Monthly Archives: May 2011

Simple Savoury Tarts

Having spent the last couple of months cooking obsessively with cream cheese for Kraft’s Real Women of Philadelphia casting competition, I was definitely ready for a little break when I created this recipe. These tarts are actually the first item that I have made with a cheese other than Philly since learning that I was chosen as a side dish finalist. I feel like a bit of a traitor saying this, but it was a nice change of pace. (Not to worry Kraft, I have plenty more cream cheese recipes up my sleeve for the future.)

These tarts are incredibly easy to make, and can be customized to suit any season. The combination of tangy goat’s cheese and buttery puff pastry makes the perfect platform for almost any ingredients. They are light, but satisfying, and make a lovely simple supper when paired with a bowl of soup or  salad. This recipe serves 4. You’ll need:

  • 1 sheet store-bought puff pastry, thawed
  • 140 g goat’s cheese ( I used President’s Choice Blue Menu)
  • 1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • 8 spears grilled asparagus
  • 4 slices smoked salmon
  • 6 slices prosciutto
  • 1 roasted red pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray

Preheat your oven according to the directions on your pastry. Then, combine your goat’s cheese, sour cream, salt, pepper and chives in a food processor, and blend until the mixture is smooth and creamy. If you don’t have access to a food processor, you can cream them together by hand, or with a hand mixer.

Unroll your pastry onto a clean surface, and score it into four equal squares. Spread 1/4 of your goat’s cheese mixture evenly over each square of pastry. Divide your toppings among each serving, cutting them down to fit the size of your pastry. I used prosciutto and asparagus on two of my tarts, and smoked salmon and red pepper on the other two. You can mix and match, or use any toppings you like. Avoid anything that is too moist, because the excess water will make your tart soggy.

Gently transfer your tarts to a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Add another dash of salt and pepper at this point if you wish.  Create a lip around each tart by folding up roughly 1 cm of dough around the edges (don’t worry about keeping things tidy). Pinch the corners together to seal your rim, and bake your tarts according to the directions on your pastry package.

When your tarts are ready, the edges should be golden brown. You can serve them immediately, or let them cool and serve them at room temperature. If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, shrink these down and make appetizer sized tarts!

I have definitely had summer on the brain recently, and can’t wait to make these for a meal out on the patio when the warm weather that has been teasing us finally decides to stick around. Give them a try any day of the week, and fear not: they won’t derail your bikini diet.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under savory, super simple

Chocolate Drizzled Lavender Shortbread

As you may know, I love to cook with lavender. It is so aromatic, and adds sophistication to otherwise ordinary desserts. Lavender is also a favourite of my mom’s, and so, in honour of mother’s day, I made her these shortbread fingers infused with lavender and drizzled with bittersweet chocolate. The are buttery and subtly sweet, and the lavender flavour shines through, without being overpowering. Whether for mother’s day, or any day, these cookies are perfect for an elegant afternoon tea, a thoughtful hostess gift, or a reward at the end of a long day. Lavender is said to relax the mind, so why not whip up a batch for someone in your life who needs a break from all the hard work they do for you. This recipe will make about 30 1″x4″ fingers. You’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp lavender flowers
  • 3 cups white flour
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • pinch salt
  • 1 pound room temperature butter
  • 1 1/4 cups super fine sugar (fruit sugar, caster sugar etc.)
  • 1/4 cup high quality bittersweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line your baking pans with parchment paper so that it comes up the sides. I used one 9″x13″ pan, and one loaf pan, but you can use whatever you have around that will fit all of your dough. In a food processor, pulse lavender flowers until they begin to break down. Don’t worry if many of your flowers are still intact, the purpose of the pulsing is mainly to release their aroma.By now, your kitchen should smell like heaven.

In a medium bowl, combine your lavender with both flours and salt. Whisk the ingredients together until they are fully combined.

In a large bowl, beat butter until it is fluffy. Slowly add in sugar, and continue beating until you have a light, airy mixture. With your hands, slowly add the flour mixture, and toss it together with your fingers until you have a crumbly dough.

Spread the dough between your pans, and press it down until you have a flat, even surface. Your dough should be about 3/4″ thick. Prick holes in your dough with a fork, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove your pans from the oven, and score your dough into rectangles roughly 1″x4″. Scoring the dough while your cookies are still soft will make it easier to cut them when they are finished. Return your pans to the oven, and bake for another 10-15 minutes.

When the surface of your dough is firm to the touch, your cookies are ready. Remove them from the oven, and score them again. Once they have cooled completely, cut them into fingers.

here's my mom, observing the process (and taste testing)

Now it is time to temper your chocolate. Tempering is a process by which chocolate is heated, then cooled, and then reheated to ensure that it crystallizes in the ideal form. To melt your chocolate, place 2/3 of it in a zipper bag, and microwave it for 20 seconds. Remove the bag from the  microwave, and squish the chocolate around. Repeat this process until all of the chocolate has melted. Add the remainder of your chocolate to cool down the melted chocolate and squish it around in the bag. Once it has melted, microwave it for another 15 seconds.

