Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Harvest Tarte for Thanksgiving & Christmas

These savory puff pastry tartes were a big hit as our vegetarian main for both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. Enjoyed by both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, these Harvest Tartes have endless possibilities for the vegetable stuffing inside. Plus, the frozen puff pastry sheets (Pepperidge Farm) are vegan, and the recipe makes two tartes.  I used mushrooms, pesto, cauliflower, romanesca, broccolini, lentils, cheese and spinach in this recipe.

Harvest Tartes Recipe:

1 box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry (Frozen)
8oz mushrooms (I used baby portobellos and King Trumpets), sliced
2 TBS olive oil
1 tsp butter (or oil)
fresh herbs, finely chopped, if available (optional)
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
2-3 cups of vegetables (I used cauliflower, romanesca, and broccolini)
1-2 TBS pesto (or other sauce)
3 TSP cooked lentils (optional or sub another cooked grain/pulse)
6 oz baby spinach
1-2 TBS vegetable broth
2 oz cheese (I used Cowgirl Creamery's Mount Tam)
1 egg, beaten to glaze (optional)

Remove the puff pastry sheets from the freezer, open the packages and open the sheets up. Defrost for 30-40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 F degrees.

Put a little oil in a frying pan and lightly cook a clove of garlic. Add the sliced mushrooms, spreading them out in the pan so they cook evenly. Add the butter and fresh herbs, if using, or a little more oil as needed. Cook until the mushrooms have released their juices but are still slightly firm. Salt & Pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a frying pan, heat 1-2 TBS olive oil and fry 1-2 crushed garlic cloves over low heat.  Add your  2-3 cups for vegetables and fry until your vegetables are beginning to soften:

Add the pesto, lentils, vegetable broth, spinach and salt and pepper. Cover and cook a couple more minutes. Vegetables should be almost cooked, but still firm.  

When you unfold the puff pastry sheets, you'll see lines from the folds where they were folded which basically divide them into 3 long sections each.  Cut even thin fingers on the two outer sections per the picture below:

I layered the mushrooms along the un-cut center section and topped them with my cooked vegetables with lentils, and topped the vegetables with cheese:

You then fold the fingers over the filling, one finger from one side, then one finger from the other side until all the filling is covered:

Place on a baking sheet line with a non-stick silicone baking mat (or use foil if you don't have one) to prevent the bottom from sticking to the baking sheet.  Brush with beaten egg, if desired, to get the shiny glaze you see on the cooked version below. Put in the oven and bake 20-25 minutes, until crisp and golden.

Let it cool a bit before trying to move it off the line baking sheet as it is very fragile when hot. Use two spatulas to prevent it breaking when moving.

Enjoy with vegetables, as an appetizer, a salad depending on the season!

Below is a picture of my Christmas lunch!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Zucchini & Mushroom Bread Pudding with Squash Blossoms

Here's an easy-to-make, inexpensive, and very tasty savory bread pudding recipe that combines garlicky zucchini and mushrooms  with pesto, cheese and eggs.

My daughter announced that she "really likes zucchini", so we picked up some zucchini and squash blossoms at the Farmers Market. I had some dry sliced white bread that needed using and this recipe transformed something that could have been wasted into a delicious couple of meals! Perfect with a fresh green salad on the side.

Zucchini and Mushroom Bread Pudding with Squash Blossoms
2-3 slices of dry bread
3 eggs
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup grated cheese (I used sharp cheddar and Emmental. Feta would also be delicious, but reduce to 1/4 cup crumbled feta)
olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
2 medium zucchini, quarter lengthwise and cut into slices
8-10 small mushrooms
squash blossoms to decorate if available

Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Grease a 9 1/2 " pie pan.
Spread the dry bread generously with pesto and cut into 1 inch squares.  Arrange the squares in the bottom and edges of the pie pan.
Beat 3 eggs, add the milk, and beat to combine. Add salt and pepper to the egg mixture.

