Tuesday, March 31, 2009

BB: Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

The next Barefoot Bloggers for March was Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts. This sounded like something we would love - and I was right! It's a great appetizer! I followed some fellow BBs and cut the puff pastry in squares. I, too, think it's a sin to waste puff pastry like that!

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
Source: Ina Garten, Back to Basics, on pages 92-93
Chosen by Anne of Anne Strawberry

1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
Good olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet)
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves


Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.

Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.

Monday, March 30, 2009

BB: Chicken Piccata

I'm back! Though I set up a few recipes to post in my absence, my husband and I just spent two weeks bopping around Europe. We visited Rome, Florence, Barcelona, Dublin, and London! It was a crazy but wonderful two weeks and we are glad to be back home for some home-cooked meals!

Consequently, here I am at the last minute with the two Barefoot Bloggers recipes for March. The benefit, I suppose, is that I had the chance to see how others faired before I made the dishes. One thing I kept reading about this particular dish is that the lemon flavor was quite strong. I'm not so in love with lemon to begin with, so I cut the amount of lemon juice in half. I served the chicken with a simple salad (pasta would be nice but that's all we ate for a week in Italy, so we needed a break!). We both thought it was delicious and will definitely make it again! I enjoyed how quickly it cooked up and how well the coating adhered to the chicken (normally a struggle for me).

Chicken Piccata
Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home, pages 96-97
Serves 2, adaptations in italics
Chosen by Lindsey of Noodle Nights and Muffin Mornings

2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 extra-large egg
1/2 tablespoon water
3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
Good olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/6 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon), lemon halves reserved
1/2 cup dry white wine
Sliced lemon, for serving
Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.

Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce, wipe out the saute pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon halves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Discard the lemon halves and serve 1 chicken breast on each plate. Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprinkling of fresh parsley.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Margherita Pizza

With the recent success in finding a great homemade pizza dough, we thought it was time to start experimenting with toppings. The dough is stored in the freezer and basically, just waiting for us! I wasn't sure how long it would take to thaw, so I put it in the refrigerator one morning. Later that day, it was completely thawed, so I think it you left it out on the counter to thaw, it wouldn't take too long. This time around, we were craving margherita pizza with fresh mozzarella. Though the pizza dough was, at first, a bit resistant to stretching, it eventually conformed to what I wanted it to do and baked up beautifully.

Margherita Pizza

1- 12 inch pizza dough
1/3 cup pizza sauce
2 plum tomatoes, sliced thin
4 to 5 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
handful of fresh basil
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees for 30 minutes with a pizza stone on the lowest rack. Shape pizza dough into a 12 inch circle on a well floured board. If it is resistant to shaping, let it rest for 10 minutes then try again. When the stone is thoroughly preheated, remove it from the oven. Sprinkle the stone generously with cornmeal, then lay the dough on top of the cornmeal. Spread the pizza sauce over the dough, leaving a 1/2 border all the way around the edge. Layer the sliced tomatoes to cover the sauce. Layer the mozzarella over the tomatoes, then sprinkle the pizza with torn basil leaves. Finally, top with the parmesan cheese. Reduce the oven to 425 and bake about 10 minutes.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bourbon Balls

A good friend of mine introduced me to these wonderful little treats and I've been hooked ever since. I begged her for the recipe - which then sat in my recipe box for years. At first, I couldn't afford buying a whole bottle of bourbon when I needed less than a cup. Once I finally could spare the cash, I had forgotten about the recipe altogether. But now, finally, I have made them and can basque in their bourbon-y splendor once again!

Bourbon Balls
From Grandma C

1 (12 oz.) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate bits
1 cup sugar
6 tbsp light corn syrup
2/3 cup bourbon
4 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers
2 cups finely chopped nuts
Additional sugar for rolling

Melt chocolate over hot water. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and syrup. Blend in bourbon. Combine crumbs and nuts and add to chocolate mixture, blending well.

Quickly shape into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar. Store in airtight container and let stand several days. Makes about 9 dozen.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Chicken and Rice Wraps

I made these for a coworker who would be having surgery, so she'd have something easy to grab for lunch while at home recovering. I had one or two that I couldn't fit in the bag for her, so I kept them for my husband. As soon as he tried one, he requested that I make more. A lot more! These are easy to make and keep on hand in the freezer for a quick lunch. I added a few things to the recipe, and tweaking to our liking since we use brown rice made in the rice cooker rather than instant white rice. Either way - these rock!

Chicken and Rice Wraps
Adapted from WC Freezer Friendly Recipes

~1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
~2 cups cooked brown rice
~2 cups salsa
~1 packet or 3 tablespoons taco seasoning (recipe follows)
~4 cups cooked, shredded chicken
~1/2 cup shredded mexican cheese blend
~8-12 tortillas

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Scoop into tortillas and fold into a burrito shape. Wrap with foil and freeze in a freezer bag. To re-heat, unwrap from foil and microwave until heated through (about two minutes), flipping over halfway through.

