Tag Archives: Food Network

Fried Artichoke Hearts with Yogurt Dip

Seasoned to Taste - Fried Artichokes

I overheard a child say that he and his friend were going to get their sleds out and attempt to sled down a grassy hill in the rain. It was so sad. So desperate for the Christmas they see in every movie, they are willing to fall in the mud, pretending it’s snow.

I remember snow, with all its pretty detailing. I also remember the stress of going somewhere as simple as the grocery store. How stop signs and sharp turns gave me cold sweats. How it feels to scrape ice off your car with numb fingers for 15 minutes before work. How no pair of snow boots can grip the black ice between you and your car. How traveling home for the holidays means much fretting, waking early for flights that may or may not have snow delays and lots of Weather Channel obsessions. How everything smells wet and the air hurts.

So yeah, I miss making snow angels and feeling the soft flakes on my cheeks. But the adult me is happy with mild temps and the true Christmasy spirit alive with too many cookies in the oven, too many presents under the tree and too many holiday-scented candles flickering all over the house.

I think artichokes are more of a spring-summer vegetable, but aren’t the holidays about having exotic tropical treats in the dead of winter? Plus, artichokes are so expensive, who knows the difference? I want them in the winter, when they are warm and tender and dipped into something creamy or lemony. I watched Ina Garten’s friend Mr. Zabar make these on TV and thought – surely regular artichokes are the same as baby artichokes, but with longer cooking times? Afraid not. BUT I made it work, friends.

I don’t deep-fry many things, but these called for deep-frying in olive oil, which I found too strange to resist. Wouldn’t it smoke up and overcook everything? What I found is this – it works, if watched carefully. Also, cutting artichoke hearts down to their most tender leaves and then frying them gives you crispy leaves with tender ends to dip in sauce, and soft, fragrant hearts to eat any way.

These were rich, which seems perfect for the holidays. I mixed together a quick yogurt dip, too, with lots of fresh herbs to cool and lighten things a bit.

Adapted from Food Network.

Fried Artichoke Hearts

Ingredients:

  • 3 artichokes
  • Olive oil
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic, peeled
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Remove and discard the artichoke stems. Peel off lower leaves until you get to the tender center. Slice off the top half so that only the light green remains, then cut the artichoke in half lengthwise and remove the fuzzy part and the spiky purple petals. Cut halves in half again, so you have quarters.

Place the artichokes in a medium pot, flat side down, and add olive oil to just cover. Add the garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Bring the olive oil to a boil, cover the pot and reduce the heat to a low flame and simmer for 15 minutes. Insert a knife into the lower half and if easily penetrated, it’s done.

Remove the thyme and garlic from the pot, raise the heat and fry uncovered for approximately 2 minutes, turning over the artichokes midway. They are done when brown and crispy. Remove the artichokes from the pot and place them on paper towels flat side down. Sprinkle with salt and serve.

Seasoned to Taste - Fried Artichokes

Yogurt Dip

Mix together 1 c. Greek yogurt, 6 T mayo, and your preference of chopped fresh thyme, sage and rosemary. Add garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into serving bow.

Seasoned to Taste - Fried Artichokes

The artichokes were not easy or ladylike to eat, but it was kind of fun. Best to grab on piece, peel off the leaves for dipping then scraping with your teeth, and finish with the heart.

I would serve this at a party, easily, or as a nice snack during a football game.

Seasoned to Taste - Fried Artichokes

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Black Olive, Anchovy and Caper Tapenade

I’ve always loved tapenade, but I never LOVED it until I made this recipe, which combines my love of puttanesca flavors into a thick, dark purple dip/spread that is delicious with toasted bread or pita or chips.

With Memorial Day this weekend, I figured this would be a great dish to make for entertaining guests or enjoying a warm evening in the garden.

Ina Garten’s recipe packs a punch with these robust flavors: anchovy, capers, black olives and lemon.

And the best part is that it’s easy to just combine the ingredients and mix!

Adapted from Ina Garten.

Black Olive Tapenade

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
  • 3 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 baguette, sliced and toasted
Combine the olives, capers, anchovies and garlic in a food processor fitted with a steel blade, and pulse 3 times. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, thyme and parsley and process until chunky.

