Sunday, February 28, 2010
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
After long weekends of freezing cold weather and snow, it finally warmed up a little this weekend. The temperature hit 60 today and it was actually sunny. So we decided to celebrate with a little brunch with friends. We were quite maxed out with eggs so we decided to keep this one egg free and focus more on some vegetarian options. And as if by intuition, both A and I decided to recreate a butternut squash tart we had absolutely loved at Busy Bee Cafe in downtown Raleigh, which by the way is a really nice place to get dinner or a drink or both.
Anyway, coming back to the butternut squash tart, I was trying to take the easier route by buying a pre-made pie crust. But A refused. He was intent on making the crust from scratch and he also wanted to make it a healthy one. So we decided to take a little inspiration from this previous recipe and use the oats/flour combination. We did reduce the amount of sugar by a little and also added in some chopped hazelnuts. For the butternut squash mixture, it was lots of, well, butternut squash mixed in with some caramelised onions. And carmelised onions need goat cheese for company so that went in as well. We were a little worried about the lack of a binder but really we shouldnt have since everything stuck quite well together after a little oven time. The tart made for a great sunny brunch accompanied by a simple salad. Now I am just hoping that the sunny weather continues for a little bit. But alas there is forecast for rain tomorrow. Oh well.
1 cup oats
1 cup Unbleached All purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt (if using unsalted butter)
1/4 chopped toasted hazelnuts
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
1/2 cup butter (we used Smart Balance)
1 medium-large butternut squash
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
2 ounces goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed black pepper
bread crumbs to top (optional)
For the crust:
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 8-inch pie pans (we used the disposable aluminium foil ones) with a little bit of butter.
- Combine all the dry ingredients for the crust with a whisk till well mixed.
- Add in cubes of chilled butter and mix in with hands till the mixture resembles small moist clumps.
- Divide the mixture equally between the two pans and firmly pat down till it sticks to the pan and sides.
- Bake till golden brown (around 35 mins). These can be baked ahead of time and frozen.
For the filling:
- Peel and chop the butternut squash into small cubes. Thinly slice the beets.
- Line a baking sheet with foil and spread squash evenly on it. On a separate sheet line the beets.
- Drizzle both with olive oil, salt, pepper and mix well.
- Bake both in a 350F oven till tender (around 30 mins)..
- While the squash bakes, cook the onions in olive oil with a little sugar till they caramelise. Set aside.
- After the squash is ready, mix it in with the caramelised onions and goat cheese. Add paprika and more salt or pepper if required.
- Line each tart shell with the roasted beet slices, then add the butternut squash mixture and top it with some bread crumbs.
- Bake for 10 more minutes for the filling to settle in. Broil for a minute or two for the tops to get browned.
- Serve with a simple salad. We made a quick dressing of lemon juice, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, agave nectar, honey, olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper, which was tossed over mixed greens.
Makes two 8-inch tarts.
Monday, February 15, 2010
I found the recipe for these bars in the last months issue of the Bon Appetit magazine and immediately marked it as a must-try. They were originally called Oatmeal, Fig and Walnut bars. I reduced the amount of figs and sugar by a little bit and added some dates. The only gotcha I found in this recipe was the bake time mentioned was 35 mins after which it said the bars would be browned on top and firm to touch. Mine didn't look very brown at the end of the said 35 mins. I ended up baking them for almost 50 mins by which I had burned the edges. So I would definitely recommend baking them only for 35 mins (maybe just 5 mins more) even if they don't look very brown on top.
In other noteworthy food related news from this weekend, I made a very unusual dal on a whim and it totally exceeded expectations. I had some leftover pumpkin which I wasn't sure how to use. I also felt like making a dal...so I googled (with a little bit of hesitation) for pumpkin dal. And I wasn't disappointed! Apparently I wasn't the only one to think of this and that provided some reassurance. And the first link I got looked so good that I ran with it and was thrilled at the result. There are times like these which fortify my love for the internet and the blogosphere!
- Combine first 4 ingredients in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low.
- Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Uncover and simmer until figs are very soft and filling is thick, stirring often, about 10 minutes.
- Mix in lemon juice and vanilla, then walnuts. Cool completely.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.
- Position rack in top third of oven and preheat to 350°F. Spray 13x9x2- inch metal baking pan with nonstick spray.
- Combine oats and next 5 ingredients in large bowl and whisk to blend. Add cubed "butter." Using fingertips, blend until mixture forms small moist clumps.
- Firmly press half of crust mixture (about 3 cups) over bottom of prepared pan.
- Spread filling evenly over crust. Sprinkle remaining crust mixture over filling; press to adhere.
- Bake bars until deep brown and firm to touch, about 35 minutes.
- Cool in pan on rack. Cut crosswise into 6 strips. Make 8 lengthwise cuts, forming 2x1-inch bars.
DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover pan with foil; store at room temperature.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
A couple of years back A and I visited Calcutta for the first time. I had heard so many things that I didnt quite know what to expect. Howrah bridge, rassogollas, hand drawn carts, old world charm, mishti doi all seemed to jump out when I thought of Calcutta. But after the visit I could remember only one thing. Fish cooked the Bengali way. Wrapped in banana leaves or cooked in a yogurt based curry, And this was after tasting it at a local institution called Kewpies which was recommended by my brother in law, S who is a pastry chef. I had never had Bengali food before and after trying their thali, I was quite enamored.