Carmelized Onion, Tomato, and Goat Cheese Tartlets

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Ina Garten was the lady who first helped me realize that homemade food can be just as delicious, if not more so, than eating out. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love eating out. I can never resist the temptation to hit up my favorite spot for local margaritas and chips, and no homemade popcorn tastes as good and artery clogging as movie theater popcorn. But in my teenage years, Ina Garten’s recipes showed me I can cook, and it can taste good.

I first made these tarts when my friends and I back home got together for weekly cooking nights the summer after our freshman year in college. We went through many of Ina’s recipes (hello roasted potato and leek soup) that I have made multiple times since. These tarts were also part of my first dinner I made entirely by myself for my parents and my aunt.

These tarts are pretty simple but involve a few steps to prep. But they turn out great. I made mine a smaller side to serve as a side dish this time, but they are great when you make ’em bigger and serve as a meal with salad or soup.

CARMELIZED ONION, TOMATO, AND GOAT CHEESE TARTLETS
Slightly Adapted from Ina Garten

INGREDIENTS

2 onions, thinly sliced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons white wine
2 teaspoons dried thyme
Salt and pepper
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
2-4 ounces goat cheese
Parmesan cheese, grated
3 tomatoes, sliced
Herbs de Provence

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425°F. Prepare baking sheets.

In pan, combine olive oil and onions. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Stir in white wine, thyme, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for another 5-10 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat.

Roll out sheet of puff pastry slightly. Cut into small tart-size squares (about 1 1/2 inch by 1 1/2 inch). Place on prepared baking sheets. Spoon onion mixture evenly across tarts. Place tomato slices on top. Crumble goat cheese and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.

Bake for 20-15 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Sprinkle herbs de Provence on top. Serve warm.

Goat Cheese and Cherry Galettes

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It’s that divisive time of year again: Valentine’s Day.  Valentine’s Day is both full of love and hate from different people.  Commercialized, romantic, overpriced, etc., etc.

There will be no huge happenings at the Cinnamon Freud household for the holiday next Friday.  Perhaps I will renew my match.com membership, perhaps I will catch up on all my Real Housewives, perhaps I will booze it up to celebrate that at least it’s the weekend.  I’ll leave the lovebirds to their thing.

I am a neutral Valentine.  I don’t feel a huge need to grab the first living, breathing, testosterone filled human being, nor do I feel a burning hatred for those who have a significant other nor do I go on rampages about the commercialization of the evils of Hallmark.  I am just happy to eat seasonal candy (as I am for every holiday) and to have an excuse to bake.

So this cherry galette with goat cheese represents that divisive-ness of Valentine’s Day.  The cherry filling is sweet and juicy.  And the goat cheese is tart and salty.  Love and bitterness.

And it’s pink!

GOAT CHEESE AND CHERRY GALETTES
Slightly Adapted from Culinary Concotions by Peabody

INGREDIENTS

1 pie crust
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups cherries (I used drained morello cherries)
6 ounces goat cheese
1 egg white

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Grease a baking sheet.

Divide pie crust into 2 pieces.  Roll out into circles, about 1/4 inch thick.  Chill until ready to use.

In a bowl, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt.  Stir in lemon juice and cherries.  Mix in approximately 4 ounces of the goat cheese.  Divide filling between the two galettes, leaving a 1/2-1 inch border.  Top with remaining goat cheese.  Fold pie crust around filling.  Brush the pie crust with egg whites.  Bake for 22-27 minutes, until golden brown.

Makes 2 galettes.  Serves 2.

Fig and Walnut Salad with Breaded Goat Cheese

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It is officially hot.  Really hot.  Really, really hot. So hot that I get a very attractive brow sweat when I walk to class each day.  I apologize for talking about brow sweat on a website about food, but it’s the truth.

I eat a lot of fruit and veggies most days but especially during the warm summer months.  Something about the cool crispness of veggies and sweet juicy fruit is very satisfying during summer.  I am so ready to go buy my first watermelon of the season soon.

Salads get very little credit in the food-world. Sure, sandwiches are delicious, and desserts are basically sugary gifts from heaven. Salads are relegated to a side dish you have to eat out of politeness often.  But often during the summer I just want something cool and refreshing while I am  melting into a puddle on the sidewalk because of the heat or getting third degree burns from touching my black steering wheel. So that leaves salads or frozen yogurt.

Salads sometimes get a bad rep. They are often thought to be boring and blah, or the exciting salads filled with toppings are secret caloric black holes. But here ye: salads can be fun! And healthy! I promise.

