with Strawberries and Mascarpone Frosting

Part two coming soon…

Bastille Day & a Little Liberté


Que faites-vous La Fête National? 

Although we were a day late in celebrations…we imbibed with France in mind.  Enter the Lillet-based Liberté cocktailWe’ve been inspired to purchase some eccentric liquors lately (and by we…I mean, the husband!) and have been mixing many a summer cocktail.  Bastille Day or the day the French stormed the Bastille prison and sparked the French Revolution seemed reason enough to celebrate! Recipe courtesy of The Kitchn.

Lillet is an aperitif wine containing 85% Bordeaux wines and 15% macerated liquors.  It is also considered a tonic wine as it does contain quinine from one of the liquors included in the blend.  It has strong citrus  and floral notes!

Liberté Cocktail (by Nicole Cloutier and Jacqueline Patterson for Lillet, used with permission)
makes one cocktail

3 ounces Lillet Blanc
1 ounce Hendrick’s gin
2 dashes Fee Brothers orange bitters (we used Urban Moonshine’s Organic Citrus Bitters)
garnish: orange peel

Stir ingredients together with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a thin slice of orange peel, twisted over the drink to release its essential oils.  (No oranges on hand, but thank goodness we have a Meyer lemon tree…the peel worked perfectly!)

We served our early summer evening cocktails with smoked salmon and caper spread from our favorite South Pas restaurant and market.

C’est Parfait!

Savory Lentil Salad (with a side of dinner on the patio)


Don’t you wish that more dinners looked like this?  I certainly do!  And summer is the perfect time to institute the no-cook, bits-and-pieces, smorgasbord-dinner-on-the-patio, evening!

The heart of the meal is the Lentil Salad (recipe to follow).  Every time I have lentils I end up asking myself why I don’t eat them more often?

Moving on…starting at the top in the center are some Lucques olives – they are a bright fresh tasting and meaty olive from France that needs nothing more than to be popped in your mouth and savored as-is.  Almost out of the picture, we have Brillat-Savarin cheese which can only be described as the most wonderful thing I’ve put in my mouth – creamy, dense and buttery and sweet as all get-out!  Next some crusty bread, sliced nectarines, lentil salad, Bellweather Carmody – a semi-firm young Jersey cow’s milk cheese from Sonoma County, salty-date and almond raincoast crisps (my favorite new cracker), sheep’s milk Brebiou cheese from France, and last but not least some dry-cured Chianti salami!  This is probably enough for at least 4 people…but Woody and I managed to polish it off just fine!  Onto the lentil salad…

Savory Lentil Salad (recipe courtesy…my Dad)

Lentils
2 cups water
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp. salt
1 bouquet garni
1 medium carrot
celery leaves
1 small onion
6 cloves
1 cup lentils

Dressing
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp. olive oil (or walnut oil)
½ tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper to taste

Garnish
2 scallions, sliced
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup chopped parsley
6-8 sun-dried tomatoes

Start off by measuring your lentils and then putting them in a strainer or colander to rinse them under cold water.  This is an important step because a) it helps rinse off any remaining dirt from the packaging plant and b) sometimes small rocks or stones make it into the bag of lentils…they look very similar…and no one likes to bite down on a small rock!

Stud the onion with the cloves.  Combine all ingredients except the lentils in a pan and bring to a boil.  Add the rinsed lentils and return to boil for 5 minutes.  Cover, reduce heat and cook for 10-15 minutes until lentils are cooked but still crisp.  Drain, remove the vegetables from the cooking liquid.  I cut the carrot up to add a little color to the finished salad…but otherwise, they can just be discarded.

Blend the dressing ingredients – the walnut oil is preferable as it enhances the nutty flavor of the lentils, but olive oil will work just fine – and then pour the dressing over the warm lentils.  We love this recipe and have made it word for word many a time…but we changed it up a bit.  First I kept one of the carrots from the cooking liquid and cut it into a small dice and added it back to the lentils.  We didn’t have any sun-dried tomatoes on hand, so we skipped them entirely…and Woody is not a fan of the walnuts, so we left those out as well.  We added in the scallions and a bunch of parsley.

It’s important to pour the dressing over the lentils while they are still warm, and then you’ll want to let the whole thing sit for a bit, in the fridge or on the counter to let all of the flavors come together.  Before serving, make sure you taste it again, most likely you’ll need a little bit more vinegar…they’ll soak it up and mellow out.  It’s great as a light salad served over a few greens or a slice or two of some crusty bread and sliced tomatoes.

