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Summer Colds & T’mater’s


Summer colds.  I’ve got nothing good to say about them.

Let’s move on, shall we!?!  Let’s talk TOMATOES!

This is what is growing on my back patio as we speak…soaking in the sunshine and the heat of the day and always asking for a little more water at the end of the day with slightly droopy leaves.  Actually, the tomato plants look about how I feel after a full day of work…droopy, tired and like they could use a stiff cold drink!  Ha!

I can hardly contain my excitement for these guys as they’ve grown throughout the summer.  I look upon them lovingly and fiercely scold Cleo when I see her sniffing and about to mouth a delicious adolescent tomato who still needs a few more weeks on the vine to fulfill its full potential.

These are MY first tomato plants and about a week after planting them, I realized and remembered one of the great joys of summer.  The smell of tomato plants.  Not tomatoes.  The smell that is left on your hands after you reach in and fondle the branches for them to be supported by the tomato cage.  It is distinctly summer.  A smell not available at other times of the year.  A smell that cannot be recreated.  It takes me back to digging in the garden as a child and eating carrots straight from the ground, and learning about where food comes from.

Simple pleasures of summer!

What are your quintessential summer foods or smells?  What takes you back?

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Dinner Last Week :: Roasted Asparagus & Beets with Goat Cheese


Perfect summer evening food!

Trim the asparagus, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for 10 minutes at 425º.  I like to roast my beets.  Give ’em a quick wash, pierce a few times with a sharp knife and then wrap in foil – as a bonus you can drizzle them with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.

Roast in a 375º oven for 25 minutes to an hour depending on the size and quantity of beets.  Smaller and fewer, shorter amount of time.  Let them cool once they are done and then the skin should slip off, or you can use a knife to peel off the skin.

Quarter, drizzle with olive oil and/or vinegar and top with fresh goat cheese.  Serve with crusty bread!

French Onion & Bacon Tart


No quiche here…this is a tart! Plain and simple in all it’s glory.

This is serious onion-y goodness…topped off with a little bacon.  Who can complain?  NO ONE…that is the answer.  If you say you don’t like onions, and I make you try this, and you still don’t like onions…I don’t think we can be friends.  This tart has the essence of all things good about onions, and none of the bad, and I sweetened the deal with bacon…c’mon…just try a little bit!

French Onion & Bacon Tart
recipe from America’s Test Kitchen

Crust:
1¼ cup flour
1 scant tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
1 stick (8 tbsp.) cold butter cubed
2 tbsp. ice water

Filling:
4-6 slices of bacon (your preference)
6 cups of sliced onions
1 sprig of thyme
2 eggs
½ cup of half & half
salt and pepper

Start with the crust.  This is a press-in crust, so no rolling of delicate pastry dough necessary.  You can mix everything and cut in the butter by hand…OR…you can use a Cuisinart or food processor.  Definitely the easier way to go.

Preheat the oven to 375º.  Put the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl and pulse a few times to mix.  Dump in all the butter and pulse about 15 times total.  You want to cut the butter up smaller than you would for a flaky pie crust.

Now, add in 2 tbsp. of the ice cold water and turn the machine on for 5-6 seconds.  You’ll know that you have the right amount of moisture in the dough by removing the lid, reaching in and grabbing a handful, squeeze it together and if it clumps…it’s perfect.  If it is still crumbly and does not stick together, then put the lid back on, add another ½ to 1 teaspoon of ice water and turn on again for another 5-6 seconds.

Here’s the fun part…just grab some handfuls, drop them into a greased tart pan and start pressing it in.  Try and make it an even layer across the bottom of the pan.

Continue pressing and work the dough up the sides of the pan.  If it is too thick in one area, go ahead and pinch it off, then smush it back where it’s a little thin.  This took a little more time than I anticipated, but some saran wrap can do wonders to help you smooth out the surface.  Place a piece over the top of the dough, and rub the surface.  The heat of your hand and the pressure will smooth out all the lumps.  To avoid shrinkage…(no one likes shrinkage!)…place it on a plate and put it in the freezer to firm up and rest for at least 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, you can prep your ingredients for the filling.  Slice up 1-2 onions in ¼ to ½ inch strips.  The onions will cook down quite a bit, so you’ll probably need more than you think.  Steer clear of sweet onions and red onions for this recipe.  The first is too sweet and the second will tint everything a bit of a mauve color…not the effect you’re looking for.

Throw your bacon strips into a cold pan.  Letting the strips warm up with the pan (only to medium heat) will make crispy bacon with a lot of the fat rendered out.  Putting bacon straight into a hot pan, will cook it faster, but you can end up with bacon that is over and under cooked all at the same time.  Once bacon is cooked, remove from pan and drain on paper towels.  Depending on how much bacon fat is left in the pan, you may want to drain some of it…but what you leave in the pan will add bacon-y smoky flavor to your onions!  (drool!)

Toss the onions into the pan, toss to coat, add in a sprig of thyme, a good sprinkling of salt and keep the heat medium or just below.  You want to almost steep the onions, and avoid browning them which can make them too sweet.  Once you’ve tossed them around a bit, throw a lid on the pan, turn the heat down and let them cook, sweat and steam for about 20 minutes.

