Thursday, September 30, 2010

Artichoke and Egg Tart

My friend was having a weekend get-together and asked for my help with breakfast... she asked "can you make something like a quiche or tart". "Of course" I exuberantly shouted and off I went.

Artichoke and Egg Tart

Pate Brisee Ingredients:
  •  2 1/2 C flour
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 lb cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 C ice water
Directions:   Put flour and salt into food processor.   Add pieces of butter and pulse for about 10 seconds each time until the mixture resembles  coarse meal.   Add ice water, a little bit at a time, until the dough holds together but is not sticky.   Turn dough out onto plastic wrap and form a disk for easier rolling, wrap and place in refrigerator for about an hour.

Lightly spray tart pan with cooking spray.  On lightly floured board, roll out pastry to a 1/8th thickness and press into the pan.   Trim the edges by running your rolling pin over the top.   Pre-bake in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 Dozen eggs, whisked
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
  • 1/2 sweet onion, sliced very thin
  • 1/2 C green olives, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 Parmesan Cheese, grated (for top)
  • Creme Fraiche or Greek Yogurt 
  • Basil or Parsley garnish
Directions:   Whisk the dozen eggs until light and fluffy.   Pour into baked tart shell.   Gently add the artichoke hearts into the egg mixture in a pattern, then continue with the onion and olives.   Evenly sprinkle the minced garlic then salt and pepper to taste.   Top with grated Parmesan and place into a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until the egg is cooked through but not overcooked or it can be chewy.

Let cool and remove from tart pan for presentation.   Slice individual pieces and garnish with a tablespoon of Creme Fraiche and top with a basil leaf.   Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Project Food Blog - follow me and vote for me!!!

Here's the jump to my Project Food Blog page... I would absolutely LOVE for YOU to follow me and to vote for me also!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

PFB #2 - Out of the box Indian style!

For Project Food Blog second challenge, the winners from challenge #1 were asked to tackle a classic dish from another culture. Not always easy for me to step out of the box but I really wanted to work with Indian cuisine. While living in England in the late 90ies, we were fortunate to find a great Indian Restaurant called Brandon Tandoori. Our friends would join us a few times each month for a great dinner.  My Indian Meal represents our times spent there... and I think I did a good job pulling it off! Just ask my husband, my daughter and her friend.

PFB Challenge #2 - A Classic Indian Dinner

Menu:  Chicken Tikka, Basmati Rice, Aloo Dum and Naan Bread

Chicken Tikka
  • 2 skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 C yogurt (could not find Mager Quark)
  • 1/2 t chili powder
  • 2 T Tandoori Masala
  • 1/4 t turmeric
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 2 t ground coriander
  • 2 T tomato puree
  • 2 T lemon juice 
Directions: Add onion, ginger, garlic, yogurt, lemon juice and all spices into a food processor and pulse until smooth.   Pour marinade over cubed chicken and allow to marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight.   Thread chicken onto skewers and grill for 10 minutes, turning once, until cooked through.   Serve with rice and potatoes.
 All the spices into the food processor.

 Chicken marinating.

 Threaded skewers ready for the grill.

Basmati Rice
  • 2 C Basmati Rice
  • 4 C cold water
  • 2 t whole cumin seeds
  • 3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed and black seeds saved, pods discarded
  • 1 t fennel seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 12 black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 T butter
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • salt and pepper
Directions:   In a medium bowl, add the rice and 4 cups of cold water.   Soak the rice for about an hour.   
In small saute pan, add the cumin, cardamom, fennel, cinnamon, peppercorns and bay leaves.   Warm over low heat to lightly toast the spices to awaken the flavors, for about 3 minutes.   

Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat and add the butter and the onion.   Season with salt and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.   Stir in the spices.   Drain the rice, reserving the liquid, and stir the rice into the onion/spice mixture and cook until you hear the rice crack.   Add the reserved soaking water, season with salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat.   Cook rice uncovered and undisturbed for about 8 minutes or until done.   Remove from heat, let rest, then fluff with a fork.

