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Asparagus and Potato Tart with Honey

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Who would have thought that honey would work so well with roasted asparagus, laying lusciously  on a bed of mashed buttermilk potatoes? I did not, but then inspiration struck, and boy am I glad that it did!

I’ve been looking through my french cookbooks, and sadly, while this is something that would come from a french cookbook it was inspired by Jamie Oliver. I believe the book I was looking at was At Home with Jamie, and I saw a photo (that’s all it took), with some white asparagus laying on a very velvety mound of mashed potatoes, encompassed in some puff pastry. I thought to myself, hell, I can do that, and so I did.

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Asparagus Tart with Potatoes and Honey

  • about 16 asparagus soldiers, trimmed of the tough stems
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes ( I added buttermilk when making mine, to make sure it was extra creamy)
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • salt and pepper, to taste (If mashed potatoes are not seasoned)
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • parmesan cheese, approx 1/4 cup
  • clover honey, how much you use is to your taste, or omit

Season mashed potatoes with salt and pepper, or wait to season (if not already seasoned) till it’s laid out on the pastry sheet.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and grease. Lay out the puff pastry sheet (store bought is perfectly fine). Score the sheet so you get a 1/2 inch border. Make sure you use a sharp knife but don’t cut all the way through the pastry sheet. you can also use a fork to prick the sheet in the  middle to ensure it doesn’t get puffy with the ingredients on it.

Dollop the mashed potatoes on the sheet, making sure not to go over the border line. Smooth it out to an even layer of potatoes all around the pastry sheet.

Add the asparagus, laying them gently and closely together to make a line across the potatoes. You can add these in any lines you like: vertical, horizontal, or even diagonally. I did mine horizontally, but I rotated from left to right so it so that every other spear touched the left or the right side of the border (to get asparagus in every bite, essentially).

Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Bake for 15-17 minutes. Make sure the pastry boarder is puffing but isn’t get golden. Turn up the temperature up to 400 degrees F and bake for another 5 minutes or so. Checking to make sure the edges don’t burn.

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Take out and let rest two minutes. Drizzle with honey (I used organic clover honey, but any honey flavor will work here. I expect avocado honey will be especially amazing here), then let sit for another 4-5 minutes to allow honey to get slightly absorbed. Cut into squares and serve.

Don't mind that shiny thing in the corner, that's my knife. I couldn't resist a bite!

Don’t mind that shiny thing in the corner, that’s my knife. I couldn’t resist a bite!

Cognac, Garlic Steak for my 100th Post

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Until I checked my blog maybe ten minutes ago, I had no idea this was my 100th blog. I have to say, I’m surprised. I was so busy just trying to keep it semi-regular that I lost count of how many posts I’ve actually put up. I hope they’ve been good so far!

Spring break has been very rewarding. I went to Vegas for the first time, and in that excitement forgot to take any pictures of the Strip at night. Or during the day, for that matter. Boyfriend and I couldn’t even find the Vegas sign, the one below is courtesy of Google images. Go Google. I have to say, having this some 10 days off work and school has been amazing. Although work resumed this week, and school (officially) starts next week, I already have homework and studying lined up for my Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.

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The break off did give me time to consider crafts. I know this seems like a stretch, but the time off gave me some perspective. Instead of trying to watch all the seasons of  Breaking Bad in about three days, nonestop, I should have been more productive. I used to love to photograph, well, anything really. To draw. To paint. To crochet. Just make something out of nothing, so to speak. So I’ve started a smallish list of crafts that I’ll be working on during the next few months and hopefully into the summer. I’m going to try to get a few homemade gifts out of the way, as well as general jamming and homemade pantry goods.

Things to look forward to is lots of BBQ and overall sauces. As well as, some freezer staples, and jamming fun. Nothing says fun like berries bubbling on a hot day, and slaving over a hot water bath for delicious, slick, jam. Indeed.

Similarly, I will try to share my crafting ideas here as well. For those that aren’t into it, I’m not good at writing, or reading patterns, so those posts will be short, and will probably feature food so there’s a little bit for everyone coming up!

