December 17, 2014

Goat Cheese Tarts with Cranberry Jam

Remember those Educational Seasonings from last year that I always blogged about?  They're baaaa-aack! I've been working at the retail cafe on campus since October and we finally re-staffed it to where I am able to work back in the dining hall, meaning I am able to get back to doing the seasonings I love to do.  This month's Educational Seasoning was "The Art of Folding Napkins", which, to me, was rather boring.  Compared to "Local Produce", "Chocolate", "Southeastern Asian Cuisine", and the like, it was hard to get excited about napkins.  However, I was able to make one cute little appetizer and they came out great!  The tarts are sweet and savory, making them perfect for a dinner party, so when you don't know what to make next time your neighbors invite you over, just remember you'll only need a few ingredients from the store (and a few you should surely have on-hand), and a few minutes of your time.  Enjoy!

What You'll Need:
  • 2 cups dried cranberries
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups goat cheese
  • 1 teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, and dried dill
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup orange juice (KATE'S lovely idea!)
  • 48 mini phyllo shells
  • Chopped mint, garnish optional

1.  In a small saucepan, mix the cranberries, water, sugar, and syrup and simmer on low for about 30 minutes.  While this is simmering, beat cream cheese, goat cheese, and spices in a bowl with a hand mixer until smooth.  Set aside.  When cranberries have cooked down and are soft, put in a blender with orange juice.  Pulse until you have the consistency of jam/marmalade.

2.  Place empty phyllo cups on baking sheet and bake in a 350-degree oven until golden brown.  Fill with a teaspoon of goat cheese mixture and top with a dollop of cranberry jam.  Continue until all phyllo cups are filled.  Platter nicely and sprinkle with chopped mint.  Voila!

I was simply going to put the cranberry mixture from the stove on top of the goat cheese, but my wonderful friend Kate decided it would be a good idea to put it in the food processor with some orange juice.  It was a much better plan.  Here she is, hand-modeling for an action shot!

December 16, 2014

Eggs in Purgatory

How good was that Steak Pizzaiola sandwich?! So good, you can turn it into two meals. The sauce that you prepared for the previous recipe will work extra well with this Italian-inspired "Eggs in Purgatory"! Apparently, many countries have their own version of the spicy tomato sauce and egg dish.  In Israeli cultures, "Shakshuka" uses more traditional middle-eastern flavors - cumin, coriander, harissa, etc.  I "Italian-ed" this one up with spinach, olives, and garlic and red pepper flakes.  However you make this egg dish, it's easy for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and you can add anything you have on hand.  Enjoy. 

What You'll Need:
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2/3 cup mushrooms, sliced (I used portobellos!)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce (recipe here)
  • 4 large eggs
  • Crumbled soft cheese, optional

1. Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet and add garlic to the pan. Sauté for about 2 minutes, careful not to burn. Add red pepper flakes and mushrooms to the pan, and cook until soft. Add salt and pepper. Add Kalamata olives and spinach leaves. Cook until spinach has wilted. 

2. Add tomato sauce to the pan and heat through, stirring vegetables together into the sauce. Using the back of a spoon, make small "craters" in the sauce and carefully crack each egg into each crater. 

3. Set oven to broil and put the whole pan in. Cook for about 7 minutes until egg whites are set but yolks are still soft. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese. I suggest goat cheese or Feta cheese that pairs well with the spinach, but you can also leave that out! Sprinkle with torn basil leaves, scallions, or assorted fresh herbs.  Yum!

December 12, 2014

Steak Pizzaiola Sandwiches

The other day, I was watching an old episode of Guy Fieri's Diner's, Drive-Ins, and Dives.  He was visiting a long-standing deli, located in Brooklyn, NY -- DeFonte's Sandwich Shop.  I am a complete sucker for anything Italian, not to mention anything Italian straight out of New York, so my attention was piqued immediately.  They began showing the creation of the Steak Pizzaiola Sandwich: tender sliced beef slow-simmered in a simple herb-infused tomato sauce, topped with homemade fresh mozzarella, and then baked in the oven until crusty, golden, and bubbling.  I was either really hungry or really intrigued, because I felt my mouth start to water just watching them build the sandwich on television.  Not even 24 hours later, I was in my own kitchen, recreating the same sandwich, with a "Community Plate"-spin.  I added the flavors of fresh garlic, sliced onions, and fennel seed in my tomato sauce, and I used a sliced provolone cheese instead of fresh mozzarella.  I added a mix of arugula and spinach on the bottom (I had to incorporate my greens!), and the spicy arugula took the sandwich over-the-top.  I hope you make this soon, and I hope you enjoy every sweet, savory, acidic, creamy, crunchy, gooey, melty bite!