This salad was inspired by a salad my mom had at a French bistro when we visited New York a few summers ago.  At the restaurant I was hot and hungry, and I breezed past the salad section of the menu, straight to the mussels, frites, and desserts sections. Salads had some tough competition with all the other delicious food at my fingertips. Luckily, my mom noticed a little gem of a salad with breaded warm goat cheese on the menu and fell in love. Everything gets a little better with goat cheese, right?

I incorporated the flavors from a favorite tapenade dip, and this delicious salad came to be. It makes a great light lunch, a good side dish, or a wonderful first course.

Consume while standing directly under your AC air vent.  Then follow it up with some frozen yogurt.

FIG AND WALNUT SALAD WITH BREADED GOAT CHEESE
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

For the Goat Cheese:
4 ounces goat cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon herbes de provence
1 egg white

For the Salad:
6 ounces dried figs, chopped
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup chopped kalamta olives
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Walnuts, chopped
Lettuce/Greens
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

For the Goat Cheese:

Cut the goat cheese into 12-16 pieces. Roll into balls and flatten into disks. In a bowl combine the bread crumbs, salt, and herbes de provence. Working with one piece at a time, dip goat cheese into egg white then breadcrumbs. Place on plate. Repeat with remaining goat cheese. Freeze for at least 15 minutes.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Spray pan with nonstick spray (this works better than using olive oil or melted butter). Cook several pieces of goat cheese at a time, 1-2 minutes per side. Keep warm in oven.

For the Salad:

In a sauce pan over medium-high heat combine figs and water. Bring to a boil and cook until the liquid is absorbed, 5-8 minutes. Stir in olives, vinegar, and olive oil. Keep warm.

Combine your greens and fig mixture in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Top with additional balsamic vinegar if desired. Place several goat cheese rounds on top. Top with walnuts.

Primavera Enchilada Pie

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Do you ever get into a rut?

I feel sometimes like I need some constant form of stimulation, or else I am bored.

I was feeling a little blah this week.  Feeling blah for me equates to a lot of sitting around watching television.  This week meant rewatching all of Dawson’s Creek on Netflix (no shame).  I watched this show off and on when I was a young, bratty preteen, and I have a secret to admit: back then I liked Dawson better than Pacey.

I can only blame this on my love for overly emotional, good boys back then.  I was blinded to the fact of how annoying Dawson was.  Blah, blah, I want to make movies, Joey why don’t you love me, wahhh.   And let’s not get started on little Joey who could never make up her mind  and acted superior to the world.

But I love this show still: sooo dramatic.  My favorite moment is tied between everyone jumping into the pool (with their clothes on, those crazy kids!!) after a long study session or Dawson’s dramatic walk out of the PSATs to show solidarity with Pacey.  Or maybe Dawson’s awful cry face when he tells Joey to go be with Pacey.  Too many great moments to choose from.

I have now watched almost every episode with those four whiny kids from Capeside*, and I gave myself a Cher-snap-out-of-it moment.    It was time to get up off the couch.  Rut time over.

Thank you to those of you who put up with a Dawson’s Creek rant that is about 10 years late.  Now on to the food,  I promise.

One of my first steps for getting out of my rut was making a new dinner with some spring veggies since spring finally seems to be here to stay since there is no snow forecasted in the next ten days.   Take some asparagus  peas, leeks, and any other veggies you love, sauté them, and coat them in a goat cheese sauce.

That would be a good enough, but it doesn’t end there.  Next you put the veggies between two tortillas and bake it.  This way the top tortilla gets crispy and the bottom one is soft.  It is a perfect mix of enchilada and tostada textures.

Here is my resolution: keep making delicious dinners like this and to get out more.

Also, rewatching Dawson’s Creek on Netflix with a completely different them song almost defeats the entire purpose of the show.

*For full disclosure, I do not judge Dawson’s Creek viewers- I too love it, just for what it is: melodramatic teens.  And also, this rewatching was over a few weeks.

PRIMAVERA ENCHILADA PIE
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon of butter, divided
1/4 cup sliced leeks
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped asparagus
1 1/2 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
1 once goat cheese
8 corn tortillas

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1/2 tablespoon of butter and leeks.  Season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.  Stir in asparagus  peas, and remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter.  Cook until tender, 4-6 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in milk.  Heat until simmering and whisk in flour.  Cook, stirring occasionally  until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.  Stir in goat cheese until melted.

