Category: Appetizer

Tartines and a Bialetti Pan Giveaway

March 8, 2012

Up until the age of 20, one of my favorite things to eat in the world was a tuna fish sandwich.  That was my go-to lunch whether eating out or at home.  There was a deli in my college town that put an absurd amount of tuna salad on a large soft roll and I would talk friends with cars into taking me to get one.  At home, I mixed my albacore with plenty of celery, a little mayo, and a dollop of mustard.  I piled it high on rye bread and topped it with tomatoes, pickles, lettuce.  Then, four years after I stopped eating meat, I stopped eating fish.  I contemplated having a special disclaimer for tuna fish sandwiches but ultimately decided that tuna fish is still, you know, fish.  So I said goodbye to my beloved sandwich.

Since then, sandwiches and I have not really gotten along, especially when eating out.  My experience of vegetarian sandwiches in restaurants go a little something like this:

  • Dried out rye bread smeared with too much mayonnaise and topped with a slice of Swiss cheese that has started to go crusty around the edges, a not-quite-red tomato, and a hunk of iceberg lettuce.
  • Massive slices of oily greasy foccacia slathered with oily greasy sun-dried tomato hummus on one half and oily greasy tapenade on the other, topped with oily greasy roasted vegetables.
  • Very earnest whole wheat bread, smeared with cream cheese and topped with every vegetable under the sun including an entire garden’s worth of sprouts.

 

At home, it’s better.  Grilled cheese when dunked into amazing tomato soup is nice.  And I’m a total sucker for a tofu Bahn Mi.  But really, I prefer a wrap or a salad.  Or noodles.  Or really anything else.  I’m just not a sandwich gal.

This is not a sandwich.  It’s a tartine.  Verrrrrry different.  French.  Open faced.  One piece of really good bread.  Interesting and varied toppings.  Think crostini or bruschetta but bigger pieces of bread.  More like, um, a sandwich.  I like these very much.  They are terrific when you want to make something for lunch or dinner but don’t want to shop.  They are also terrific if you have a soup or salad that you are excited about and you just wanted something yummy to round out your meal.

Last week, I planned to make a salad that I was excited about and I had a new pan I was excited about and so tartines it was.  I made one with a labneh (kind of like a yogurt cheese), roasted tomato, and cilantro.  I made the other with a frittata made with shallots, cilantro pesto, harissa.  Except I was out of harissa so I used sambal oelek (a chile sauce).  Nothing super fancy but both were so much better than the sum of their parts.

So how about that pan?  One of the most common questions I get in classes is about what kind of pans I use.  I am lucky to have a decent arsenal of high quality stainless steel pans (All-Clad), a few Le Crueset pots, a beautiful copper double boiler (that is too pretty to use), and a few other assorted others. I rarely use use non-stick pans.  There are a few reasons for this.  It is nearly impossible to get a good brown on an onion (or a steak for that matter – not that I would know) with a non-stick pan.  Until recently, the coating on most non-stick pans would emit dangerous chemicals into your kitchen if left on high heat.  And really, I am just in the habit of using stainless or cast-iron for most things.

Except eggs.  And pancakes.  And grilled cheese sandwiches.  There is no substitute for non-stick in those situations, in my opinion.  I have a huge All-Clad non-stick pan that I use for very large frittatas but it isn’t the best for smaller quantities.  So when the Bialetti people offered to send me a new brightly colored perfectly sized pan, I jumped at the chance to say yes.

What can I say, this is a great little pan.  It is lightweight, has a handle that stays cool, a white bottom so you can easily see your food (why has no one else thought of this?), and is super SUPER non-stick.  I love it.  And I know you would too.  Want one?  Just tell me about your favorite pan in your kitchen and what you like to make with it.  I will randomly choose a winner on Tuesday, March 13th.  This contest closes at noon (PDT) on that day.  UPDATE:  This contest is now closed.  A winner has been chosen.

One Year Ago:  Sweet Potato Tian
Two Years Ago:  Tofu Cauliflower Kahri
Three Years Ago:  Goat Cheese Ravioli with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

Tartine with Labneh, Slow Roasted Tomatoes, and Cilantro
Inspired by Dianna Henry’s Plenty
Serves 4

The labneh needs to sit overnight in the refrigerator overnight, so plan accordingly.  If you are going to go through the trouble of slow roasting tomatoes, you might as well do a larger batch.  Lay the leftovers in layers drizzled with olive oil in the refrigerator.

