Sunday, August 31, 2014

Caramelized Shallot, Mushrooms and Garlic Scape Tart


I told you about how I discovered garlic 'scapes' this summer, and fell in love with them.  My sister did a very simple thing with them by throwing them on the barby with some mushrooms and cherry tomatoes, and they were OMG good. 
I decided to see if I could make my own Garlic Scapes.  

That is, I thought I would try to grow some Scapes.

I thought I should clarify that statement.  

So I took a bulb of garlic, and broke it into cloves and stuck them into a pot.
It was amazing how quickly green shoots appeared.  And they grew and grew and grew.

I decided to go ahead and harvest some for Tapas this month.   And then tried to figure out how to prepare them.  I used some up in my Danish Potato Salad, but decided against making this tart because it was OMG hot outside and I did not want to heat up the house with the oven, especially when I had a lot of people coming.
So....
I decided to make this tart for NPA this week.

Nothing like experimenting on friends, is there? 

I got a great deal on Shallots when I was in the 'big city' last week, and I knew I wanted to use them in something good.   So, I decided to use them with some mushrooms and the home grown 'scapes'. 

I caramelized the shallots in a good lot of coconut oil, made a shallot confit basically.

 I'll share that recipe later on.  Set them aside to cool.  I scooped up some of the shallots into a sieve and let the oil drain out.   I then took that oil, and put it back into a pan, added 8 oz. fresh mushrooms, and let them just cook a couple of minutes.  Set them aside to cool.   I added just a teensy, teensy dash of Tarragon here as well.   I wanted the barest hint of Tarragon, and it worked.




 
Went outside, picked, well cut the scapes, fresh.  Took them inside, and gave them a quick rinse, and patted them dry on a paper.  And did a quick slice and dice on them.
Took a puff pastry sheet out of the freezer. Actually, I took it out of the freezer in the morning, and let it thaw in the fridge for the day.

Very important to let it thaw before unrolling.  

Very.

 I always have one package in the freezer, just one of those things you gotta have on hand cause you never know just when you'll need it.
I preheated the oven to 400 deg.  Unfolded the pastry sheet and gave it a quick roll with the rolling pin.  I do that because I really hate the seams.  I then folded the sides up just a tad, to make a lip or edge. 
I placed the mushrooms on top of the puff pastry sheet, in a single layer, I then sprinkled the shallots on top, more or less evenly.   Then sprinkled them with the chopped garlic scapes and put them in the oven for about 30  minutes, just long enough for the pastry to brown and cook. 







I took the tart out, and dolloped some goat cheese on top, and let it seep into the shallots and scape.  











After it cooled a little I cut it into pieces and took it with me to NPA.
  Didn't take it long to get eaten either.   Of course I did taste test it before it left the house.
Someone has to do the quality control.
And this was so good.   You could taste the coconut, the hint of tarragon, the garlic 'scapes'.  The whole thing was magical.   I could have eaten the whole thing, but I restrained myself.    The majority of it did make it to NPA.  

As I said, I love to experiment on my friends.  

And luckily for me, they let me do so.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Danish Potato Salad

I had this salad at my brother's place while visiting with him and it was so good.  Part of a really lovely light meal and one that sat just right with me.  In fact I liked it so much, I asked him for the recipe.  And here it is.  In all of its Danish glory.

But I can read Danish, and translate it as well.

And I did.  

I decided to make it for Tapas this week.   And ummm, I think I should have labeled the bowl it was in, cause a lot of people thought it was a dessert.   It did look all creamy and gooey.
Oh well, I have quite a bit left and it will be eaten this week.

The one my brother made was a lot lighter as well, and I liked the taste better as well.  I followed the recipe as written, except for the mustard powder, I  kinda screwed up on that.  Cause when I tasted it, like any good cook should, I decided it needed more, and while it was good, it really didn't need the extra.
Really.
Did. Not. Need. The. Extra. Mustard.

 I cook and make mistakes too, and I'm sharing the good and the whoops with you.

I bought some baby potatoes in the 'big city' last week, and decided they would be perfect for this.  They were a mixture of red, yellow and purple potatoes.  But I just decided to use the red and yellow potatoes, cause the purple ones looked, well, they just looked like they might not have gone all that well with the rest.  And besides which, they tasted good, fried up in a pan, with a little ketchup.

Here's the recipe, Danish first, then English.   At least for the ingredients, and what I used instead of.