Place four tortillas on a greased baking sheet.  Divide filling between the tortillas.  Top with remaining four tortillas.  Top with additional filling if desired.  Bake for 13-17 minutes, until golden brown.

Serves 4.

Strawberry Balsamic Flatbread with Goat Cheese

 
 
 
Do you ever yearn?  For warmer temperatures?  For spring?  For strawberries?  I am in the midst of some serious spring yearning.  Warmer temperatures, pink lipstick, strawberries, flowers, and capris.  This is a very eclectic spring list, but I got the spring fever.
 
I never thought there would be a time when I would be yearning for warmer temperature here in Texas, but here we are.  While I am not ready for the blazing heat of summer summer and sweating the instant I step outside, I am just tired of being cold. The cold is nice when you can cuddle up in bed under lots of covers, but when you have to get up to function, not so much. I am looking forward to at least not having to double layer my clothes anymore just to stay warm when I leave my apartment in the morning. Yes, I run freakishly cold and have to double layer my clothes in Texas.  Judge away.
 
By the way, a few months from now when I am melting in the summer heat, please do not remind me of this time when I was begging for heat.  I will be hot and sweaty and not receptive to this information.
 
Even though there is some oscillation between cold and warmer temperatures still happening here, I am hoping to finally convince spring to stick around with this pizza recipe using fresh spring flavors. It’s light and a great combo of warm pizza crust and cool, refreshing toppings.  It would be wonderful to eat outside at a picnic table while rabbits hop around you and the birds sing a sweet song. And with one layer of clothing on.  Is it spring yet?
STRAWBERRY BALSAMIC FLATBREAD WITH GOAT CHEESE
Adapted from The Sweets Life
 
INGREDIENTS

For the Crust:

1 package active yeast
1/2 cup water, at 110°F
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
 
For the Flatbread:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup Italian parsley
2 tablespoons water
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 1/2- 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS
 
For the Crust:

Preheat oven to 475°F.

In in small bowl, dissolve yeast in water with granulated sugar.  Let sit about 10 minutes, until foamy.  In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.  Pour dissolved yeast over flour.  Stir together with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms.  On a lightly floured surface, knead dough for about 10 minutes.  Let sit in a warm place and rise for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour.  

For the Flatbread:

Place balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and cook until thick a syrupy.  Keep warm.
In a food processor combine parsley and water.  Process until a chunky paste forms.  Set aside

Divide the pizza dough into 2 equal sized pieces.  Roll out to desired thinness.  Sprinkle about half of the parsley mixture on top of the flatbreads.  Sprinkle flatbread with salt and pepper.  Bake for 10-14 minutes, until golden brown.  Top warm crust with remaining parsley paste, strawberries, cucumbers, and tomatoes.  Drizzle balsamic sauce on top  Season with salt.  Top with crumbled goat cheese.

Serves 2-3.

 

 

Spanakopita

After only trying Greek food for the first time last year, I have been busy at work making up for lost time.  All those years when I turned up my nose at those “funky” foods with yogurt, sweet spices, spinach, and olives- what a waste.  I am now enamored with Mediterranean cuisine in all forms.
For those who have never had spanakopita before, it’s a pastry of phyllo dough filled with a spinach, nuts, and cheese. It’s warm, crunchy, and cheesy all at the same time- perfect as a side dish with some lamb or a main dish served with a Greek side salad.  Making homemade spanakopita seems like an intimidating and long process, but it really isn’t.  It takes a little more effort than a microwave dinner perhaps, but the results are so much better.  The only step that might pose some difficulty is buttering each phyllo dough and layering.  I’ll be honest- I often don’t bother with buttering each sheet when I am feeling lazy, and it still tastes good.
(On a side note, I am very proud of these pictures.  I have taken dozens upon dozens of pictures of Spanakopita, but these are the first to actually look appetizing- all thanks to a new camera from my uncle!)
SPANAKOPITA
Adapted from Ina Garten
INGREDIENTS
12 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chicken stock
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 ounce Romano cheese, grated
1/2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

12 sheets phyllo dough
3-4 tablespoons melted butter

Kosher salt
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.


Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add spinach and cook until wilted.  (You may need to do this in two batches if you don’t have a skillet large enough).  Cool in a colander.  Drain and squeeze out excess water.  Set aside.


Heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  Heat olive oil and  add onion. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until golden brown and tender.  Add garlic, and cook for 1-2 additional minutes until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with chicken stock and continue to cook until all liquid has evaporated.  Cool and set aside.