Taco Seasoning
From Allrecipes

~ 1 tablespoon chili powder
~ 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
~ 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
~ 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
~ 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
~ 1/2 teaspoon paprika
~ 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin (we use coriander)
~ 1 teaspoon sea salt
~ 1 teaspoon black pepper

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

I've been meaning to try this recipe for probably a year now... and finally got around to making it! There are a few versions out there, but I am partial to Cooks Illustrated so I went with theirs. I kept it simple and used corningware to bake the garlic, then reused that dish to steam some broccoli in the microwave while the chicken finished in the oven. We *loved* this dish. As others have said, the garlic is very muted, adding a wonderful flavor to the sauce and is not overpowering. I used a package of 5 fresh split chicken breasts instead of a whole cut up chicken. Can't wait to make this again!

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
From Cook's Illustrated
Seen on The Way the Cookie Crumbles (with some make ahead tips and gorgeous photos!)

Table salt
1 whole chicken (3½ to 4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces (4 breast pieces, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks) and trimmed of excess fat.
Ground black pepper
3 large heads garlic (about 8 ounces), outer papery skins removed, cloves separated and unpeeled
2 medium shallots, peeled and quartered pole to pole
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
¾ cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Dissolve ¼-cup salt in 2 quarts cold tap water in large container or bowl; submerge chicken pieces in brine and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 30 minutes. Rinse chicken pieces under running water and thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Season both sides of chicken pieces with pepper.

2. Meanwhile, toss garlic and shallots with 2 teaspoons olive oil and salt and pepper to taste in 9-inch pie plate; cover tightly with foil and roast until softened and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes, shaking pan once to toss contents after 15 minutes (foil can be left on during tossing). Uncover, stir, and continue to roast, uncovered, until browned and fully tender, 10 minutes longer, stirring once or twice. Remove from oven and increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.

3. Using kitchen twine, tie together thyme, rosemary, and bay; set aside. Heat remaining 1-teaspoon oil in 12-inch heavy-bottomed ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke; swirl to coat pan with oil. Brown chicken pieces skin-side down until deep golden, about 5 minutes; using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown until golden on second side, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to large plate and discard fat; off heat, add vermouth, chicken broth, and herbs, scraping bottom of skillet with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Set skillet over medium heat, add garlic/shallot mixture to pan, then return chicken, skin-side up, to pan, nestling pieces on top of and between garlic cloves.

4. Place skillet in oven and roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers about 160 degrees, 10 to 12 minutes. If desired, increase heat to broil and broil to crisp skin, 3 to 5 minutes. Using potholders or oven mitts, remove skillet from oven and transfer chicken to serving dish. Remove 10 to 12 garlic cloves to mesh sieve and reserve; using slotted spoon, scatter remaining garlic cloves and shallots around chicken and discard herbs. With rubber spatula push reserved garlic cloves through sieve and into bowl; discard skins. Add garlic paste to skillet. Bring liquid to simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally to incorporate garlic; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk in butter; pour sauce into sauceboat and serve.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

After making waaaay too much whipped cream frosting for the oreo cupcakes, I decided what better thing to do with extra whipped cream than make ice cream? Since the cream already had bits of oreo in it, cookies and cream was a no brainer. I even still had some oreos leftover for crushing and putting in. This turned out great, just like the classic, and I found out that whipping the cream before you add it to the batter isn't a half-bad idea, no matter what ice cream recipe you are making. :-)

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream
Base ice cream recipe adapted from Doc Wilson, see my note on adjusting fat content here.

~8 oz milk (skim, 1%, 2% or whole is fine)
~8 oz heavy cream, whipped
~8 oz fat free half and half
~1/4 cup eggbeaters
~6 tablespoons sugar
~7 oz fat free sweetened condensed milk
~1 tablespoon vanilla extract
~1/4 cup finely ground oreos
~1/2 cup roughly chopped oreos


Whisk together the egg beaters, sugars, and sweetened condensed milk. Add the cream, milk, half and half, vanilla, and finely ground oreos, mix well. Chill a minimum of 4 hours, preferably overnight. Freeze according to ice cream maker directions. In the last 5 minutes of freezing, add the roughly chopped oreos. Place in the freezer to cure.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tuscan Grilled Chicken Salad

This recipe came in a free issue of Cook's Country magazine that somehow landed in my mailbox. I cut it out and was saving it in my recipe binder. We had some fresh mozzarella cheese in the fridge that needed to be used up, and when I searched my recipe file, this came up amongst a sea of baked pasta ideas. I decided to use it on the salad since that would be a nice break from the typical heavy winter fare. I grilled the chicken inside on our grill pan (still too cold to go outside for the grill!) and it was very quick and easy to throw together. The flavors were wonderful together, even though I had to use sherry vinegar instead of red wine vinegar in the dressing.

Tuscan Grilled Chicken Salad
Source: Cook's Country

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 small garlic cloves, minced, pressed or grated
salt and pepper
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 pint cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 (1-inch-thick) slices crusty Italian bread
1 (8-ounce) bag baby arugula (about 8 cups) (I used iceberg since I was being lazy)

Whisk oil, vinegar, and garlic in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Toss mozzarella, tomatoes, olives, and 2 tablespoons vinaigrette in a large bowl.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Grill over hot fire until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Brush bread slices with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette and grill over hot fire until golden brown on both sides, about 1 minute per side.

Add arugula and remaining dressing to bowl with mozzarella mixture and toss until combined. Transfer to individual plates. Slice chicken and place on top of salad. Serve with grilled bread.