Awakening the flavors of the spices.

Allo Dum
  • 2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1.2 t turmeric
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 T fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 t cumin seeds
  • 2 t coriander seeds
  • 1/2 t ground cloves
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 3 onions, diced
  • 1/2 C yogurt
  • 1/4 C tomato puree
  • 1/2 t chili powder
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
Directions:   In a large pot, cover potatoes with cool water and boil until just fork tender.   In a large skillet, lightly toast all of the spices over low heat for a few minutes then add the olive oil and onions.   Cook for 5 - 7 minutes over low heat.
Add the tomato puree, chili powder and then the potatoes.   Over low heat and add the yogurt and heat through for an additional 10 minutes.   Top with fresh cilantro.

Ready for the plate potatoes.

Naan Bread
Store bought... totally delicious!

We really enjoyed this meal and the house smells SO GOOD!

Looks fantastic...tastes incredible... added cilantro and lemon wedges.

Everyone LOVED it and I'm so glad I went outside of my comfort box and tried Indian!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Project Food Blog voting begins today!

As a member and featured publisher for Foodbuzz, I knew immediately I'd enter their Project Food Blog contest. It's 2000 contestants, 10 challenges, 1 winner. Click on the link to see my profile and to vote for me!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Defining the Four Points Foodie - Project Food Blog

I want to take you on a journey of tastes and smells from a young girls perspective.   Imagine growing up in England and living in a very old home.   Each morning the Milk Man delivered several pints of milk and clotted cream to the front door.   Most afternoons, the Green Grocer stopped at the top of the street and everyone shopped for their fresh vegetables.   Milk and sugar in hot tea after school was one of the most comforting things waiting at home.   Sounds like the turn of the century but I'm that young girl and I'm only 44 years old.

Old English Pantry

I grew up in England and that's where my love of food began.   Our home was old and had a huge butler's pantry where I would spend hours playing.   It was dark paneled wood with a small window and I would grab a bowl and spoon and make all sorts of concoctions which I now know as marinades.  I would mix butter and sugar and eat it pretending it was a beautiful cake.   Nothing was off limits to me and I experimented freely and often.

Local English Green Grocer

My family traveled extensively throughout Europe and early on, I was introduced to many flavors and tastes.   By the time I was 6 I had developed a large palate and enjoyed parsnip puree, brussel sprouts, roasted cauliflower, pheasant, lamb, goose, and even rabbit.   There wasn't anything that I wouldn't try, though I may not eat it all or like it.   I think I fell in love with pate on toast points by the time I was 10 and by the age of 16, we would go to the Bear Hotel in Woodstock near Blenheim Palace and I would enjoy a six course meal.

Doorstep milk delivery

My parents entertained a great deal and I would always help out in the kitchen.   At first I would help bake, which lead to preparing most of the food, to serving and cleaning up.   My mother made it official by purchasing a Battenburg Lace apron that I wore when I worked.   I had so much fun, enjoyed the small talk while serving and began a recipe collection that I still have today!

English type tea in china cup

I have always believed in family dinner as it's all I knew growing up.   My father was intensely busy, but he made it home for most dinner and we always sat at a well set table.   35 years later so much has changed in our world, our schedules are dictated by tumbling and soccer, homework and cell phones.   Gone are the dinners with two plates, two forks and a dessert spoon a la Emily Post.   Most families eat on the run, at different times and rarely sit down together.   I miss it... and it's my desire to bring it back into fashion.

Scones with butter, jam and clotted cream

Did I mention that my husband and I have 5 children between the 2 of us?   Meal time at our home is joyous, loud, full of conversation, stories and laughter.   My husband and I work very hard to make our meals interesting but delicious which equates to a lot of recipes and creativity.   But we love it and my husband bought me a Family Recipe Book that I build with my own recipes for Christmas last year.

