Thursday, March 26, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart

This week's Barefoot Bloggers' Recipe are these delicious tarts picked by Anne of Anne Strawberry.
I made half of the recipe, and used sundried tomatoes instead of regular tomatoes, since they are not in season here in PA. The sun-dried tomatoes got a little black, but other than that this was a nice recipe. It sounds like it will take longer to make than it does. It is really a pretty fast recipe!

Ina Garten's Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
  • 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
  • Good olive oil
  • 4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet)
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
  • 3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves


Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.

Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge.

Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Homemade Bagels!

When I bought Artisan Bread in 4 Minutes a Day last year, I was excited to make a lot of thing in the book. But not the bagels. It sounded like too much work, with the boiling and what not.
But recently I have decided to take the challenge to make my own! Any bagels in the grocery store have high fructose corn syrup in them. There is a place here that makes their own bagels from scratch, but it's a good 20 minute drive from our house.
So here we go!
First, make the dough.
Recipe from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois
The Dough
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast (1 1/2 packets)
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
6 1/4 cups bread flour

Mis the yeast, salt, and sugar with the water in your stand mixer bowl. Add the flour to the bowl and mix it with the dough hook attachment until all the flour is incorporated. Put the dough into a lidded container (not airtight). Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about two hours. Then put the container in the fridge. I left it in overnight.
Making the Bagels
Put a baking stone and an empty broiler tray in the oven. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Also, get the boiling pot going on the stove. You'll need 8 quarts of water with 1 tsp baking soda and 1/4 cup sugar mixed in with it.

Here is the pretty dough, just taken out of the fridge.

Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 3-oz piece of dough (about the size of a small peach).

Dust the peice with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go.

Here is the piece of dough formed into a ball.

Push your thumb into the middle of the dough and pull it apart until the hole is three times wider than the width of the bagel. I had a little trouble getting my bagel holes to remain open wide enough, my dough was very elastic.
As you can see they are not perfect looking, but that is ok.
Drop the bagels in the boiling pot one or two at a time, don't overcrowd.

After the bagel boils simmers for 2 minutes, flip it over to the over side and cook it for another minute. Then, dip the bagel in your favorite topping. I did three types of bagels, poppy, cheddar cheese and...

Everything bagels, my favorite! I don't know if these actually have everything, but they have poppy seeds, sesame seeds and dried onion flakes. You could also put garlic and salt on, but I opted to leave those out. Another thing you have control of when you bake your own bagels!
Put the bagels in your preheated oven, on the stone. Put one cup of tap water in the broiler pan below and close the door. The steam from the water helps form a crisp outer crust.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until they start getting golden brown.
Here are the finished bagels.
The cheese bagel.
The poppy bagel.
And the beautiful everything bagel!
We made ham and cheese sandwiches with our fresh bagels.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Chicken Piccata

I love chicken piccata! So a big thanks to Lindsey of Noodle Nights and Muffin Mornings for picking this Barefoot Contessa recipe this month.
My deviations from the posted recipe: I added a handful of capers to the sauce.
I used small, chicken breast "tenders" instead of half of a whole breast.
tried to use my own home made bread crumbs, but thought it wouldn't turn out right. So I used panko bread crumbs, seasoned with some dried Italian spices. I tried one tender with the homemade bread crumbs. Since they weren't as fine, it didn't look quite as nice, but tasted good.
Also, I boiled some angel hair pasta to serve this over. I loved the strong lemon flavor!
Oh....and I used a cast iron skillet to flatten the chicken tenders. Worked great!!

Chicken Piccata
Ina Garten
  • 2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • Good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Sliced lemon, for serving
  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving
  • I added about 1/4 cup capers, and half a pound of angel hair pasta.


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

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Here are the tenders post-flattening.

Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Here you can see the panko coated pieces, and on the right the homemade bread crumb piece. I felt it didn't coat as well but they pieces did stick on and it was alright. Panko looked better.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes.

Here is where I added some capers in, while the sauce is reducing.

Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate. Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

Eat and enjoy!