1½ cups 2% Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, put through a press or very finely minced
Kosher or sea salt
8 plum tomatoes, cut in half and seeded
Olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
4 thick slices sourdough bread

Place the yogurt, garlic, and a pinch of salt into a bowl and stir well.  Line a sieve with cheese cloth and scrape the yogurt mixture into the sieve.  Place a bowl under the sieve and put the whole thing in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 300ºF.  Place the tomato halves on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper and roast until very soft and kind of shriveled, turning half way through the baking process, about 1 hour.  Set aside.

While the tomatoes are roasting, place the bread on another baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and bake until just a tiny bit crispy on top, but still soft, about 10 minutes.  Set aside.

Smear a bit of the labneh on each slice of bread (you might have have some left over).  Lay down two tomato halves and scatter cilantro leaves over the top.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tartine with Shallot Frittata and Cilantro Pesto
Dana Treat Original
Serves 4

1½ cup cilantro leaves
¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Kosher or sea salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large shallot, finely diced
3 large eggs, beaten
4 thick slices sourdough bread
Harissa, or other hot sauce

Preheat oven to 325ºF.  Place the cilantro and walnuts in a food processor.  Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.  Process until a coarse paste forms.  Pour in the olive oil and pulse until you have a relative smooth pesto.  Set aside.

Place the bread on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and bake until just a tiny bit crispy on top, but still soft, about 10 minutes.  Set aside.

Place a non-stick pan over medium-low heat.  Drizzle in a bit of olive oil and then add the shallots and a pinch of salt.  Sauté until very soft and starting to brown, about 4 minutes.  Pour in the eggs and swirl the pan around so that egg covers the surface of the pan.  Keep lifting the edges of the eggs up so the uncooked top layer can get a chance at the heat.  If you are very dextrous, you can flip the whole frittata over.  If not, just make sure the top of the frittata is cooked, then remove from the heat.

Slice the frittata into quarters.  Lay a quarter on each slice of bread and spoon a bit of the cilantro pesto over top.  Add just about a teaspoon of chile sauce to each tartine.

 

 



What Is In This Dip?

February 14, 2012

I used to make a dip that I called The Dip.  I made it often and I loved it.  Simple, nutritious, easy to scale up, healthy.  Tasty.  I brought it to multiple yoga retreats.  I made it for parties.  People would ask, “Is this The Dip?”, and then they would use whatever scooping utensil that was handy to bring it to their mouths.

Then I saw Lisa talk about another Dip.  Similar to the one I made but with a few important differences.  Lisa doesn’t usually post the actual recipes for the food she makes, she just talks clearly about the ingredients.  So I bought the things I needed and made it to taste.  And got totally hooked.  Now this dip has become The Dip.  I always do it to taste but because I think it is really extraordinary, I decided to actually measure out what I add to it so I could share.  It is creamy (thank you silken tofu), a bit sweet (honey), a bit acidic (lime), and has a wonderful nose-clearing spice (wasabi).  All this things mix together to make an intriguing dip that people will ask you about endlessly.

The veggies and dip tray is the thing I tend to hover around at big parties.  This is partly so I don’t hover around the loaded potato skins tray but also because I really like veggies and dip.  Even the super gross pre-made-full-of-chemicals-and-fat dip.  So it is extra nice to be able to enjoy this dip knowing it is full of good stuff.

One Year Ago:  Somen Noodle Soup with Spring Vegetables and Baked Tofu
Two Years Ago:  Honey Roasted Pear Salad
Three Years Ago:  Tom Yum Soup with Mushrooms and Tofu

Wasabi Dip
Dana Treat Original
Makes about 2 cups

Silken tofu is not usually refrigerated.  It is in shelf stable packaging and can usually be found on the Asian food aisle.  It comes in bricks that weigh about 12 ounces but you will not use the whole thing.  I like this dip with quite a lot of heat but if you want less, add just 1 tablespoon of wasabi paste.

1 10-ounce bag frozen shelled edamame
8 ounces silken tofu
2 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. wasabi paste
1 tsp. salt
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp. olive oil

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil.  Add a pinch of salt and then pour in the edamame.  Cook for 3 minutes, drain and cool.

Put the edamame in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Add the tofu, honey, wasabi paste, salt, and lime juice.  Purée the mixture, stopping several times to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until it is more or less uniform.  It might still be a bit chunky.  With the machine running, pour in the olive oil.  You might use more or less than 2 tablespoons depending on how loose you want the dip to be.  Taste for seasoning and add more honey, salt, or wasabi to your liking.

Serve with crudité and/or pita chips.



Spice Crispies

January 27, 2012

Sometimes when I am at my cooking maximum, I somehow find the energy to add one more thing.  I’m tapped, I’m tired, I’m starting to make stupid mistakes, and then I see something that sparks me – makes me perk up.  I somehow find time to squeeze in this one more thing even though that bit of time could be of more value in other ways.  And sometimes there is pay off, even though it may not seem that way at first.