Beef Wellington

That love for food has spurred my food blog!   I thought that it would be a great platform to publish my recipes and get quality feedback, which is exactly what happened.   What surprised me is how my little food blog touches people from all around the world and that is has spurred new friendships which would have been completely impossible without it.   I feel like such a grounded person when I read comments on my blog from Thailand, Russia and Portugal.   It has definitely enhanced my life!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Foodbuzz 24x24: Beat Ovarian Cancer Brunch

Sponsored by Electrolux and Foodbuzz, I hosted a Beat Ovarian Cancer Brunch on Saturday, Sept 4th. which raised awareness and money for Ovarian Cancer Research, which is close to my heart as I lost a good friend to the disease this past July.   Kathy Carroll remained strong, poised, elegant and beautiful throughout her heroic 4 year fight and in planning this brunch; I kept her likes in mind.

It starts with the eggs (pun intended) and my favorite way to showcase the egg is by poaching and adding additional flavors and depth.   Throughout the entire menu, I tried to incorporate the teal ribbon that represents Ovarian Cancer and you can see it in the asparagus used in the Eggs Benedict, the ribbons of mint in the fruit salad and both the rosemary and scallions in the roasted fingerlings.   I brought it all home for my guests by providing each person with their own Ovarian Cancer band which everyone immediately wore!

Since Kathy’s family was so important during her battle, I wanted to be surrounded by the same kind of love she experienced and invited my entire family to the event: Bert and Cherie (the grandparents), my husband Trey with our adult children Rob, Lindsey, Caitlin and Haley, my brother Dale and his girlfriend Amanda, my brother in law Mark and his girl friend Lindsay and my mother in law, Barbara.   Everyone was thrilled to be a part of this fund raising meal!

Keeping up the theme of family, I hosted this at our home, in our formal dining room!   I find we use it only during the holidays but this is a holiday, a celebration of life.

Pomegranate Mimosa's

I used Champagne, orange juice and a splash of POM Pomegranate Juice for a delicious twist.

Croissant Eggs Benedict with Asparagus

I decided to use the croissant as the base to my Eggs Benedict and toasted each one.   Start by bringing your pan of water to a full boil, and add 1/4 C white vinegar.   While that is coming to a boil, make your Hollandaise Sauce.

Hollandaise Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1 C unsalted butter
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 T water
  • 1 T fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • pepper
Directions: Melt the butter and set aside to cool.  In the top of a double boiler combine the egg yolks, water and lemon juice.   Whisk as soon as the yolks are over the heat and continue until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.   Remove from the heat source and continue whisking away from heat to cool slightly.
Slowly drizzle the butter into the yolk mixture with one hand while continuing to whisk with the other until all the butter is absorbed, then add the salt and pepper.

Saute your asparagus in 2 T olive oil for a few minutes, trying to keep the crisp.   Remove to a different plate and use the same pan with another 1 T of olive oil to saute the canadian bacon.   Remove and hold those ingredients to assembly.   To poach your eggs, making sure your boiling water with vinegar is ready, crack an egg directly into the water.   I can do about 4 at a time.   When the eggs come back to the surface, they are done unless someone wants a hard egg.   Using a spider, remove the poached egg and begin the assembly while still warm.

To assemble:   Start with a half of a toasted Croissant.   Add the canadian bacon, the asparagus and then the poached egg.   Top with the hollandaise sauce and serve.

Minted Fruit Salad

I picked the best looking fruit from the market and after washing, sliced everything into bite sized pieces.   I took several mint leaves and rolled them into one, slicing ribbons and tossed it all together.

Roasted Fingerlings with rosemary and scallions

  • 1 lb fingerlings, washed and dried
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T fresh minced rosemary
  • 4 green onions, sliced thin
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:   Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.   Put your fingerlings into a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil, rosemary and salt and pepper.   Roast until done, about 40 minutes.   As soon as you remove the potatoes, add the scallions and toss.   Serve immediately.

