Easy Asparagus Tart*

  • Flour, for work surface
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
  • 2 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 2+ tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium or thick asparagus, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Trim uneven edges. Place pastry on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

Toss chopped asparagus in the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Remove pastry shell from oven, and spread the mustard over the surface of the tart. Sprinkle with Gruyere, spread the asparagus over the top of the cheese and sprinkle with a little more cheese.

Bake until spears are tender, about 20 minutes. I turned the broiler on for 2 minutes at the end.

It was fucking delicious.  

*adapted from this Martha Stewart recipe.

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this year's cake

this year i didn't start thinking about my birthday cake until about two weeks ago. weird, right? last year i was planning my cake for months, reading the recipe over and over again, certain i was going to screw it up. so when i realized i had no plan, i took to pinterest. of course. i found a link to this cake and my decision was made. its kind of a weird recipe. maybe not weird but weird for me. its been a long time since i used lime jello for anything. because, well, jello's a little weird. weird yes BUT DELICIOUS. limey and tart and moist and yeah, totally delicious. yay, cake!

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it happened

i woke up and it was fall. it was chilly and grey and i didn't want to get out of bed. we've been slacking off a bit while syndy & colleen were here and it felt exactly the way going back to work after a three day weekend felt back in the days of five day work weeks. 

i got up, put on some warmer clothes and eventually got to work. sometime in the late morning i was overcome by the urge to bake something, something that smelled like fall. i needed pumpkin or cinnamon. or both. i opened a few cabinets and thankfully i buy pumpkin in october for the following fall, when this craving hits1. i pulled out a few things and made these -  pumpkin peanut butter chocolate chip muffins.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup mini dark chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon cardamon
1/4 teaspoon clove
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon

for muffin tops (optional):
2 tablespoons raw sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 

  1. put oven in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. prepare muffin pan - either with papers or by greasing/buttering the pan.
  2. whisk together flour and baking powder. set aside. 
  3. mix together pumpkin, peanut butter, oil, chocolate chips, eggs, spices, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth, then mix in flour mixture until just combined.
  4. stir together cinnamon and raw sugar in another bowl.
  5. fill muffin tins, about three-fourths full, then sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture. bake until golden brown and they pass whichever test you prefer, about 25-30 minutes.
  6. cool in pan on rack and YUM.

  

this is what monkey looked like the entire time i was baking. she is enjoying the cooler fall weather and would love a muffin. instead she got a pumpkin fart biscuit2

1 every fall we get pumpkin frenzy. pumpkin cookies and bread and ravioli and oh em gee, pumpkin all the time. we go on a canned pumpking buying spree and there are always a couple of leftover cans from when the fever breaks. they usually sit until the next fall when great googly mooglies, we NEED pumpkin.

2 we refer to trader joes peanut butter dog cookies as fart biscuits. she loves them but oh boy, do they make her farty. shawn went to trader joe's today and while surveying the pumpkin foodstuffs, he found pumpkin dog cookies. even monkey gets to enjoy the flavors of the season!  the best part, she isn't stinky at all this evening. well, no more than usual.

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toe-mah-toe

we planted ten tomato plants this spring. while that may seem excessive, let me assure you that it is NOT. i love tomatoes. there is nothing better than reaching toward a tomato vine, having a ripe tomato just drop into your hand, holding it up to your nose and after you are satisfied that you've smelled that that glorious smell long enough, taking a bite. because of this habit of mine, a third of the tomatoes don't even make it in the house. 

last summer i probably ate a pint of market bought sun golds every other day. this summer i've been picking a pint of those every single day. there's been a lot of salsa making. i've whipped up a batch of tomato butter. i've made a few tomato tarts. i'm going to try this recipe for tomato paste and when the cleanse i'm currently in the home stretch of (day 15 of 21), i'll be trying more than a few of these recipes.

any favorites i should try?

