The Missing Ingredient

A Food Blog

“Reblochon” Tarts with Bacon and Fingerling Potatoes September 22, 2008

The magazine where I found this recipe fails to point out that Reblochon cheese is next to impossible to find in the US.  I went to Whole Foods to find this cheese and the cheese man (?) wished me luck.  He pointed out an alternative that had “Reblochon”, literally in quotes, on the label.  I subbed half of this “reblochon” want-to-be with some Fontina cheese to mellow out the flavors.  Changes in green.

Source:  Food & Wine

2 medium fingerling potatoes

4 slices bacon

1 1/2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced (1 small red onion sliced into rings)

All-purpose flour, for rolling

1/2 pound cold all-butter puff pastry

1/4 pound Reblochon cheese, rind removed and cheese thinly sliced (“Reblochon”) and 1/8 pound Fontina thinly sliced


1.  In a small saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water and bring to a boil.  Cook over high heat until tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes.  Drain, then peel and thinly slice crosswise.

2.  Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, cook the bacon over moderately high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes; transfer to paper towels.  Cut the slices in thirds.

3.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Pour off the bacon fat in the skillet and add the oil.  Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until softened and browned, about 15 minutes; add water as necessary, 1 Tbs. at a time, to prevent scorching.  Transfer the onion to a bowl; season with salt and pepper.

4.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry to an 11-inch square,  Using a plate as your guide, cut out four 5-inch rounds.  Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheet and prick them all over with a fork.  (I did not have time for rounds and simply cut the dough into 4 squares which saved a bit of time.)

5.  Bake the rounds in the center of the oven for 8 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden.  Using the back of a fork, deflate the rounds and bake for about 4 minutes longer, until the pastry is set.  (I found that I had to prick a few holes in the dough after the second bake to keep the puffs down.)

6.  Top the pastry rounds with the onion, potato slices, bacon and cheese.  Bake for about 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the pastry is browned.  Transfer tarts to plates; serve hot or warm.


Creamy Pasta with Tomato Confit and Fresh Goat Cheese

This was a lot of work and I’m not quite sure about the payoff in comparison.  The ending result was quite good but some of the steps were very time consuming: i.e. poaching the tomatoes.  I’m not sure the result would have been much different if you just added diced tomatoes while cooking the pasta.  That would cut down on at least 20 minutes cooking time.

Source:  Food & Wine

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil for poaching

3 plum tomatoes – peeled, quartered and seeded

2 thyme sprigs

1 bay leaf

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 small onion, coarsely chopped

Kosher salt

1/2 pound ditalini or other small-cut pasta (1 1/2 cups)

3 1/2 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth

1/2 cup soft fresh goat cheese (4 ounces)

1/2 tightly packed freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2 1/2 ounces), plus more for serving

Freshly ground pepper

2 Tbs. snipped chives

2 Tbs. finely shredded basil leaves


1.  In a medium saucepan, combine the olive oil with the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf and half of the garlic and bring to a simmer.  Cook over low heat until the tomatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes.  Discard the thyme and bay leaf.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a work surface and coarsely chop them; reserve the olive oil for another use.

2.  In a large saucepan, melt the butter.  Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, 5 minutes.  Add the pasta and cook, stirring, until golden in spots, about 2 minutes.  Add the remaining garlic; cook for 1 minute.

3.  Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock to the pasta and cook over moderately high heat, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed.  Continue adding the chicken stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring and cooking until it is nearly absorbed between additions.  The pasta is done with it is al dente and suspended in a lightly thickened sauce, about 17 minutes total.

4.  Stir the tomatoes into the pasta.  Off the heat, add the goat cheese and Parmigiano-Reggiano and stir until melted.  Season with salt and pepper, stir in the chives and basil and serve right away, passing additional Parmigiano-Reggiano at the table.