In a frying pan, heat the olive oil and add the minced garlic and shallot with salt and pepper. Cook over medium, stirring well, for 3-4 minutes. Add the zucchini, salt and pepper, and cook for 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until zucchini is almost tender.

Spread the cooked vegetables over the bread. Top with the grated cheese (or crumbled feta). Pour the egg mixture over the bread, vegetables, and cheese and use a spatula to press the ingredients down into the egg mixture.

If you have squash blossoms, remove the stems and the stamens from inside. Carefully, tear open each blossom on one side so they open flat like a book. Place them on top of the egg mixture and gently press down into the egg mixture.

Bake at 350 F degrees for 30-35 minutes.  Enjoy with a salad!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Asparagus & Potato Soup

This simple recipe for Asparagus & Potato soup can be made in 30 minutes and makes excellent use of the larger asparagus as the season comes to an end.  Comforting, light, and easy on the stomach, this is the perfect "feel better" food.

I brightened the flavor with a little citrus vinegar, but lemon juice will also do the trick,

Asparagus & Potato Soup:

1 TBS butter, salted
1/4 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, pressed
3/4 cup diced potato
1 large bunch of asparagus, woody stems removed, cut into thin rounds
3 cups of vegetable broth
1/8 tsp citrus vinegar or lemon juice
Chives, finely chopped (optional)

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and add the finely chopped onion. Cook for 3 minutes over medium-low heat and add the garlic. Cook one minute and add the diced potato. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring so the potato doesn't stick. Add the asparagus and a little extra butter or olive oil and stir. Add salt and pepper and cover and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the vegetable broth and partially cover. Turn up the heat to bring the liquid to the boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat and puree using an immersion blender. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Top with chives, if desired.  Sour cream or creme fraiche would also be good!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Pinto Bean, Avocado, Broccoli Bowl Topped with a Fried Egg

The greatness of the "bowl" is that it encourages you to make something varied and delicious with items you already have on hand.  This bowl above combines pinto beans, cooked rice, broccoli and avocado and tops it with a fried egg.  If this had been for me, there would have been salsa and hot sauce too!

Beans and/or a grain, some lightly cooked greens, roasted vegetables, olives, nuts and your favorite sauces are all you need to make a quick lunch or dinner that is healthy and uses the best produce of the season.  Think Asian or Mediterranean or Indian! Mix cooked and raw vegetables. This is the perfect dish for those dried lentils or new grain you've been meaning to try or those fancy flavored olive oils or vinegars.

One of my favorite combos is black beans and dinosaur kale. What's your favorite bowl?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Asparagus and Leek Quiche

I'm taking advantage of the good-looking, low-priced asparagus in our local stores.  Mostly, I just snap of the woody ends, roast it in the oven with lemon olive oil and a little salt and pepper, and eat it with my fingers.  However, with Easter approaching, eggs are on my mind and asparagus and eggs are a great combination.This quiche with creamy leeks, swiss cheese, baby spinach, olives, and asparagus is excellent both hot and cold, so make it ahead of time and serve it for brunch or with a salad for dinner with friends.

I roasted the asparagus in the oven at 400F degrees for 15 minutes.  It's easy to overcook, so check it often. You want it to retain some bite. Toss with a little lemon juice if you like. Once cool enough to handle, I sliced the stems in rounds and kept the tips to decorate the top.

Turn the oven down to 350F degrees to cook the quiche.

I chopped a leek and sauteed it in butter until soft, then added the baby spinach,the cut asparagus, and a few chopped green olives (optional).

I used a frozen pie-crust and covered the base with grated Swiss cheese.  I then put the tips aside and topped the cheese with the leek-spinach-asparagus-olive mix,  spreading it out evenly.  More grated Swiss on top and a little parmesan.  I then poured in the custard of 2 eggs, 1 egg yolk, S&P, beaten with enough half-and-half to make a total of 1 1/2 cups. I placed the tips decoratively on top.

