Summer is a great time to try something different with local produce. Roasting tomatoes is a great way to add depth of flavor, texture and color to pizzas, pasta, salads and so much more! They also make the perfect side dish for almost any meal.
Slow roasting tomatoes allows most of the natural juices to stay locked in while still achieving a delicious, caramelized flavor that is much more complex and intense.
This tomato tart with Boursin and extra old cheddar is brimming with flavorful roasted tomatoes that bear an intensely concentrated essence and melds it all with a puff pastry crust.
Baking with puff pastry is as simple as thawing the dough, then unfolding it and laying it underneath or on top of something. It contributes so much to the overall recipe that you don’t have to add much to turn it into an inspired vegetarian dinner.
Which brings me todays blog recipe: a gorgeous, simple, peak-summery roasted tomato cheese tart. If you don’t have Boursin & extra old cheddar, use the cheese you have; if you want to add a sixth ingredient, caramelized onions never made anything worse.
Roasted Tomato & Boursin Cheese Tart
On a sheet of parchment paper, roll out puff pastry to 1/8-inch thickness into a rectangle about 9 x 12-inches. With a sharp knife, score pastry about 1/2-inch in from edges. This will puff up while baking & form a nice edge on the tart.
Spread the Boursin cheese over pastry but NOT on the border. Sprinkle grated cheese evenly over top. Lay tomato rounds over cheese layer. Nestle sliced garlic in between tomato rounds. Season with salt, pepper & Italian spice.
Bake until cheese is bubbly & crust is crispy, about 25-35 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh chives. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving & slicing.
To roast garlic:
- Remove papery outer skin from garlic (do not peel or separate cloves). Cut top off garlic head: brush with oil.
- Wrap bulb in heavy duty foil.
- Bake at 425 F. for 20 minutes or until softened.
- Cool for 10 minutes; squeeze softened garlic out of skins.
- Cut into slices.
Crepes come in many flavors and styles and can be eaten as appetizers, side dishes, main courses or desserts. Barley flour is nutty and nutritious and perfect to use in crepes.
Barley has always been a grain I have enjoyed. Not only a good choice in soups and entrees, but perfect when ground into flour for baked goods. Barley has a weaker gluten than wheat flour, however, so it may not rise as well as recipes made with wheat flour. As a result, barley flour is usually mixed with wheat flour when baking yeast breads.
An underrated and underused grain, barley is actually Canada’s 3rd largest crop after wheat and canola. More barley is grown in Alberta than any other province.
That lovely nutty flavor that works well with fruits like apples and pears, is amazing in a savory meal of chicken and mushrooms.
Most of us don’t think nutrition when we think of crepes. Generally, crepes use all-purpose flour, milk and butter with more butter added to the pan. These crepes use whole barley flour in both the crepes and the filling .. how good is that!
Chicken & Mushroom Barley Crepes
In a bowl, combine flour & salt. Whisk in milk until mixture is smooth.
Heat a small non-stick skillet or crepe pan (6-8-inches) over medium-high heat. Brush bottom of pan with oil. Using a 1/4 cup measure of batter, add to pan & quickly tilt pan to cover bottom with batter.
Shake pan to loosen crepe & cook until edges of crepe begin to curl & it no longer sticks to the pan, about 30 seconds.
Gently flip crepe over & cook for a few seconds. Remove from pan & set aside. Repeat with remaining batter.
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter, sauté mushrooms & garlic until lightly browned. Add flour, stirring until completely mixed in. Gradually stir in milk, salt, pepper & dried herbs; cook until thickened, stirring constantly.
If you are using broccoli florets, cook in microwave for 1 or 2 minutes to precook slightly.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Set out a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
Set aside 1 cup of the sauce. Into remaining sauce add the chicken, broccoli & 1/2 of the grated cheese; gently combine.
Spread a small amount of reserved sauce in bottom of baking pan. Divide filling between crepes. Gently fold each side of the crepe to the middle. Place crepes seam side down in baking dish & top with 1/2 of sliced green onion, remaining sauce & cheese.
Since the sauce is fairly thick, I set the pan of crepes into another pan that had about 1/2-inch of water in it to create a 'water bath'. This helped them to cook without getting to crisp on the bottom.
Cover the pan with a sheet of foil & bake for 30-45 minutes. Remove from oven & sprinkle with remaining green onion. Serve.
- If you would prefer to make smaller crepes, use a 1/8 measuring cup or 2 Tbsp instead of the 1/4 cup measure. It should give you roughly 10 crepes.
Timbale is derived from the French word for ‘kettledrum’, also known as timballo, can refer to either a kind of pan used for baking, or the food that is cooked inside such a pan. The crust can be sheet pastry, slices of bread, rice, even slices of vegetable.