Spoon into a serving bowl and serve with toasted bread, chips, pita triangles or pita chips. And some crisp veggies: carrots, celery, etc.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Homemade Cream Puffs (Profiteroles)

Sometimes you just feel like making something extravagant. Something that requires a custard and special baking equipment. Something like profiteroles, those eggy, light pastry puffs that bake up into a handheld mound with a hollow center perfect for filling with ice cream or vanilla custard, as I did here. Then you drizzle it with chocolate just because you are feeling ridiculous.

I made these for Mother’s Day – a sweet gift for the sweet mamas in my life. Nevermind that Grant and I ate most of them.

Be sure to watch the recipe well – my oven apparently doesn’t heat evenly, so I had some issues with some profiteroles getting too dark and some under-cooked, which means they deflated like a sad souffle. Still, I will be making these again because the baked profiteroles freeze well for later use. And I have some new pastry bags from my wedding registry to use.

Adapted from Ina Garten.

Vanilla Pastry Cream

Ingredients:

  • 5 extra-large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups scalded whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon Cognac (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch.

With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Don’t be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle; switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick, like pudding. Stir in the vanilla, Cognac (if using), butter, and heavy cream. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold.

Meanwhile…

Profiteroles with Vanilla Cream and Chocolate Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup  whole milk
  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 extra-large eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons prepared coffee

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat the milk, butter, and salt over medium heat until scalded. When the butter is melted, add the flour all at once and beat it with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes together and forms a dough. Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for 2 minutes. The flour will begin to coat the bottom of the pan. Dump the hot mixture into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the eggs and pulse until the eggs are incorporated into the dough and the mixture is thick.

Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip. Pipe in mounds 1 1/2 inches wide and 1-inch high onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. You should have about 18 puffs.

With a wet finger, lightly press down the swirl at the top of each puff. (You can also use 2 spoons to scoop out the mixture and shape the puffs with damp fingers.) Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned, then turn off the oven and allow them to sit for another 10 minutes, until they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Make a small slit in the side of each puff to allow the steam to escape. Set aside to cool.

For the chocolate sauce, place the cream and chocolate chips in a bowl set over simmering water and stir just until the chocolate melts. Add the honey and coffee and stir until smooth. Set aside.

For serving, fill a clean pastry bag with the pastry cream and pipe the cream inside the hollow cavity.

Drizzle with slightly warm chocolate sauce.

You can serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until serving. They hold up pretty well when chilled, but the profiterole loses its light texture after a day or so. You can freeze these for later use by just freezing the baked profiteroles and then reheating them at 350 for a few minutes to heat through.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Chewy Pecan Bars

I joked to a friend of mine when I was planning on making these. “Guess how many sticks of butter?” I asked.

She knew it was Ina Garten, who is like the Paula Dean of East Hampton.

But she wasn’t prepared for, “Five sticks!!!”

And I wasn’t prepared for when I realized that I read the recipe wrong, and tromped back out to the store, for this called for not five, but NINE sticks of butter in total.

It’s fun to think about, when your heart starts beating again.

People loved these bars. Oscar Party attendees, family, friends, coworkers. They taste like pecan pie on top of your favorite shortbread cookie. Hints of orange and lemon zest make the pecan filling a bit different, but the pecan flavor is still the hero. I, however, will never make these again. Ever. For many reasons.

One reason is that they literally caught my oven on fire. The sugary pecan filling readily spilled over the sides of the baking sheet and onto the oven bottom, where it caught fire. I’ve had smoke in the oven before, but not fire. And then the sugary substance that caused the fire became so sticky that the bars were impossible to remove from the pan, even with all that butter! Talk about a labor of love.

I think my problem was that my baking sheet was too small. Bakers beware!

Chewy Pecan Bars

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 1 1/4 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 extra-large eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Topping:

  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • 1 cup good honey
  • 3 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 pounds pecans, coarsely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crust, beat the butter and granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, until light, approximately 3 minutes. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix the dry ingredients into the batter with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Press the dough evenly into an ungreased 18 by 12 by 1-inch baking sheet, making an edge around the outside. It will be very sticky; sprinkle the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Bake for 15 minutes, until the crust is set but not browned. Allow to cool.

