Caramelized Onion, Tomato and Blue Cheese Galette

Caramelized Onion, Tomato and Blue Cheese Galette

It has never felt so good to be back in the kitchen.  I had the summer of a lifetime, but there was one thing missing…my kitchen.  I thought it would be strange to cook after no kitchen time for a couple of months, but I got right back into it – with a little help from my market basket.  I still miss all the produce and wonderful food products from France and Italy, but this is the best time of year in Seattle – the markets are overflowing with beautiful produce.

It is also hard to believe it is September – not only the beginning of my favorite season – but the IFBC is just around the corner!  I can’t want to hear about the latest food/blogging trends and share them with you.

This week I had the opportunity to visit Coyle’s Bakeshop where she showed us how to make a delicious flakey pie crust.  It is very similar to my recipe (without the sugar) – and she made us a savory and a sweet galette.  It just so happened that the next day when my market basket arrived, it came with the perfect ingredients.  So here you go, my re-entry galette…  If you would rather make your own crust (which I highly recommend), please follow my recipe – omitting the sugar – and then use one disk for galette.

Ingredients

  • Pie crust dough (found in the refrigerator section)
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup sherry or white wine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese

Preparation

Melt the olive oil and butter in a saute pan, over medium heat. Add thinly sliced onion and red bell pepper.  Saute, stirring, for a while, until the onions start browning and getting soft.  Add 1/4 cup of the sherry or white wine to deglaze the pan.  Keep stirring until all the liquid is evaporated and then add the rest.  The entire process should take around 25 minutes, and the onion and pepper should be nice and soft.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out the pie crust in a 10″ circle.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Add the caramelized onion and pepper mixture, leaving a rim around the edge (to fold over).  Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, and sprinkle on top.  Then sprinkle the blue cheese.  Fold over the dough, creasing every couple of inches.  Bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Caramelized Onion, Tomato and Blue Cheese Galette

Monkey 47 Martini

Monkey 47 Martini 1

Traveling is such a gift – getting to explore new areas, having new experiences, but most of all – eating and drinking the local specialties. A few years ago when I was in Paris, I noticed this beautiful bottle of Gin. Ok, so I must admit, I am a sucker for the labels. If a bottle has a nice label, it must taste good – right? Now, I know that is not always true, but since I know absolutely nothing about wine (except that French wines – in France – are my favorite), that is usually how I choose which bottle to buy. Ok, I diverge…so back to this Gin. It just looked interesting, and I had never seen it before – so I asked the bartended about it. He told me it was made in Germany, and then went on to rave about all the botanicals that it was made from. I asked him if I could smell it (not sure if that was completely appropriate, but went for it anyway), and he said yes. He was right, this Gin smelled incredible. The price was a little high for my taste though, so I decided to defer tasting the Gin to another time..

I never forgot about that Gin, but was waiting for the right time to indulge. I looked for it in the US, but they don’t export it yet, so I knew that I had to wait until I was back in Europe. So this summer I was on a quest to try this Gin – but I couldn’t see spending the money on getting it at a restaurant or bar – cocktails in Paris are incredibly high – so I decided I was going to buy a bottle instead. It couldn’t be bad, and if it was, I would figure out a way to make it palatable. I found a liquor store that carried the Gin, and purchased it along with my favorite French vermouth (Dolin). I then waited for the right occasion – Bastille Day – to make myself a martini.

You would think that with all these years of anticipation that I would be let down, but no – quite the opposite. It was better than I could have ever imagined. I was in love. It was the best martini I had ever had. It was wonderfully smooth, flavorful, and if you are not a Gin drinker – you would be after tasting this. Who knew that a German Gin could steel my heart away like this?  That’s what travelling is all about…

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. Monkey 47 Gin
  • 1/2 oz. Dolin Blanc Vermouth
  • Lemon Twist

Preparation

Mix together the gin and vermouth in a glass with ice – stir for about 30 seconds or until very cold.  Strain into a martini glass, and serve with a twist of lemon.