This picture shows how lovely the brunch was and that we were honored to be a part of such an important cause and fundraiser!   A toast to all!!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Bring on Autumn - Roasted Vegetables and Cornish Game Hens Dinner

As soon as I woke up yesterday morning, I knew what I wanted to make for dinner... roasted vegetables.   It brings back memories of growing up in England.   We were very close to the Green Grocer and his wife, and he's stop by often in his little mini van.   We'd pick out vegetables and he'd put them in brown sacks for us.   Everything was incredibly fresh, right out of his garden.   Our meal last night of roasted vegetables and Cornish Games Hens made the house smell great and was really healthy too.

I stopped off at the market and picked out what vegetables I wanted to use; sweet and red onions, carrots, parsnips, acorn squash, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, garlic, caraway seeds and pepper corns.   Then I pre-heated my oven to 350 degrees, prepped the veggies and loaded them up on trays to roast.

I drizzled everything with olive oil, sea salt and cracked pepper.   I threw some caraway seeds onto the root vegetable on the large tray, used thyme and minced garlic throughout.  

I rinsed and dried the hens and split each one in half.   Put some olive oil into the bottom of the pan and onto each half bird.   Threw in some sweet onion, thyme, garlic and then coated each half bird with Major Gray's Chutney.  A little salt and pepper to taste and they were ready for the oven.

Everything fit perfectly into my oven... closed the door and it did all the work from that point on.   I roasted the entire meal for about an hour, until the hens were cooked through.

This was our dinner - the Cornish Game Hen was tender, juicy and a little zesty from using the Chutney as a glaze.   All the vegetables were perfectly roasted, full of flavor and I did top them with some minced Italian Parsley too.   Four adults later, everything had been devoured!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The BEST EVER Oven Baked Tilapia

I bought a set of six individual Gratin Dishes off eBay and love them.   Last night I cooked Tilapia in them and the fish was tender, melt in your mouth with a sauce that was equally as delicious.   And it was TOO EASY as I made it while flying out the door to Parent Orientation at Steiner Ranch Elementary. 

Oven Baked Tilapia

  • 6 Tilapia fillets, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T butter
  • 1/2 C white wine
  • Juice and zest from 1 large lemon
  • 1 T dry parsley
  • 1/2 T Paprika
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Pinch Cayenne Pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese
Directions:   Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.   I recommend using individual Gratin dishes as it holds the sauce, cooks quick and makes for a great presentation!   Keep in mind, we are dividing all the above ingredients six way, into six gratin dishes on top of each of the six Tilapia fillets.

Ready to go into the oven

I start by putting a fillet into each gratin dish and adding a dizzle or two of olive oil.   I take the 2 pads of butter and cut into 9 pieces, allowing for 3 pieces of butter per fillet.   Splash on some white wine, zest of lemon and then juice of lemon.   Next add the dry seasonings/herbs, salt and pepper to taste and if you want, add a pinch of cayenne for a bit of spice to the zing, then finish with Parmesan!

I can cook six at a time!

Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes, making sure it is fully cooked through.

We served ours with grilled corn on the cob, a leafy salad and bread to soak up the sauce with!

Beautifully baked with an incredible sauce!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Asparagus and Brie Omelet

After an arduous workout I had my mind set on an Omelet.   In rummaging through the frig, I found asparagus, herbed brie cheese and jalapeno bacon.  I knew exactly what to do and here it is...  it was amazing!

Asparagus and Brie Omelet

  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 2 T olive oil or butter
  • asparagus
  • 2 T herbed brie or any other type cheese
  • 2 slices jalapeno bacon
Directions:   In a small saute pan, I cooked the asparagus with ends cut off in a little olive oil until still crisp, about 5 minutes, set aside.   Cut bacon into pieces and in same saute pan, fry bacon until crisp.   Remove and place on paper towel to remove oil and set aside.   In small bowl, beat eggs until completely incorporated.   In saute pan, add olive oil or butter and heat pan... add beaten eggs and coat entire bottom of pan.  If you want to flip your omelet to make sure it is completely cooked, you can... but I did not.   Quickly add your sauted asparagus and some brie, and fold in half.   Plate immediately.   To garnish, I added a touch more brie on top (which melted) and finished with crumbed jalapeno bacon.   Pepper to taste but do not salt... there is enough already!   This tastes amazing!!!