For the topping, combine the butter, honey, brown sugar, and zests in a large, heavy-bottomedsaucepan. Cook over low heat until the butter is melted, using a wooden spoon to stir. Raise the heat and boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the heavy cream and pecans. Pour over the crust, trying not to get the filling between the crust and the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Cut into bars and serve.

Grant sprinkled a little extra coarse salt on his, which is always a nice thing.

Go on, friends, indulge! xoxo

Green Goddess Dressing with Basil

Green goddess dressing combines every delicious dressing flavor into one creamy sauce. I made this last month for my birthday party – served with a bunch of fresh vegetables for dipping. However, it really should be treated like a salad dressing, not a dip – served over hearty greens such as spinach, romaine or bibb lettuce.

It’s like a caesar dressing with the addition of basil – amazing. Scallions, anchovies, lemon garlic – your guests will at first be concerned for the state of their breath, but then forget all that once they taste it. I had numerous people ask, “What is IN that?”

Once basil is in season again, I will definitely keep this as a refrigerator staple for my summer salads, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers.

Here, I just drizzled it over veggies.

Green Goddess Dressing with Basil

Ingredients (makes roughly 2 cups):

  • 1 cup good mayonnaise
  • 1 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (6 to 7 scallions)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste or equivalent anchovy fillets
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream
Add everything except the sour cream to a blender and process until smooth. Add sour cream and blend completely.
Serve with your favorite veggies or drizzle over salad – you will not believe how robust the flavors are. And don’t worry about the anchovies, they are hidden among the other ingredients so as to not overpower.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Shrimp Scampi

Merry Christmas! This was the first year that I’ve been away from “home” for Christmas. I visited my family and friends in the Northwest earlier in the month, spending the actual Christmas holiday with Grant and his family. It was really wonderful and an important step in making The South my new homebase…and creating new traditions.

On Christmas Eve, we walked to our neighborhood Moravian church for the Lovefeast ceremony – full of lots of beautiful choir music, Moravian buns (rolls with orange and vanilla), sweet coffee and beeswax candles that everyone holds at the end. Then, we came home and I made a seafood dish in keeping with the Italian tradition of having fish for the holidays.

After dinner, we made hot toddies and walked through the neighborhood, where each street was dotted with flickering luminaries. I don’t know who organizes the luminary thing, but it looks really magical – all those glowing lights trimming the streets, winding around the foothills of Buena Vista. There must have been thousands.

But back to food traditions – seafood at Christmas! I must have red meat on Christmas day, so seafood the night before is a wonderful balance. I made a recipe that I saw in Food Network Magazine from the amazing Lidia Bastianich, who is frequently featured in Bon Appetit and partnered with Mario Batali to create “Eataly” in NYC. I always wanted an Italian grandmother just like Lidia. So I should have known that this recipe would knock my socks off…

Scampi means heavy on the garlic and lemon…and butter. But Lidia’s recipe really goes above and beyond by creating a garlic-shallot paste that you treat much like and Indian curry paste – frying it in the pan until it dries out a little, then adding the liquids and simmering to thicken.

The flavors are aggressive and the seasoning is perfect – Grant about died when he snuck a spoonful of the buttery sauce simmering on the stove. I served mine over capellini, but it would also be good with crusty bread or any other thin pasta.

I have to call this recipe a MUST for anyone who loves Italian food, seafood and/or garlic.

Shrimp Scampi with Capellini

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 3 shallots, peeled and chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 7 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon dry breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 lb. dry capellini pasta

Combine the shallots, 5 cloves garlic and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a food processor. Process to make a smooth paste. Set aside.

Pour 6 tablespoons olive oil and the remaining garlic into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Let the garlic sizzle for a minute, then add half of the shrimp and all of the thyme. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until the shrimp are seared but not fully cooked, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining shrimp and another 1/2 teaspoon salt. Remove the shrimp and thyme from the skillet to the plate.

Add the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and the garlic-shallot paste to the same skillet set over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the paste has dried out and begins to stick to the bottom of the skillet, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the thyme to the skillet and pour in the white wine, lemon juice, the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 4 tablespoons butter and 1 cup water. Bring the sauce to a rapid boil and cook until reduced by half, 4 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Keep warm.

