Monday, July 6, 2015

Tapenade Tarts

I've been a member of the Secret Recipe Club for a couple of years now, and have had so much fun making and blogging about some of the great recipes I've found through the club. Many of the recipes I've found are now in my baking rotation.   I love the variety of recipes that are blogged about. You have everything from soup to nuts and every variation in between.

CookLisaCook was my assigned blog this month, and even though they have a restrictive diet due to allergies and food sensitivities, I managed to bookmark quite a few recipes, and then there were the couple I made as well.  I have friends who eat gluten free so I am always on the lookout for recipes that I can make for them.  And there were a lot on here.  And lots more for me to explore.

I was all set to make the Tandoori Wings for Tapas this past month,but when I went to the store to buy wings, the price of the wings was as much as the chicken breasts.

What's up with that?    So I decided against it.
Next time those wings go on sale I'm stocking up. I want to make the Tandoori version as well as all the other ideas I have for wings.

I also bookmarked her Zucchini Hummus recipe,  I made  it for a gathering I go to, but time got in my way and I ended up not going.  But since I'd made it, I just had it for lunch.
Well, I needed to eat lunch anyway...

And those Plantain Wraps, well, let me just say I'm making them  as soon as I can get some Plantains.  I tried to find some last week when I went to the 'big' city but none of the places I went to had any. sigh

I'd also bookmarked this recipe Tapenade Tarts, cause, gee, I love Puff Pastry and usually have some in my freezer.  You can do so much with it, and I do a lot with it.
So I made the Tarts and they did go over well.  Although I had adventures in the kitchen that day.   All day long. 
 And I did switch it up, just a little.  I added a drizzle of finely chopped basil to them and that really made the tart yummier.

To start with...

2 sheets Puff Pastry, thawed and unfolded.
1 package Feta Cheese (4 oz.) cut into cubes or use crumbles
Grape Tomatoes, cut into halves or quarters, depending on size
Tapenade or Pesto, about a half cup
Basil, chiffonaded or chopped

Unfold the pastry and roll out a little.  Cut each sheet into thirds along the fold lines, and then each of those sheets into thirds.   You'll end up with nine pieces for each sheet.
Grease the muffin tins you'll be using. (I forgot this step and it was rather interesting getting the baked tarts out of the tins) ]
Place a teaspoonful of Tapenade or Pesto into the bottom of each tart shell, then top with a few pieces of tomato and feta cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-18 minutes or until the tarts are browned. 

Take out of oven and let cool a little, then serve either warm or at room temp.  Just before serving sprinkle with a little chopped fresh Basil.

And because I forgot to spray the pan first, I had fun removing the tarts, but with the aid of a very sharp paring knife, I managed.

I did serve them at Tapas last month, and they were popular.

Lots more recipes to look at here.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Fourth of July ideas

It's almost the fourth of July and you know you're going to be grilling burgers but you want to make it a little more special.

Have a burger bar.

It's easy, fun and special and best of all, you can relax and enjoy yourself after a little prep work.

I've told you how I do it in past posts.   Here are the links.
Burger Bar Bash part One
Burger Bar Bash Planning Part Two

But just in case you don't want to read both here's the Cliff Notes version.
How many people are you planning on?
Are you going to provide everything, meat, buns, toppings?

Now that those questions are answered, here are a couple more tips.
Prepare the toppings early in the day.  Cook the bacon, slice the tomatoes, caramelize the onions, fry the mushrooms, separate the lettuce leaves.  We also like Pastrami as a topping so I make sure I've got lots of that on hand.   If you're making your own patties, figure on a pound of meat making three good sized patties. Slice the cheese, or make sure you've got lots of sliced cheese.
If you are using charcoal, then make sure you have enough.  Or if using a propane grill, fill up the tank.  It's not fun to run out in the middle of the BBQ, trust me on this one.  

Get a couple bags of ice, put out a cooler with the ice in it, and throw in a few bottles of water and soda if you like, or beer.  I always make sure I've got bottled water. 

Check to make sure you have all the condiments you need.  Mustard, Ketchup, Pickles, Mayonnaise, Miracle Whip, BBQ Sauce, Pickles.   How about the meat and the buns?  I like buns that hold together, either French Bread buns or Pretzel buns.  Figure on each pound of meat making three good sized burgers. 
And don't forget your vegetarian friends.  Make sure you have something for them as well. 

Check out your paper stock, do you have enough plates? How about forks, knives, spoons?  If you don't want to use disposable, then make sure all your forks are clean, there enough knives to spread the toppings with. How about cups?   And are you using a tablecloth?  Here is where I use a paper tablecloth, easy to gather up and dispose of later on.

And if your guests are bringing side dishes, do you have serving spoons, tongs?
Take a half hour for yourself.  Nap, shower, dress.

Then go out and enjoy yourself and have a burger or two.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Boller i Selleri (Meatballs and Celery Root)

You ever get a craving for a dish that your mom used to make, when you were a kid? 
I got that craving a couple of weeks ago when I saw some Celery Roots aka Celeriac at a grocery store in the big city.
Typically Celery Root is harvested in the fall, and this is usually a fall dish, not a summer one.
But when you see something out of season like this and your mouth starts to water at the thought of making a dish from childhood, you just gotta go for it.

