Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Caramelized Fig and Goat Cheese Crostata

Caramelized Fig and Goat Cheese Crostata

I love being able to whip something up without any advanced preparation for a recipe. I had not planned on lifting a finger to cook at all today. However, when my dad came home with a delicious carton of huge fresh figs from the farm stand the recipe wheels in my brain started turning. I popped a few into my mouth post dinner and resigned to the couch to read my book...

The figs kept calling my name. I headed back into the kitchen to see what I could come up with. Luckily, there was another frozen pie crust from when I made the Heirloom Tomato Tart, and I knew I could count on the refrigerator to house some creamy goat cheese. Voila! I had the makings of a delicious dessert.

1 9 inch frozen rolled pie crust
5-6 fresh figs, sliced
3 ounces goat cheese
2 ounces cream cheese
2 tablespoons dried cranberries, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 egg

Preheat the oven the 375 degrees fahrenheit. Once the pie crust has defrosted, unroll onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Place the goat cheese and cream cheese in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave on medium high power for thirty seconds. Mix in the chopped dried cranberries and cinnamon and stir to combine. Using a spoon or small spatula spread the goat cheese mixture onto the pie crust leaving about a 3/4 inch crust on the outside. Top with and even layer of sliced figs. Next, gently fold over the pie crust so that it makes a free-form crust around the filling. If the crust cracks at all make sure to press it together with your fingers. Crack the egg into a small bowl and beat with a fork. Using a pastry brush, brush the beaten egg along the crust. This will make the crust brown nicely. Finally sprinkle the dark brown sugar evenly over the figs.

Bake for 15 minutes then turn the oven on broil and allow to bake for another three minutes. This will allow the brown sugar to caramelize on top of the figs and form a delicious brulĂ©e-like topping. I love the sweet and tart flavor combination of this crostata. Figs are some of the sweetest fruit and the goat cheese adds a nice tangy contrast. The creaminess of the goat cheese also plays will with the crunch of the brown sugar on top. Slice into six pieces and enjoy!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Lemony White Bean and Arugula Salad

Lemony White Bean and Arugula Salad

I sometimes find it hard to restrain myself when making a salad. My motto is usually the more the merrier, throwing anything and everything into the salad bowl and often using more than one dressing. I've never been one for that generic side salad with a few sorry tomatoes and a soggy crouton to boot. No, I've never been fond of that. However, this is a salad that perfectly balances three easy ingredients with a light dressing so simple its silly.

I came upon this recipe at a free dinner hosted by the Italian Language and Culture Club at school. (Lucky me to have best friends as the ILCC co-presidents). I was struck by the sheer simplicity of the dish and of course by how delicious it was. I have since made it several times for friends and family, each time getting very positive reviews. This salad also found huge fans in BOTH of my parents, (mom a vegan and dad decidedly carnivorous) which was certainly a feat. Its time for this dish to get some publicity.

7 oz. bag of arugula
3 15 oz. cans cannellini beans
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Did I mention this whole recipe only has 7 ingredients? 4 of which you probably already have in your pantry. Guess what? The rest is easy too. Drain and rinse the beans and place in the bottom of a large bowl. Top with arugula and onion. Slice the onion as thin as you possibly can. In a small bowl place the olive oil and the juice of the lemon and a healthy pinch of salt and cracked black pepper. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and stir with a large spoon until all of the arugula is evenly coated. This salad is best if it has a chance to sit for a half hour or so, so that the arugula can wilt a little under the dressing. Serve as a side dish along some grilled fish or maybe an heirloom tomato tart. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Heirloom Tomato Tart

Heirloom Tomato Tart
Admittedly, consistency has not been a strong point these past few months. What can I say? I let senioritis get the best of me (lack of digital camera is a stale excuse). Let me make it up to you. How about a savory tomato tart to make the best of this summers bounty?

Every summer tomatoes flood the farm stands and this summer in particular I have taken to eating whole tomatoes just on their own - sliced and sprinkled with some kosher salt. Yum. But with my visiting aunt and uncle hounding me about the lack of blog activity I figured it was a perfect opportunity to get back on the wagon. Delicious Hamptons tomatoes, some gruyere cheese and flaky (store-bought) pie crust? Sign me up!

1 refrigerated pie crust
2/3 cups grated gruyere cheese
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 shallot, sliced
3 heirloom tomatoes, sliced
4 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon thyme
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tablespoons grated pecorino-romano cheese
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon dried basil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and place an oven rack in the middle. Make sure the pie crust is thawed and roll it out into a 9 inch pie plate or springform pan coated in cooking spray. Layer the bottom of the pie crust with the gruyere cheese, chopped olives and sliced shallot. Arrange half of the tomato slices in an overlapping layer on top. Combine the flour and thyme and sprinkle on the tomatoes. Top with remaining tomato slices and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lastly combine the milk, grated pecorino-romano and eggs and whisk. Slowly pour the milk mixture over the tomatoes. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes or until the eggs have set. Place the tart on a cooking rack for twenty minutes and sprinkle with dried basil. Slice, serve and enjoy!