Switch back to crust – pull it out of the freezer, place it on a cookie sheet, add a sheet of foil on top and press it in gently and then fill with your favorite pie weight (dry beans, rice, actual pie weights, marbles, ball bearings, something heavy that won’t mind some serious heat!).  Place in the oven for 30 minutes while the onions are cooking.

Custard Time!  The custard for this recipe is just a glue…binds it all together and is a tasty backdrop to the star of the show, Monsieur Onion!  Beat the eggs and add in the half and half, a grind or two of black pepper and a touch of salt, mix well and set aside.

You may wonder about the lack of pictures for this part of the recipe…well, there are moments while cooking, that I completely forget to get pictures and only later realize that I missed about half the process.  Use your imagination!

While you are waiting, try not to snack on all the bacon.  If we’re being honest, I find this step the most difficult.

Check on the onions, they should be translucent, soft and very fragrant.  Remove them from the heat and cool long enough that they won’t cook the eggs when added to the custard.  When the crust comes out, remove the pie weights and foil.  Remove the thyme sprigs from the onions and mix them into the custard.  Pour it all into the tart crust, sprinkle with bacon pieces and put it back in the 375º oven for 25-30 minutes on the middle rack.

You’ll know the tart is done when a) you can no longer handle how good your kitchen smells, and b) when the custard is fully set…it shouldn’t jiggle!

I love the bacon on top because it stays crisp, unlike when it is added to the custard of quiche’s and it softens up.  Carefully remove the rim of the tart pan, once it is cooled and then you can cut a slice and serve it up.  This made a perfect dinner with a simple salad of mixed greens dressed simply with lemon juice and olive oil and served with a crisp, dry white wine!

Bon appétit!

eatery 1025 :: You Should Go To There!


Utah… a culinary wonderland! (?)  Yep…I just used Utah and culinary in the same sentence!  I do this not out of foolishness…but because I actually know!  Of course, I could spend at least an hour or two telling you all about the secret spots, my new faves, the good ‘ole standby’s, the uniquely Utah locales, and of course where to find the best beer…nope…I’m just going to tell you about one little place that is well-deserving of your attention!  eatery 1025.  

I am not the first to take notice…and will not be the last.  Due to my lack to photography skills…I have borrowed a photo from the Salt lake Tribune as my attempts hardly did justice to the beauty of the chilled beet and cucumber soup!

(photo courtesy of Francisco Kjolseth/Salt Lake Tribune)

There is just one little quirky thing about eatery 1025…it’s technically in Bountiful.  Don’t let this stop you…it is worth the trip…right off the freeway…no big deal…it’s closer Alta and Snowbird!

The self-describe their menu as clean with seasonal ingredients.  I would agree although I’d throw in a splash of creativity, a slight lean towards gluten-free and vegetarian and a knack for taking dishes found on many menus and making them unique and extraordinary.  Executive Chef, Chelsa Best and Sous Chef, Liam Connelly have put their all into this little place and expanding the gastronomic horizons of Bountiful!  (and they have a tiny kitchen – having worked in kitchens, I know the challenges of tight spaces…you’ve got to have some happiness in the kitchen if you want your food to have love…which it does!)

Blah, blah, blah…get on to the good stuff…

Spicy Turkey Lettuce Wraps

Sampling of side dishes:  honey-glazed carrots, rosemary fingerlings and curried cauliflower

Caesar Salad – parmesan frico, hearts of romaine, chopped hard-boiled egg, grilled red onions, crouton fingers, and last…and my favorite…fried capers!

Zucchini ribbons with chicken sausage and ricotta salata – no noodles here, just zucchini.  Fresh and brilliant!

Can you tell that we ordered many things…

Sweet pea spinach salad with caramelized onions, pine nuts and topped with salmon

Grilled ham and cheese with mustard and caramelized onions on sourdough

You can’t go wrong with a traditional and nicely grilled cheese sandwich

Chicken gyro on fresh pita

The space is bright and inviting mimicking the character of the dishes.  Currently they are serving breakfast (go for the oatmeal brûlée!) and lunch and will hopefully be serving dinner this fall.

Of course, I couldn’t leave without a sweet nibble…and truthfully, despite the bursting-at-the-seams feeling in my stomach…I could have squeezed in at least two more of these…they were that good!

Vanilla cupcakes with fresh strawberry mascarpone frosting!

(do you want to know a secret…?  these cupcakes are gluten-free!  I am not usually a fan of gluten-free…and I would not have known…delicious and made fresh daily on site!  Shhhhhh…don’t tell anyone!)

Overall, the menu is filled with options to satisfy both traditional and eccentric tastes while not overreaching.

What they do…they are doing well.

You Should Go To There!

eatery1025 •1025 South 500 West • Bountiful, Utah • 84010

**I may or may not know and or be related to the sous chef.  This in no way affected my overwhelmingly positive and delicious experience!  🙂

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