Line up your shortbread fingers, cut a small hole in the corner of your zipper bag, and drizzle chocolate back and forth across your cookies. Don’t go overboard: you still want the lavender to be the star flavour. Let the chocolate cool fully at room temperature, and prepare your cookies to give or serve.

Happy mother’s day to all of the moms out there, particularly mine! I hope you take this day as an opportunity to relax, with or without the aid of lavender shortbread.

2 Comments

Filed under cookies, holidays, new flavours

Big News!

So, if you’ve been following my blog over the past couple of weeks, you’ll know that I have been competing in Kraft’s Real Women of Philadelphia casting competition. My last post will fill you in if you have no idea what I’m talking about. Yesterday, the second set of finalists was announced (for the side dish category) and guess what? I’M IN!!!

I am absolutely elated to have been selected. I’ll be competing in a cook-off in Toronto in July against 15 other finalists for four prizes of $20,000 and the honour of hosting Kraft’s Real Women of Philadelphia website. The recipe that won me a spot in the side dish category is called Cauliflower Creme Brulee, and you can find it here: http://luvcrumbs.org/2011/04/25/cauliflower-cr%D1%90me-brulee/.

Before being chosen as a finalist, I submitted two other recipes to the competition that I thought I would share with you. One is an entrée, the other is a dessert, and they are both totally decadent.

First off, here is my recipe for Fully Loaded Mac and Cheese. It combines creamy, gooey mac and cheese with your favourite baked potato toppings. Holy delicious! This recipe serves about 6 people and takes roughly 45 minutes from start to finish.

You’ll need:

  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 4 cup(s) of dry pasta
  • 1 tbsp. of flour
  • 2 cup(s) of milk
  • 8 ounce(s) of Herb and Garlic Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 3 cup(s) of shredded sharp cheddar
  • 1 cup(s) of sour cream
  • 1/2 cup(s) of chopped green onion
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 pinch of pepper
To prepare this dish, you can watch my instructional video below, or simply follow the written directions.
Steps:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Place six slices of bacon in a large skillet, and cook on high heat for 5-10 minutes until crisp.
  2. While your bacon is cooking, place a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil, chop your green onion, and grate your cheese.
  3. When water boils, add dry pasta, and cook it
  4. When bacon is well cooked, remove it from the pan, and chop it into small bite sized pieces. Leave the bacon drippings in the skillet.
  5. Reduce the heat under your skillet, and to the drippings, add your flour and stir quickly. Once flour is incorporated, slowly add the milk and continue stirring. Now add your cream cheese, and raise heat to medium, until it is well melted.
  6. Cook your sauce mixture on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until it thickens. Add 1/3 of your grated cheese (about 1 cup), and stir until melted.
  7. In a large bowl, mix together cooked pasta, cheese sauce, and another cup of grated cheese. Add sour cream, bacon, green onion, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir until pasta is evenly coated.
  8. Pour mixture into a casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, and cover with remaining cup of cheese. Bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees, then broil for 5 additional minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.
  9. Remove your mac and cheese from the oven, serve, and prepare to accept the accolades of your friends and family as they bite into your delectable concoction.
This second recipe is a dessert fondue that mimics the flavours of your favourite cheesecake. Feel free to experiment with dippers and toppings until you’ve mastered the perfect flavour combination. Depending on how much room you’ve left for dessert, this recipe will serve 4-8 people and takes about 25 minutes to make.
You’ll  need:
  • 1 cup(s) of fresh fruit per person
  • 2 cup(s) of various toppings (cookie crumbs, chocolate chips, coconut)
  • 1 cup(s) of chopped Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup(s) of milk
  • 1 tbsp. of lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • 12 ounce(s) of white chocolate
Again, you can follow along with my video for directions to this recipe, or just use the instructions below.
Steps:
  1. Cut fruit of your choice into bite sized pieces, roughly one cup per guest
  2. Select a variety of cheesecake inspired toppings that you think will pair nicely with your fruit. Choose as many of as few toppings as you like, and pour them into serving bowls. If you wish to make your own cookie crumbs for dipping, pulverize about eight cookies in a food processor to yield one half cup of crumbs. You should have a total of about 2 cups worth of different toppings. Arrange the table with your fruit and toppings so they are ready for your fondue when it’s nice and hot.
  3. Zap your cream cheese in the microwave for 30 seconds, and then place it in a medium pot over low heat.
  4. Whisk in milk, lemon juice, and vanilla, and continue stirring the mixture until the cream cheese is fully melted (3-5 minutes).
  5. Light the burner under your fondue pot so the pot is nice and warm when you pour in your fondue mixture.
  6. Add white chocolate to your cream cheese mixture, and whisk until it is all melted. Pour the mixture into your fondue pot and serve immediately.
  7. To eat, dip pieces of fruit into your cheesecake fondue, and then roll them in as many toppings as you like. And remember, don’t drop any fruit into the pot, or you’ll have to lay a wet one on your neighbour!

Both of these are major crowd pleasers, so give them a try at your next gathering! Thanks so much to everyone who has supported me up to this point in the competition, and good luck to all of my ladies at RWoP!
I’ll keep you guys updated along the road to the finals in Toronto. Can’t wait!

2 Comments

Filed under a party, food on a stick, new flavours, pop culture, savory