When the sauce has reduced, whisk in the remaining butter and return the shrimp to the pan. Cook and toss until the shrimp are coated with the sauce and just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the breadcrumbs and bring to a boil just to thicken.

To serve, spoon shrimp mixture over pasta and garnish with more parsley and cracked pepper, if needed.

Rich and filling, this was just what we wanted on Christmas Eve.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Homemade Ricotta with Herbs

I made my own ricotta! Another item added to my “I never thought I’d make my own…” list. I don’t know if Ina Garten just used a shortcut, or if this is legit. But it is legitimately delicious.

All you do is boil a little milk with cream, a dash of salt, then stir in some white wine vinegar to curdle it all. Then you strain into cheesecloth and voila! Mix with your favorite herbs and swirl into pasta or plop on a piece of toast, just as I have.

Adapted from Ina Garten.

Homemade Ricotta with Herbs

Ingredients:

  • 4 c. whole milk (one medium carton)
  • 2 c. heavy cream (one small carton)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 T white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons minced scallions, white and green parts (2 scallions)
  • 3 T chopped fresh basil

Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.

Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel or enameled pot. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).

Pour the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl at room temperature for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker the ricotta. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. The ricotta will keep refrigerated for 4 to 5 days.

To continue with the recipe…

Mix the ricotta with your herbs; set aside.

Heat broiler and drizzle sourdough bread slides with EVOO and sprinkle with S&P. Broil on both sides until lightly browned, then rub one side with a garlic clove.

To serve, dollop 1 spoonful of ricotta cream on each piece of toast. Top with a little extra S&P, if needed.

The ricotta is so smooth and creamy – way more so than store-bought. Like a cool little cloud with flecks of herbs.

I served my herbed ricotta bruschetta as an appetizer for a dinner party and people went nuts over it. I’ve been asked to bring it to another holiday gathering this weekend.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Chicken Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Mushrooms

Ah, the warm earthiness of mushrooms. Wild, woodsy and organic – they hold within their soft flesh the pungent energy of the soil they pushed through. I am beginning to see mushrooms – really high-quality mushrooms – as a necessity during the fall. Witness my transformation!

The natural muskiness of mushrooms mixes well with anything creamy. Like this dish, which combines tart, creamy goat cheese with mushrooms for a lovely stuffing in pounded chicken breasts. I tweaked the recipes to include red wine and a few other tidbits that make it even yummier.

In keeping with the mood, I cooked it up while staying in the mountains, where the hickory leaves have already laid a bed of mulch that crunches under heavy boots.

Adapted from The Food Network Magazine.

Goat Cheese and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients (serves 2):

  • 3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • 10 ounces cremini or shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
  • 3 ounces goat cheese, softened
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Prepare the chicken: Lay the chicken breasts on a piece of plastic wrap; place another piece on top and pound with a mallet or rolling pin until each breast is about 1/2 inch thick. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a medium-size saute pan over medium-high heat and add half the mushrooms. Saute until the mushrooms have released their liquid and the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Coat each chicken breast with 2 tablespoons goat cheese and top with 1/4 cup mushroom mixture. Roll up each breast burrito-style: Begin from the bottom, roll into the middle and tuck in the sides as you finish. Tie each roll with 3 pieces of kitchen twine, securing the ends and then wrapping in the middle. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken roll-ups on all sides until they are cooked through and golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Allow the rolls to sit 5 minutes before removing the twine and slicing each one into 4 to 5 pieces.

While the chicken breasts are resting, make a quick sauce: add 2 T butter to the chicken pan until foaming. Add remaining mushrooms and stir until cooked. Add wine and stir, 3 min.

Slice chicken and top with mushroom sauce and garnish with the parsley.

It will smell so warm and inviting in your house.

The goat cheese is all smooth and melting, which is wonderful with the mushrooms and red wine sauce thickened with butter. Parsley adds a nice pop of color and freshness.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Tomato Pie

I have a new relationship with tomatoes now that I live in The South. I walked into the office lunch room last week and a coworker was making one of Grant’s favorite things: tomato sandwich. Tomato slices, cracked pepper, mayo, bread. A BLT without the B and the L. Okay, I thought…

Then, I went to a dinner with my closest girlfriends. We all made something and the official debutante of the group came with two tomato pies: premade pie crust + garden tomatoes + caramelized vidalia onions + mayo + sharp cheddar cheese. It was SOOOOO good. I took extra home and decided to make my own.