Makes 1 cocktail.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here: Monkey 47 Martini

Monkey 47 Martini 4

Parmesan Crisps

Parmesan Crisps

Cheese is on my short list.  The short list of things I must consume as much as possible of while in France. Fortunately for me, what I was hoping for actually happened.  In the US, I can’t really eat dairy without taking a lactaid pill – and even then, it doesn’t always work.  So, for the most part, I stay away from dairy as best as I can – but as you can tell from my blog, it doesn’t always stop me.  Then I just suffer the consequences – if the handy pill decides not to work.

Here, it is a different story…whatever it is, dairy agrees with me just fine.  It definitely begs the question of what is done to our dairy in the US.  I can eat all the cheese I want here, and I am fine.  I can even drink a nice glass of milk – what a bonus.  My husband thinks it is the fact that I am under no stress here – I think it is the quality of the food.  Whatever it is, I am enjoying every minute of it.  One more reason why this is the place for me.

The other night we were out at one of the cutest places ever – Buvette – where I am absolutely in love with everything there, the boxes filled with fresh fruit just waiting to be made into a tart, the adorable bar with top quality liquors, and the food that is exceptionally fresh and delicious.  The girls each got a Croque Monsieur, and the cheese on the top was so crusty, it was amazing.  It reminded me of these parmesan crisps I made before I left – recipe from Cooking Light.  They were the perfect accompaniment to the tomato fennel soup we were enjoying.  Although they are just as good on their own.  Now if you could excuse me, I have some more cheese to eat…truffle cheese from the farmer’s market.  Yum!

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Spread 2 teaspoons cheese evenly into a 2-inch circle on a parchment-lined baking sheet; repeat 5 times, leaving 1 inch between circles. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes or until golden. Remove pan from oven; carefully lift crisps from pan with a spatula, and place on a wire rack. Cool cheese crisps completely.

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Cherry Liqueur

Cherry Liquor

I am writing this with a big smile on my face – I am relaxed and happy – and looking forward to my husband joining us on this adventure.  Oh, and did I mention how VERY THANKFUL I am to my incredible team who is allowing me to have this break?  I swear two weeks in, and I am already a new person.

As you can tell, I haven’t been blogging, but that is because there is so much to do and see here!  Also – if you have followed my blog for quite some time, you know that I don’t love cooking in other people’s kitchens.  Even though we are here for a long time, the kitchen is not mine, and I the supplies are limited.  Another big factor is the heat…it is very hot here, and we do not have air conditioning.  So I am trying to be very careful about not using the stove or oven very much.  We have been eating very simple dinners of bread, charcuterie and cheese – and a nice salad.  I must say, it has been a welcome change.

Before I left though, the cherries were in full bloom at our house.  As with every year, we are always trying to figure out new ways to use them – last year’s cherry butter was a huge hit, but I just didn’t have the time to do any jamming before I left.  Sad as that may sound… This year I have to give the credit to my husband – he came up with the idea to make cherry liqueur, and I thought it was brilliant!  He even found the recipe on Serous Eats, and then I took over.  Fortunately I was able to have a little taster the night before I left – and OMG this stuff is amazing!!  So easy to make, and look at the color – it is screaming cherries.  It is sweet and absolutely delicious. My husband has been enjoying it while we are enjoying our own delicacies – but he promised to save me a bottle so we could experiment with cocktails when I am home.

Ingredients

  • 6 cups Bing cherries, pitted
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken

Preparation

Put the pitted cherries at the bottom of a sealable glass jar and muddle them with a wooden spoon or muddler to release some juice. Drain the juice into a separate container and set aside. Then add the brandy, vodka, and cinnamon stick to the muddled cherries. Seal and shake the jar. Let steep for one week at room temperature away from direct sun, shaking every few days.

Combine the reserved cherry juice, sugar, and water in a pan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool. Once the syrup is cooled, add it to the steeping jar, seal, and shake. Then let it steep for an additional 2 to 5 days. Strain through fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth into glass jar or bottle. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Cherry Liqueur

Dutch Baby Pancake

Dutch Baby

Everyone deserves a break every once in a while – and there are those breaks that are definitely worth waiting for.  After 17 years of working for the same company, I am getting one of those breaks.  My job is not just work – it is all consuming.  I do things with my kids, and take time to write this blog – as a means to get away.  But to be honest, I am never really get away.  It is always in the background of pretty much everything I do.  But not this summer.  I am heading out on an adventure with my two girls, and my husband will join us later.  It will just be us for the summer.  Work will be left behind, waiting for me to engage again in the fall.

To say that this year has been a lot to handle would be an understatement.  After years of being consistent on this blog, I finally had to set it aside for a longer periods of time.  My breaks in the kitchen have been few and far between – but I hope that will change this summer – and if it doesn’t, it is because I am having too much fun doing something else.  Spending time exploring a wonderful city – eating and walking all day.

Last summer was the last time I really spent time cooking – and I made this Dutch Baby Pancake at my mother’s house – I was in such a hurry to take a picture that I didn’t even remember to sift the powdered sugar on top.  Then in a instant, the whole thing was gone – inhaled by my children.  Yes, it was that good.  Now, I am not posting this because it is a beautiful picture – but I couldn’t let this sit in the queue any longer.  With Father’s Day next weekend, I wanted to give you something that will make the father’s in your life happy.  We will be definitely be missing ours!

On Friday, my team made me a farewell video…it was absolutely amazing.  It was hilarious – but the words completely hit the mark.  It’s time to let it go…

Ingredients

  • 1-2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoons melted butter, cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • powdered sugar

Preparation

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450.  Brush surface and sides of a large oven-proof 12-inch skillet generously with the canola oil.  Place skillet on over rack and heat until oil is shimmering, about 10 minutes.
 
Meanwhile, combine flour, cornstarch, lemon zest and salt in a large bowl.  Whisk eggs in another bowl until frothy and light, about 1 minute.  Whisk milk, butter, and vanilla into eggs until incorporated.  Whisk one-third of milk mixture into flour mixture until no lumps remain, then slowly whisk in remaining milk mixture until smooth.
 
Remove skillet from oven and carefully pour the batter into heated skillet and bake until edges of Dutch Baby are deep golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve immediately, along with powdered sugar for generous sprinkling over the pancake.
For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Dutch Baby

Chocolate Muscat Cookies

Chocolate Muscat Cookies

Do you ever wonder what it would be like if you could actually see what was going on in people’s heads?  I am sure someone created a television show on that at some point, but think about it – so often people convince themselves of something that really deep down inside, they don’t believe for a minute.  Transparency is a very powerful tool.  It just goes to show you, that everything is more complex than it seems.  Just when you think you understand exactly what it going on, think twice. It’s what makes life extremely interesting.  It is the people that can navigate well through ambiguity that deserve all the credit in the end.

The same can be said about food – what if you always knew exactly what you were eating – not just that you were eating a chocolate cookie, but exactly what ingredients were.  Sure, we are living in a world where that is happening more and more with packaged foods – but when you are in a restaurant, there are still unknowns.  And that is exactly what creates the “secret ingredient”.  I have never been a fan of the “secret ingredient” or even not sharing recipes.  Sharing a recipe allows other people to join in on the happiness that you felt when eating that special dish.

But there is another side to all of this – if you knew that you didn’t like something, and then you knew it was in the food you were eating, you would never have the opportunity to try it in a different way.  For example, my daughter doesn’t like nuts – but in these cookies, they are so finely ground that she loves them!  It wasn’t until after she ate one did she ask if there were nuts in them – when I said yes, she already decided she liked them, so we were good.