What am I talking about?  Well, this has been quite a week for me and it’s not over yet.  I taught classes Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and today I will be spending the entire day in the kitchen prepping lunch for tomorrow’s yoga retreat on Bainbridge Island.  Everything has to be done today because I take a 7:55am ferry over there tomorrow.  Normally, I spend a couple of days prepping but because of all the teaching, everything will be compressed into one day.  Did I mention that my husband has been out of town?  Yes, that too.  I’m getting through by literally taking one day at a time.  I can’t even think about the next project until I finish the current one.  Nothing that can’t be used that very day gets made or done.  Stay Focused Dana has been my mantra.

So yesterday, precisely 40 minutes before I had to leave to pick up my children, precisely 2 hours before my students started knocking on my door, with precisely 57 different dishes in the sink or scattered around the counter, I decided to make Spice Crispies.  The recipe caught my eye as I was making my favorite Chex Mix and suddenly, I was overtaken with the urge to create yet more dirty dishes and food.

Fast as lightning, I preheated the oven, gathered ingredients, poured, sautéed, stirred, scraped, baked, washed, wiped, and as I was cursing myself because now I was even more behind than I had been before, a most amazing smell started wafting from my oven.  I pulled the tray out, whisked it off to the dining room for a quick photo in the fading light, and took a taste.  Weird.  Interesting.  Not sure.  Waste of time?  Maybe.  And then off to finish out my evening, the Spice Crispies all but forgotten.

After the class and after the clean-up was over, I remembered that I had stashed the tray in our study and a miraculous thing happened while they cooled completely and set up.  These little clusters of cereal and spice had become something totally addictive and truly tasty.  Even the raisins, which had become hard little nuggets, kind of like what happens to them in oatmeal raisin cookies, had their own unique appeal.  I have a feeling that I am going to get a lot of questions about this little snack mix this weekend – it is intriguing.  I wish I had the time to come up with beautiful metaphors describing the unusual yet delicious flavors in this snack, but I have a task list a mile long for today.  Just trust me when I say that I really should be doing 100 other things rather than writing this post and yet, here I am doing just that.  Have a great weekend.

One Year AgoRoasted Tomato Salad with Croutons, Meyer Lemon Risotto Cakes
Two Years Ago:  Chickpea, Chard, and Couscous Soup, Soba Noodles with Crispy Tofu and Vegetables
Three Years Ago:  Orange Pound Cake

Spice Crispies
Adapted from Food & Wine
Makes about 4 cups

If you want to keep the raisins from getting totally crunchy, I imagine you could add them half way through the baking time. 

2 cups Rice Krispies or other puffed rice cereal (2 ounces)
¼ cup salted roasted cashews
¼ cup salted roasted peanuts
¼ cup wide coconut flakes
¼ cup raisins
3 tbsp. peanut oil
1 tsp. yellow mustard seeds (DT:  I used brown)
½ tsp. fennel seeds
½ tsp. cumin seeds
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
4 large fresh bay leaves (DT:  I used dried)
3 tbsp. light corn syrup
Juice of half a lemon
½ tsp. kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl, toss the rice cereal with the cashews, peanuts, coconut flakes, and raisins.

In a small saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering.  Add the mustard seeds and cook over moderately high heat until they begin to pop, about 1 minute.  Add the fennel and cumin seeds, crushed red pepper, and bay leaves and toast, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minutes.  Add the corn syrup, lemon juice, and salt and bring to a boil.  Drizzle the hot syrup over the cereal over the cereal and nuts and toss with a spoon until evenly coated.

Spread the mixture on the baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the nuts are golden.  Let cool; discard the bay leaves.

(Can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.)



Spicy Squash and Feta Puff Pastry Tarts

December 17, 2011

For my December baking class, I taught my students how to work with store-bought filo dough and puff pastry.  We also made no-knead bread, a gorgeous beet tart, and that incredible brown sugar pound cake.  For the puff pastry, I was planning on doing some classic riff on butternut squash, leeks, and thyme.  Until I flipped through the appetizer section of a new-to-me cookbook and found a version using squash, spicy harissa, and feta cheese.  Hello?  Hello!

I tested the recipe for a party we threw for Randy’s work.  I tweaked it a bit.  I wondered if it would be too spicy or too out-there for a group of people I didn’t really know.  It was one of those times when I put the plate of mini-tarts out, turned my back for a moment or two to finish something at the stove, turned back around to find them gone.  Gone.  I got more comments on those little tarts than I did on anything else I made for that night (including a very cool Bûche de Noël – recipe coming soon).