So I turned to my Food Network Magazine and tried their cover recipe: heirloom tomato pie. Homemade cornmeal crust, then manchego and mozzarella cheese with caramelized onions, chives, thyme and parsley; topped with farmers’ market tomatoes and baked until tender.

Just delicious. I beg you to try it – get rid of those tomatoes that are about to go too soft on your window sill. If making for a week-day, just make the crust in advance.

Tomato Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons shredded manchego cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/4 pounds mixed heirloom tomatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Fresh basil (for garnish)

Make the crust: Pulse the flour, cornmeal and fine salt in a food processor to combine. Add the butter and 3 tablespoons manchego; pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal with pea-size bits of butter. Drizzle in 4 tablespoons ice water and pulse until the dough comes together; add 1 more tablespoon ice water if necessary. Turn out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and pat into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 45 minutes (or up to 3 days).

Put the dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll into a 13-inch round (I had to let mine get the chill off first). Transfer the dough to a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie plate. Fold the overhang under itself and crimp the edges. Pierce the bottom of the crust all over with a fork. Refrigerate until firm, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line the crust with foil, then fill with dried beans. Bake until the edges are golden, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and beans and continue baking until golden all over, 10 to 15 more minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes and toss with 1 tsp kosher salt in a colander. Let drain, gently tossing occasionally.

Make the filling: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until golden, about 15 minutes. Let cool.

Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees F.

Combine the remaining 3/4 cup manchego, the mozzarella, mayonnaise, breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons each chives and parsley, the thyme, 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper, and the sauteed onion in a bowl. Spread in the crust.

Arrange the tomatoes on top. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with pepper. Bake until the tomatoes are browned, about 50 minutes.


Slice big wedges and serve with fresh basil.

There’s nothing wrong with this. The mixture of cheeses, herbs, onion, sweet crust and juicy tomatoes = the best.

Perfect for your next summer party. Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Strawberry and Pistachio Tart

Glorious spring days, where the grass seems to glow electric green and the daffodils trumpet a louder yellow … just makes you want to kick off your flipflops and get elbow deep in buttery pastry, silky egg cream and vibrantly red strawberries.

Adding smoky green pistachios creates a texture and color contrast that I loved in this traditional strawberry tart recipe. It offers a bit of earthy crunch to the super sweet filling.

The recipe is for smaller tartlets, but I made it in one large tart pan, which turned out fine. Just don’t expect your pieces to come out clean – the pastry cream is all goopy, like a thick pudding. Reading the reviews, the crust does indeed get quite hard to cut through with your fork –  which I think is good, because the crust needs to stand up to the soft custard inside.

Recommended for a crowd…

Strawberry and Pistachio Tart

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 tablespoons cold shortening
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 2 cups Pastry Cream, recipe follows
  • 2 pints whole strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1/3 cup apricot jelly
  • 3 tablespoons shelled pistachios, roughly chopped

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a small bowl and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Put the flour mixture in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and shortening and pulse about 10 times, or until the butter is in the size of peas. Add the ice water and process until the dough comes together. Dump on a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make pastry cream:

Pastry Cream

Ingredients:

  • 5 extra-large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups scalded milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch.

With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Don’t be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle; switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick, like pudding. Stir in the vanilla, butter, and heavy cream. Pour the custard into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold.

While the pastry cream chills, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out the dough and fit into your tart pan with removable side. Don’t stretch the dough when placing it in the pans or it will shrink during baking. Cut off the excess by rolling the pin across the top the pan. Line the tart shell with a piece of buttered aluminum foil, butter side down, and fill with dried beans or rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and foil, prick the bottom of the shell all over with a fork, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Before serving, fill the tart shell with the pastry cream. Arrange the berries decoratively on top of the cream. Melt the apricot jelly with 1 teaspoon of water and brush the top of the tart. I love the way it looks like a star burst!

Sprinkle with pistachios, if using, and serve.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo