Goat Cheese Tartlets

baked tart

For our “fancy meal” this week, we went with

  • Goat Cheese Tartlets
  • Baked Butternut Squash
  • Beets in a Balsamic Pecan Glaze
  • Dinner rolls

The butternut was easy; just slice in half, clean out the seeds, and bake for 60 minutes at 350°F. The dinner rolls were frozen from the last time we made basic bread; we thawed them and just popped them in the oven about 10 minutes before it was time to serve. The beets in the Balsamic Pecan Glaze is essentially the recipe provided here, only with pecans substituting for walnuts. But the Goat Cheese Tartlets are a new recipe, and, while they sound fancy, they are really easy to put together. We’ll show you.

We based this on a recipe that we found in In My Kitchen by Ted Allen. We modified it a bit to give the tartlets a little more flavor, and cut back the recipe so it would be more manageable for two.

Makes 6 tartlets.

Goat Cheese Tartlets

Goat Cheese Tartlets

Ingredients

    For the crust
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 Tbs heavy cream
  • For the filling:
  • 3 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • pepper to taste
  • pinch nutmeg

Abbreviated Instructions

Make crust.

Mix together dry ingredients for the crust.

Put the butter pieces in, and with you fingers, work the butter into the flour. After a minute or two, you should have a coarse crumbly meal-like texture.

Add egg and stir it in.

Add 2 tablespoons cream and stir. Did the dough come together? If not, add a bit more cream. Once the dough comes together, shape into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate.

Make filling:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine all the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix until mostly smooth.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/4-inch. Cut out 3-inch diameter disks.

Put the disks in a lightly greased muffin tin and press down to make a cup.

Divide the filling evenly among the cups.

Bake 35-40 minutes or until puffed and starting to brown.

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2013/01/goat-cheese-tartlets/

Ingredients:

For the crust

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter, chilled and cut in small pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 Tbs heavy cream

For the filling:

  • 3 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • pepper to taste
  • pinch nutmeg

Ingredient discussion:

Eggs should be pastured; it’s the best for the hens, and, if you want the best eggs, you better treat those hens right. If possible, get your goat cheese from happy goats. Happy goats are healthy goats, and healthy goats make for healthy cheese, and healthy cheese makes you happy.

Procedure:

Make crust.

flour, salt, baking powder
Just mix the dry ingredients for the crust together. Some people say sift, we say don’t bother.

Mix together dry ingredients. Stir them around in a medium-sized bowl so you won’t have any pockets of salt.

cutting in butter
Mix in the butter until you have a coarse meal. We just started in this photo.

Add butter. Put the butter pieces in, and with you fingers, work the butter into the flour. After a minute or two, you should have a coarse crumbly meal-like texture.

adding egg
Once the butter is cut in, add the egg.

Add egg. Crack it right in and stir it around. The dough won’t quite come together, but that’s okay; we’ll fix it up next.

adding cream
Then mix in the heavy cream. Add it a bit at a time until the dough comes together.

Add cream. Add 2 tablespoons cream and stir. Did the dough come together? If not, add a bit more cream. Once the dough comes together, shape into a disk and….

tart dough
Wrap and chill. In the fridge for at least 10 minutes, at most a day.

Refrigerate. Pop it in the fridge for at least 10 minutes, or as long as a day. When you’re ready to bake, move on to the next step.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

tart filling
Mix all fining ingredients together in one go.

Make filling. Just dump all the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix until mostly smooth. A few lumps of cheese won’t hurt, but it won’t be any better if you get rid of them all, either. After all, they’ll melt when you bake the tartlets.

cutting dough
Use something to cut out nice tart dough circles. We just use a glass.

Roll out dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/4-inch. Cut out 3-inch diameter disks. We use a glass; you can use a cookie cutter, or a glass, it won’t matter. Re-roll the scraps until you have six disks.

tart dough in muffin tin
Press the dough into the muffin tin. Most look pretty good, just a few are deformed.

Place in muffin tin. Put the disks in a lightly greased muffin tin and press down to make a cup.

filled tarts
Fill with about two tablespoons of filling. Try to make sure each cup has about the same amount

Fill. Divide the filling evenly among the cups. Each will take about 2 tablespoons or so. Maybe a bit less, maybe a bit more.

baked tarts
While baking they’ll puff up nicely. And turn a bit brown, too.

Bake. Pop them in the oven and bake 35-40 minutes or until puffed and starting to brown.

Serve immediately.

These tartlets are pretty good, but to our minds, they’re lacking something in the flavor department. We think they’d be even better with cherry tomato halves placed on top before baking. That would make them five stars, but for now, just 4.

Worth the trouble?