I’m working on having more cold salads to bring for lunch at work – do you have any favorites that work well for you?  Are you a bring-your-lunch-from-home or a run-out-and-get-a-quick-bite person?

Happy 4th!  Enjoy the weekend…it’s a hot one!

Minted English Pea & Lemony Feta Crostini


I love me some summer, and all the light fresh summer dishes that appear at potlucks and barbecues this time of year.  However, I have a confession.  I have a love-hate relationship with peas.  Mushy green things were a common side on my plate growing up and I remember many a night when I sat at the table long after everyone else had finished…and all I had to do was eat 3 more bites of peas.  Gross!  Then I grew up (a little) and met fresh english peas…treated with the respect that such a pretty and perfectly petite vegetable deserved.  I loved them.  I convinced myself that they were two entirely different things that shared no common traits.  I’m still wary of pea dishes and always approach them with suspicion.  This little dish is shockingly simple but more than the sum of its parts.

Minted English Pea & Lemony Feta Crostini

Ingredients:

English peas, shelled
Feta (about 8 oz.)
1-2 tbsp.’s of ½ & ½ or milk
Fresh mint
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Baguette or crostini toasts
Sea salt for finishing

Start by blanching the peas in heavily salted boiling water for no more than 2-3 minutes.  Before you toss the peas into the pot, prepare a bowl of ice water and place it in the sink.  When the time is up, remove the peas and pour into a colander and then immediately submerge them in the bowl of ice water.  This will shock those little peas and keep them from overcooking and it sets the bright, fresh green color.  Once they have completely cooled, go ahead and drain the peas.

Next, get the feta, drain it and place it in a medium size mixing bowl.  I used half of a 16 oz. package.  Using a fork, mush up the feta and slowly add the ½ & ½ or milk.  Mix it up until it is a nice consistency for spreading on toasts, err on the side of keeping it a little thicker than you think.  First zest the lemon and then slice in half and squeeze all the juice out into a bowl or measuring cup.  Add in a tbsp. of lemon juice, a tsp. of the lemon zest, a sprinkling of salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.  This is a taste-as-you-go-recipe…so keep tasting and adding ingredients as needed.  You want a creamy spreadable feta with a floral lemon notes from the zest and a bit of zing from the juice.  The black pepper can be a prominent flavor as well.

Let the spread chill in the fridge for a bit.  Now grab the cooled peas and throw them in a bowl.  Take 5-10 mint leaves and stack them on top of one another, starting on the long side, roll them up like they are a yoga mat and then slice them very thinly.  Poof!  Chiffonade!  Sprinkle the mint into the peas, add some salt and maybe just a touch of lemon juice.  We brought these over to a barbecue…so I packaged everything separately and built the crostini on location…no one likes a soggy crostini.  Oh…did I mention the crostini/toasts…yeah, make them.  (Slice baguette thinly, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt, lay in a single layer on a cookie sheet and then put in a 375º oven for 4-6 minutes – watch them carefully…you want them to dry out a bit and get just barely toasty, remove from oven, flip them over, repeat the drizzling and sprinkling and toss them back in the oven for another few minutes…maybe only 3 – cool completely and store in airtight bags.  Voilá…Crostini!)

Time to assemble the toasts:  spread on lovely layer of feta, place the peas over the top, add a little lemon zest, a little mint and finish with some flaky sea salt.

The other parts of this barbecue are SO worth mentioning…we grilled some white salmon that marinated in 3 mustards, tarragon, olive oil and a little vinegar. we’ve been lucky enough to cook some white king salmon once before!

It’s hard to make asparagus better than when it is lightly oiled and thrown on the grill!

This is Juno, the sweetest Doberman we’ve ever met…she makes our Cleo dog look like a miniature breed.  They are good friends and neither one of them minded when they got to nibble on a little of the cooked salmon skin!

We used some foil under the salmon as we could not bear the thought of losing even the slightest morsel to the slots on the grill.

We finished the salmon with more fresh tarragon and some fresh lemon.  And if you look really closely in the upper right hand corner of the photo…you’ll see some delicious sautéed fennel!  Unfortunately…no other photos are available of the complete dinner since I must have been on a trampoline when I took them – they were THAT blurry!

Sometimes, enjoying the meal with friends, while it is actually hot, is more important than getting the perfect shot!

Bon Appétit!

