Monthly Archives: June 2010

Savory Tarts fit for any cocktail party

So I haven’t been updating my blog as often as I usually do. Sorry about that. With my birthday and the post birthday celebrations that have been taking place the entire week, I have hardly had time to do anything. For one of the dinners that I went to, I made 2 kinds of pastries. One for the vegetarians and one for the carnivores.

Cooking this I almost burnt my entire kitchen. Some goat cheese dropped to the oven floor and a fire started within. For people who know me, I panic really fast. Like really fast.  When I saw the fire start in the oven, I started running around screaming “FIRE!”. As the fire continued, I kept on yelling. Thank god boyfriend was with me in the apartment. Unlike me, who was still running around the apartment yelling fire a minute later, he calmly took a jug of water and extinguished the fire. Crisis averted, embarrassment is staying for good.

Note: The food still turned out good

Ingredients: 3 frozen puff pastry sheets (makes 12 big squares), 1 egg to use as egg wash

Goat Cheese and Tomato Pastries- 18 cherry tomatoes, 5 oz goat cheese, bunch of fresh arugula to go on each square, salt, pepper and olive oil to taste

Ham and Cheese Pastries- Block of gruyere cheese, 4 thin slices of ham, salt and pepper to season

Preheat oven to 400. Begin by thawing the pastry sheets. When softened, cut each sheet into 4 squares. Fold edges of pastry over to form a border for each square.

Brush the edges with a slightly beaten egg.

For the vegetarian pastries, cut each cherry tomato in half. Add a piece of goat cheese to every pastry square and top with tomato halves (I had around 6 halves on each square).

For the ham tarts, grate the gruyere cheese and add to a bowl. Thinly slice the ham and add to the bowl.

Add the ham filling to the puff pastry square making sure to not spill over the folded edges.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden. Cool the savory tarts and add arugula to the vegetarian pastries. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Enjoy and be careful not to burn the kitchen!

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Filed under Appetizer, Meat, Side Dish, Snacks, Vegetarian

Gazpacho

While I  might not crave hot soup during the summer, doesn’t mean that I won’t make cold soup. This soup is very popular in Spain, especially during the summer season, and is served practically everywhere in the country. While the boyfriend turns away in disgust at the thought of eating raw soup, I have been happily having gazpacho for lunch for the last 2 days. For best results, try to get organic vegetables or vegetables from a farmer’s market.

Ingredients: 2 lb tomatoes, 2 cucumbers, 1/2 white onion, 1 red or green bell pepper, 2 garlic cloves, 8 slices of white bread, 1/2 cup and tablespoon of olive oil, 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to season.

Begin by removing bread crusts (which I later threw in the oven to make croutons) and cutting each bread slice into 4 pieces.

Soak the bread pieces in a bowl of water for 20 minutes.

While the bread soaks, cut the 1/2 of the pepper and 1 1/2 of the cucumber into similar sized cubes.

Roughly chop the tomatoes, leaving half a tomato aside, and then slice the onion

Squeeze water out of the bread and add the bread to a big bowl. Add all the vegetables into the same bowl. Mince the garlic, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil.

Mix together and let the bowl stand for 20 minutes to allows the flavors come together. Pour the vegetable mixture into a blender and add the vinegar.

Puree the mixture. When the vegetables become a smooth soup add 1/2 cup of olive oil and mix in.

Top the gazpacho with the remaining vegetables and croutons. Enjoy!

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Filed under Vegetarian

Happy Birthday to me!

Because my roomate is the most amazing person in the world, she surprised me with this cake and the bottle of Prosecco at midnight. She and her boyfriend even threw me a little birthday dance while I blew the candles. Yay birthday!

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Filed under Blah Blah

Mussels in white wine sauce

So recently I have noticed how cheap mussels are in my grocery store.  I don’t know whether it’s the fact that seafood is expensive in restaurants or whether seafood is just generally expensive back home but I was really excited for the $2.99 per lb deal.