This dish is much hardier than soufflé, and is often likened to a crustless quiche, because it is less likely to fall after being removed from the oven. A timbale is different from souffle in several ways; to begin with, the eggs are not separated, but beaten together. Timbale also incorporates breadcrumbs for body, and frequently uses milk rather than cream. It is made with a variety of cheeses.
Common ingredients in timbale include ham or other meats, along with vegetables. It can make a hearty meal or an excellent accompanying side dish, and is also delicious when served cold. Timbale is usually cooked in a tray of water, because the steam helps the custard to set.
Timbale dishes are made from a variety of materials, including enameled metal and ceramic. They are designed to be partially submerged in water during cooking, and are usually capable of standing up to extreme temperatures, since they are used in the oven. They come in a wide variety of shapes, although round dishes are most common. Timbale is often prepared in individual ramekins. Most are attractive enough to be brought directly to the table for service, although many timbales are unmolded and plated so that they can be dressed with a creamy sauce.
For our timbale, I decided to make it without eggs & make a nice cheesy sauce instead. To make it a full meal deal, I added some ground pork but stayed with the original concept of layering everything. It not only tastes great but makes a nice plate presentation.
Timbale of Zucchini & Sausage
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté garlic & mushrooms for 2 minutes. Add flour & cook 1 minute, stirring to combine. Remove from heat & gradually add the milk, stirring constantly, then return to the heat & cook, stirring until thickened.
Add Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard & 3/4 cup of the combined parmesan & smoked cheddar cheese (reserving 1/4 cup), stirring until the cheese melts. Remove from the heat & stir in the parsley.
Sausage & Veggies
In a saucepan, scramble fry ground pork until cooked. Drain on paper towels. Sauté mushrooms until moisture evaporates.
Slice zucchini thinly & lay on paper towel. Sprinkle with salt to help draw the moisture out; pat dry. Slice potato thinly, leaving skin on.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line 2 – 5-inch round pans with removable bottoms with foil paper to prevent leaking.
DIVIDE veggies, sausage & sauce BETWEEN THE 2 BAKING PANS. In the bottom of each pan place a layer of potato slices, overlapping slightly. Next layer some leeks & mushrooms, top with a bit of sauce then layer sausage (sprinkle sausage with smoked paprika) & zucchini. Spoon a bit more sauce over all & repeat with a second layer.
Cover with foil & bake for 45 minutes, then remove the foil & bake for a further 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle with reserved 1/4 cup grated cheese. Allow the timbale to stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with remaining 1/4 of sauce on the side.
The fall season seems to orchestrate a return to the kitchen, to lure us who enjoy to cook, back to the stove. With the cooler days and nights, heating up the oven and cooking or baking becomes conceivable once more.
Autumn fruits are everywhere and pears are definitely in season. Pears & Gorgonzola are such a great pairing. The crisp, sweet, sometimes-earthy, sometimes-citrusy flavor of pears is naturally enhanced by the unique rich flavor of this Italian blue cheese.
Gorgonzola is named after a town outside of Milan, Italy where it was originally made. This soft, creamy cheese with blue-green marbling has a slightly pungent, savory flavor. The main difference between the different types of blue cheeses, is the region or country that they are made in or what type of milk is used in them.
Neither Brion or I like the strong flavored blue cheeses, but we sure wouldn’t pass up Gorgonzola used in either a sweet or savory recipe. These little pastries are a great fall/winter dessert. A bit more fidgety than making a larger tart or pie but as always, I love individual desserts …. there just so special!
Pear & Gorgonzola Pastries
Unfold puff pastry sheet & cut into 3 long rectangles. Cut each rectangle into 3 equal size squares.
Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Placing tarts about an inch apart. Score a crust about 1/2-inch from edge of each tart. Using a pastry brush, paint the egg wash just across the outer crust of each tart.
Divide fig jam between pastries. Spread jam across the center of each pastry, keeping it within the scored lines.
Place 3-4 slices of pear in the center of the pastry, overlapping them. Sprinkle with walnuts.
Divide the Gorgonzola between the pastries, gently pressing it into pears/walnuts.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are golden brown & pastry is baked through.
Glazed fresh fruit tart looks so elegant and summer-ish. They are the perfect dessert, whether your meal is casual or formal. In some ways, I guess its a version of a fruit pizza.
Apart from the fresh fruit and glaze, pastry cream adds a nice base to the tart. A custard pudding hybrid, pastry cream is used for ‘filling’, in the cold form, not as a pudding. Widely used to fill desserts like napoleons, cakes, cream puffs, tarts, etc.
To define, pastry cream is basically custard thickened with cornstarch and has a higher stability as compared to custard puddings which use just eggs to achieve their creamy texture. Vanilla is the classic flavor because it has to complete other flavors of the dessert. Pure vanilla is always best as the artificial flavorings add bitter taste profiles. In addition, some alcoholic desserts use pastry cream mixed with rum.