Savory Autumn Crostata


Everyone needs a little something to warm up their bellies for the Thanksgiving feast…a little nosh, a little nibble.  Savory Autumn Crostata with butternut squash, onion, apple and blue cheese is perfect.

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole.  She
chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata.  She used her own experience as a source,
as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Dough:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced (1 stick)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Filling:
  • 1 large baking apple
  • 1 small or 1/2 medium butternut squash (about 3/4 pound), halved, seeded, and skin on
  • 1 small yellow onion, peeled, root end trimmed but intact
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1⁄3 cup crumbled Stilton or other blue cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)

Now that the recipe is out of the way…let’s move on to the good stuff…

Start prepping your veggies.  The good news is there is no need to peel the butternut squash.  I had a nice small squash which worked out perfectly for slices.  When cutting your onion, leave the root end intact, only trimming away the root threads.  Core and slice the apple with the idea being to make all the slices about the same size and thickness.

Actually…first, make the dough.  Pulse the flour and salt together in a food processor.  Add the butter and pulse a couple of times until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few bean-size bits of butter in it.  Add the egg and pulse 1 to 2 times more…it just hast to be damp enough to stick together.  If the dough seems very dry, add up to 1 tablespoon of cold water, 1 teaspoon at a time, pulsing briefly. Remove the blade and bring the dough together by hand. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Roll out the dough into a large disk, and dusting generously with flour.  All those wonderful creamy dots – yep, you guessed right…it’s butter!  Don’t be afraid, as this is what makes a crust flaky and lovely.  Remember to work with your dough quickly and as little as possible…if the butter melts…your crust is toast!

Put all the squash, onion and apple slices into a bowl, and pour the melted butter over the top.  Toss in the herbs, and season with salt and pepper, toss or mix them gently so each piece is coated perfectly in buttah!

Roll the dough to about 1/8 inch thick and about 2 -3 inches wider in diameter than you would like the finished crostata to be.  Place the dough on a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet and spread the mustard over the dough, leaving a 1-1½ inch border.

Beginning on the outside, alternate slices of squash, apple and onion in a circle, tucking them close together.

Continue layering it all into the center of the circle as well using smaller pieces to fill in the holes.  Next, fold in the sides, pleating where necessary to contain the filling.

Press the edges down gently and tuck any pointy pieces of onion or apple back down into the crostata.  Place in a 400° oven until the crust is golden brown and flaky, about 55 minutes.

While the crostata is baking…it’s time to get the blue cheese out…any blue will work…stilton would be especially delicious…and I used a roquefort.

After the 55 minutes, pull the crostata out of the oven.

Crumble the cheese using a fork and scatter over the top of the crostata.

Place the crostata back in the oven for another 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

Let is cool for a few minutes, slice it into wedges and serve.  It can also be served room temperature as well.  Enjoy and be sure to save a little bit of room for Turkey and fixin’s!

Vietnamese Summer Rolls


What a perfect summer food…no need to use the oven, just boil a little water in the teapot…chop some veggies and herbs and you’re all set.

We actually made these sometime in July…but I thought I would post about them in honor of the 113° day we had this last Monday.  I love these for their refreshing and crisp taste, and that you can go in any number of directions for their dipping sauce.

Ingredients used:  shredded carrots, cucumber spears, butter lettuce, basil, mint, cilantro, chopped peanuts, cold rice noodles, and shrimp.  Other possible additions include tofu, bean sprouts, cabbage, radish, shredded chicken or duck, or anything else you can think of.  The rice noodles get soaked in water just off a boil and then drained and dunked into cold water until you are ready to use them.

The wrappers can be a little tricky.  They need to soak for a minute or so in hot water.  If you let them soak too long, they can tear and be unwieldy…if you don’t soak them long enough, they will crack and not be flexible.  I find that using a pie dish or shallow tart pan works well and I keep a kettle of warm water available to refresh the water as I go.  Another trick is to lay them on a damp tea towel while you pile in the fillings, this will prevent them from sticking and allow you to pick up the edges to fold and roll them burrito style.

I layer flat cilantro leaves on the bottom and shrimp over those  as that will be the prettiest side, pile all the other ingredients you want in and then fold the top down, both sides in tight and then roll towards you.  You can make these ahead of time and store in the fridge covered with a damp towel.

I neglected to get any photos of the fabulous dipping sauce that Woody threw together…which was perfect.  It involved mayo, sriracha, soy sauce, ponzu, a little rice vinegar, and sesame oil.  You really can’t go wrong.  A simple peanut sauce would be delicious as well.

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