Like I said many times before, I don’t really eat a lot of fish or seafood. Maybe that’s what got the boyfriend nervous. “Have you ever made mussels? Are you sure you don’t need to look up the recipe? Are you sure you want only 2 tomatoes?” While this was my first time making mussels, my mum has taught me well. She too loves cooking and found this recipe on one of her favorite Russian blogs. Since then we have not made mussels in any other way.

Ingredients: 2 lb mussels (I always make 1 lb per person), 2 big tomatoes, 2 shallots, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 seeded red chili pepper, bunch of fresh parsley, 7 oz white wine, 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper to season.

Begin by chopping he shallots

Add to a pan with olive oil. Next  slice the chili pepper and garlic. Add to the shallots.

Remove the tomato skins. I usually throw my tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for a minute so that the skin comes off real easy but its up to you. Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to the pan once the shallots become golden.

Cook for 7-10 minutes. Add the mussels, white wine, salt and pepper.

Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.

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Filed under Seasonal

Cool Beans

So yet again, I have another product crush. These Cool Beans are awesome! “Love the chilly goodness of iced coffee, but not the way melted ice waters down the flavor? Your java jolt will keep stronger longer with Cool Beans made from real coffee,” Fred  promises. Not only can they be added for extra flavor (and caffeine content) to your iced coffee but they also make the cutest decorations to go into your espressotini drink for that extra kick.  The ice tray is made from silicone and is safe to put in the dishwasher. For less than $10,  this is such a fun product for the summer.

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Filed under Blah Blah

Giada’s Baked Rigatone

I have recently developed a taste for Giada De Laurentiis’ recipes. After I got over her weird habit of adapting an accent when pronouncing Italian food names, she grew on me. Giada’s recipes are real simple and easy to make. With the rain and cloudy weather over Boston, I have been craving a pasta dinner and this recipe seemed like the perfect fit. With most of the ingredients already in my pantry, I only needed to buy prosciutto and grated fontina cheese.

Ingredients: 1 stick unsalted butter and 3 tablespoons diced unsalted butter, 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1 quart milk, 1 cup grated fontina cheese, 1/2 pound prosciutto, 1 pound rigatoni, pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper to season

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Next boil a pot of salted water for the pasta. Drop the rigatoni in for 5 minutes.

Julienne the prosciutto into thin strips.

Melt the stick of butter on medium heat.

Add the flour and whisk in until smooth. Add the milk and whisk it in.

Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Take off heat and add 1/2 cup of cheese and nutmeg.

Add the prosciutto and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Add the pasta and mix together.

To a buttered baking pan, add the pasta with the sauce and top with the other 1/2 cup of cheese.

Top with diced butter and bake in oven for 25 minutes or until the crust becomes golden brown.

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Filed under Main Course, Pasta

Nicoise Salad with Grilled Tuna

When it gets really hot out (not that this is the case in Boston right now), I find it hard to eat a lot of hot foods. So the season of soups ends and the season of salads starts. When I saw this recipe of nicoise salad on Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee, I jumped to try it out right away. I played with her recipe a little bit but essentially it is almost the same. If you can, try to get sushi grade tuna because then you don’t have to cook the fish all the way and it becomes an even more of a refreshing summer salad.

Ingredients: 4 tuna steaks (1 per person), 1/4 cup olive tapenade, 1 teaspoon crushed garlic, 1/2 cups Italian dressing, 4 cups salad of your choice (I used spring mix), 2 hard-boiled eggs, 1 cup French cut green beans, 2 tomatoes, 2 red potatoes, salt and pepper to season

Begin by cooking the potatoes with their skins on.

In a bowl mix together the tapenade and the garlic. Next cut pockets in the tuna steaks.

Stuff with the tapenade mixture. Place the steaks in ziplock bags and pour the italian dressing inside. Marinade for at least 1 hour.

After the tuna steaks marinade for long enough, leave them out in room temperature for 20 minutes. Next cook the tuna on a grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until done.

Add salad to the bottom of a bowl. Chop all the vegetables and add on top.

Top with grilled tuna and a dressing of your choice. Enjoy!

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Filed under Salad