Now to the steak.

I just felt like having red meat. I’m American after all (hehe, watching King of the Hill right now, and it’s seeping into my thoughts). I got this really nice 5 oz tri tip from the grocers the other day and what better day than, actually, a few days ago, to make it and settle my red meat craving?

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GARLIC STEAK w/ Congnac Sauce

  • 1 steak (preferably an inch thick, at least, any cut you like)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • cognac, optional
  • heavy cream , optional (for the sauce)
  • salt and pepper to taste

All a steak needs is salt and pepper, if the meat is good. That’s what my step-dad taught me, and dammit if he wasn’t right. Start off by patting the meat down on a paper towel (Julia Child’s secret to perfectly browned meat). Season with salt and pepper on both sides. If you like, you can add more flavors, like paprika and granulated onion.

Heat the oil in the pan, and after about five minutes, making sure the pan is nice and hot, add the garlic. Stir for maybe 45 seconds to infuse the oil and take out of the pan. Place the steak into the skillet and top with garlic. Cook for 3 minutes a side depending on thickness. I had to cook mine about 5 minutes a side, and it was still pretty medium rare ( I had a thick, short piece, so I had to be patient).

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Take off the garlic and place either on same plate or to the side of the skillet and flip your steak over. Place the garlic back on top of the steak.

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Okay, here I added some cayanne pepper. It was so hot and nice with the cream sauce- just a thought.

Take off the heat and place on plate, covering with foil, to rest. Add in a splosh of cognac to deglaze the pan. Maybe 3 tbsp. Wait a minute for it to cook off, and add approx 1/4 cup of cream. This depends on how you want to make your sauce. Season with salt and pepper (easy on the salt, just a pinch if necessary), and pour over the steak.

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Side note: I realize these are awful photos, but I was in a hurry when I was making this, we are talking about steak, aren’t we? Who wouldn’t be in a rush? 😉

Jalapeno Popper Chicken

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So sorry! I know I said that the post would be up earlier last week, but too much homework got in the way, and by the time everything was said and done, I didn’t want to look at the computer screen any longer than I had to.

But here it is!

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Jalapeno Popper Chicken

  • 2 chicken breast, preferably organic
  • 4 tbsp cream cheese, whole fat
  • 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup of pickled jalapenos, or 1-2 fresh, chopped into pieces
  • 1 egg
  • panko breadcrumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • oil (for frying)

Start off by cutting your chicken breast almost in half, but stopping so that one side is still attached, essentially butterflying the breast.

In a small bowl, mix the cream cheese, cheddar, jalapeno, and some salt and pepper.

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Season the butterflied breasts with salt and pepper as well, on the outside of the breast. Stuff each breast with half of the mixture and fold over as well as you can to cover the filling.  Crack an egg in another bowl and lightly beat, then, pour out enough panko to cover both breasts on a plate. Use as much or as little panko as you like. I wanted a really nice crust so I used about a cup and half of panko.

Dip each breast in the egg and then, in the panko breadcrumbs. Fry in about 2 tbsp of oil in a nonstick skillet for about 3 minutes a side.  Make sure that it’s really hot, to get a good char on the panko.

Then you can lower the heat, and cover the chicken and cook for about 3 minutes a side longer, turning till it’s reached an internal temp of 180 degrees (according to my meat thermometer), or when you cut into it, it’s not pink on the inside.

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Serve with fries, if necessary. Although, this chicken was very filling, and I barely finished it without the rice side I had attempted to eat for dinner as well.

 

Enjoy!

Mushroom Soup and a Long Week Behind Me

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This past week has been a little too crazy for my liking. I had to prepare my entire apartment for the bug people coming (I do not have bugs, however the new owners of the building insisted on putting everyone out, having them loose a day of work, and making everyone very angry on a weekday), and then put it all back together. On. A. Weekday.