What You'll Need:
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large Vidalia onion, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons dry red wine
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • (2) 15-oz. cans crushed tomatoes 
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds top round boneless beef, sliced thin
  • 1 large baguette, sliced lengthwise
  • 8 sliced provolone cheese
  • Arugula and Spinach mix, optional

1.  In a large pan, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat and add garlic and onion.  Saute until onion softens slightly and add salt and pepper to taste.  Add the red wine to the pan and reduce by half.  Add oregano, Italian seasoning, and fennel and stir to incorporate spices evenly throughout.  Let simmer for 5 minutes.  Add crushed tomatoes to the pan.  Drop in basil leaves and butter and stir.  Cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Using a meat mallet, pound out the beef until very thin and season with salt and pepper on both sides.  Brown the meat in the oil for about 1 minute on each side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to remove excess oil and then move sliced beef to the tomato sauce.

3.  Let steak simmer in tomato sauce, covered, for about one hour or until very tender.  Spoon some sauce from the pan on bottom-half of baguette.  Build your sandwich, putting spinach-arugula mix first, steak on top of that, and then top with mozzarella cheese.  Broil in the oven on high for 5 minutes, until cheese is melted and starts to brown.  Slice into four sandwich segments, and enjoy!

December 5, 2014

Sweet Apple Cranberry Stuffing

Here's another fun recipe from the Thanksgiving Side Dish Challenge this year.  This sweet stuffing tastes like dessert, but eats like a hearty side dish.  It's apple-pie-meets-cranberry-mold flavors are bold enough for the dinner table, yet subtle enough for the dessert table.  Serve this stuffed inside your turkey, or on the side of your pumpkin pie.  Either way, make this recipe and impress savory and sweet lovers alike!  Enjoy!

What You'll Need:
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 2 honey crisp apples, peeled and diced
  • 2 large celery stalks, chopped small
  • 1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon each: allspice, ground ginger, cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 bags Martin's Potato Bread Stuffing Bread cubes (12 oz. bag)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup pecans

1.  In a saucepan, mix 12 ounces of fresh cranberries, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 cup water and cook on medium-low until cranberries break down, about 20 minutes.  Add apples, celery, fresh tarragon, and honey and stir to incorporate.  Let simmer for 10 more minutes, then remove from heat.  Chill until cooled.

2.  Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, whisk sour cream, eggs, and remaining water until eggs are scrambled and all is incorporated.  Whisk in allspice, ground ginger, and cinnamon. Soak diced potato bread in egg mixture.  Add chilled cranberry-apple mixture, and mix until soaked through.

3.  In a skillet, melt butter and stir in 1/3 cup pecans.  Toast until pecans are caramelized, about 10 minutes.  Add two-thirds of the pecans to bread mixture.  Transfer to oven-safe dish and bake on 375 degrees for 30 minutes, until bread has browned on top and is golden brown. Top with toasted pecans.  Enjoy!

November 29, 2014

Brown Sugar and Bourbon Spiced Carrots

Here's the second, easy-to-handle, recipe from the Best Thanksgiving Side Dish Challenge.  These carrots are sweet, savory, and loaded with all kinds of fall flavors, with just the right amount of kick from the bourbon.  Impress your whiskey-loving friends and family with this flavorful recipe on the dinner table.  And, put it on the dessert table, too.  Read the tip after the recipe for a sweet treat!

What You'll Need:
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Jim Beam Honey Bourbon Whiskey
  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

1.  In a skillet, whisk butter and brown sugar until butter melts.  Stir in bourbon.  Add carrots to the pan and sprinkle with spices.  Stir to incorporate.

2.  Cover with lid and simmer on low until carrots are soft and sauce has reduced, about 20 minutes.  Finish cooking uncovered for another 5 minutes, allowing the alcohol to cook out, and the sauce to thicken.  Remove from heat and serve!

TIP:  The reduced sauce from these carrots would be absolutely, sinfully delightful on some vanilla ice cream.  If you don't try these carrots, do yourself a favor and make the glaze.  Your ice cream, and stomach, will thank you ;-)