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caaaaaaaaake!

sunday's my birthday. so far, its shaping up to be an easier birthday than 36. i don't know why but that one bugged me. so, 37. whatever. but as is the norm in our house, i'm baking my own birthday cake. shawn has offered repeatedly to try, with the disclaimer that it may or may not be edible. that's nice honey, but no. i'd like to have my cake and eat it too. a few years in a row i made this cake, and then there was last year's rainbow cake (with its mysteriously missing blue layer.) this is this year's cake. baking commences in about 3 hours. wish me luck!

in honor of my 37th birthday, i'm offering a discount in my etsy shop. 37% off with coupon code THIRTYSEVEN. i've been doing these birthday discounts for awhile and they're always fun BUT 37% is a big discount. i debated not doing it but then thought why not! (although i'm pretty sure this will be the last one like it. i'll have to come up with some other new enticement for 38. i'm looking forward to it though.) 

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pizzaaah!

shawn & i have a problem. we've had it since we left chicago. there is no "good" pizza in portland. i know, i know. i'm that asshole. there is good pizza in portland. dove vivi, apizza scholls... its good but not what we crave - that thick, juicy pizza that anthony bourdain likened to a pizza casserole. we've also not found thin crust that's quite like thin crust pizza in chicago either, with its cracker-like crust. we miss our families, yes. but we can talk to them on the phone or via skype. pizza, chicago pizza we may miss more.

every year i declare "the year of ______" - pie, cake, bread, ice cream. in december, i decided 2012 would be the year of pizza. we were going to try more of portland's pizza offerings and we were going to try to master making good pizza at home.

full disclosure: we are thinner (AND HEALTHIER) than we were during the years of pie, cake, bread and ice cream. 2011 was the year of moving. it was crazy. so, i didn't take on any food projects except for maybe eating healthier. so, knowing that eating pizza with the voraciousness that we ate ice cream that one year would not be so good we resolved: one pizza meal a month, two at most but if there was two, one HAD TO BE HOMEMADE. 

this is our latest, and i believe, best effort thus far.

(veggie) snap pea pesto pizza

for the snap pea pesto sauce:

like any pesto sauce, this recipe is flexible. add and subtract to taste.

makes 2 cups - i think the pizza used about 1/2 cup

  • 2 cups stringed snap peas
  • 1-3 cloves garlic (to taste - i used 3)
  • 1 large handful of basil leaves
  • 1/8 cup pine nuts
  • 1/8 - 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 – 1 cup extra virgin olive oil (i used just over 1/2 cup)

clean and chop peas. put all ingredients except the salt and pepper. and olive oil in a blender or food processor. slowly add the olive oil. only add enough until all ingredients are well blended and smooth. season with salt & pepper.

for the pizza:

adapted from jamie oliver's recipe found here

for the crust:

  • 1 cups of self-rising flour, plus extra for dusting (1 substituted king arthur pizza dough flavor for 3 tbsp of the flour)
  • 1/3 cup of warm water
  • a glug of olive oil
  • a pinch of salt

for the toppings:

  • 1 cippoline onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced (we used half red, half yellow)
  • 1 roma tomato, chopped
  • 1/3 lb fresh mozzarella, torn to bits (we used fresh wisconsin mozzarella. i could talk about the cheese at length. you don't want me to.)
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • parmesan for sprinkling

preheat your broiler, put a large oven proof frying pan on the stove on high heat to warm and dust a clean surface with flour.
put flour into the food processor. add the water, salt and olive oil. process until smooth, then place onto the floured counter. sprinkle the top of the dough and the rolling pin with flour. roll the dough to a 1/4-ish inch thickness.
drizzle olive oil into the pan, then dust the dough with flour again and very lightly fold it over into a halfmoon shape. lightly fold the half-moon in half, then move the dough to the pan and unfold it, pushing it down into the sides of the pan.
spread a layer of sauce over the crust in the pan*. place peppers and tomatoes on top of sauce and cheese on top of that. dust with basil, oregano or whatever your spice of choice is. sprinkle pine nuts and parmesan on top.
place under the broiler for 5-7 minutes - until you've reached your particular level of crusty brown, burnt cheese nirvana. we go all the way.
and EAT.