I did, at any rate.

And it tasted so good.    And best of all, I made enough for a couple of meals.  I know from past experience that this freezes nicely.   Cause the last time I made this, it was in my pre-blog days, and I got to eat it for several meals.  (I found out the the fresh Tarragon Leaves I used to 'pretty' up the picture, tasted fantastic with the celery and meatballs, for lunch the next day. A friend gave me a Tarragon plant, and made me a very happy Dane.)

Let me tell you the process.

You take out your celery roots, and rinse them off.  Then cut a small slice from the top, so you have a level place to rest the root on.
You then cut off the peel with a sharp knife.
Continuing all around the sides and then cut off the roots.  You'll end up with this.
Cut the peeled root up into dice, I like a 1/2 x 1/2 inch dice myself, place it in some water, while you continue cutting and dicing.
Put the diced cubes of celery root into some salted water and cook it for about 10 minutes, or until the roots are almost tender.

While they are cooking mix up the ground pork just like you were making Frikadeller. 
If you don't want to go and look up the recipe and how to's, here is the way I made it.  And since I had two packages of ground pork in the freezer, I just doubled the recipe.

2 lb. unseasoned ground pork.
1 small minced or grated onion
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk

Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer, and let them mix together at a low speed for about 5 minutes or so.  The meat mixture should look nice and smooth.  And have the consistency of a stiff custard.

I used some of the meat mixture with the celery roots and fried the rest of it, I do love my Frikadeller.

Using a scoop, form a ball of meat and drop into the slightly simmering celery and water. 
Cook for just a few minutes, about 7 or 8 minutes or until the meatballs are done.
Take the meatballs and celery out of the water with a slotted spoon, set aside to keep warm.
Make a roux out of 2 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons of butter and stir into the liquid you just cooked the celery root and meatballs in.  Whisk in and let it cook to thicken.  If it's not thickened enough, make some more roux and add it in.  Taste for seasoning.  I added a little more salt, about a 1/2 teaspoonful at this point.
Then I plunked the meat and celery root back in and let it heat up again.
I served it with some fresh green beans a friend had given us from her garden, and some sauteed mushrooms.

The rest of the meat mixture, well, I just fried them up and they are now residing in my fridge and freezer ready to make into sandwiches.

I love a good open faced sandwich with cold sliced Frikadeller. 


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Caprese Bites Appetizers

I have a problem.
Well, not so much of a problem but still...

When I go shopping in a grocery store and have time to look around a little, I'll pick up different foods, and then try to figure out what to make from them.

That was the case a couple of weeks ago.   I was just perusing the cheeses, and saw this package of Mozzarella Pearls by Belgioso.   I picked it up, put it in my cart with absolutely no idea as to what I was going to make with them.

I figured it out.

I made these little Caprese Bites and put them in little shot glasses.   Just before I served them, I drizzled them with some Quince Pomegranate White Balsamic Vinegar.
Just layer a Mozzarella Pearl on a toothpick with a cut or whole grape tomato and finish off with a fresh Basil Leaf.  Nestle them in a disposable shot glass, and VOILA!!!!

Simple, elegant and fun.

And they taste good too. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Maple Glazed Chicken

I admit it, I need to wear my glasses when reading a recipe, sometimes the difference between an 1/2 and 1/4 cup can make a big difference in a recipe.

And it wouldn't hurt me to check the fridge to make sure I really do have that Dijon Mustard that I know I have, hidden away, right in the back, just to the right of the pickles.

So, now you've heard my tale of woe, let me share with you what I did do, and how fantastic the chicken tasted.

First off I got my ingredients out.  And that was when I discovered that the Dijon Mustard was missing.
However I persevered, and ummm, got all the amounts wrong, but that's OK. 
Here's my recipe, or how I done did it.

1/2 cup Maple Syrup
1/2 cup Yellow Mustard.
1 tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
1 tablespoon Emeril's Horseradish Mustard.

Whisked it all together and then poured it over the chicken.
I used my pastry brush to make sure I got some of the sauce on all of the chicken.
Put this in a 450 degree  oven for 45 minutes, turned the chicken, baked it for another 15 minutes and decided I wasn't getting the nice brown on the chicken I wanted, so...
I got out my reusable parchment sheet, the one I've told you about before.
Placed it on a rimmed baking sheet.  And then proceeded to put the semi-browned chicken on it.
As you can see, I got some lovely browning on the drumsticks there.  And the sauce cooked down nicely.  Although I did take most of the sauce out and boiled it on the top of the stove, trying to reduce it a little.  It didn't work all that well, but I'm freezing the rest to use later on.
At any rate, I boosted the oven temp up to 500 degrees and let the chicken cook for another 15 minutes.  The internal temp was about 200 deg. on the chicken and they were falling off the bone tender.
And very flavourful.  Not too sweet at all.
I'm going to use the leftover sauce on some wings a little later on.  I'll let you know how that goes.

There really wasn't much chicken left after Tapas and what was left, made for a couple of great lunches.
I also think it could have used a good sprinkling of some chopped herbs.

I wonder how some freshly chopped Tarragon would go on this?

And that leftover sauce, I'm thinking it might make the base for basting on some wings.  I'm still trying to perfect my perfect wings.