I recently got invited to the Annual Pie Party GE Potluck with a group of food professionals from NYC, NJ and PA, and in order to attend you had to be a food professional and of course, bring a unique and delicious pie. Tickets to this awesome event were a hot commodity and sold out as always, so thanks to Harvard Common Press for releasing an extra ticket last minute me! I knew everyone would probably bring an array of sweet, and gooey pies and tarts – enough to make you swoon and pass out from a sugar coma.
I’m not really a huge sweets person so I decided to make a savory Potato, Bacon & Gruyere Pie with Shallots, Creme Fraiche & Fresh Herbs, which is really more like a tart or quiche, just to switch it up and bring something different to the party.
The 3 hour party had hundreds of gorgeous sweet and savory pies from food bloggers, writers, and local Chefs in the food industry, and was planned and hosted by Jackie Gordon aka The Diva That Ate New York and Ken Leung aka Hungry Rabbit at the gorgeous GE Monogram Design Center in NYC.
We had tons of fun meeting other foodies
and sampling the goods,
watched a cooking demo by Chef Tagere showing us how to make gorgeous handmade Empanadas,
and did lots and lots of eating
and drinking and mingling with some of the best foodies on the East Coast!
Our awesome sponsors of this amazing party were: OXO, Jarlsberg, Kerrygold, Dub Pies, Wusthof, Snapware, Woolwich Dairy and Anolon.
Plus we got some great swag bags full of goodies from our generous sponsors to take home with us to enjoy all the leftover pie for the next week.
Pie pans from Anolon, gorgeous knives from Wusthof, measuring spoons and a strawberry huller from OXO, a take home container by Snapware, a gorgeous Aussie Beef Pie from Dub Pies, mini Jarlsberg cheese and lots of beautiful creamy butter from Kerrygold USA.
All hail to the pie makers!
Now back to my pie. This is one of my favorite recipes ever. It has a delicious buttery crust with a savory filling of thinly sliced potatoes, crispy bacon, Gruyere cheese, sage, shallots and garlic, with a touch of cream and crème fraiche inside to make it extra creamy and give a nice sauce to envelop all those delicious potatoes. It’s then baked into a golden brown and topped with a dollop of crème fraiche, chopped Italian parsley, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper for a finishing touch. It’s kind of like a big cheesy potato casserole you’d make for Thanksgiving dinner except it’s a pie. And who doesn’t love a good homemade fresh pie right out of the oven? I advise making two, though, (just double the pie filling recipe below) because this one will get snatched up quicker than you can grab your fork and say “pie”.
Potato, Bacon & Gruyere Pie w/ Shallots, Creme Fraiche & Fresh Herbs
The pie has a delicious buttery crust with a handmade dough and a hearty filling of thinly sliced potatoes, crispy bacon, Gruyere cheese, sage, shallots and garlic, with a touch of cream and crème fraiche inside to make it extra creamy and give a nice sauce to envelop all those delicious potatoes. It’s then baked into a golden brown and topped with a dollop of crème fraiche, chopped Italian parsley, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper for a finishing touch.
- Pie Crust (For two 9-inch crusts):
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter; cut into ½ inch cubes
- 6 tablespoons ice water
- Potato Pie Filling (For one 9-inch Pie):
- 6 slices of bacon or pancetta
- 4 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced into 1/16”
- 2 shallots, peeled and minced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, minced
- ¼ cup half and half
- 2 tablespoons crème fraiche
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Sea salt
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 4 tablespoons crème fraiche (for garnish)
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped (for garnish)
- For the dough, mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse to mix until a coarse meal forms. Gradually add the ice water in until moist clumps form in the dough. Gather the dough and form into a ball. Divide in half and flatten into disks. Wrap each dough disk in plastic and chill it for at least one to two hours before rolling it out.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Gently roll out the pie dough on a floured surface and place into a lightly greased nine-inch round pie dish. Trim and flute the edges, set aside.
- Cook the bacon slices in a large sauté pan over medium heat until crispy and browned. Drain on paper towels, crumble into small pieces and set aside.
- For the potato pie filling, peel and slice the potatoes thinly (about 1/16” rounds) with a mandolin or knife; chop shallots, garlic and sage leaves. Whisk two tablespoons of crème fraiche into the half and half in a small bowl.