Baked Orecchiette with Pork Sugo September 21, 2008

Filed under: Cheese,Holiday,Italian,Pasta,Pork — xigumdrops @ 8:10 pm
Tags: , , ,

A great dish for entertaining.  I served it with toasted fresh bread and tomato bruschetta.  It would also be great with a simple salad.  I reserved about 1/2 cup of the pork liquids prior to processing and added it to the casserole dish with the pasta.  I think it would be even better adding 2 diced fresh tomatoes and possibly some tomato paste or sauce before baking in step 3 as well. Comments in green.

Source:  Food & Wine

3 1/4 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch pieces (3 pounds with large fat pieces removed)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

4 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice

4 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice

1 large sweet onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice

4 garlic cloves, very finely chopped

One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 1/2 cup dry red wine

4 thyme sprigs

5 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth

2 Tbs. chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 Tbs. chopped oregano

1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper

1 1/2 pounds orecchiette

2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (7 ounces)


1.  Season the pork with salt and pepper.  In a large enameled cast-iron casserole (large non-stick skillet), heat the olive oil until shimmering.  Add the pork in a single layer and cook over moderately high heat until the pieces are golden brown all over, about 12 minutes.  Add the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and cook until softened and browned in spots, about 8 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a simmer.  Add the red wine and thyme springs and cook over high heat until the wine is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.  Add the stock and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer over low heat until the pork is very tender, about 2 hours.  I couldn’t fit the stock in my largest skillet so I poured all of the ingredients into my 8 quart stock pot for the 2 hour cooking.

2.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork and vegetables to a food processor; discard the thyme sprigs.  Pulse just until the pork is shredded.  Scrape the shredded pork and vegetables back into the casserole.  Stir in the chopped parsley, oregano and crushed red pepper and season with salt and pepper.  This would be a great time to add some fresh diced tomatoes, 1/2 cup reserved pork stock, and some tomato paste or sauce.

3.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the orecchiette until it is still firm to the bite, about 5 minutes; drain well.  Add the orecchiette to the casserole and toss with the pork sauce.  Scrape the pasta into a very large baking dish and sprinkle all over the the Parmigiano-Reggiano.  I sprinkled the cheese all over the top and then “pushed” the cheese into the pasta and then sprinkled all over again.  Bake the casserole in the upper third of the oven for about 35 minutes, until golden brown on top and bubbling.  Let the baked pasta stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Apple Tart with Almond Cream

Filed under: Apples,Dessert,Holiday,Uncategorized — xigumdrops @ 10:55 am
Tags: , , , ,

I love apple pie and liked the sound of a simple apple tart with a twist.  Once the tart crust is ready, the tart goes together quickly.  I performed Steps 1-2 of the tart recipe while I was waiting for the tart shell to chill.  Changes and comments are in green.

Source:  Food & Wine

Apple Tart with Almond Cream

1 cup slivered almonds (about 4 oz) I used sliced almonds that were on-hand

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

4 Tbs unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 Tbs. butter melted, for brushing

2 large eggs

1 Tbs. dark rum

Baked Pastry Shell (recipe follows)

3 large Golden Delicious apples – peeled, halved, cored and sliced 1/8-inch think (2 very large apples)

1/4 cup light brown sugar


1.  Preheat the over to 400 degrees. (Preheat once you have prepared and cooled the Baked Pastry Shell)  In a mini-processor, pulse 3/4 cup of the almonds until finely ground.  Transfer to a medium bowl.  Pulse the remaining 1/4 cup almonds, until coarsely chopped.  Transfer to the same bowl, add the granulated sugar, flour and salt and toss gently to combine.

2.  In another bowl, (my stand mixer bowl), beat the 4 Tbs of butter until creamy.  Add the almond mixture and beat until blended.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the rum.

3.  Spread the almond filling in the Baked Pastry Shell.  Arrange the apple slices on top in concentric circles (just something pretty that covers the cream).  Brush the apple slices with the melted butter and sprinkle with the brown sugar.

4.  Bake the tart for 1 hour (50 minutes), until the filling is set and the apples are browned and tender.  Transfer the tart to a rack and let cool slightly.  Remove the ring and serve the tart warm or at room temperature.


