Saturday, June 25, 2011

Beet Cheese Tart

I used to cook beet dish only for myself; now I have partners in crime, my parents.  They will try my food as well, though I'm not quite sure if they like all of it.  Sometimes what I cook will be too radically different than what they are accustomed to eat.  Take this beet cheese tart.  It looks delicious and it tastes delicious as well.  The cheeses I used here were made locally in Oregon and I was very happy the way it turned out.  The original recipe calls for different colors of beets but what I had on hand was the regular red ones.  I'm sure if I change the type of vegetable, it might work as well.  Think of summer veggies out there, it's suddenly a great idea to make this tart again.

roasted beet tart-1

roasted beet tart-1-16

Beet Cheese Tart

Makes one 13 x 19-inch tart


All-purpose flour, for dusting

Pâte Brisée, recipe follow

1 1/2 pounds (without greens) beets

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound fresh goat cheese, room temperature

1/2 scant fresh ricotta cheese (4 ounces)

2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme, plus about 1 teaspoon whole leaves

1/2 cup grated fontina cheese (about 2 ounces)

Preheat oven to 375 degree F.  On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough 1/8 inch thick.  Press firmly into a 13-by-9-inch rimmed baking sheet, leaving a 1-inch overhang on all sides.  Tuck overhanging under to create a double thickness; press firmly against pan.  Pierce bottom of shell all over with a fork.  Refrigerate or freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

Line shell with parchment; fill with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Remove weights and parchment.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  (Keep oven on.)

Trim all but 1/2 inch of stems from beets; rinse well.  Toss with oil and 1 teaspoon salt.  Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet; cover with parchment, then tightly with foil.  Roast until beets are tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.  When cool enough to handle, peel beets with a knife.  Cut into thin rounds.  Raise oven heat to 425 degree F.

Stir together goat cheese, ricotta, and chopped thyme until well combined; season with pepper.  Spread mixture over tart shell, filling all the way to edges.

Arrange beets over cheese mixture, overlapping slices slightly.  Lightly season with salt.  Sprinkle fontina and whole thyme leaves on top.  Lightly drizzle with oil, and season with pepper.  Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.  Serve warm


Pâte Brisée

Makes enough for one 9-inch double-crust pie or two 9-inch single-crust pies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup water

Pulse flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor.  Add butter, and pulse quickly until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some large pieces remaining.  Drizzle 1/4 cup water over mixture.  Pulse until mixture just begins to hold together.  If dough is too dry, add 1/4 cup more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse.

Gather dough into a ball, wrap loosely in plastic, and press into a disk using a rolling pin.  Refrigerate until firm, well wrapped in plastic, 1 hour or up to 1 day.

Source:  adapted from Martha Stewart's New Pies and Tarts

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Crispy Asparagus Balls with Pasta in Marinara Sauce

Boy, these past few weeks were thrown at me at full force.  Between two rounds of antibiotics--though not consecutively--to combat awful bacterial infection, I was invited to a friend's graduation picnic and I had to show up for orientation & training for a new job.  The graduation picnic left me momentously happy since it marked the day my friend finally finished her nursing school; for the past four years I have to coordinate my carpool schedule with her school schedule.  The orientation and training left me exhausted.  I wish they would combine all the training into one day.  But, nonetheless, I could start my job next week.  With the weather's hopefully turning bright and warm, I also think that my disposition would turn more cheerful.

asparagus and onion

organic eggs

Local asparagus started to show up in the markets and I found a recipe called crispy asparagus balls.  When I was thinking about making these, I was thinking that the balls could be a great replacement of meatballs in a pasta with marinara sauce dish.  And it was a great idea to sneak in asparagus in my son's diet.  I'm not the kind of person who usually sneak in vegetables in disguise, but my son isn't the greatest fan of asparagus.  Whereas I love it!  So, the asparagus balls weren't so bad at all; they definitely are best when they just come out of the oven, crispy and goey inside.

And what's best was that I got local, organic eggs from my husband's friend at that time.  I just love the color of the eggs and the freshness of the eggs, they were such beauties that I had to take pictures of them.

organic eggs

organic eggs

Crispy Asparagus Balls with Pasta in Marinara Sauce

Serves 4-6

1 lbs asparagus, trimmed and chopped

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup bread crumbs

1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

3 eggs

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon black pepper

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Any size of pasta, cook according to the package's direction

Marinara sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degree F.  In a sauté pan over medium heat, warm 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add onion and garlic;  sauté for 4 minutes.   Add asparagus, salt and pepper.  Continue to cook until asparagus is tender and still bright green, about 5 minutes.  Set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.

Using a food processor, pulse asparagus mixture 6 to 8 pulses.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and asparagus mixture.  Stir in bread crumbs and cheese; combine thoroughly.
asparagus, eggs, breadcrumbs

Using a medium cookie scoop, scoop about 1 tablespoon of the mixture, and place on a baking sheet that has been oiled with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.  Flip and bake another 5 to 7 minutes, or until crispy.  Serve warm or at room temperature.
making asparagus balls

To serve with pasta and marinara sauce, cook pasta according to the package's direction.  Use homemade or store-bought marinara sauce to accompany the dish.