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Homemade Cherry Granola

I have been amazed at how much more groceries are lately, especially all-natural organic food. It is hard to be cheap and eat the way I like. So last week when I looked at the cereal and granola in my grocery store, I didn't feel like spending almost 6 dollars for the all-natural, small bag of granola. So I decided to make my own granola! I got the basic recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman.
One of the best things about making things yourself is control over ingredients. I watch the sugar in my cereal, so I put less honey in than normal. I also don't like raisins, so I used cherries. The variations to this recipe are endless. I would like to try using maple syrup and waluts and banana chips. I would also like to try adding peanut butter, and making a tropical fruit variation with dried mango. I may not buy pre-made granola for a long time!
I like to eat this with maple yogurt. (Just add a tablespoon to plain, whole milk yogurt!)
6 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking or instant)
2 cups thin sliced almonds and roasted pumpkin seeds, or other nuts
1 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Dash salt
1/2-1 cup honey or maple syrup to taste (I probably used 1/4 cup)
1 cup dried tart cherries

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
First, dump six cups of rolled oats (organic or not) into a 9x13 baking pan. Put the pan over 2 burners if possible. DO NOT PUT IT ON HIGH! Use medium-low heat. Also, don't walk away. Stay at the stove and stir. I learned this the hard way. I burned the oats on the bottom of the pan.

Stir the oats until they are fragrant and toasty. (But not black!) It should take 3-5 mintues.
Add the nuts and seeds and continue to cook, stirring frequently (i.e. don't walk away here either.) for 2 minutes.

Add the coconut and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes longer. Add the cinnamon, salt and honey (or maple syrup), stir, and put in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Then, add the dried cherries and stir. Cool on a rack, continuing tO stir once in a while until the granola reaches room temperature. Transfer to a sealed container and store in the fridge, it will keep for a long time!

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers: Meringues Chantilly

Thanks to BMK of Reservations not Required for this lovely and elegant dessert pick. Ina Garten's Meringues Chantilly.
I was excited to try this recipe. I have never made meringues before and it sounded like a good, challenging recipe to learn.
I halved this recipe, since there are just two of us. First I put three egg whites in my mixing bowl.

Mix on medium speed until it is frothy, like this.

Add 1/2 cup of sugar.
Then beat on high speed in your mixing bowl until very stiff peaks form. When I pulled the whisk up, it stood up straight. If the peaks fall over, keep whipping. Then fold in 1/4 cup of sugar.
Then I filled my pastry bag with the egg whites. If you fold down the top, it makes it less messy.
I piped the mixture into a circular disk, then piped another layer around the outside.
The recipe says to bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours, without browning them. I think my oven runs a little hot, because after less than an hour they started to get brown. So I turned it down. Then I left the tray in the oven over night. I made a few little extra ones also.
I threw in some frozen blueberries and raspberriees, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup of sugar (I used raw cane's so pretty!)
Cook the berries for about 8-10 minutes. (I forgot to take a pictures of the done berry sauce.)
Then I used my mixer again with the whisk attachment, and whipped up 1 cup of heavy whipping cream, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon of sugar and a little Grand Marnier. I put the whipped cream in the middle of the shell and topped it with the berry sauce.

The original recipe can be found here

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Beer Bread!

I need to get my act together and make the meringues chantilly for barefoot bloggers. I will do that this week, hopefully tomorrow.
But for now, I'd like to share a recipe I found at I use that website a lot, I like it because of all the reviews from people who have already cooked the recipes. It usually gives you a good tip.
I made this beer bread for a large group of people who came over for dinner, and it received raves. I like to make it because you can make it with things you have around the kitchen already (if you have a bottle of beer), and it is faster than yeast bread.
I made this to go with some mexican-style chile, I think it goes well with soups also.
Whole Wheat Beer Bread

First, grease a bread pan. (I spray with canola oil.)
Get your two kinds of flour.

100% whole wheat flour, and all purpose. Measure 1 and 1/2 cups of each and put in a mixing bowl.
Then add 4 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 and 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/3 cup packed brown sugar. Now, what you see in my bowl is 1/3 cup raw cane sugar, and a little molassses since I didn't have brown sugar. If you run out of brown sugar, you can use regular sugar with some molasses! Now grab your bottle of beer.
This is what I used. If you live near Harrisburg, PA or somewhere near it I recommend you get some beer from the Appalachian Brewing Company. Not just for this recipe, just to try! I'm not a big beer drinker, but I really like their beer. And this one is organic! But most beer will work. Just use a beer that you would drink. Don't use Coors Light or something like that. Get a real beer with some flavor! The type of beer you use will change the flavor some.
Now dump the beer in the bowll with the other ingredients. It will foam up a lot, like this. That is fine. Just mix until it is all incorporated, it will be thick and lumpy.
Put the batter in the bread pan, and here is where is great. The butter on top is not in the recipe, but if you browse the comments most people recommend putting some on top. And they are right, the butter makes it even better.
The recipe says to bake in a 350 oven for 50-60 minutes, but mine was definitely done in more like 30 minutes! So just check on it, it is done when a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Eat, with butter or plain.

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