Apparently, last time this happened it occurred Saturday morning and they had three guys for the whole building, not one. I survived the ordeal, and overall it was a little bit worth it. I was able to toss out a bunch of kitchen items that I didn’t need, and I was able to re organize my spices.

Not to mention, during the cleaning process I found a few sets of China I completely forgot I owned!

Prior to this nonsense, on Tuesday I had made the greatest mushroom soup. It’s my first, and only mushroom soup really, but the statement still stands.  I got the idea from this recipe, but when first reading over it it seemed a little too complex, what with the coring and peeling of an apple and the use of an immersion blender (I knew what was in store for me later that week so I was in no mood to do extra work, not even for food).

My version, if I do say so myself, it quite better!

Aside from the soup I was able to accomplish a bit of decorating for the holidays. Sadly, I couldn’t get a good image of my nutcracker, however, the rest of the rooms are coming along nicely. I’m not sure if’ll I be hosting any parties because of my busy and tiring schedule in December, but in any case there’s no harm in decorating just for oneself.

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Those pine cones there are the same ones I picked about a week ago with Boyfriend out in… NATURE! I baked them for about 23 minutes in 200 degree oven. The sap got a lovely sheen and gave the pine cones an almost lacquered effect.

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Lastly, my crochet project (Boyfriend’s mom’s Christmas present) is moving along nicely. I’m at a steady pace today, and I’m hoping (with determination), to get through half of it.

 

Now, without delay, the recipe for amazing soup. ENJOY

Mushroom and Garlic Soup

  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • 2 heads of garlic mashed, chopped, or otherwise pulverized (to your liking)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 lb mushrooms (I used baby bellas, but button work, too), thinly sliced
  • 1 can of chicken stock (roughly 2 cups)
  • 1 can of coconut milk, shaken in can before opening (to get it all mixed well)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, fresh if possible
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp of ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp bourbon sea salt (I found this at Williams Sonoma- if you don’t have it, course sea salt is good as well)
  • 3 fresh sprigs of dill

In a large pot, heat the oil and butter. Add the onions and garlic. Salt a bit so the juices are released. Cover and let cook about 7 minutes, stirring occasionally on low heat; careful not to burn the onions or garlic.

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Add the mushrooms and saute for 3 minutes. Add more salt (not the flavored salt), pepper, spices, rosemary stock, chicken stock, and coconut milk. Stir, and raise the temperature to medium-high. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

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Make sure it’s not bubbling too much, and after 10 minutes uncover, and let cook on medium heat (bubbling away) for 20 minutes. Add the bourbon salt and half the dill (I didn’t chop it up, just ripped it up with my hands).  Take out the sprig of rosemary, and slowly stir for about 3 more minutes to thicken the soup a bit.

Add more dill when serving soup.

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Eggplant Parmesan

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One of the best things ever to make that’s easy and fulfills the vegetable quotient for the day. I didn’t use traditional methods, but of course, it still turned out wonderfully well. In my opinion, nothing is as wonderfully cheesy, salty, and creamy than a great plate of eggplant parmesan.

  • 1 medium eggplant, sliced 1/6 inch thick
  • course sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • panko breadcrumbs, about 2 cups
  • 2 cans of roasted tomatoes, crushed
  • 2 cups mozerella cheese
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese

Make sure to salt the eggplant slices generously and let sit in colander for 20 minutes or so so they become mushy and most juices leave them. Pat down slices when enough time has passed.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cover the bottom of an 8×8 in dish with roasted tomatoes. Now you’re ready for dunking. Whisk an egg with pepper in a bowl. In another plate, spread out your breadcrumbs. In assembly line format: dunk eggplant in egg, then panko, and layer in the prepared oven dish. between each layer of eggplant add some tomato sauce (I only had two layers). Cover top with mozerella cheese, and sprinkle parmesan on top of that.

Bake for 40 minutes till bubbling and juices are flowing at bottom of pan.

Enjoy hot.