Recipe:


1 kg. Potatoes, cooked                         about 2 lbs. cooked small potatoes
1 1/2 Deciliter Creme Fraiche               3/4 cups Creme Fraiche
2 spsk. Eddike                                     2 tablespoons Vinegar (I used Rice Vinegar)
1 tsk. Salt                                            1 teaspoon salt (which I omitted)
1/2 tsk. sennepspulver                          1/2 teaspoon Mustard Powder
1 lille løg i tern                                      1 small onion, diced (I used half a shallot)
Fint skåret purløg                                 finely cut chives (I used some garlic 'scapes I'm growing)

                        

I cooked them til they were 'just done', and then peeled the lot, sliced them into roughly thirds. Which if you've ever eaten baby potatoes, you'll understand that it was a little fiddly.  Oh well...  And I know I could have left the skins on, but they had a bit of a bitter taste, this was for a potato salad, so I peeled them. 
Look how pretty the colors are, the red potatoes made a pink potato and the yellow, well, they stayed yellow.    I elected to not put in the baby blue/purple potatoes as I wanted to eat them on my own. And I thought they might look kinda odd.

I then minced up half a very large shallot.
Mixed the vinegar, mustard powder,
creme fraiche
together, then added the minced shallot.
I loved the color of the purple shallot, as well as that oniony flavour, mixed together.
Folded the cut potatoes into it, and placed it in the fridge.
When I tasted it a little later, I decided to add some of the garlic scapes I've been growing,
as well as a little light sour cream.   I thought it was just a tad dense.
But I served it with a couple 'scapes' to decorate the top.
And there you have it.   The next time I make this, I'm going to mix the creme fraiche half and half with some light sour cream, and maybe add a touch of sugar to it as well.   But it was still good, and in fact is good.
I know cause I just had some. 
Next time though, I won't add extra mustard powder. sigh.




Thursday, August 28, 2014

Fish and Chips

We went out for dinner on my birthday this year and I ordered the Fish and Chips, it sounded so good.  But, instead of the beer battered fish that was featured on the menu, we got some breaded fish, which tasted good, but just didn't hit that craving.
I picked up some cod the last time I was in the 'big city', so I decided it was time for Fish and Chips again.
And since I'd made those awesome Chicken Balls last week, I still had some oil, which could be used one more time before it got chucked, so I thought to myself, FISH AND CHIPS!!!
I made way too much batter, and ended up throwing about half of it away.  And I really only did two large fillets of fish anyway, but I'll leave the original recipe here.  Just cut it down or amp it up to your taste. 

I did nail it, on the batter, that is.  It was light, crisp and tasty.

 I also made some homemade tarter sauce, remoulade style, and it was ok, not OK, but then again, I didn't have all the right ingredients, at least I didn't think I did until I went into the pantry and found the sweet relish, sigh. 

Batter Recipe

2 cups flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. sugar
1 bottle beer

Oil for frying.  I used my Fry Baby and the rest of the oil I'm made the Chicken Balls in. 

Whisk dry ingredients together, then add the beer and whisk again until smooth.
The batter won't be really thick, but just right.
Cut each fillet into three portions,
then dunk in some flour, (this helps the batter to adhere to the fish), then into the batter.
 Use your handy meat fork to take the fish out of the batter, then when you can't get the fish off of the fork and into the hot oil, sheesh,

 Decide to go and get a bamboo skewer out of the drawer and use that.  The fish slipped right off of the skewer and into the hot oil.


Fry until a nice brown, a little more than golden, but this side of dark brown.



Serve with a nice tarter sauce and some french fries.

I have to admit it, I used frozen french fries, and they were good.

Tarter Sauce



1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon mashed capers
2 slices dill pickle, finely minced
or
2- 3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
or
2-3 teaspoons hot dog relish, the kind with mustard in it. At which point omit the mustard.
1 finely minced shallot, or
1/4 small onion, finely minced
1-2 tsp. lemon juice.
Mix together and place in fridge for an hour or so, let the flavours get acquainted. 




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Naan

I got this recipe from Aarti Sequaria and I figure it's probably pretty authentic. I did put a couple of my own touches to this, cause gee, I'm the cook?
  All I know is that they tasted so good.   And they went perfectly with the Palak Paneer I made for Tapas last week.  They were also a little fiddly to make.   I will make them again, but will tweak this a touch.

Ingredients

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling, 
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
 Melted butter for slathering on the finished naans
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Directions

In a large glass, dissolve the dry yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar with 3/4 cup warm water, let sit until frothy, or the yeast has dissolved.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, salt, remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar and baking powder into a large, deep bowl.

Once the yeast has dissolved and is frothy, add the yogurt and the olive oil into the glass, and stir it to combine. Pour the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients and gently mix the ingredients together with a Danish Dough Whisk.  This is a very sticky dough.  Mix together with your hands, and put into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let sit for a couple of hours.  I use my oven, as it's draft free.

When you're ready to roll, make sure you have two bowls on your counter: one with extra flour in it, and one with water. The dough will be extremely soft and sticky-this is good! Separate the dough into 6-12  equal portions and lightly roll each one in the bowl of extra flour to keep them from sticking to each other.