Source:  adapted from Market of Choice recipe.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

One day I went to my parents' home and they were baking something in the oven.  I smelled some smokiness coming out of it and decided to wait until it was done.  It turned out to be just several sweet potatoes that they were baking.  "Here, have a piece, " offered my dad.  I was not very hungry by then but the smell of just baked sweet potato roused my appetite.  I peeled off the skin and sinked my teeth into its soft and hot flesh.  That was when I realized I was hooked.  This leads me to eating baked sweet potato for snack from now on.

Ever since my dad shared his baked sweet potato, I'm reintroducing myself to the appreciation of eating plain, baked in-skin sweet potato.  Hot from the oven, nothing equals to its natural sweetness; this is one root vegetable that has now become my favorite.  And not to mention it is a very healthy vegetable, dubbed as number one nutritional star of vegetable, loaded carotenoids, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

But, even though I love it plain, I love it even more in cinnamon rolls.  Since I bake it quite often, I have some leftover that was ready to be made in cinnamon rolls.  My son have been begging me to make cinnamon rolls for ages, it was finally a dream came true.  Now, which recipe would I try?  I had been eyeing Yukon Gold cinnamon rolls from Bon Appetit a while back and thought that would be a great base recipe to make it to sweet potato cinnamon rolls.  I had to tweak the recipe since I wouldn't start with boiling the potatoes in the water.  What I had was approximately the same amount of baked sweet potato for the recipe and went to the next step.  The rest of the instruction will be in the recipe below.

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

What I got from it was one of the best cinnamon rolls ever.  The texture of the dough was soft and melt-in-your mouth without overly sweet.  What I also like when making this was that I could let the dough rise for the second time in the refrigerator till the next day.  Come morning, it's time to pop the rolls in the oven.  Breakfast is ready when the rolls come out of the oven, hot and smelling amazing, and slathered with sweet icing.

So choose your sweet potato, plain or iced? ;)

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

Makes 12

About 1 pound sweet potatoes


For the dough:

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 large eggs

4 1/2 cups (or more) bread flour

1/2 cup warm water (105°F to 115°F)

3 1/4-ounce envelopes active dry yeast (scant 2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons sugar


For the filling:

1 1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature


For the glaze:

2 cups powdered sugar

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons (or more) whole milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon coarse kosher salt


Preheat oven to 400F.  Wash and scrub the sweet potatoes and place in on the middle rack.  Bake for about 1 hour or so, or until the they are soft when pierced with a knife.  After it's done baking, let cool for a while until they can be peeled.  Cut into 2-inch cubes and add butter and mash until butter is melted.  Whisk in eggs, then 1 cup flour; mash until very smooth.  Let sweet potatoes stand until barely lukewarm.

Make the dough:

Pour 1/2 cup warm water into large bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment; stir in yeast and sugar.  Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.  Add sweet potato mixture into the yeast mixture; mix on low speed until well blended, 2 minutes.  Mix in 3 cups bread flour, 1 cup at a time, beating well.  Since the sweet potatoes are not cooked in water, you might want to add some water if the dough looks too dry.  My experience when making this was that sweet potatoes are much moister and didn't need any more water.  Beat until sticky dough forms.

Spread 1/2 cup flour on work surface.  Scrape dough out onto floured work surface.  Knead until dough is smooth and elastic, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is very sticky, about 8 minutes.

Coat large bowl with butter.  Transfer dough to bowl and turn to coat.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then kitchen towel.  Let dough rise in warm, draft-free area until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Make the filling:

Mix brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour in medium bowl. Using fork, mix in butter.

Bake the rolls:

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 425°F (do not preheat oven if you plan to rise it in the refrigerator). Line large rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Turn dough out onto well-floured work surface. Roll out dough to 24x16-inch rectangle. Sprinkle filling evenly over dough. Starting at 1 long side, roll up dough jelly-roll style, enclosing filling. Using large knife dipped in flour, cut roll crosswise into 12 pieces. Transfer rolls to baking sheet, spacing rolls about 3/4 inch apart. Cover baking sheet loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in warm draft-free area until almost doubled in volume, about 20 minutes (rolls will be very puffy).  Or you could let it rise in the refrigerator overnight.

Bake cinnamon rolls until golden, about 20 minutes. Cool rolls 10 minutes on baking sheet.  If the rolls are refrigerated, get it out 30 minutes before baking.  Preheat the oven to 425°F, and bake for 20 minutes, or until golden.

Make the glaze:

Whisk powdered sugar, melted butter, 2 tablespoons milk, vanilla, and coarse salt in small bowl. If glaze is too thick to spread, add more milk by 1/2 teaspoonfuls as needed. Spread glaze over warm rolls.

Source:  adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2009.