Love of Pistachios and Tea: Chocolate Covered Biscotti

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It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything lovely and delicious. It’s been a very long, slow, and mostly, workless summer. The latter is the reason why I’ve been scrimping and not producing anything delectable. However, being well stocked in the pantry as I am, I realized that most of the recipes I wanted to try and make over summer were very do-able. I had everything necessary to make them all along!

It’s sort of like that moment in Wizard of Oz when Dorothy realizes she’s had the means to go home all along, but she was never told– which is not only unfair, but sneaky, and a little cruel.

I digress.

The reason for this lovely number is a desire to turn British, in a way. I’ve no desire to move to London, start saying “Bloody Hell” (that’s the only slang that comes to mind at the moment, sorry), etc. but I’m every eager to start drinking afternoon tea. According to my research (google and wiki), the three points in the day when drinking tea is acceptable is 11am, 2:30pm, and 4pm. Otherwise, you’re just pushing you’re luck.

But I’m in America, and I’ll be taking my tea at noon, or 1:30. And if I’m feeling very risky, perhaps even 8pm!

This is my first batch of biscotti, and one of many recipes that go well with tea, or are classics to be expected at a tea party.

As it was my first attempt they were a great experience. And while I had a few doubts and tried out a lot of different things, I was glad they came out wonderfully.

Makes 12 Biscotti (for me)

Slightly adapted from Buttermilk Party Cake

  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • seeds from 10 cardamom pods
  • 1 egg (for egg wash), optional
  • raw sugar, approx 1/4 cup, optional

*1 tbsp milk (I used coconut) if too dry

 

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 1 cup chocolate chips, I used semi-sweet
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

Mix your dry ingredients with the sugar and honey. Beat the eggs and add them into the dry mix a little at a time, until a wet dough forms. Then mix in the pistachios, lemon juice and zest, and cardamom seeds. If you’re dough isn’t wet enough, go ahead and add in the tbsp of milk. Mix, and with hands coerce  into a log.

Turn the dough out onto a very well floured surface, and roll it into a log shape. It’s ok if it won’t stay perfectly cylindrical—the log will flatten out a little.

 

For a bit of color, I added some egg wash on top.

 

Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment at 300 degree  for 30 minutes,  then remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Cut the cooled log on the diagonal, in about 3/4 inch slices. Arrange the slices back on the baking tray, adding egg wash if desired (I also added on some sprinkled raw sugar just for fun), and bake for 10 minutes. Flip the biscotti over and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Dip into chocolate ganache if desired.

For the Ganache: in a microwave safe bowl add the chips and cream and heat on high for 1 minute. Stir, and continue to heat through in 20 second bursts till melted through. If it starts to thicken, pop into the microwave. This isn’t a traditional ganache recipe, but it’s close enough; I wasn’t patient enough to do the double boiler thing this time around.

5 Ingredient Pasta

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In terms of pasta, I like to go all out. Not that I like heavy pasta dishes, nor do I enjoy making homemade marinara when I have 4 hours till 11pm, and bedtime. However, I do like good pasta dishes, regardless of ingredients, or how long it takes to make them. This recipe is thankfully short on the list of ingredients and really fast to make.
  • Parsley
  • shitake mushrooms
  • lime
  • parmesan cheese
  • garlic
  • angel hair pasta (or pasta of your choice)

Boil the water for the pasta. When it’s good and rolling, add in the pasta and about a teaspoon of olive oil (if you like), to keep the pasta from sticking together. Salt the pasta, and cook about 8 minutes or so.

While you’re waiting for the pasta, get a skillet nice and hot. Add some oil and saute the mushrooms (cut up in any way you like. You do need to discard the stems as they aren’t edible and way too tough to try in any case).  Cook down for about 5 minutes, add salt and pepper to taste. Add in some parsley and garlic, depending on taste again.

When the pasta is ready reserve about 1/4 cup of the pasta water and drain the rest. Add the pasta to the skillet. Add the zest and juice of 1 lime and add the parmesan. Mix together and let simmer for two minutes before adding int he pasta water to make a smooth sauce.

Enjoy!