Baked Pastry Shell

Makes one 9-inch tart shell

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

5 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg yolk

2 to 3 Tbs. ice water


1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles small peas.  Add the yolk and 2 Tbs. of ice water and pulse just until the dough holds together when pinched; if necessary, add the remaining 1 Tbs. of ice water.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.  Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill until firm, 1 hour.  (I did not think a food processor was necessary so I used a pastry blender to cut in the butter.  I also only used 2 Tbs. water as the dough held together when it was pinched.  I think the 3rd Tbs. ice water might have been a good idea though based on my issues in Step 2.)

2.  On a lightly floured surface, roll our the  dough to a 12-inch round, about 1/8-inch thick.  Transfer to a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Push a rolling pin over the top to trim any overhang.  Prick the bottom in several places with a fork.  (My dough was a tad dry (Did I need that 3rd Tbs. ice water?) and the edges were cracked.  I tore off some extra pieces and rolled them in the cracks to get a 12-inch round.  Overall it worked fine but the dough was a bit frustrating to work with.)

3.  Line the tart shell with foil and fill with pie weights (I don’t have these so I substituted 3 tall ramekins).  Bake for 25 minutes, until the shell is lightly colored around the edge.  Remove the foil and weights and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden.  Let cool before filling.


Triple-Tomato Pasta September 17, 2008

Filed under: Italian,Pasta,Proscuitto,Quick dinners — xigumdrops @ 7:19 pm
Tags: , , ,

I’m always looking for fast recipes and this recipe was included in the 30 best fast recipes ever in the Food & Wine 30th Anniversary Issue.  It’s really fast and was definitely tasty.  I added prosciutto but I think it would be great with chunks of chicken.  Changes in green.

Source:  Food & Wine Magazine

1 pound pasta

2 medium tomatoes, diced  (1 can diced tomatoes, drained)

4 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes

2 Tbs. tomato paste

4 large basil leaves

1 garlic clove

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

2.5 oz. prosciutto, chopped


1.  In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente.

2.  In a blender, puree the diced and sun-dried tomatoes with the tomato paste, basil, garlic and olive oil.  Pour the sauce into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper.

3.  Drain the pasta, add it to the sauce (add prosciutto) and toss well to coat.  Serve piping hot.


Sweet Potato Fries September 15, 2008

I love sweet potatoes and these were pretty quick and easy to make.  The fries didn’t crisp up at all so I turned up the heat after the 30 minutes to 450 and baked for another 5 minutes to add some browned bits to the fries.  Changes in green.


1/4 cup extra virgin oil oil

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

2-3 large sweet potatoes 


1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (preferably the easy release kind).

2.  Peal the sweet potatoes. Cut into strips that are about 1/2 inch wide on each side.

3.  Place the sweet potatoes into a sealable plastic bag. Add oil, salt, paprika and cinnamon. Seal the bag and shake well to thoroughly coat the fries. Spread the potatoes out onto the baking sheet in a single layer.

4.  Cook for 30 minutes, turning every 10 minutes. Transfer immediately to a paper towel lined plate and serve warm.

5.  After 30 minutes, increase heat to 450 degrees.  Bake an additional 5-10 minutes to brown potatoes.


Chimichurri Sauce

The original recipe as written basically tasted like chopped up parsley in oil.  I tried adding the onion but that didn’t do anything special either and was still lost in the weird texture.  I decided to pop the mixture in a blender and it turned out great.  My changes are in green.

Source:  Food & Wine Magazine

2 cups chopped parsley

2/3 cups extra-virgin olive oil (1/3 plus 1 Tbs.)

6 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbs. minced garlic (5 cloves; which was less than the 2 Tbs)

2 tsp. crushed red pepper

1/4 cup minced red onion

Salt and freshly ground pepper


1.  In a bowl, mix the parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and crushed red pepper (and onion) ; season with salt and pepper.

2.  Combine in blender and mix until a paste forms.

3.  Serve with thinly sliced grilled skirt steak and sweet potato fries.