You need to shape the Naan.  Traditionally it's in a tear drop shape.  This is because they used to roll out the naan, and then kinda throw it at the Tandoori oven which cooked it.  And when you kinda throw a round shape at a curved hot oven, it can become a tear drop shape, or so I'm told.  Shape the naan.  I formed mine into a rough teardrop shape using my fingers and then a rolling pin.
  I know they should be about 8-9 inches long and about 4 inches wide, but my pan wasn't big enough.  So I made them into very roughly shaped pieces of dough 4-5-inches long, 4-inches wide at its widest point and about 1/4-inch thick. Apparently once you've formed the general shape, you can also pick it up by one end and wiggle it a little  the dough's own weight will stretch it out a little. Didn't work for me though, at least not this time.  The dough was that soft. Next time I'll try it.  Repeat this method with the rest of the dough.
Warm a cast-iron skillet over high heat until it's nearly smoking, and if you do like me and oil the pan each time you use it, wipe out the excess oil.  It can make the smoke alarm go off when the oil gets too hot.  Of course I don't know anything about that, personally.
  Just have a lid ready that is large enough to fit the skillet and have the butter ready and waiting.  Melted butter is good.
You can either dampen your hands in the bowl of water and pick up one of your naans, flip-flopping it from one hand to the other to lightly dampen it or pick up a naan, and brush it with a little water using a pastry brush. Which is what I did.
 And my 'teardrop' shapes, umm, well, let me just say this, they weren't, teardrop shapes that is.
sigh.


Gently lay it in the skillet and set your timer for 1 minute. The dough should start to bubble.

After about 1 minute, and I used a timer for the first few, you then flip the naan.  If it's a little blistered and blackened, that's a good thing.  You want that little bit of char, cause  that's typical of traditional naan. Cover the skillet with the lid and another 30 seconds or more.  This side will look more like a typical Naan. 

Remove the naan from the skillet, brush with a bit of butter and sprinkle with a little coarse sea salt.  Place the naan into a covered dish or wrap them in a clean tea towel, and continue until you've cooked all of them.
I used my tortilla warmer bowl, it's insulated, and has a tight fitting lid.   And it worked, perfectly. 
I did have a couple left from Tapas, and they along with some of the left over Palak Paneer are going to be my breakfast.    
I will make these again, I think they're a great quick bread to serve with a lot of different foods, but I think they do require me to make them a few times so I can get the technique down.  
That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.   


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tapas Night for August

I know you've been waiting, you just can't wait to see what great dishes were brought and shared last night at Tapas.


I know I was busy yesterday.  I baked a couple loaves of No Knead bread, one white and one rye,  put together some Naan, made Palak Paneer and then set it all up.   I also put together a Danish Potato Salad and made sure I had my 1/2 hour nap before the guests came.  

 Danish Potato Salad, and I'll be sharing the recipe a little later on.
 I believe this was a Paella, at any rate, it was good.
 Buried under here was the Pasta, giggle.  And it was so good.
 This was a fresh wonderful watermelon and Feta Salad.  YUM
 Danish Salad in foreground, Palak Paneer in back ground and Blood Mary Tomatoes to the left. 
 From the top, left corner.   Dr. Spock eggs, Green Eggs and Ham, fun.  Palak Paneer, Naan, Potato Salad and Bloody Mary Tomatoes.
 And a good shot of the Bloody Mary Tomatoes.  These were really intriguing, and good.
 Over view of the table.
 Apple Salad, and I love the serving dish.
 I got to the tail end of this salad, but it was very tasty.
 Home baked Mac and Cheese, and I noticed it was very popular, and it tasted good too.  Well, gee, you know me and Pasta. 
 Another over view of the table   Think anyone went home hungry?










For some reason my photo program won't let me turn the picture around, but cheese and grapes are always popular. 
Just turn your head a little. 
 I'm so irritated with myself.  This is kind of blurry, but I'm including it anyway.  These were so good.  At first glance I thought they were Scotch Eggs, but then I looked a little closer and then I had to taste one.  OMG, they were so good.
Candied Bacon and Egg Cookies.
 Bruschetta,  and these were very tasty as well.
 More Bruschetta.  
 Pie and some of those bacon and egg cookies to the side.
 Lemon Bars
 Key Lime Pie
 I put out some cold cuts and the bread I baked.
 Black Bean fritters, with a mayonnaise dipping sauce.  Very tasty.
 Fruit Salad, and it looked so pretty.
 A fruit pie and the Key Lime in the background.
 Fish dips, one was Grouper and the other Crab I believe.
 Pasta Salad and it was very good.
And there was another Key Lime Pie brought but I didn't get a shot of it.   I swear, there's always one.   Gotta keep the streak going I guess...

There you have it, another Tapas Night done.   And since there was some Palak Paneer left, I'll be having that for breakfast, lunch and dinner for a couple of days.   But it's healthy and good for you, right?   Good thing I like it.