Saturday, September 28, 2013

lasagna tart.

last week i had the privilege of attending a cooking class with one of my all-time favorite bloggers: dana of if you ever find yourself in the oakland area, take one of her classes. it involved 3 delightful hours of tasting a bunch of different dishes, sipping wine, chatting with the other students, and absorbing some tiny fraction of dana's expansive culinary knowledge. everyone walked away with a nifty booklet of 5 inspired late summer recipes, from a shaved summer squash salad to a blueberry crisp. i'm a sucker for a good crisp - as evidenced by my last post - but by far my favorite dish we learned was a goat cheese and heirloom tomato tart. i was particularly excited because my sore inability to knead dough (and one especially scarring galette making experience a few years back) has always left me pretty weary of venturing into the world of doughs. but after watching the ease with which dana made, baked, and filled her tart, i decided it was first tart endeavour involved an incredibly simple, whole wheat olive oil crust. the dough comes together in minutes and is sturdy enough for you to transport into the tart pan without having to worry about it falling apart. after refrigerating it for a few hours and baking it 20 minutes, i filled it with layers of caramelized onions, shaved zucchini coins, tomato sauce, and cheese.

i was really pleased with the result. the crust was flakey but not at all crumbly, and the filling held together quite well when i cut into it. if you're looking to venture into the world of tarts, this is a great pilot recipe.

lasagna tart

heavily inspired by 101 cookbooks

tart crust
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

zest of one lemon

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup cold water

tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 heirloom tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon salt

2 yellow onions, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil

2 zucchinis or summer squash, sliced into thin coins
1 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup chopped herbs (i used basil, rosemary, thyme, and chives)

1/2 cup grated cheese

preheat the oven to 375F degrees, and place a rack in the middle. get your 10-inch tart pan out.

toss the sliced zucchini with the salt in a colander and let it drain while you make the tart shell, caramelized onions, and tomato sauce. once you’ve let the zucchinis drain, wash them off thoroughly to remove the salt. pat them dry using a paper towel to remove any excess water. set aside.

to make the tart shell combine the flour, salt, and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. drizzle the olive oil over the flour and stir that in. now drizzle the cold water over the flour and mix with a fork just until it is absorbed. knead the dough in the bowl one or twice until it comes together into a ball. now lightly flour a flat surface and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a circle roughly 13-inches across. with great finesse, ease the pastry into your tart pan and press it into the corners and up the sides without stretching the dough. trim away any excess dough, and place the pan in the refrigerator for at least thirty minutes (but up to 10 hours).

in the meantime, start caramelizing your onions. add the olive oil to a skillet, then cook the onions on medium high for about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes. turn the heat down to medium low, and let the onions keep cooking for another 45 minutes. stir them every 5-10 minutes so that they don’t burn, but you do want them charred. once they give off that dark brown, glazed appearance (and your kitchen smells amazing!), you know they’re ready. transfer to a bowl and let cool.

at this point, your dough should be ready to bake. prick the crust with a fork a few times. line the pastry with parchment paper and fill the tart with pie weights. bake for 15 minutes. remove the paper and pie weights, then toast the tart crust in the oven for another five minutes or so before transferring it to a rack to cool. dial the oven temperature down to 350F.

now, using the same skillet you caramelized the onions in, you can make the sauce. add the olive oil to the pan. once hot, add the garlic and cook over medium high for a few minutes. toss in the tomatoes and salt, bring to a simmer, and cook the sauce down a bit, 10 minutes or so. add in the herbs and remove from heat.

when you are ready to assemble the tart, use a spatula to spread the caramelized onions across the bottom layer. arrange the zucchini in a single layer on top of the onions. pour the sauce on top and spread around, then top with the cheese.

place the tart on a rimmed baking sheet - in case you end up with an overflow - and bake for roughly 40 minutes. remove and let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, September 23, 2013

autumn apple crumble.