When I made them for the party, I used my default favorite squash – the delicata.  I love those little guys for their ease of preparation (you don’t have to peel them) and for their subtle flavor.  But I didn’t like how the slices looked on the tart and I think the flavor got lost.  When I made them for the class (and the subsequent times after – yes, I’ve made them three times in two weeks), I used butternut.  I advise looking for a squash with a long neck since the slices you get from the neck are more uniform than the ones you get from the body.  Unless you are able to find a very small squash, you will likely have leftovers.  Personally, having a little stash of roasted squash in my refrigerator to add to all manner of things (risotto, pasta, soup, salad), makes me very happy.

Now permit me a paragraph of utter geekdom as I talk about store-bought puff pastry.  Having used it for years and now having taught how to work with it to several classes, I know a thing or two about it.  Let’s start with the fact that you don’t want to use Pepperidge Farm if you can possibly help it.  I know it is widely available and I know it is cheap, but I also know that puff pastry should only contain three ingredients (flour, butter, and salt), and possibly four (sugar).  Pepperidge Farm not only is not an all-butter puff, it is a no-butter puff.  There is a long list of ingredients on the side of the package, not one of them is butter and most of them I can’t pronounce.  So unless that is your only option, steer clear.  In Seattle, we are lucky to have two excellent sources of store-bought puff – DeLaurenti and Grand Central Bakery.  Both are affordable and terrific and only contain the three or four ingredients I mentioned.  Nationally, Trader Joe’s carries puff pastry seasonally, and that season is right now.  I tried it for the first time recently and found it to be fine.  Not terrific but good, four ingredients, affordable.  So stock up!  One other option if price is not an issue is DuFour, an exquisite puff that comes with the exquisite price tag of $16/pound.

Each type of store-bought puff (and yes, I am aware on into my second paragraph of geeking out) comes in a different amount, so be flexible when working with this recipe.  I call for 12 ounces because I tested it using the DeLaurenti brand and theirs comes in a 12-ounce sheet.  Yours might be different.  It’s all good – just roll with it.  No pun intended.  Also, remember you can make these lovely spicy pastries bite-size or larger for more of a substantial first course.  You could even serve them as a main course.

One Year Ago:  Sweet & Salty Brownie
Two Years Ago:  Caramel Chocolate Treasures
Three Years Ago:  Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

Spicy Squash and Feta Puff Pastry Tarts

Inspired by Vegetarian
Makes about 16-32 tarts (depending on how you cut them)

1 medium butternut squash, preferably one with a long neck
Olive oil
Kosher salt
7 ounces Fage 2% Greek yogurt
1-2 tbsp. harissa
7 ounces feta cheese, 2 ounces crumbled finely, 5 ounces cut into small cubes
12 ounces all-butter puff pastry
4 thyme sprigs, leaves stripped

Preheat the oven to 375F.  Peel and seed the squash.  Split the neck in half and thinly slice into semi-circles.  Slice the base into thin crescents.  Put all the squash onto a large baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and a large pinch of salt.  Use your hands to mix together well.  Spread out on the sheet and bake for 25 minutes, or until tender.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Mix together the Greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon of the harissa, and the 2 ounces of crumbled feta.  Taste it and add more harissa if you would like more heat. Set aside.

Unfold the puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface.  Roll it out with a rolling pin, just to even out the folds and to make an even rectangle.  Using a pizza cutter or a sharp knife, cut into 16 rectangles.  If you are making cocktail sized appetizers, cut each rectangle in half.

Transfer the rectangles to two baking sheets.  Spoon about a tablespoon of the yogurt mixture onto each rectangle and top with a slice of squash.  Add one or two cubes of feta to each pastry.  Repeat with the remaining rectangles.  Sprinkle them all with thyme and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until puffed and golden.  Serve warm or cool the tarts on a wire rack.

 



Squash Hummus and Homemade Flatbread

November 16, 2011

If you have been reading here for any time at all, then you know I have two children.  Boys.  First grade and pre-K.  If you have been reading for a bit of time, you might know that those two boys are vegetarian.  Like me.  I’m sure they will eat meat at some point but for now, I am the cook in the family and I only cook vegetarian.  And to keep things uncomplicated and black and white, the boys are veg.