Kale Chips

kale chips

Imagine if you could have potato chips that were actually good for you. You can, sort of. Well, you can have kale chips. They are just as addictive as potato chips, only made from that super-veggie, kale, and they are nearly as tasty (let’s face it, for taste, potatoes are hard to beat). And, they are probably the best way to use kale. Continue reading “Kale Chips”

Worth the trouble?

Frosty Produce

csa produce share
Our share of produce for the week.

We’ve had a bit of a cold spell here, which might not be so bad, but it also means that the field where our food is grown is undergoing hard freezes. In general, that’s not good for the crops. Fortunately for us, our farmer plans for these hard frosts, and, while many of the greens will be damaged or killed, many of the root crops are still fine. So last night we picked up:

  • Carrots (1 bunch)
  • Navel oranges (2)
  • Purple-top turnips (4)
  • Red La Soda potatoes (6)
  • Red Russian kale (1 bunch)
  • Black radishes (4)
  • Black beans (1 bag)

Of these, probably our least favorite is the turnips. We just have a difficult time finding a recipe for turnips that we really like. Sure some are better than others, but none — so far — make us want to rush out and buy some ‘nips. So this time we tried making a Turnip Gratin with lots of cheese. Not bad, but still a bit turnippy; we’ll post it anyway, for those who want to try a new way of having their turnips.

Update 20 January: The black radishes we peeled, sliced, and placed in a glass of water in the fridge. These radish chips got munched down as little snacks. Oranges went into a fruit salad, and the kale went into eggs-in-a-nest — recipe coming soon.

Fennel Gratin

fennel gratin

When we first joined the CSA about six years ago — while we knew it was the right thing — we were sometimes daunted by the produce. As we found out, you get a lot of produce that you might not buy at the store, or that we weren’t buying, at any rate. One such example is fennel. Sure, we’d seen it at the store, but we didn’t know what to do with it, so why buy it? With the CSA, you get fennel sometimes. Sure you can trade, but we toughed it out and figured, hey, people eat this, let’s learn how. At first we’d use it along with a bunch of roasted vegetables, or maybe dice finely into a tomato sauce to give it a fennelly flavor, but it never got to the point of actually looking forward to fennel. Continue reading “Fennel Gratin”

Worth the trouble?

Kahlua Truffles

truffles

Truffles are one of the easiest desserts going. Basically, melt chocolate, combine with flavoring and something to soften the chocolate, chill, shape, and voilà, truffles.

As we mentioned earlier, we received homemade Kahlua from a friend for the holidays, so we thought it would be nice to whip up a batch of truffles for gifting back. Naturally, these would have to use some of the Kahlua, but fortunately, that’s not a problem.

This is based, roughly, on a Julia Child recipe in her book, The Way to Cook.

Makes about 16 one-inch truffles

Kahlua Truffles

Kahlua Truffles

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2-3 Tbs Kahlua
  • 1/4 cup almonds, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut

Abbreviated Instructions

In a medium-size microwavable bowl, melt chocolate using 30- second intervals at 50% power in a microwave. Once melted, stir until smooth.

Drop the butter in, about a tablespoon at a time, and stir until it melts and mixes thoroughly with the chocolate.

Add flavoring, stirring until everything is well mixed.

Refrigerate for about an hour or two.

Toast almonds in a small skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

ake the chocolate out of the fridge, and, using a teaspoon and your fingers, form balls of chocolate about an inch in diameter.

Drop each ball of chocolate into the coating, roll it around until it is completely coated, then place on a baking sheet and put the truffles back in the fridge to re-chill.

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2013/01/kahlua-truffles/

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate
  • 4 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2-3 Tbs Kahlua
  • 1/4 cup almonds, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut

Ingredient discussion:

Best quality chocolate is required. We are using Callibaut 72% cacao. Yum. And, as far as butter goes, we’ll quote Julia Child: “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”

Procedure:

melted chocolate
Melting chocolate in the microwave is super simple, and you can do it right in the mixing bowl.

Melt chocolate. In a medium-size microwavable bowl, melt chocolate using 30- second intervals at 50% power in a microwave. Once melted, stir until smooth.

adding butter to chocolate
Add the butter, and stir until it is completely melted. You don’t want people to hit a clump of butter.

Stir in butter. Drop the butter in, about a tablespoon at a time, and stir until it melts and mixes thoroughly with the chocolate.

Add your favorite flavoring. Just stir it in.
Add your favorite flavoring. Just stir it in.

Add flavoring. We used homemade Kahlua liqueur, but you could use other flavors. Just don’t omit the vanilla, because it goes with everything. As you pour in the flavorings, keep stirring until everything is well mixed.

Refrigerate. Pop the bowl in the fridge and chill for about an hour or two.

toasting nuts
If you’re using nuts as a coating, toast ’em. They’ll taste all the better.