- Toss the sliced potatoes with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Layer 1/3 of the potatoes in the dish in a circular overlapping pattern, then sprinkle with 1/3 of the shallots, garlic, sage, Gruyere cheese, half and half/crème fraiche mixture, and crumbled bacon. Repeat 2-3 more layers until all of the potato mixture and fillings are inside the pie shell. Top the pie with a little extra shredded Gruyere cheese and olive oil.
- Bake the pie for about 45 minutes until crust is golden brown and the cheese on top is melted and bubbly.
- Cool the pie on a baking rack for about 5 minutes and then top with a dollop or two of more crème fraiche, chopped parsley, sea salt and pepper for garnish.
You can also substitute pancetta or ham for the bacon, and mix in some Swiss or Emmenthaler cheese to the Gruyere if you want to make it extra cheesy and melty. Play around with the herbs too – throw in a little rosemary or thyme if you like. This recipe makes two 9-inch piecrusts, so if you want to make two pies, just double the pie filling recipe.
Photo Gallery from the Event (just click the photos to enlarge and see slideshow)
GE Monogram: LIKE on FB
Follow on Twittter: @GEMonogramNYC
Jarlsberg: LIKE on FB
Follow on Twittter: @JarlsbergUSA
Kerrygold: LIKE on FB
Follow on Twttter: @KerrygoldUSA
WÜSTHOF: LIKE on FB
Follow on Twitter: @WÜSTHOF
Anolon: LIKE on FB
Follow on Twitter: @Anolon
OXO: LIKE on FB
Follow on Twitter: @OXO
Dub Pies: LIKR on FB
Follow on Twitter: @dubpies
Harvard Common Press: LIKE on FB
Follow on Twitter: @HCPDishes
It wouldn’t be the holidays without catching up with friends and family and coming together for a fun holiday brunch with friends that I only get to see a couple times a year. There’s nothing better than gathering in the kitchen and around the table to eat, drink, and laugh together over some great food and drinks.
Holiday Brunch with the Girls
We decided to all bring a dish for our brunch (I love potlucks!) – I made a Caramelized Onion, Ham and Gouda Tart, my Sister brought a Pear, Bleu Cheese, Cranberry and Toasted Pecan Salad with Honey Vinaigrette. We also had homemade Chicken Empanadillas from my friend Julie, a Gluten-Free Spinach and Mushroom Egg Casserole by Donna (our gracious host!) and Rachel’s Brown Sugar Butter Monkey Bread was to die for! Teresa brought some gorgeous Christmas cookies and Peppermint Bark for dessert. Here’s a roundup of our recipes for the perfect holiday brunch..enjoy!
Caramelized Onion, Ham & Gouda Tart
This savory tart recipe is perfect for the holidays and easy to make. You can either make it in a 9-inch tart pan or in a pie dish. It has tons of chunky ham, lots of gooey melty cheese, and caramelized onions, covered in a creamy egg custard with herbs baked in a crunchy, flaky pie dough. You could also substitute crispy bacon or prosciutto for the ham, and use any melty cheese you like. The caramelized onions and garlic give it a tangy sweet flavor that goes perfect with the cheesy creamy custard.
- 1 refrigerated pie shell dough (fresh or store-bought)
- 1 cup cooked and cubed ham
- 1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup light cream
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- 3/4 cup Gouda cheese, sliced or shredded (can also substitute Gouda, Cheddar or another soft cheese that melts well)
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Roll out pie dough into a 9" pie dish, overlapping dough 1 inch over edge of pie dish. Flute edges.
- Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat, add olive oil and butter and onions.
- Saute onions for about 5 minutes until soft, add maple syrup and stir.
- Saute onions for another 5-10 minutes until they become caramelized and golden brown, add garlic and cook another minute or so. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl whisk together sour cream, egg, egg yolk, light cream, fresh thyme, parsley and salt and pepper to make the custard filling.
- Scatter the caramelized onions into the pie shell, and top with diced ham and cheese.
- Pour custard over the top evenly into the shell. Bake tart for 10 minutes.
- Take tart out of the oven and cover the crust edges with strips of foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until bubbly and golden brown..
- Let tart cool on a wire baking rack, cut into wedges and serve.
- Note: if using homemade dough, pre-bake tart shell covered in foil with dried beans or pie weights at 400 degrees F for 15-17 minutes, then and add meat and veggies and custard filling and bake for additional 20 minutes or so until the tart is set.