This tart has a layer of vanilla pastry cream, topped with raspberries and blueberries then brushed with an apricot glaze.
Berry Custard Tart
In a heavy saucepan, stir together the milk & 1/4 cup sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks & egg. Stir together the remaining sugar & cornstarch; then stir them into the egg until smooth. When the milk comes to a boil, drizzle it into the bowl in a thin stream while mixing so that you don't cook the eggs. Return the mixture to the saucepan; slowly bring to a boil, stirring constantly so the eggs don't curdle or scorch on the bottom.
When the mixture comes to a boil & thickens, remove from the heat. Stir the butter & vanilla, mixing until the butter is completely blended in. Pour into a heat proof container & place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled then beat until smooth with an electric mixer before using.
Other Prep Work
Line an oblong tart pan with thawed puff pastry. The short ends of the pastry should be even with the bottom of the pan but the long sides should come up to the top of pan sides. With a sharp knife, score the long sides where the sides meet the bottom of pan. Do not cut all the way through. Pierce the center of the pastry with a fork. Whisk together the egg and milk. Brush the edges of the pastry shell with the egg wash.
Bake the pastry shell for 15-20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Remove to a rack to cool completely. If needed, press the center down lightly to create an indentation. Cool while preparing filling.
Rinse & carefully dry fruit on paper towels. In a small blender, puree apricot preserves with water or liqueur until smooth.
Place smooth pastry cream in a piping bag with a large flat tip. Carefully pipe pastry cream in long strips to cover the bottom ONLY of the puff pastry shell.
Arrange a row of raspberries down both sides of the tart; close to the edge & close to each other. Using a long straight edge helps to place the fruit in an even line.
To 1/3 of the apricot glaze add some red food coloring to help accent the natural color of the raspberries. Apply a couple of light coats of the glaze carefully to the raspberries.
Fill the center of the area with blueberries, being careful to distribute evenly in rows. Using the remainder of the un-colored apricot glaze, give several light coats to blueberries. Chill until ready to serve.
Ratatouille is a classic dish of southern France. Served as a side dish, hot or cold, arranged in a casserole or individual plates, its a recipe that lends itself to many different main dishes.
Ratatouille can be a challenging dish to pair with meat because the rich and luxurious flavors come from the freshness of the vegetables. There are, however, many types of meat that would not compete with ratatouille and still keep the meal light & satisfying.
For the meat lover, beef can make this meal quite enjoyable. Hence the inspiration for this galette: eggplant, squash, onion and tomato. Roasted together in the oven over a layer of seasoned beef all in a sturdy homemade pastry crust. Brion & I thought this vegetable-beef ratatouille came together in one harmonious blend and made a super nice meal.
Ground Beef Ratatouille Galette
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, work the butter into the mixture until most of it resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces. Form a well in the center. Sprinkle with 4 Tbs. of the ice water. Mix with your fingertips until the dough holds together enough to form a ball. If too dry, add the remaining water by the teaspoon, and mix until the dough comes together.
Form the dough into a ball, put it between two sheets of plastic wrap, and then press it into a 12-14-inch round. Wrap it tightly in more plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Wash & slice veggies; set aside in refrigerator until ready to use.
In a large skillet over medium heat. Brown beef until no longer pink; season with salt & pepper. Remove beef from skillet with a slotted spoon & set aside.
In the beef drippings, sauté shallot & 1 tsp Herbs de Provence until caramelized. Add beef back to pan with crushed tomatoes & 1 Tbsp olive oil. Stir & simmer for 6-7 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
Assemble & Bake
Preheat oven to 425 F. Remove dough from fridge. Transfer pastry circle to a sheet of parchment paper.
Spread beef /sauce mixture evenly inside the circle leaving about 3" of dough from the edge. Place the veggies in a spiral, rotating for some color interest. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt 2 tsps Herbs de Provence & some black pepper.
Fold edges of dough over filling, making sure there are no cracks. Brush the galette dough with egg wash.
Bake for about 45 minutes or until veggies are roasted & pastry is golden. Allow to cool slightly then slice & serve.
Quiche, the great savory dish that originated in Germany, was perfected by French cooks who went on to create one of the most popular quiche in the world called the quiche Lorraine. Since then, many new variants of the quiche have been added. But all of those creative modifications involved mainly the filling, and the crust had that same nice and familiar, but plain taste. For that reason, many cooks didn’t bother with the crust dough preparation; instead they would buy good frozen puff pastry and concentrate on the filling.
Enter the unique mushroom crust quiche! To my knowledge, the first publication of the recipe was in the mid 1970’s in ‘Sunset’s Favorite Recipes’ cookbook magazine. The main advantage of this recipe is that the mushroom crust is nice and light as well as it goes with almost any quiche filling.
