Potato and Cheese Tart

229 days. That’s how long it’s been since I’ve sat down and tried to write anything here. Is it laziness? Writer’s block? A lack of interest? I suppose it could be all of the above. Hmm. 

Anyway… I was scrolling through my food pictures from 2019 when I stumbled on the pictures of this blue cheese potato tart, and I thought, “if there’s a recipe worth putting on the blog, it’s this one.”

I mean, this one ticks all of my food boxes: bread / pastry, potatoes, and cheese. If I could live on this combination AND still fit into my pants, I’d eat it 3-4 days a week. (My choice for the rest of the week? Tacos.) 

I’d originally planned to make the Parmesan / potato tart from the same issue of Cook’s Country, but I was running low on parm, so I went with the blue cheese version instead. I have zero regrets about that choice.

The tart takes a little while to bake, but that means you can have the dishes done (and a salad made, if you’re interested in balanced meals) by the time it comes out of the oven. It will smell incredible, and, if you’re anything like us, you’ll cheat the 20 minute cooling time by at least 10 minutes.

potatobluecheesetart

Blue Cheese and Potato Tart

For the tart dough: 
7-1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces and chilled
6-7 tablespoons ice water

For the filling: 
4 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces blue cheese, crumbled, divided
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, divided (I was out of fresh and subbed dried with no issues.) 
1/4  teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, separated
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8″ thick
1 shallot, thinly sliced

First, prepare the tart dough. Process the flour and and salt in the bowl of a food processor until combined, just a few seconds. Scatter the butter on the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 pulses or so. Add 6 tablespoons of ice water and process until almost no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining tablespoon of water if the dough won’t come together.

Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and shape it into a 4″ square. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for an hour. (If you’re a planner, this step can be done ahead of time – the dough can hang out in the fridge for up to 2 days.) 

When you’re ready to make the tart, remove the dough from the fridge and preheat the oven to 375°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or a silicone baking sheet). Let the chilled dough soften on the counter for about 10 minutes, then roll the dough into a 14″ x 11″ rectangle on a lightly floured counter. Transfer the dough rectangle to the prepared baking sheet.

In a large bowl, microwave the cream cheese until it’s softened, about 20 to 30 seconds. Whisk in 1/4 cup of blue cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, olive oil, mustard, 1 teaspoon rosemary, pepper, and salt. Add the egg yolk and whisk until combined. Add the potatoes and shallot to the cheese mixture and stir until the potatoes are thoroughly covered.

Pile the filling in the center of the dough. Spread it an even layer, leaving a 2″ border on all sides. Sprinkle the rest of the blue cheese, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, and the rest of the rosemary over the filling.

Fold one long side of the dough about 1-1/2″ over the filling. Do the same thing on the other long side of the tart. Fold in the short sides of the dough and overlap the corners to secure the dough. Lightly beat the egg white and brush it all over the folded crust. Sprinkle the rest of the Parmesan cheese all over the crust.

Bake until the crust and filling are golden brown and the potatoes test done when poked with a fork, about 45 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack, and let the tart cool for about 10 minutes. Use a metal spatula to loosen the tart from the parchment paper and slide it onto the wire rack. Let tart cool until warm, then slice and serve.

from Cook’s Country, December / January 2020 

Looking for a printable version?

Everyday French Toast

It’s no secret that I’m not always a morning person. While I love some things about mornings (peaceful bike rides and sunrises), I really only like them on my terms… aka not when the alarm goes off at 5:30.

It should go without saying then, that I don’t actually make breakfast for breakfast all that often – especially on a work day. (Sorry, Andy.) Holiday weekends, however, are the perfect time to actually make breakfast – as long as they don’t require getting out of bed before I’m ready to start the day.

Enter this new method for making French toast from Cook’s Illustrated. You bake an entire cookie sheet of toast in the oven, which means you get:

a). Crispy, golden brown slices without underdone middles (mushy French toast is the worst).
b). No flipping / turning during the cooking process = no babysitting the pan, so you can wash the dishes, set the table, slice fruit, or do whatever else you’d like to do while breakfast is cooking.
c). All the slices are done at the same time, so everyone eats at the same time!

Seriously. It’s been a game-changer over here. And it doesn’t require any fancy bread, so odds are pretty good that you can make this on any morning (or evening) that you want. Win-win-win.

EverydayFrenchToast

Everyday French Toast

vegetable oil spray (I used olive oil spray, since that’s what’s in my pantry.)
3 eggs
2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup milk
8 slices of hearty white sandwich bread (I’ve used regular sandwich bread from Aldi with no problems!) 

Arrange one oven rack in the lowest position in the oven, and place the other oven rack about 6″ from the broiler element. Preheat the oven to 425°.