Recipe inspired by Andrew Zimmern's Bacon-Onion Tart, Food & Wine Magazine
Pear, Bleu Cheese, Cranberry & Toasted Pecan Salad with Honey Viniagrette
This is one of my favorite Winter salads made with a gorgeous combination of flavors and textures. It has fresh sliced pears, toasted pecans, crumbly bleu cheese and red onions, bathed in a slightly sweet honey vinaigrette.
- 3/4 cup pecans, toasted
- 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
- 1/2 head romaine lettuce or 1/2 bag mixed greens, chopped
- 1/2 large red onion, sliced thin
- 3/4 cup crumbly bleu cheese
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1-2 pears, cored and sliced
- 3 tbsp veg oil
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons honey, heated
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Place pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 7-10 minutes until lightly browned.
- Chop lettuces and slice onion, add to large salad bowl with cranberries.
- Core and cut pears into thin slices. Toss some into salad, save some for topping.
- Heat honey and make dressing; toss with salad ingredients, top with crumbly bleu cheese and sliced pears.
- Combine vinegar, warmed honey, salt and pepper in a blender or whisk together well in a mixing bowl.
- Slowly stream in olive oil whisking vigorously until all oil is blended into a gorgeous vinaigrette dressing.
- Toss with salad ingredients.
Chicken Empanadillas (Empanadas)
This is a classic recipe for Chicken Empanadillas (or empanadas). It has a flaky buttery dough surrounding a savory mixture of shredded cooked chicken, onions and spices, then lightly fried to crispy golden brown perfection. Serve with fresh tomato salsa for some extra heat and Latin flavor.
- 1 tbsp. Evoo
- ½ lb. cooked chicken breast & thigh
- ½ medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
- ¼ cup Tomato Sauce
- 6 Spanish Olives Stuffed with Minced Pimientos, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. Sofrito
- 1 packet Sazón with Coriander and Annatto
- 1 tsp. Minced Garlic or 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- ½ tsp. Dried Oregano Ground Black Pepper, to taste
- 1 package (14 oz.) Discos (Yellow), thawed Corn Oil, for frying
- Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shredded chicken and cook until browned, breaking up meat with a spoon, about 10 minutes.
- Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes more.
- Stir in tomato sauce, olives, Sofrito, Sazón, garlic, oregano and black pepper. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until mixture thickens, about 15 minutes.
- On a lightly floured work surface, using a rolling pin, roll out discos until ½” larger in diameter. Spoon about 1 tbsp. meat mixture into middle, fold in half to form a half moon; moisten edges with water and pinch to seal closed, or seal with a fork.
- Fill a deep saucepan with oil to a depth of 2½”. Heat oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking (350°F on deep-fry thermometer).
- Cook Empanadas in batches until crisp and golden brown, flipping once, 4 – 6 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
- Serve warm or at room temperature with a side of salsa.
- Makes 10 to 12 empanadillas.
Gluten-Free Spinach, Mushroom and Cheese Egg Casserole
This is a healthy and delicious gluten-free egg casserole made with spinach, sautéed mushrooms, onions and cheese baked into a fluffy savory dish that will feed a crowd and leave room for the heavier fare at the brunch table.
- 1 large bag (10 oz. each) spinach
- 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (6 oz)
- 1 1/2 packages (8 oz. each) sliced mushrooms
- 1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
- 1/2 cup Gluten-Free Bisquick® mix
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 2 eggs
- Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray.
- Sprinkle spinach, 1 cup of the cheese, the mushrooms and onion in pie plate.(I personally recommend sautéing the onions and mushrooms for a few minutes first to soften them before adding to the casserole.)
- In medium bowl, stir remaining ingredients with wire whisk or fork until blended. Pour into pie plate.
- Bake 35 to 38 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
- Bake 1 to 2 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker
Brown Sugar Butter Monkey Bread
This recipe for Monkey Bread is sure to be a huge hit at your next brunch gathering with friends. It's super easy to make, using Pillsbury biscuits and is topped with brown sugar, butter, walnuts and cinnamon baked into a caramelized construction of sweet buttery goodness. It won't last longer than 5 minutes - promise!
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 cans (16.3 oz each) Pillsbury® Grands!® Homestyle refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
- 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, if desired
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
- Heat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan with shortening or cooking spray. In large -storage plastic food bag, mix granulated sugar and cinnamon.