For a crunchier crust, use wheat thins instead of saltines, regular onions instead of green or change up the spices. Use your choice of cheese, instead of Swiss go with Monterey Jack, gruyere, Jarlsberg or cheddar. Add bacon, sausage or some pulled turkey as I did. Of course, nothing wrong with just using veggies and cheese …. endless possibilities!
Mushroom Crust Quiche
In a skillet, melt 3 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add mushrooms & garlic; cook until soft. Stir in crushed crackers. Remove from heat & press the mushroom mixture evenly over the bottom of a well-greased 8-9-inch pie pan.
In the skillet, melt 2 Tbsp butter. Add green onions & cook until soft; spread over mushroom crust.
Sprinkle about 3/4 of the grated Swiss cheese over the onion then top with the cooked, pulled turkey.
In a small container, whisk together eggs, milk, spices, salt & pepper. Combine the remaining Swiss cheese with the parmesan & sprinkle it over the turkey. Pour egg mixture over all & bake for about 30 minutes or until set. Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving.
Tourtiere is a traditional French Canadian meal enjoyed by many people throughout Canada. There is no one correct filling; the meat depends on what is regionally available. In coastal areas, fish such as salmon is commonly used, whereas pork, beef and game are often included inland. The name derives from the vessel in which it was originally cooked, a tourtiere.
While the smell and flavor are unique, they aren’t difficult to like. The flavors are ultimately simple and comforting and you probably have most of the ingredients on hand often. This galette version works perfect in my favorite basic cornmeal pastry crust. Tourtiere can be made ahead and frozen, then baked off as needed.
Apart from making tourtiere in the traditional form, try using the filling in tourtiere meatballs, phyllo rolls, burgers, turnovers or chicken tourtiere tartlets. The filling recipe I’m posting today comes from a tiny little pamphlet I probably have had for 30 years from a meat packing company. It has been one that I have worked with the spices to suit our taste.
In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or finger tips, cut in butter until mixture resembles BOTH coarse crumbs & small peas.
Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not, add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. DO NOT overwork dough.
Press dough into a disk shape & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Cut bacon into small pieces & fry over moderate heat until cooked but not crisp. Add pork, veal, onion & garlic; cook until meat is lightly browned. Add water & spices; reduce heat to simmer; cover pan & cook 45 minutes more. Combine meat with mashed potatoes; cool slightly.
Remove pastry from refrigerator. On a large sheet of parchment paper, roll out pastry dough into a 12-inch circle. Transfer pastry (leaving it on the parchment paper) to a large deep pie dish. You should have about a 1 1/2-inch pastry overhang. Place tourtiere filling in the pastry shell then carefully fold pastry over it, making a pleated look. Brush pastry with egg wash.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until pastry is cooked & golden brown. Basically you are only baking the pastry since the filling is already cooked.
- Very often tourtiere recipes call for cinnamon, nutmeg & cloves. Neither Brion or I care for those spices in this recipe so its a personal choice you can add or leave out.
Cheese, generally speaking, is not a tough sell. Even so, it is hard sometimes to convince someone to stray from the usual cheesy standbys and try something new. Comte is a creamy, nutty tasting French cheese that absolutely deserves to be checked out.
A fairly firm cheese that can be sliced, cubed or grated. Besides being versatile for uses in both sweet and savory cooking, Comte has a good shelf life. If you buy a wedge and it doesn’t get entirely used up, it can sit in the fridge for a week or three and it will be fine.
Cheese and dessert pairings are almost better than cheese and wine pairings. If you have the right cheese and dessert, the contrasting flavors complement each other so well you’ll never eat one without the other again. Your probably quite familiar with apple pie and cheddar cheese. The nutty, earthy flavor of the Comte cheese in these little pie bites definitely kicks that ‘sweet-savory’ appeal up a notch.
Comte Apple Pie Bites
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, sugar & salt. Cube butter & cut into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until butter is about pea size & mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Add cold water, 1 Tbsp at a time, mixing with a fork ONLY until dough starts to pull together. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface & shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic & chill for an hour.
Place the chopped apples, cinnamon, sugar & lemon juice into a skillet over medium high heat. Cook, stirring often, until all the liquid has completely evaporated & the apples have softened, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat & place in a small bowl; add flour. Stir to combine. Cool completely before using. If apples are too wet, drain away any excess liquid.
Prepare egg wash. Remove pastry from fridge & roll out to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 4-inch cookie cutter, cut into 18 rounds.
On each round place a heaping teaspoon of apple filling & sprinkle with a bit of Comte cheese. Fold in half & seal with a fork or alternately use a perogy cutter to cut , fold & seal.
Place the mini turnovers on a parchment lined baking sheet & keep in the fridge or freezer while you continue to make the rest of the pastries.
Brush egg was all over the pastry crusts. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of coarse sugar. Bake for about 14 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Remove from oven, sprinkle with remaining cheese & place pastries on a wire rack to cool.