What you may not know is that my boys, the ones who are, ahem, vegetarians, don’t really eat vegetables.  Not for lack of trying.  We offer, they decline.  They like carrots and will eat an alarming amount of celery if it has peanut butter and raisins on it, but that is pretty much it.  And actually, I really should say that Graham (older) will eat broccoli and peas but Spencer (younger, pickier) will not.  We went to a friends’ house recently and they served the boys peas and Spencer put one in his mouth at a time and washed it down with a gulp of milk.  Just like he was taking a pill.

Do I worry about this lack of vegetable eating?  No.  I remember my pediatrician saying that ideally a child eats both fruits and vegetables but as long as they eat one or the other, there is no need to worry.  Considering that my boys eat fruit at all three meals and sometimes for a snack, and considering that I prefer not to worry if worrying is not necessary, I don’t worry.  I also don’t believe in hiding vegetables to try and trick my kids into eating them.  If I put a vegetable in something, like this mac and cheese, I tell them it’s there.

So last night, I made squash hummus.  My timing was good – Graham’s school is starting a new program where each grade works with a certain vegetable and the rest of the school has an assignment to actually eat that vegetable.  This week it is squash.   He was actually assigned to eat squash.  He was telling me this as I was literally taking it of the oven and he looked at me with that sweet almost 7 year-old wonder of, “My mom is magic!”

Normally, I would have to say I’m a hummus purist.  Hummus is chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, a small clove of garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil, and maybe a sprinkle of cumin.  That is how I make it, that is how I like it.  Calling something that does not have chickpeas or tahini in it “hummus” bothers me.  But adding something, a vegetable I happen to love, to hummus can still be called hummus, according to the Dana Treat rules.

So how was it?  Good.  Sweeter and more yellow than my regular hummus.  Thicker too.  Most importantly, my kids loved it.  I called it squash hummus – there was no trickery going on here.  Spencer requested that I keep his squash separate and when I told him that was impossible, he just dug in anyway.  I was helped by the fact that I made flatbreads to go with it which fascinated the boys.  They scooped, ate, and scooped again.  The other boy in my family – that would be my husband – was equally smitten with both the flatbreads and the hummus, the latter of which he started eating with a spoon when the bread ran out.

Two notes.  The hummus recipe calls for a 2/3 pound butternut squash.  I know we live in squash country and they grow nice and big in our climate, but I have never seen anything close to a squash that small.  In many grocery stores, they sell pre-cut and seeded chunks of squash which is what I bought.  It doesn’t matter what type it is.  And if you suffer from yeast/dough fear, this flatbread is a great place to start.  It is foolproof and if you roll it into shapes that are other than circles, it will look extra cool.


Squash Hummus
Adapted from Fresh from the Garden
Makes about 3 cups

All food should be done to your taste but I think this is especially true of things like hummus and salad dressing.  Start with this recipe and then add more olive oil (or more water) if you want a looser consistency and be sure to add more salt if it needs it.  I added a bit more lemon juice to mine too.

1 small squash (about 2/3 pound)
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp. tahini paste
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. water
Sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Cut the squash in half and scrape out the seeds.  Drizzle the cut surfaces with olive oil, then wrap it in foil.  Bake for about an hour – until a knife easily pierces the flesh.  Set aside to cool enough to handle.

Scrape out the squash flesh into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade.  Add the chickpeas, garlic, tahini, lemon juice, a large pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Pulse to combine.  With the machine on, pour the olive oil and then the water through the feed tube.  Stop and scrape down the sides, then continue to process until you have a nice smooth consistency.  Adjust the seasoning to your taste.

Rosemary Flatbread
Makes 6 medium-sized breads

I make bread often and it is rare, unless I am making the no-knead version, to have the dough actually double in size in a short period of time.  Don’t worry about it, just continue with the recipe.

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. dried yeast
2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped, plus extra for topping
1 tbsp. olive oil plus extra for brushing
Sea salt

Place the flour in a medium bowl and add the yeast.  Add 2/3 cup tepid water, the rosemary, olive oil, and a pinch of salt, and start mixing it all together to form a rather sloppy dough.  If your mix is too dry, add a bit more water.  If the mix is too wet, add a little more flour.

Once you have a ball of dough, take it out of the bowl and knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes, until it is elastic and slightly tacky.  Leave the dough to rest in a warm place under a damp kitchen towel for 1 hour; until it has about doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Break off about 1/6th of the dough and, using your hands, roll it into a ball.  Place on a floured surface and roll out to a thickness of about 1/8th of an inch.  Repeat until you have used all the dough.  Transfer to the prepared sheets and brush each flatbread with olive oil.  Sprinkle with a little salt and more rosemary.

Place the sheets in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until the surface of the breads starts to bubble and turn golden brown.  Don’t cook them too long or they will turn into cardboard.  Serve immediately.



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