Spray a large (18″ x 13″ is the recommended size from CI, but mine is slightly smaller and it works out OK) rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray.

In a large glass measuring cup, whisk the eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt together until the sugar has dissolved. Pour in the melted butter, whisking constantly, then whisk in the milk.

Pour the egg mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Place each slice of bread on the sheet, making two rows of four slices. Leave a small space in between each slice of bread. When you’ve placed the last piece of bread on the sheet, flip each slice of bread over, starting with the first piece of bread that you placed on the sheet. Once all of the bread has been flipped, let the slices sit on the sheet until the bread soaks up the rest of the egg mixture (about 1 minute or so).

Place the sheet on the lowest rack in the oven and bake until the bottom of the slices are golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. (This takes about 10 minutes in my oven.) Move the sheet to the rack closer to the broiler and broil until the tops of the slices are golden brown, about 1-4 minutes. Watch the toast during this time to make sure it doesn’t burn, and rotate the pan as necessary to ensure even browning.

Remove sheet from oven and use a metal spatula to lift the slices off of the pan. Serve immediately.

From Cooks Illustrated, March / April 2019

Printable version

What We’re Eating 3/11 – 3/15

It’s menu time! Between work trips and meetings, dinner has been rather, uh, spontaneous around here. And while I like to fly by the seat of my pants for 90% of life, a little bit of structure in the kitchen makes me a happier cook. 🙂

Monday 3/11 – Leftovers. Exciting, I know, but I won’t be home until after 7:30, so it’s every man for himself when it comes to dinner.
Tuesday 3/12 – Tortellini soup
Wednesday 3/13 – Roasted shrimp with feta and green beans. It’s been ages since I’ve made this dish, so I’m looking forward to it! (Hopefully it’s as good as I remember.) 
Thursday 3/14 – Shredded beef tacos! (I’m not observing pi day this year… whoops.) But, I might get home late Thursday night, so it’s winner winner, crockpot dinner.
Friday 3/15 – BBQ chicken pizza on my favorite sourdough crust. I just fed Fester this afternoon, so I can mix up the crust later this week.

In other food-related news, I have a hold request at the library for one of the newest books from America’s Test Kitchen, Vegetables Illustrated. I can’t wait to check it out, and I’m sure it’s going to make me want fresh, in-season produce even more! My goal is to check it out before farmer’s market season and see if it’s worth adding to my personal collection!

Finally, Andy and I spent a quick weekend in San Diego last month, and while we failed at my goal of getting tacos, we did enjoy some great beer and food at Legacy Brewing Tap & Kitchen. The peanut butter milk stout was like drinking a peanut butter cup. Too bad I couldn’t figure out a way to get a growler on the plane. 😉

Improving Vanilla Ice Cream

Well… let’s just ignore the nearly eight-month-long, uh, sabbatical, here, okay? I mean, no one likes excuses, and the fact is, I just didn’t make time to write for the last several months.

Instead, let’s just pick up right where we left off. With ice cream.

I made this ice cream last fall for a girls night with a few good friends. Of course, everyone has shortcomings, and, unfortunately for this chocoholic, several of these friends would pick vanilla and caramel over chocolate any day. So, in an attempt to liven up the world’s most boring flavor, I swirled my standard custard-based vanilla ice cream with some caramel sauce and served it with a giant cookie.

Everyone enjoyed it, including me. (After all, I don’t hate caramel or other flavors, but chocolate will always be my first love…) So, maybe that’s a sign that I should start making ice cream (and blogging) more often. The old downside to this plan is the fact that I’m right in the middle of birthday season for some vanilla fans. I’m going to need a chocolate fix pretty soon.

caramelswirlvanillaicecream

I used a homemade caramel sauce (thanks to America’s Test Kitchen), but you could definitely use your favorite, already-prepared caramel sauce. It’d also be good with an extra pinch of sea salt either in the caramel or on top of the ice cream, for that salty-sweet combo that everyone loves.

Caramel Swirl Vanilla Bean Ice Cream 

5 egg yolks
1 cup of half-and-half
3/4 cup of sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split and scrapped
1-2 teaspoons (give or take) vanilla extract
1/2 cup caramel sauce, plus extra for serving if desired

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the half-and-half, sugar, salt, and one cup of cream. Set the pan over medium heat and add the vanilla bean seeds and pod. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is warm. Remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for a little while (30 minutes or so).

In a glass 2-cup measuring cup, whisk the egg yolks together until they are smooth. If the milk mixture has cooled, reheat it until it’s warm to the touch again. Slowly pour 1/4 cup of the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Continue to add the warm milk to the egg yolks, 1/4 cup at a time, whisking the entire time. When you’ve added about 1 1/2 cups of warm milk, pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan, whisking the entire time.

Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring it constantly with a rubber spatula. When the custard has thickened and coats the back of a spoon, remove it from the heat.

Pour the remaining cup of cream into the bottom of a mixing bowl or large measuring cup. Set a fine mesh strainer over the cream and pour the custard mixture through the strainer. Remove the strainer and add the vanilla bean back to the ice cream base. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Chill the ice cream base in the refrigerator until it’s completely cold, at least a few hours or overnight. Churn the ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. When the ice cream is finished churning, drizzle a couple tablespoons of caramel sauce into the bottom of the container you will store the ice cream in. Scoop about a third of the ice cream on top of the caramel, then drizzle another few tablespoons of caramel sauce on top of the ice cream. Repeat the process until all of the ice cream has been layered in the container with the caramel sauce. Drizzle a little more caramel sauce on top of the ice cream, then freeze until solid.

Serve with extra caramel sauce, if desired.

Ice cream base adapted from my Moose Tracks ice cream recipe, which is initially from David Lebovitz via Everyday Annie.

Click here for a printable version.

Farmer’s Market Finds, Week 2

Happy almost-July, everyone! It’s a sizzling hot weekend around here, but we got up early to beat the heat (and some of the crowds) for our fresh produce.

We started the day out at Cuff Farms for one last round of strawberry picking. It was the best picking we’ve seen all season, so we each filled a flat and came home with about 27 pounds of berries. The only question is what to bake first! 😉 StrawberryPicking2018

We stopped at the farmer’s market on our way home, and I snagged a lot of tasty veggies. This week, I brought home:

  • 1 bunch of beets
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • nearly 2 pounds of sugar snap peas
  • 3 zucchini

2018-FarmersMarketFindsWeek2

So, what are my plans for this pile of goodies? I’m super excited to make this pasta dish again, and, if I’m being honest, that’s about as far as I’ve gotten. I might do a stir-fry or some rice bowls with some of the other veggies. Our lettuce is going strong in our garden, so I’m working lots of salads into our menu as well.  The cucumbers in our garden are coming along nicely, so it won’t be long before we’re enjoying some pickles along with all of our meals.

Have a great 4th of July!

Farmer’s Market Finds, Week 1

It’s finally farmer’s market season around here! We stopped by Olden Organic’s stand to pick up our punch card, and I decided to do a little shopping at the same time.

2018-FarmersMarketFindsWeek1

I picked up a head of lettuce, and more than a pound of sugar snap peas. I also learned that we’ll need to get to the stand before 9:30 AM to have a chance at getting asparagus or garlic scapes.

The lettuce is destined for a bunch of salads, and we’ve been snacking on the peas already. More of the peas will end up in a stir-fry later on this week.

Speaking of scapes, they’re just starting to appear on our garlic. Garlic scape pesto, here we come! Strawberry season has started here as well, so we’re planning to go picking sometime soon. Yay for summer produce!

Hello, June!

Oh look at that… I let May go right by without writing ANYTHING. Whoops. I’d like to promise that it won’t happen again, but let’s be honest… we’ve been here before. (Plus, I’d hate to lie to all five of the people still reading this blog. Ha.) 

I might not be writing, but I am still cooking. I’ve acquired a new cookbook (thanks to Karen!), and the more I read it, the more I’m convinced that I could be friends with Bridget and Julia. (That’s not weird, right? I’m just cooking their recipes; not camping out at ATK in Boston.) 😀

Cookbooks

I’m also monopolizing the library’s copy of The Perfect Cake, which is counteracting all of my summer exercise. So far, I’ve tried one of the mug cakes, the chocolate sheet cake,  the icebox Margarita cheesecake, the strawberry dream cake, and the Boston cream pie. I’m hoping to make at least a couple more cakes before I hit the renewal limit in a couple weeks. 🙂

We also planted our garden! We’ve added a raised bed, so things are a little less crowded (in theory… somehow we still ran out of room), and our lettuce just started to poke up through the ground yesterday.  Grow, baby, grow! Our rhubarb is up and thriving, so I’m going to start filling the freezer and make a few desserts along the way.

newgardenbed.jpg

For the first time in five years, we aren’t participating in a CSA. Our CSA farm isn’t offering a CSA share this season, so we’re going to try their market share instead. I have mixed feelings about it, but I am excited for the season to start! (I’ll definitely miss the “grab bag” aspect of a CSA, since it forces me out of my comfort zone, but it will be nice to get to the farmer’s market regularly. And I won’t miss trying to find ways to use the kohlrabi.) 

That pretty much brings us up to the present. I do have an ice cream recipe to share soon, so hopefully June isn’t as quiet here as May was!