Thursday, July 14, 2011

Ratatouille Tart

Wow-- my resolve to post every day this week didn't last long, did it?! I really need to find some motivation to do something other than watch HGTV when I get home from (what is usually a long day of) work.

Anyway.... a couple of weeks ago I made a ratatouille tart for dinner using a simple yet elegant recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Ratatouille is french dish typically made with eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and tomatoes (among other things). Smitten Kitchen's recipe deconstructs the ingredients and makes it into a sort of fancy pizza;  puff pastry (instead of the regular flour and yeast based dough) is topped with tomato puree (or sauce) and then thinly sliced vegetables with a healthy sprinkling of herbs and cheese at the end.

In general the meal is pretty easy to put together--once you've got the vegetables thinly sliced that is. Fortunately for me, on the day I made this for dinner Jason was home from work early and got things started by prepping the vegetables (using his favorite kitchen tool-- the mandoline). Once I got home all I had to do was put everything together and pop it in the oven.

All in all, a healthy, delicious and surprisingly elegant summer meal.

Ratatouille Tart
From Smitten Kitchen (recipe cut in half but other than that made as outlined on SK's website)

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed in the fridge overnight
1/2 small eggplant
1/2 zuchinni
1/2 yellow squash
1 red pepper
1/4-1/3 cup of pureed tomato or tomato sauce
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Dried or fresh thyme
Crumbled goat cheese

1. Heat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place puff pastry on the parchment paper and prick pastry all over with a fork.
2. Spread tomato sauce (in desired quantity) evenly over the pastry, leaving a one-inch border around the edges.
3. Slice vegetables thinly using a sharp knife or mandoline. Arrange slightly overlapped slices of vegetables in rows over the tomato sauce, alternating vegetables as you go.
4. Drizzle vegetables with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Top with fresh or dried herbs (all to taste).
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and veggies look soft. Sprinkle with goat cheese and cut into squares. Serve with a mixed green salad and enjoy.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Caesar

I'm so behind on posting it's pathetic. And I actually have some recipes to share! So I'm going to challenge myself to post every day during the week this week and try to get caught up.

First up---a summery shrimp Caesar salad.

I found this recipe on Everyday Food's website last week as I was browsing around looking for some quick and easy culinary inspiration. Work has been even more ridiculous than usual lately (last week was HORRIBLE) and I've been on the lookout for super quick and easy meals-- too often recently I come home too late and too tired to spend much time in the kitchen and we end up ordering pizza or going out to eat. Which is not good for my wallet or my waistline. So I'm try to find some easy dishes that take very little effort to put together.

This shrimp Caesar was even easier than I thought it would be. I bought frozen shrimp that had been already been peeled and deveined so all I had to do was thaw, toss with the garlic-lemon zest-olive oil mixture and roast in the oven with cubes of crusty bread. While that was cooking away, I made a quick and easy homemade Caesar dressing with an unlikely ingredient-- hard boiled egg yolk! It sounded so odd, I almost skipped it but I am so glad I didn't. Mashed up and then whisked into a mixture of garlic, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and olive oil, it was the perfect emulsifier. Tossed with a little grated Parmesan and Romaine lettuce and you had a quick, easy, and delicious summer meal.


Shrimp Caesar Salad

Adapted slightly from Everyday Food

3/4 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lemon
1/2 baguette, cut into cubes
1 hard-cooked egg yolk, mashed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2-3 TBL grated Parmesan (to taste)
2 large hearts Romaine lettuce, chopped
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. In a medium bowl, combine zest from lemon, 1 TBL olive oil, and 1 clove of minced garlic. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Add bread cubes. Cook until shrimp are cooked and bread cubes are golden and crunchy, about 7-8 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, combine remaining garlic, juice from the lemon, mustard, egg yolk and 2 TBL olive oil. Whisk until smooth. Stir in Parmesan. Add Romaine and toss to coat. Season with salt and lots of pepper.
4. Divide salad among plates and top with shrimp and croutons. Serve! (Makes 2 large main salads or 4 smaller side salads).

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Our House is a House!

Our house is really starting to take shape:

And we have walls too!

With only 45 or so days left to go, there are a lot of things to do:
  • Give notice to our apartment (going to do this weekend)
  • Select lender and finalize details of our loan (hope to have things locked in within the next week or two)
  • Get homeowners' insurance
  • Schedule move
  • Start packing!
We're also starting to think about things like paint colors and blinds-- stuff we will want to take care of as soon as we close and before we move-in. Sometimes when I think about everything we need to do, I get a little overwhelmed....but it is all really exciting! And I can't wait.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Patriotic Treats: Berry Crumb Bars

How lucky are we that there are so many naturally occurring red, white and blue foods this time of year?! I mean what the 4th of July be without a flag cake decorated with whipped cream, strawberries (or raspberries) and blueberries? I am sure that's what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they chose July 4th as the day on which to declare their independence (It is also worth noting that Canada Day and Bastille Day are also in July. The Canadian flag is red and white. The colors of the French flag? Blue, white and red. Are you seeing a pattern here?)

Although I decided against the traditional flag cake for my contribution to our friends' July 4th BBQ, I did decide to keep the patriotic vibe going with red, white, and blue berry crumb bars. In this recipe (a slightly adapted version of Smitten Kitten's blueberry crumb bars), you start with a shortbread-like dough that serves as both the crust (when patted into a 9x13 pan) and crumb topping (when sprinkled over the top) and add in a layer of your favorite berries tossed with lemon juice, sugar, and cornstarch. SK also shared the following tip-- these cut a lot easier when chilled so stick them in the fridge for 30 minutes or an hour after they've cooled to room temperature if you have the time. A perfect patriotic treat that Washington and Jefferson would have been proud of.

Berry Crumb Bars
Adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 sticks cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg
3-4 cups fresh berries (I used a mix of raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries)
1/2 cup sugar (more or less depending on the sweetness of your fruit--always check first!)
4 teaspoons cornstarch

1. Preheat oven to 375. Grease a 9x13 pan and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, stir together, flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix in lemon zest. Use a fork or pastry cutter to blend in butter and egg. Pat 3/4 of the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan.
3. In a separate bowl, toss berries with sugar, cornstarch and lemon juice. Spread evenly over crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry mixture.
4. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into square. Enjoy with fireworks or your favorite John Philip Sousa anthem.

Eat, Think, and Be Married 2.0

Check it out! With a little help from Jason I've given this here blog a little makeover. One of the things I'm most excited about is the recipe pages-- now you'll be able to browse recipes with ease. Note, however, that the pages are still under construction but I hope to have them fully functional soon!