Bake for about 35 minutes. Good hot or cold!  This would also be delicious with crumbled goat cheese or feta. Enjoy!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Kale, Leek & Potato Pizza for St Patrick's Day

The smell of leeks cooking in butter has filled the house with deliciousness! My St Patrick's Day dish this year is a pizza with leeks, baby greens, very thinly sliced potato, and Dubliner Irish Cheddar. And, of course, I used Kerrygold butter for the leeks.

("Not really a pizza", my daughter says, "because there's no tomato sauce.")

The end result was surprising light on the stomach, but hearty in flavor.  I thought it was a wonderful way to eat your greens.

Here's the easy recipe:

Kale, Leek & Potato Pizza

3-4 small potatoes, sliced as thin as possible
1 leek, trimmed and cleaned and thinly sliced in rounds
Kerrygold Irish butter
olive oil
salt & pepper
5oz bag of baby greens
1 ball Trader Joe's pizza dough
Dubliner Irish Cheddar

Heat the oven to 425. Toss your thin potato slices in a little olive oil with salt. Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes, until just tender.

Melt some butter in a frying pan and cook your sliced leeks over medium -low until soft and starting to brown.

Remove the leeks to a small bowl and add a little olive oil.  Add your greens to the pan and toss so all the greens are very lightly coated.  Cook for 1-2 minutes, add a little water and salt, and cover.  Cook 1 more minute or until greens are cooked through.  When they are cool enough to handle, squeeze out as much liquid as you can and chop finely.

I used one Trader Joe's pizza dough and made two pizzas, so the pizza crust was as thin as I could get it. You need a thin crust if you're going to put potatoes on your pizza, I think. Topped the crust with grated Dubliner Irish Cheddar. Sprinkle the finely chopped greens over the pizza, top with the leeks and a little more grated cheese. Place the thin slices of potato all over the pizza and top with another sprinkle of grated cheddar. Brush the edges of the dough with olive oil.

Bake at 425 on a pizza stone until the edges of the dough are browning (about 10 minutes).  Allow to cool for a couple of minutes before slicing. Enjoy and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Millennium Fall Cooking Class

A beautiful, fall salad of thinly shaved persimmon, topped with a salad of bitter greens, shaved fennel, and fresh herbs with a thick meyer lemon vinaigrette and toasted pistachios. What you can't see is the cashew cheese "chevre" under the greens.  A perfect start to a vegan Thanksgiving....

Today's cooking class at Millennium, San Francisco's premiere vegan restaurant, with Chef Eric Tucker, had an appropriate fall focus on comfort, along with California freshness.

Potatoes are a classic comfort and we elevated them in these perogies with a filling of potatoes, truffle, and cashew cream, served with a dijon-horseradish cream:

These thick cut potatoes fries were transformed by smoking:

Brussels Sprouts blanched then sauteed with smoked tofu were incredible:

A twist of vegetable-fried rice, this version with kimchee:

Grilled tempeh with quince-braised cabbage:

For the gluten-free, a truffle-potato cake subbed for the perogi (we added garbanzo flour to the potato filling and dusted with a combination of rice flour and a gluten-free flour mix from Red Mill), pan-fried, then baked:

Dessert was a blondie-crusted pear torte with cashew pastry cream and a failed whipped cashew cream became the most amazing cashew ice cream spiked with orange and rum:

Many thanks to Eric and Sam for another great class.

A fabulous group of cooks and food enthusiasts today - cheers!

As always, here are links to my posts on my many previous Millennium cooking classes:

  • Chile Class 2011

  • July 2011 Class

  • Mushroom Cooking Class January 2011

  • Sept.2010 Cooking Class

  • July 2010 Cooking Class

  • June 2010 Cooking Class

  • Spring Cooking Class 2010

  • Chiles Cooking Class 2009

  • July Cooking Class 2009

  • June Cooking Class 2009

  • Spring Cooking Class 2009

  • Mushroom Cooking Class

  • Holiday Cooking Class

  • Fall Harvest 2008

  • Indian Summer

  • Southern Comfort Cooking Class

  • Spring Cooking Class

  • Fall Harvest Cooking Class

  • Chiles Class

  • Tomato Class