- Separate dough into 16 biscuits; cut each into quarters. Shake in bag to coat. Arrange in pan, adding walnuts among the biscuit pieces.
- In small bowl, mix brown sugar and butter; pour over biscuit pieces.
- Bake 28 to 32 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn upside down onto serving plate; pull apart to serve. Serve warm.
Recipe from Pillsbury.com
As I reflect on 2013, this has been a year filled with challenges and opportunities, adventures and growth both personally and professionally. Good times and bad times, which I’m thankful for and have made me stronger. Wishing all of you a Happy New Year 2014 and health, happiness and good eating! Cheers! xx
The Fresh Honey Cookbook
I love cooking with honey – not only in the Fall or dead of Winter, but all year around. It’s such a nice substitute for regular sugar and gives a warm, homey flavor to almost all types of recipes. I recently picked up a copy of The Fresh Honey Cookbook, by Beekeeper, Caterer, Chef and Spokesperson for The National Honey Board and Café owner Laurey Masterson of Asheville NC. I fell in love with her vibrant recipes using different varieties of honey throughout all 12 months of the year – she offers honey-tasting tips and recipes featuring seasonal ingredients for dishes both savory and sweet.
Each chapter is organized around a specific honey for the month including orange blossom, tupelo, avocado, eucalyptus and blueberry honey and more. In January, she has a recipe for Meyer lemon and Honey-Marinated Chicken Skewers, Pork Tenderloin with Orange Blossom Honey Mustard and Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic. In the Summer, she features delicious fresh recipes for Grilled Garlic Shrimp with a Fresh Heirloom Tomato Sauce, Vermont-Style Summer Squash Casserole, and Broiled Peaches with Sourwood Honey.
She also goes into detail about her experience as a beekeeper and teaches readers how bees make honey, how it’s harvested, what they can do to help the bee population and what is going on in the hives throughout the year.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes from the book for the chilly months of the Winter season. Enjoy!
roasted delicata squash with tuscan kale
Delicata squash is naturally sweet and pairs so nicely with the kale and the other tastes of Italy and the Mediterranean. This recipe calls for pine nuts, which are quite expensive these days, but the buttery texture and flavor is so delicious that I am reluctant to suggest an alternative. This dish is great as a lunch salad or as a warm side dish. She recommends pairing this with her Deviled Beef Bones recipe made with Eucalyptus Honey (recipe follows).
3 Delicata squash (about 3 pounds total)
Extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound bow-tie pasta
2 bunches Italian (Tuscan Lacinato) kale
½ cup pine nuts
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Cut into 1-inch chunks (there’s no need to remove the edible skin). Arrange on a baking sheet and spray or brush with olive oil. Season with the salt and pepper. Roast 10 to 15 minutes, until tender. Allow to cool.
3. Fill a large pot with water, add salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
4. Remove the leaves of the kale from the stems and cut into large pieces. Set up a steaming basket over boiling water, and steam the kale just until bright green, about 2 minutes. Remove and plunge into ice water to stop the cooking and keep them bright green.
5. Toast the pine nuts in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat until light brown, 3 to 5 minutes. (Stay nearby while you’re toasting. Left unattended, they can easily burn.)
6. Combine the pasta, kale, squash, and pine nuts in a large bowl. Toss, and then add the cheese. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Enjoy!
deviled beef bones
Laurie grew up with these wonderful beef bones, which were leftovers from the standing rib beef roast served at her Mother’s Blueberry Hill restaurant. The fat rib bones have a lot of meat and are enough to make a substantial meal out of them. They are served in a barbecue sauce that is a dark, wintry mixture featuring Eucalyptus Honey, which resembles molasses or Louisiana cane syrup. It is then combined with mustard and served as a delicious sauce for the beef bones.
Eucalyptus Honey varies from light amber to very dark brown, depending on where the eucalyptus is growing. It has a stronger taste then the lighter honeys, but is very pleasing to folks who have a more adventurous palate. This dark honey is perfect for the chillier days of Autumn and Winter.
1 teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon eucalyptus honey
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
6-8 whole beef rib bones, cooked
- Preheat the oven to 425°F if using cooked ribs, or 450°F if using uncooked ribs.