Toast almonds. Yes, take the time to toast the almonds to bring out all that delicious nuttiness. We just dump them into a small skillet, heat over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Watch the nuts carefully, they can go from toasted to burnt in a few seconds.

Shape. Take the chocolate out of the fridge, and, using a teaspoon and your fingers, form balls of chocolate about an inch in diameter.

rolling truffles
Rolling the truffles in a coating makes them less messy when eating.

Roll in coating. Drop each ball of chocolate into the coating, roll it around until it is completely coated, then place on a baking sheet.

Back in the fridge. Since you warmed them a bit with your fingers, put the truffles back in the fridge to re-chill.

That’s it. Just serve. Or just eat. Your choice. It is amazing how good these things are for a total of 15 minutes work. And, of course, almost anything made with chocolate gets five stars.

Worth the trouble?

Best-Ever Biscuits

freshly made biscuits

Some people say that making good buttermilk biscuits is an art, and so they pick up those poppin’ cans of “dough,” and think that those are good biscuits. While it’s not necessarily an art to make light flaky biscuits, there are a few things you must keep in mind when you’re making the dough. First, work the dough quickly, gently, and knead it only a few times. Second, when you work in the butter, it must be cold (freeze for 15 minutes, if you want), and don’t try to get the butter mixed in uniformly. With these two things in mind, let’s bake! Continue reading “Best-Ever Biscuits”

Worth the trouble?

Kahlua Cheesecake

cheesecake

For Christmas, one of our friends was kind enough to give us a batch of homemade coffee liqueur (think Kahlua), so we started looking for recipes that would use this to great effect. Naturally, we thought of Kahlua cheesecake. Just the words sound delicious, don’t they. Looking on-line we found a highly rated recipe that we’d thought we’d try, but with a modified crust. We’ll be honest and tell you that crust didn’t turn out, so we won’t discuss the making of that, but we will cover making the cheesecake filling.

Kahlua Cheesecake

Kahlua Cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Kahlua or coffee flavored liqueur
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • Your favorite crust pressed into a 9-inch springform pan

Abbreviated Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt the chocolate chips with the coffee liqueur and butter in a microwave safe bowl. Stir until smooth, then set aside.

Place the cream cheese in a mixing bowl and cream it until it is smooth and creamy.

While mixing, slowly pour in the sugar and mix until well blended.

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

Add the sour cream, mixing thoroughly.

In three additions, add the chocolate, running the mixer on slow after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Scrape and pour the batter into the prepared crust.

Bake for 55-60 minutes our until filling is barely set in the center.

Cool. Turn off heat, and let stand in the oven for an hour.

Remove from oven, let stand at least an hour.

Refrigerate overnight; then serve.

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2013/01/kahlua-cheesecake/

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Kahlua or coffee flavored liqueur
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • Your favorite crust pressed into a 9-inch springform pan

Ingredient discussion:

For the chocolate chips we used Callabaut 55% cacao chocolate chips, the eggs were from pastured and happy chickens, and the sour cream was scratched, of course (see this recipe).

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Melt Chocolate. Melt the chocolate chips with the coffee liqueur and butter in a microwave safe bowl. We run the microwave at 30 second intervals until the chips start to melt. Stir until smooth, then set aside.

cream cheese
We like to cream the cream cheese to make it extra creamy.

Cream cheese. Place the cream cheese in a mixing bowl and cream it until it is smooth and creamy. We know that sounds redundant, but humor us.

adding sugar
Pour the sugar in slowly so you won’t end up with gritty cheese. Gritty anything is bad.

Add sugar. While mixing, slowly pour in the sugar and mix until well blended.

adding eggs
Add eggs one at a time to incorporate them into the batter.

Add eggs. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Starting to get really creamy, huh? Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

adding sour cream
Add the sour cream and mix thoroughly, scraping down the sides of the bowl. The batter will get nice and light.

Add sour cream. Now add the sour cream and set that mixer a-twirling. Now the batter is getting nice and light, right? Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Add chocolate. In three additions, add the chocolate, running the mixer on slow after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

cheesecake ready for the oven
Scoop or scrape the batter into a prepared crust. then bake.

Pour in crust. Scrape and pour the batter into the prepared crust.

Bake. Bake for 35 minutes our until filling is barely set in the center. We had to bake it close to an hour.

Cool. Turn off heat, and let stand in the oven for an hour.

cheesecake
A nicely baked coffee liqueur cheesecake.

Cool. Remove from oven, let stand at least an hour.

Cool. Refrigerate overnight; then serve.

While this cake looks good, and you might like it, we found that it collapsed after baking and that it was way too dense and sweet for our tastes. We prefer a cheesecake that is lighter, one where you can taste the cheese and each slice is like biting into a cloud, and this one doesn’t come close. We will not make it again and are looking for another recipe. Two stars.

Worth the trouble?