In a large bowl, combine eggs, Parmesan, nutmeg, spinach, onion, and garlic.  Season with a generous pinch of salt and some freshly cracked black pepper.  Fold in a pine nuts and goat cheese.


Working with 3 sheets of phyllo dough at a time, brush each layer with melted butter as you layer then on top of each other.  Cut the sheets in half lengthwise.  Place a dollop on each strip of phyllo dough.  Fold in a triangular shape as if you were folding a flag. Place on baking sheet fold-side down.  Repeat with remaining phyllo dough and filling.  Brush the tops of the spanakopita with melted butter and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until tops are golden brown. Let cool for 3-5 minutes on baking sheet before eating.


Makes 8 spanakopita.  Serves 2-4.

Fig and Walnut Tapenade

I hope everyone had a good Memorial Day weekend with lots of good food.  Our Half-Thanksgiving celebration was a huge success.  I got to spend a day cooking up food in the kitchen so all in all, a good weekend for me (excluding a terribly bitter chocolate pie and an emergency grocery store run for dessert).

Our menu included fried turkey, stuffing, cornbread, broccoli salad, cranberry sauce.  All great but my favorite was this fig and olive tapenade.  This recipe is an example of mother knowing best.  My mom found this recipe which sounded okay, but I was not tempted.  She had it and liked it, so when I couldn’t come up with another dip for appetizers, I decided to settle for this tapenade.  So. Delicious.  I had to restrain myself from downing this dip so I would still have room for dinner.  But in the end, I finished the dip up (with some help from mom) as a late night snack.  I miss it already.

FIG AND WALNUT TAPENADE
Slightly Adapted from Bon Appetit
INGREDIENTS

9 ounces dried figs, stemmed and chopped
1/3 cup water
2/3 cup chopped Kalamata olives
1 1/2 tablespoons capers, chopped
1/4 teaspoon herbes de Provence
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

To Serve: Goat Cheese, Crackers

DIRECTIONS
In a medium skillet over medium heat, combine figs and water.  Cook for 5-7 minutes, until water has evaporated and figs are soft.  Remove from heat and cool slightly. In a large bowl combine figs, olives, capers, herbes de Provence, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.  Stir to mix.  Chill for at least 1 hour, preferrably overnight, to allow the flavors to meld.
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add walnuts and cook for 2-3 minutes, watching carefully, until toasted.  Mix walnuts into tapenade.  Serve on top of a cracker with goat cheese.

Goat Cheese Risotto

I made my first risotto!

My kitchen funk has been lasting for a few weeks now.  I have not been inspired in the kitchen, and consequently most of what I have been cooking up has been lackluster.  I decided the only way to get over this funk was to face it head on.  So, I returned to a food that many fear to make: risotto.  I have never had risotto before, and my first attempt at the dish a few weeks ago was Disastrous (with a capital D here).  I ate hard, undercooked rice that night for dinner. (In my defense, people on Top Chef seem to have risotto problems too)

I decided I had to conquer this dish, not only because I have a full container of rice sitting in the pantry but also because I needed to assert myself as the master of my kitchen.  This time my risotto was a success!  It was creamy and perfectly cooked.  Now that I’ve made a basic risotto, I think I am ready to experiment with some new flavor combinations.  And I think my kitchen funk may finally be over- I just planned out my meals for the next week, and I am feeling excited to cook again!

Also, risotto may be a perfect dish for a Valentine’s celebration at home with your lover.  But not me-  I, as a single lady, am obligated to sit on the couch in my PJs eating chocolate, reading Kathy comics, and watching romantic comedies starring Hugh Grant.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

GOAT CHEESE RISOTTO
From Cinnamon Freud
INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon butter
1 medium shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup dried arborio rice
1/4 cup white wine
2 1/2 cups chicken stock, simmering
3-4 ounces goat cheese, softened
Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS
In a medium saucepan, heat chicken stock until simmering.  Keep over heat at constant simmer while cooking risotto.
Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Melt butter and add shallot to skillet.  Cook for 5-7 minutes, until softened.  Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.  Add rice and toast for 5-7 minutes.
Add white wine to pan and cook until absorbed, 5-7 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of simmering chicken stock to risotto and cook, stirring frequently, for 7-9 minutes.  Add another 1/2 cup of chicken stock when the stock in the skillet is almost completely absorbed.  When you run your spoon down the pan and the risotto does not immediately fill back, you are ready to add more liquid. Repeat until all of chicken stock is absorbed; this should take 30-35 minutes total.
Turn off heat and stir in goat cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in blanched broccoli, peas, or mushrooms if desired.
Serves 2-3.