- Combine the dry mustard, salt, Dijon mustard, vinegar, honey, molasses, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl. Whisk well.
- If your ribs are already cooked, place them on a baking sheet, brush with the barbecue sauce, and cook in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Finish them under the broiler for 5 to 7 minutes until crispy.
- If your ribs are not cooked, place them in a baking pan, brush with the barbecue sauce, and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and reduce the heat to 350°F. Brush the ribs again with the sauce and return to the oven for 20 to 25 minutes longer. Remove the ribs once more and brush with more sauce. Turn the heat to broil and broil for 5 to 7 minutes, until the ribs are crispy (but not burned!!). Serve warm.
pears with blue cheese, toasted pecans, and chestnut honey vinaigrette
I get excited by the proliferation of pears in the market in the winter. I imagine what it would be like to live in Washington or Oregon. And so, though they are not local to me in December, pears are available and abundant and become the foundation for this delicious salad. Sweet, salty, bitter, and sour: All four tastes are in this salad, which makes it a memorable one for your guests.
This recipe uses a Chestnut Honey, which is one of the stronger honeys prized in Tuscany as a local taste. Italians appreciate many more bitter flavors than we do, and it has a big taste explosion for your palate. The color, flavor and smell of Chestnut Honey varies depending on the source of the Chestnut trees. Descriptors go from light and slightly pungent to extremely strong, breathtaking and lingering.
For the vinaigrette
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey, preferably chestnut honey
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
For the salad
¼ cup pecan pieces, toasted
4 ripe but firm pears
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese (Maytag)
1. To make the vinaigrette, combine the orange juice, vinegar, and honey in a small bowl and stir with a wire whisk until well mixed. Drizzle the oil into the bowl in a thin stream, whisking constantly until well blended. This will take 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. To make the salad, toast the pecans in a small dry saucepan for 2 to 3 minutes over medium heat, watching carefully and tossing often so they don’t burn.
3. Cut the pears in half from the stem to the blossom end. Remove the core, and cut each half in half again.
4. Arrange the pear quarters on individual salad plates. Sprinkle with the cheese and toasted pecans and, just before serving, drizzle with the vinaigrette.
easy tarte tatin
I love tarte tatin, the inverted apple pastry, but I am not the best baker in the world, as I’m not really patient with careful measuring. Frankly, I am much more comfortable cooking than baking. But this recipe will produce a grand result even if you’re not a serious baker. And if you have any leftovers, they make a great breakfast.
Get the best tart local apples you can find. With that start, you’ll do very well.
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup honey, preferably eucalyptus or local honey
3 pounds tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into wedges
Unbleached all-purpose flour, for the pastry
Ice cream for serving (optional)
1. Following the instructions on the package, thaw the puff pastry. This will take 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the type of pastry. You should be able to unfold it without breaking. Set aside.
2. Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Add the honey. Stir well to blend thoroughly. Carefully arrange the apple wedges in the bottom of the skillet in a decorative pattern, taking special care on the first layer, as it will end up being the top of the tart. Take care, also, to fill in any holes with other apple pieces. Continue to layer the apples until you have used all the apple slices. Since they will shrink as they cook, you want the uncooked apples to be higher than the edges of the skillet, so add more if needed.
3. Cook over medium heat on the stove until the juices bubble up and change from clear to a rich amber color, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the heat and the consistency of your apples. As they cook, press the apples down with a rubber spatula; once the juices are visible, baste the apples with the juices. Keep an eye on them and don’t allow them to burn. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
4. Preheat the oven to 475°F.
5. Roll out the thawed pastry on a floured surface, until it is a square that can comfortably fit over the skillet. Lay the puff pastry over the cooked fruit, making sure that the pastry completely covers the apples. Tuck the pastry into the sides of the skillet, sealing in the apples.
6. Bake the pastry-covered skillet in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the pastry puffs up and turns a golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
7. Place a serving platter on top of the cooked pastry and, holding tight, flip the skillet over so that the tart comes out of the skillet and ends up on the platter, pastry side down. Remove any of the cooked apples that might have stuck to the skillet and tuck them into the tart as needed.
8. Serve with ice cream, if you like, though it is perfect just as it is.
“Excerpted from The Fresh Honey Cookbook (c) by Laurey Masterton, photography (c) by Johnny Autry, used with permission from Storey Publishing.”