This recipe from my mother not only has ground nuts, but also Muscat – a desert wine.  You would never know, but again, it just gives these cookies a hint of flavor that you would not get otherwise.  They are absolutely delicious.  So – maybe not knowing exactly what is going on is a good thing – it opens your mind to new things…a perfect way to learn and grow.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 lbs. Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate
  • 4 oz.. sweet butter
  • 3/4 cup Muscat
  • 6 eggs
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar
  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 cups slivered almonds
  • granulated sugar for rolling
  • confectioners sugar for rolling

Preparation

Melt together butter and chocolate over double boiler. Meanwhile, mix eggs, Muscat, and sugar.  Grind almonds with flour and baking powder in food processor. Whip the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the almond mixture. Chill the dough until firm. Overnight works best (can freeze). Scoop out about 1 oz. of dough and roll into a ball with the palms of your hands. Roll the ball, first in granulated sugar, then in confectionery sugar. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place 1-2 inches apart to allow for spreading. DO NOT OVERBAKE. Bake at 350 for 13 minutes. Freezes well after baking. Batter can keep in refrigerator for a week as well. Makes 90 small cookies. For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:  Chocolate Muscat Cookies

IMG_6252

Spring Risotto with Poached Eggs

Spring Risotto with Poached Eggs

Spring is here in full bloom in the Pacific Northwest.  We had a very mild (and somewhat dry winter), when the rest of the country was experiencing record snow fall.  I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but so far (as I knock loudly on wood) our spring has been pretty spectacular.  If the weather can just hold for one more week, it will be a spring miracle.  And it will make my daughter so happy…she is looking at the weather app on her phone daily right now, hoping it stays this way.

For those of you who know me well, you know that I have 100 things on my mind right now, not one of them pertaining to what we are going to eat for dinner.  Oh, and cooking and baking on the weekends?  That has gone out the window completely for the past several weeks.  I am hoping to get back to it soon.  In fact, I know I will be able to get back to it soon.  Just after this major milestone, that family and friends will be coming out to celebrate with us.  No pressure at all – particularly for my older daughter.  None.

So – if you are wondering how I had time to make this delicious Spring Risotto with Poached Eggs – this has been sitting in the queue for quite some time.  About a year to be honest with you – it was just about a year ago when I made this, and just never had time to post it.  Once summer came, I decided to wait until spring came again, knowing that I would be a little consumed this year.  This recipe from Farm & Larder was the perfect spring meal – and whenever I have an excuse to make some poached eggs, I am a happy girl.  Happy spring everyone!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shelled fresh (or frozen, thawed) fava beans or peas (from about 2 pounds pods)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 4-5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/4 pound chanterelles, morels or crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, halved or quartered if large
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large leeks, whites and pale greens only, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (if desired)
  • 1 1/4 cups finely grated Vecchio or Romano (about 2.5 ounces) plus more for shaving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Cook fava beans or peas in a large saucepan of boiling salted water 1 minute. Drain; transfer to a bowl of ice water and let cool.

Bring a large skillet of salted water to a bare simmer over medium-low heat. Add vinegar. Crack 1 egg into a small bowl, then slide into simmering water. Repeat with 2 more eggs. Cook until whites are cooked but yolks are runny, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water. Repeat with remaining 3 eggs.

Bring broth to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large, wide heavy pot over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to bowl with favas.

Heat oil and remaining 1 tablespoon butter in same pot over medium heat. Add leeks and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened, about 4 minutes.

Add rice and stir to coat, about 2 minutes. Add wine (or chicken broth) and cook, stirring occasionally, until evaporated, about 4 minutes. Add 1 cup broth. Cook, stirring often (no need to stir constantly), until broth is almost absorbed. Add remaining broth by cupfuls, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more, stirring often, until rice is tender but still firm to the bite and mixture is creamy, about 15 minutes total.

Add cheese and reserved beans and mushrooms to risotto. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Season risotto with salt.

A few minutes before risotto is done, reheat poached eggs in a large skillet of simmering water, about 1 minute. Divide risotto among bowls and top with eggs, shaved cheese, parsley and pepper.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe, please click here:   Spring Risotto with Poached Eggs