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my current yum

i recently saw a recipe for pesto roasted green beans served with a poached egg somewhere and the idea stuck. it sounded delicious but despite really wanting to make it, it just wasn't happening. but then i saw asparagus and fiddleheads at the market and had new thoughts. sure, green beans are tasty but fiddleheads and asparagus are better. i decided to make more of a salad of it since i was now working with more expensive ingredients (the fiddleheads were $19 a pound!) this was a good plan on my part and its currently the only food i want to eat. 

  • 1 lb mix of fiddleheads (ends trimmed) and fresh asparagus (ends trimmed) chopped into 1-2" pieces (i think i had 3/4 lb of asparagus and 1/4 lb of the fiddleheads the first time and all asparagus the second and third times. so,you could use all asparagus if you don't like fiddleheads or if you can't get them where you are!)
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salad greens of your choosing (we use herb mix)
  • your choice of salad dressing (we use a honey mustard vinaigrette)
  • chopped hazelnuts (or pistachios or pecans or pine nuts or... you get the idea)
  • 2 poached eggs
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Mix pesto and olive oil and toss with asparagus on a baking sheet.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Roast in a preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until done to your liking.
  • Poach the eggs.
  • Place a couple of handfuls of greens and the rest of the ingredients on plates, drizzling with dressing and sprinkling with nuts, salt & pepper.
  • Dig in and YUM. 

  

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fancy ass pudding

there are many reasons to love pinterest but really, for me, its all about the recipes. i follow a number of people because they post amazing recipes. over summer, when we were mostly eating vegan it was really helpful. and now, when our winter CSA box has veggies that we aren't sure what do to with, its fantastic. i'm certain i cook or bake at least one recipe i pinned every week. this week this recipe was our favorite. salted caramel pudding.

pudding. i know. weird. i know a lot of anti-pudding people, people who only associate pudding with the jello pudding in a cup variety. but real pudding? um, YUM. also, pudding is never not fun to say. PUDDING. and this recipe? unlike any pudding i've ever had. a chocolate cookie crust. pudding that's sweet but not too sweet. homemade whipped cream. salted caramel sauce. more cookie crumbs for good measure. seriously so good. shawn likes it so much he had seconds last night.  

tonight i'm making roasted squash and kale pizza with my usual pizza crust recipe. i'll let you know how that goes, puddin'. 

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best muffins that ever did muffin

we had ripe bananas and i always try to make shawn a treat for when he comes home from skiing. so, muffins. i started with this recipe which i saw on pinterest and made a few changes. i wanted to make them as muffins and i was out of sour cream - but i had creme fraiche. so, i went at at and Oh Em Gee. moist, chocolatey but not too chocolately, perfectly bananaey with a slighty crisp muffin top. and the banana slices just started to carmelize when i pulled them from the oven. amazing.

here's the recipe with my minor changes:

ingredients

1 stick of salted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
3 large ripened bananas mashed 
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
3/4 cup of cream fraiche (or sour cream. i'm betting plain yogurt would work too.)
1 cup of chocolate chips
12 thin slices of banana
raw sugar for finishing

instructions

preheat over to 350 degrees.
grease a muffin pan. 
in a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. stir in egg, mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla until well blended.
add baking soda, cocoa, and flour.
mix everything until well incorporated 
add chocolate chips and nuts 
fill muffins 3/4 full in pan and place banana slice on top of each. liberally sprinkle muffin tops with raw sugar.
bake 40ish minutes - until a toothpick or fork comes out clean.
cool on a rack. remove from the tin. YUM.

    

they so amazing i think shawn's going to eat them ALL and he won't even check with me to see if i want the last one. why do i insist on making him a treat to come home to after skiing? oh, yeah. because he's cute. 

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its possible

that we went completely overboard at the farmers' market today.

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