Whenever the holidays roll around, I love to bake and experiment with luscious pies and savory tarts. Puff pastry is such an easy way to make appetizers fit for a crowd, especially when you buy it pre-made from the grocery store. (I especially like Dufour brand which I get from Whole Foods and Fairway stores in NYC, it’s super flaky and buttery and light.) You simply roll them out on to a floured surface or a non-stick silicone baking mat (try Silpat), score the edges and prick a few holes in it and pre-bake it for about 15 minutes. Then, you can top it with any sweet or savory topping you like and bake it into a buttery, crispy delightful tart (or cut the pastry into smaller rounds with a biscuit cutter) to feed a crowd for brunch or a holiday appetizer.
I decided to top this one with some sauteed baby asparagus and garlic with red chile flakes along with three creamy melty cheeses: ricotta, gruyere and parmesan and a hint of lemon zest. All you gotta do is create your masterpiece, pop it in the oven and cut it into squares and you’ve got a crowd-pleaser waiting to happen and a party in your mouth. If you’re not a big asparagus fan, try experimenting with some other veggies: broccoli, mushrooms, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, spinach – whatever you fancy, and play with other cheeses, as long as they are good for melting such as Monterey Jack, Brie, Gorgonzola or Mozzarella. The ricotta base I wouldn’t substitute though – it gives it a creamy layer of flavor and texture that’s just too good to give up and protects the pastry base from getting soggy from the vegetables and cheese. Throw some cooked bacon, ham or prosciutto on it too if you really want to add some savory flavor. And if you want to go the extra mile and make your own pastry dough, go for it – but it takes a lot longer and a little more elbow grease to get it perfect. Happy Holidays!
Baby Asparagus, Garlic & Three-Cheese Tart
- 1 puff pastry sheet (pre-made frozen or homemade)
- 1 bunch of baby asparagus, washed and trimmed
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- 1 container ricotta cheese
- 1 egg, whisked
- 1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded and divided
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat and saute asparagus spears with the shallots for about 5-7 minutes until they get soft. Add minced garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for another 1-2 minutes. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add ricotta, whisked egg, half of the Parmesan cheese, thyme, lemon zest, sea salt and pepper.
- Roll out pastry sheet into a 16"x10" rectangle on to a Silpat (silicone baking mat) or parchment paper. Score around the edges 1 inch border and prick the base of the pastry with a fork in several places. Bake the pastry in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before adding toppings.
- Spread the ricotta and cheese mixture over the base of the puff pastry evenly. Top with sauteed asparagus, shallots and garlic, laying out asparagus spears in a flat row across the pastry.
- Sprinkle over the top the shredded Gruyere cheese and the rest of the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle additional fresh thyme if desired.
- Place the tart (on the Silpat or parchment paper base) on a rectangle baking sheet into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until pastry is crisp and golden brown and the cheese on top is bubbly.
- Remove from oven and let cool for about 5-10 minutes. Cut tart into squares and serve.
Delicious for a holiday brunch or appetizer (you can always cut tart into bite size pieces to feed a crowd).
Serve with a crisp white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Chenin Blanc.
Summer is my favorite time of year – blue sunny skies, lazy days on the patio, weekend trips to the beach and lake and backyard gatherings with friends and family. Most of all, I love the fresh juicy fruits of summer – stone fruits like peaches and plums and cherries and all the fresh berries in season like blackberries, strawberries and raspberries.
Over the July 4th holiday weekend we had a fun backyard BBQ at my parents house with some of my relatives that I haven’t seen in awhile. I used to look forward to all the fun cookouts we did every summer with my family and cousins when I was a kid so it was a fun surprise to hear they were coming over for the day.
I wanted to make a special summery dessert and something different than our usual holiday traditions such as Aunt Irene’s Reception Salad and Grandma’s Lemon Meringue Pie. I decided on a Peach-Raspberry Almond Vanilla Cream Tart made with luscious juicy fresh peaches and raspberries that are bathed in a gorgeous peach glaze. They lie on a bed of sweet creamy ricotta and cream cheese blended with a hint of almond and vanilla on top of a flaky buttery puff pastry as the base.
The combination of the sweet fruit and tangy sweet almond vanilla cream over the layers of flaky buttery pastry was the perfect refreshing yet sinful treat to top off an awesome hot Summer day out on the back patio. My Aunt and Grandma may not be with us anymore to make their legendary desserts, but I’ve decided to step in their shoes and make this delicious concoction a new yearly tradition for our family summer backyard gatherings going forward.