the weather is finally starting to cool off, and the fruit scene at the farmer's market is slowly transitioning from one of peaches and plums to apples and citrus. while i hate to see stone fruit on the way out, my sweet tooth can't wait to whip up a storm of apple crisps, cobblers, and crumble over the next few months.a lot of people have asked me what the difference is between these three c-desserts. it's actually pretty simple: a crisp involves fresh fruit with a streusel-like topping that gets baked until the fruit is cooked. the streusel is usually a mix of brown sugar, butter, flour, and spices. a crumble is the same thing but with some oats tossed into the streusel. a cobbler adds a biscuit topping to the fresh fruit. the biscuits are usually dropped onto the fruit in small rounds which gives the appearance of a cobbled road. alright, that's enough education for today. i made this apple crumble from a mix of tart apples (jonagold, gala, and mcintosh). it doesn't actually matter what kind you use, but i would recommend avoiding any variety that is already very sweet on its own. i found this site a particularly helpful resource on the subject. a few notes: the original recipe said to peel the apples. i did that for the first 3 and then i got lazy and stopped. it makes little difference. if anything, keeping the skin on makes this dessert exponentially more rustic. healthier too.i made this recipe vegan by substituting margarine in for butter. it can be made gluten-free by swapping out the regular flour for an all-purpose gluten-free blend. i added almonds into the topping, but i bet walnuts would work just as well. cashews would also be tasty!finally, this is a great dish to prepare in advance. i assembled the entire thing one afternoon in my own kitchen and brought it over to a friend's for dinner to bake. the aroma of apples and cinnamon in her apartment while we finishing up dinner, and the hot, gooey, fresh out of the oven taste made this an instant hit. 

apple crumble

7 tart apples, cored and diced in various sizes
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
⅛ tsp ground cloves
1 cup all purpose flour
¾ cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup sliced almonds or walnuts
½ cup vegan margarine, melted

spread the chopped apples in an ungreased 9×13″ pan or baking dish. in a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, water and cornstarch. cook on medium, stirring constantly, until thickened and semi-translucent (about 15 minutes).

pour the mixture over the apples, then sprinkle everything with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

in a large bowl, mix together the flour, oatmeal, and brown sugar. stir in the margarine until the mixture is crumbly. use your hands to break up any chunks.

sprinkle the streusel evenly over apples and press lightly.*

bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until apples are tender and streusel is golden. serve hot!

Monday, September 2, 2013

summer squash enchiladas.

after 6 weeks in germany, i was ready for some mexican food when i returned to the states. after an incredible visit to san francisco's premiere vegan mexican restaurant, gracias madre - and the best tamale i've ever had - i thought i'd try my hand at some vegan enchiladas. 

i was really pleased by how simple these were to throw together, and how delicious they tasted. i sauteed some zucchini and summer squash, wrapped them in tortillas, and topped them with a delicious enchilada sauce and a sprinkling of cheese. after a half hour in the oven, my apartment smelled incredible. served with a side salad, this is a perfect late summer meal. 

summer squash enchiladas
inspired by my undying love of mexican food

squash filling:

1 tsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
4 zucchinis/summer squashes, cubed
1 tsp coriander
salt and pepper

enchilada sauce:

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 hot pepper, minced (seeds removed if you want a mild sauce)
1 tsp olive oil
3 heirloom tomatoes, finely diced
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste

pull it all together with:

5 corn or flour tortillas 
1/2 cup grated cheese/soy cheese of your choice 
chopped cilantro (optional)
chopped scallions (optional)
preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

start by making the enchilada sauce. in a medium saucepan, sauté the garlic and pepper in some olive oil. add the tomatoes, cumin, salt and pepper. bring to a boil. reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. add more spices to taste. set aside until ready to use.

in a medium nonstick skillet, sauté the garlic, ginger and scallions in olive oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes. add zucchini, coriander, salt and pepper to taste and cook about 7-9 minutes (the cooking time will depend on the type of zucchinis - you want them to be basically cooked through). when they’re ready, transfer to a medium sized bowl.

now it’s time to make the enchiladas. put a few tablespoons of the zucchini saute in each tortilla, roll and place seam side down in a baking dish (i’m lazy and used the same skillet for baking the enchiladas that I had sautéed the zucchinis in).

top with enchilada sauce and cheese. bake until hot and the cheese is melted/slightly browned, about 25-30 minutes. serve with chopped cilantro and scallions.