caramelized garlic tart

IMG_5455Whenever I buy a new cookbook or rip through a fresh- in-my-mailbox magazine, I dog ear pages like crazy, making notes left and right. I have a laundry list of creative endeavors I aspire to accomplish. I often find, however, that I get sidetracked – it’s an ongoing problem I call multi-tasking max out.

I recently rifled through the robustly colorful cookbook, PLENTYnamed by Amazon Editors’ as a “Favorite Book of the Year” for 2014. The award winning chef and food writer, Yotam Ottolenghi has been described as “the man who made vegetables sexy.” I wanted to find something scrumptious to make for a Labor Day party and this tart was the ticket. While there are PLENTY of steps to making this light puff of a pastry, the process is simple. Just allow enough time for preparation and avoid cramming it in between Sunday Church, football, laundry and walking the dog.

A Beautiful Cover Always Grabs My Attention

A beautiful book cover always grabs my attention

With Thanksgiving looming, the versatility of the Carmelized Garlic Tart can double as an elegant #thanksgivingappetizer or #thanksgivingvegetariandish. The tart can be made a day ahead and then reheated before serving. I love recipes that allow for something special and beautiful on the plate without requiring you to sweat it out in your heels and party clothes minutes before your guests arrive.

Ingredients
13 oz all-butter puff pastry
3 medium heads of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 Tb olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
¾ Tb sugar
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp chopped thyme, plus a few whole sprigs to finish
4 ¼ oz creamy goat cheese (such as chevre)
4 ¼ oz hard, mature goat cheese (such as goat gouda)
2 eggs
6 1/2 Tb heavy cream
6 1/2 Tb crème fraîche
black pepper

Directions
Have ready a shallow, loose-bottomed, 11-inch fluted tart pan (I bought a new pan from Bed, Bath & Beyond by Wilton). Roll out the puff pastry into a circle that will line the bottom and sides of the pan, plus a little extra. Line the pan with the pastry. Place a large circle of greaseproof paper on the bottom and fill up with baking beans or pie weights. Leave to rest in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the tart pan in the oven and bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the beans/weights and paper, then bake for 5-10 minutes longer, or until the pastry is golden. Set aside. Leave the oven on.

A light and golden crust ready to be filled with scrumptiousness

A light and golden crust ready to be filled with scrumptiousness

While the tart shell is baking, make the caramelized garlic. Put the cloves in a small saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a simmer and blanch for 3 minutes, then drain well. Dry the saucepan, return the cloves to it and add the olive oil. Fry the garlic cloves on high heat for 2 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, rosemary, chopped thyme and ¼ teaspoon salt. Continue simmering on a medium flame for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the garlic cloves are coated in a dark caramel syrup. Set aside.

 

Garlic caramelizing with fresh herbs, sugar and balsamic vinegar

Garlic carmelizing with fresh herbs, sugar and balsamic vinegar

To assemble the tart, break both types of goat’s cheese into pieces and scatter in the pastry case. Spoon the garlic cloves and syrup evenly over the cheese.

Carmelized garlic+syrup+cheeses make the filling

Carmelized garlic+syrup+cheeses make the filling

In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, creams, ½ teaspoon salt and some black pepper. Pour this custard over the tart filling to fill the gaps, making sure that you can still see the garlic and cheese over the surface. Reduce the oven temperature to 160 degrees and place the tart inside.

After light, whipped custard is poured into the shell with the filling still showing through

The light, whipped custard is poured into the shell with the filling still showing through

 

IMG_5456

Warm from the oven, browned and golden

Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the tart filling has set and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little. Then lift the bottom of the tart pan away from the side and trim the pastry edge if needed. Lay a few sprigs of thyme on top and serve warm.
As a reminder, the tart can be made a day ahead and reheated before serving.

Slice and serve

Slice and serve

Recipe from PLENTY, by Yotam Ottolenghi.

parmigiano crisps with chocolate & sea salt

Parmigiana Crisps LeadTomorrow night we are invited to an intimate dinner party at our neighbor’s home for a “Pre-Thanksgiving,” Thanksgiving meal. Last year they treated us to a homemade Oktoberfest dinner but October schedules this year were insane for everyone so we switched gears and rolled our tradition into November.

As my neighbor and I chatted in the street one evening, we talked about their native Michigan and a wonderful cooking school she and her husband attended several times. The cooking school gained so much popularity that attendees can now only register for one class per year. When the Thanksgiving themed course came to their attention, there was only one spot available and the husband took it immediately. My neighbor painted a mouth-watering picture of a golden turkey so divine we will be begging for the recipe. They have used that coveted cooking school recipe time and again. And, the rest of the menu is apparently just as amazing. Needless to say, I will be starving myself all day tomorrow so I can indulge tomorrow night!

I am bringing the appetizer and this recipe came to mind. I found it a while back on The Whole Foods website and love it. The recipe is simple to make but is sophisticated and looks so elegant on display. The Parmigiano Reggiano Crisps marry the salty and sweet in a flavorful crunchy bite. The crisps aren’t heavy so everyone will still have room for the feast. Serve the crisps with a good bottle of Prosecco and you will have the ideal starter for any dinner party (especially during the holidays). And if you are looking for a unique homemade gift during the holidays, wrap these up in wax paper in a decorative box and give them along with the Prosecco.

Ingredients
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Parmigiano Reggiano
6 Tb finely chopped dry roasted whole almonds (skins on)
4 ounces good quality semi-sweet or dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 scant teaspoon vegetable oil
Sea salt for sprinkling

Parmigiana Crisps Collage

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss cheese and almonds together in a bowl. Form 12 mounds of cheese mixture on each lined baking sheet, spacing them 3 inches apart. Using the back of a spoon, press down on each mound to form a 1/4-inch thick circle. Place one baking sheet at a time on middle oven rack. Bake rounds 6 to 8 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and let crisps cool on baking sheets.

Once crisps are cooled completely, line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Toss chocolate with vegetable oil in a small bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Dip about one-third to one-half of each crisp into melted chocolate, hold a few seconds above chocolate, then place on the lined baking sheet. Immediately scatter a tiny bit of sea salt over chocolate. Let chocolate set before serving. You can put crisps in refrigerator or freezer to speed setting.

This recipe is from Whole Foods