Savoring the Fruits of Summer :: Peach-Raspberry Almond Vanilla Cream Tart
- 2 puff pastry sheets, defrosted
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 peaches, diced
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 lemon rind quarters
- 1 cup ricotta cheese
- 2 - 8 oz. packages cream cheese (one regular, one light) at room temperature
- ½ cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 4 peaches, sliced thin
- 1 cup raspberries
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Tart pastry: Rollout puff pastry sheets on a floured surface and place on two lightly greased rectangular baking sheets.
- Score a 1-inch border around each pastry sheet. Beat eggs and water together and lightly brush the pastry sheets.
- Bake for about 15-20 minutes until pastry is puffed and golden brown. Remove from oven and let pastry sheets cool completely.
- Glaze: Meanwhile, dice two peaches and add sugar, lemon juice, lemon rinds and 2 cups of water into a small-medium pan on the stove. Simmer over medium heat until the peach is soft and the glaze is thickened about 10-15 minutes. Remove the lemon rinds and let the glaze cool to the side.
- Cream Filling: In a large mixing bowl, add the ricotta cheese, cream cheese, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and almond extract. Beat together with a mixer until smooth and spread evenly on to each pastry sheet, leaving a 1-inch border on the pastry. Arrange the peach slices on top of the cream filling in layered rows and brush the peaches with all but a few tablespoons of the glaze. Toss the raspberries with the rest of the glaze and randomly place on top of the peaches. Serve right away or keep cool in the refrigerator covered for a few hours.
- To serve, cut the tarts into squares and garnish with toasted almonds or whipped cream if desired.
Chef’s Note: The pastry and cream filling is really delicious and super versatile for making any type of fruit tart. You can substitute the peaches and raspberries for any type of berry – blueberries, strawberries, blackberries or use fresh plums or kiwi fruit and adjust the recipe accordingly for the glaze and fruit topping. You can also substitute some toasted pistachios in place of the almonds. Get creative!
More Fruit Tart Recipes you might enjoy:
Freeform Summer Fruit Tart Recipe
Fruit and Cream Mini Tarts
Ina Garten’s Strawberry Tarts Recipe
Summer has quickly arrived and it’s that time of year again to shed a few pounds and hit the beach. I’ve decided to muster up some will power and started experimenting with a low carb diet with grand visions of lazy days on the beach in that bikini I need to fit back into. The bad news is whenever I decide to go on a diet, my brain automatically starts thinking about all the evil foods I CAN’T eat – pizza being one of the first things I start craving.
I decided to make a low-carb pizza using a parmesan garlic cauliflower crust. It sounds weird, but it’s absolutely delicious and healthy and a great substitute for traditional pizza dough when you want a healthier option to cut some carbs out of your diet (while satisfying your cravings for pizza which are absolutely NOT allowed when you’re doing low carb!) I’m absolutely in LOVE with spinach artichoke dip and thought I would make a lighter version mixed with some fresh ricotta, garlic, onion and parmesan cheese to top the pizza.
I found a gorgeous head of bright yellow Carnival cauliflower and simply shredded and chopped it into a fine crumble (you can also do this in a food processor or blender). Then I chopped up some garlic and threw them both in the microwave for about 8 minutes, then drained and let cool.
You simply need to mix in some grated parmesan cheese (or any other shredded cheese you like), an egg, garlic, dried minced onion, herbs de Provence (or dried oregano or basil), a few sesame or chia seeds (optional), some yeast, almond flour and sea salt and black pepper. Then pat the mixture on to a greased pizza sheet or Silpat mat, then bake for about 10-15 minutes until the crust is lightly golden brown.
In the meantime, to make the luscious (and healthy) spinach, artichoke and ricotta topping – simply sauté the spinach with some garlic and olive oil, mix in some chopped up artichoke hearts (precooked), fresh minced garlic, ricotta cheese and shredded parmesan cheese, then top the pizza crust spreading the mixture in an even layer. Top with some additional shredded cheese (I used sharp white cheddar but you can use mozzarella or Monterey jack or any other cheese you like that melts well), and then scoop some light and fluffy ricotta cheese on top of the mixture and bake for another 7-10 minutes until the cheeses are melted and bubbly.
