…because fresh eggs are divine.
Sometimes I find summertime meal-planning difficult. I find myself making the same thing with little variation over and over again. Summer to me means grilling and an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits but firing up the grill for another kabob just wasn’t appealing last week. Also, we were about to go away for the weekend so I was hoping I could use up any ingredients I had on hand.
When I want something simple and delicious I always turn to Ina Garten. I found her recipe for Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts on page 92 of her cookbook “Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics” and quickly discovered the only ingredient I needed to buy was 4 ounces of herb-garlic goat cheese. I tossed my frozen package of Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry on the counter to thaw and headed to store.
Below is Ina’s recipe for her savory tarts…
*makes 4 individual tarts
1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted (I use Pepperidge Farm)
Good Olive Oil
4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves (I used ¾ teaspoon dried thyme)
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (¼ inch-thick) slices
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves
2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved with a vegetable peeler
Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11×11-inch square. Using a 6-inch-wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make a total of 4 circles. (Please note, you will have a lot of unused puff pastry… If you want less waste I suggest using one sheet of the puff pastry rolled out to an 11×11-inch square and simply cut into 4 equal squares). Place the pastry onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 425°.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Sauté for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is very little moisture remaining in the skillet. Add ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from heat.
Using a sharp paring knife, score a ¼-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Don’t cut all the way through the puff pastry and don’t worry it doesn’t have to be perfect. Prick the inside of the pastry with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside of the scored border.
Place one-quarter of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of the goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 3-4 shards of peeled Parmesan on each tart.
Back for 20-15 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Serve hot or warm.
I served these with a green salad made up of all the raw veggies left in my fridge … a deliciously different summer dinner.
At the end of July we took a family trip to Cape Cod to celebrate the 50th Birthday of my husband’s cousin, Deirdre. Luckily, after a great party we got to spend the rest of the week alongside beautiful Sesuit Harbor in East Dennis, MA. One glorious afternoon while my husband took my son and his cousins fishing I went on a little adventure with my camera. I’m blown away by Cape Cod; how amazingly green and lush it is, how undeveloped much of it has remained and how entirely different Cape Cod Bay is from the Pacific. It is quintessentially American… the cedar-shingled homes, Old Glory flying around every corner, roadside eateries with delicious, fresh seafood and an undeniable sense of history that oozes from every brackish pond. It’s only my second time on the Cape but I can understand why generations of families find themselves heading back here year after year.
Along my meandering path I came across the peaceful Quivet Neck cemetery, a sweet bench inviting strangers to take it easy, insanely colored hydrangeas, gorgeous homes, tunnels of trees, a harbor full of boats, shimmering sea grass and even some patriotic lawn flamingos. I hope you enjoy my photographic journey as much I treasure that solo day discovering Quivet Neck.
Coming back to reality after a day of exploring means a chilled glass of Chardonnay in an outdoor shower with a view of luscious green trees and a dazzling blue sky and finally, a walk down to Sea Street Beach for a picture perfect sunset. Here’s hoping next summer brings us back here.
In an effort to ensure that we get our families together once a month, my friend Christina and I have created a bit of a unique family dinner party. The interesting aspect is that whoever is hosting the get together doesn’t actually have to do the heavy cooking. The host obviously provides the home but also appetizers, drinks and dessert while the guest brings the main meal. Somehow, it seems to lessen the burden of hosting a fully home cooked meal, which often takes an entire day of prep… shopping, cooking and cleaning. In this way, we’ve managed to keep up our monthly dinners for well over a year. It also keeps us amused that our unconventional arrangement continues to baffle our husbands.
Below are the recipes I used for our Southwest Shrimp Taco Night.
adapted from Southern Living, August 2008
2 pounds peeled, deveined shrimp
10-12 12″ skewers (I prefer metal but if you use wood ones make sure to pre-soak them to avoid burning)
2 tablespoons Southwest Seasonings (I use Emeril’s Southwest Essence)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup lime juice
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 (16 oz.) container sour cream
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 ears fresh corn, in husks
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced
2 (15 oz. cans) black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Hot Sauce, to taste (I prefer Tapatio)
2 avocados, roughly chopped
Throw in great friends and family and enjoy your own Southwest Shrimp Taco Fiesta!