In my experiment I found that you shouldn’t spread the pizza crust out on the pan too thin, as it is more fragile than a traditional dough crust and needs to be a bit thick to hold up the ingredients. So try to keep the crust about ¾” to 1 inch thick evenly all around to the edges or it will burn.
Also, let the pizza cool for about 5 minutes or so before slicing it. Top with additional salt and pepper, red pepper flakes if desired, and grated parmesan cheese.
Preheat the oven to 425. Prepare the cauliflower crust ingredients and pat down on a greased pizza pan.
Bake at 425 degrees for about 10-15 minutes until it starts to get golden brown around the edges.
Top pizza crust with spinach artichoke mixture, shredded cheese and ricotta. Bake for another 10 minutes.
Let pizza cool down for 5-10 minutes and cut into slices.
Garnish with additional salt and pepper, parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.
Parmesan Garlic Cauliflower Crust
- 1 head cauliflower (about 2 ½ cups shredded)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons almond flour
- 1 teaspoon sesame or chia seeds
- ½ teaspoon herbs de provence (or dried basil or oregano)
- ½ teaspoon dried minced onion
- sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
- red pepper flakes (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 425.
- Grease a 9-10” round pizza pan or place Silpat mat on a rectangular baking sheet.
- Shred and chop cauliflower into fine crumbles (either by hand with a large Chef’s knife or with a food processor).
- Mince the garlic and add to the cauliflower in a microwave-safe large bowl.
- Microwave covered with plastic wrap for about 7-8 minutes.
- Uncover, drain and let cool for about 5-10 minutes.
- Add the next nine ingredients and mix together well.
- Bake the crust for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove the crust from oven and set aside.
In my experiment I found that you shouldn't spread the pizza crust out on the pan too thin, as it is more fragile than a traditional dough crust and needs to be a bit thick to hold up the ingredients. So try to keep the crust about ¾” to 1 inch thick evenly all around to the edges or it will burn.
Spinach & Artichoke Ricotta Pizza
- 1 parbaked cauliflower crust (see attached recipe above)
- 1 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 package frozen spinach, defrosted (or 1 bag fresh baby spinach)
- 1 package frozen artichokes, defrosted (or 1-14 oz can, drained)
- 1-15 oz container ricotta cheese, divided in half
- 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
- sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ cup white cheddar cheese (can sub Monterey jack or mozzarella), shredded
- dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
- Preheat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat.
- Place the spinach in a large microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Cook for about 8 minutes on HIGH.
- Mince the shallots and garlic cloves and drain the spinach (pressing out extra liquids).
- Add one tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the shallots for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute.
- Add the additional tablespoon of olive oil and sauté the spinach for another few minutes, mixing all ingredients together. Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes.
- Microwave the artichokes in a large microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Cook for about 5-6 minutes on HIGH and drain. (if using canned artichokes, simply drain).
- Chop the artichokes up into small pieces and place into a large mixing bowl.
- Add half of the container of ricotta cheese, 1 cup parmesan cheese, salt and pepper and mix well.
- Stir in the spinach, shallots and garlic mixture.
- Drizzle or spray some olive oil lightly on to the parbaked cauliflower pizza crust.
- Spread the spinach, artichoke and ricotta mixture evenly over the crust.
- Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and scoop out a few large tablespoons of ricotta cheese and place on top of the pizza.
- Bake at 425 degrees for another 7-10 minutes until the cheeses are melted and bubbly and the crust edges are light golden brown. (Watch crust edges to make sure they don't burn).
- Remove pizza from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes.
- Slice into wedges (or squares if making rectangular pizza) and top with additional red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese.
In my experiment I found that you shouldn't spread the pizza crust out on the pan too thin, as it is more fragile than a traditional dough crust and needs to be a bit thick to hold up the ingredients. So try to keep the crust about ¾” to 1 inch thick evenly all around to the edges or it will burn.
More pizza recipes you might enjoy:
Two Peas and Their Pod Spinach Artichoke Pesto Pizza
Real Simple Spinach and Artichoke Pizza
Gluten Free Spinach and Artichoke Pizza Better Batter
Recipe Girl’s Hawaiian Cauliflower Pizza
Closet Cooking’s BBQ Chicken Cauliflower Crust Pizza