Category Archives: Foodbuzz Top 9

Easy Tomato, Goat Cheese and Prosciutto Tarts

There is something about the word ‘tart’ that evokes thoughts of elaborate, complicated food. Innately elegant dining fare, whether savory or sweet, tarts always carry with them a little bit of wow factor. The good news for you and I is that most of the tarts that I make end up being some of the easiest dishes to prepare, making them perfect for entertaining: packing maximum impact with as little work as possible.  We all know by now that individually sized food just sets my heart aflutter, so when I first saw Ina Garten’s recipe for her Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts, you know that I was on board. I mean, buttery puff pastry topped with caramelized onions, goat cheese, tomatoes, basil, thyme, and Parmesan?  As Ina would say, “How bad can that be?”

I followed her recipe carefully, substituting plain goat cheese and tossing in a half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes in with the caramelized onions, for just a little bit of heat. As I was assembling the tarts I remembered that I had some prosciutto di Parma leftover from an event, and I decided what better way to use it than to place a  deliciously buttery, salty slice on each of them (atop the caramelized onions, and underneath the goat cheese and tomato); because, after all,  what isn’t improved by the addition of cured pork?

I love the rustic, earthy look of these tarts. They are equally delicious right out of the oven or at room temperature, and can be assembled before your guests arrive and baked off right before serving. The flaky pastry, sweet onions,  salty prosciutto, grassy thyme, tangy goat cheese, nutty Parmesan, and juicy tomato are all harmonize together beautifully; and  no one has to know that making them requires little more than caramelizing some onions.  Serve it with a simple green salad and you have the makings of a perfect lunch or light dinner.  Simple enough for everyday, yet special enough for company. Enjoy!





This post made the Top 9!!!


Filed under Breakfast/Brunch, Foodbuzz Top 9, Meat, Other

Melon and Prosciutto

Before dinner begins, it’s always nice to have something to offer guests with cocktails. And while I am perfectly happy to make all kinds of hors d’oeuvres for a cocktail party, when I am preparing a full meal, it’s best to relegate myself to those appetizers that only require assembling.  Luckily, in the kitchen, sometimes it is the simplest things that wind up being the most delicious. Perfectly ripe pears, aged Stilton, and Port wine, for example, is an amazing flavor combination, that requires no cooking whatsoever. Here, too, in a classic combination, wedges of farm fresh CSA cantaloupe are wrapped in slices of prosciutto di Parma. The sweet melon and salty ham are made for one another.It is perfectly delicious, and elegant in its simplicity.

I begin by slicing both ends off of the melon (I used a cantaloupe, but honeydew, casaba, or galia would work equally well). I then stand it up on the cutting board, and, with a sharp knife, follow the contours of the melon down and around, removing the rind completely. I then cut the melon in half, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. I chose to slice the melon into wedges, but you could also easily ball it, cube it, or do half slices depending on which presentation you find most appealing. I then take paper thin slices of prosciutto, and wrap them around the center of each of the wedges. A sprinkling of sea salt (fleur de sel, if you have it) and freshly ground black pepper, is all that you need to finish it all off. Simple, fast, and satisfying.

Whether as an appetizer, first course, or light lunch, melon and prosciutto is a  delicious combination that you will come back to time and time again. Enjoy!

This post made the Top 9!!!


Filed under Foodbuzz Top 9, Meat, Snacks

Goat Cheese Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

Last night, when our weekly CSA shipment arrived on our doorstep, I could barely lift the box.  Because of the heavy rain early in the summer, a lot of our produce here in Oregon was pushed back, and evidently, we have just arrived at the peak of the tomato season. I got three large bags of colorful, sweet, farm fresh, vine ripened tomatoes, ranging in size from little pear and grape tomatoes, all the way up to big slicers. I simply couldn’t let these beauties go to waste. So, after eating a fair amount of smaller tomatoes straight from the bag, I decided that stuffing the cherry tomatoes sounded like a good plan. But with what? I scoured the refrigerator to see what I had on hand that would make a good filling. Hummus? Egg salad? Marinated feta cheese? They all sounded delicious. But then I laid my eyes upon a package of fresh goat cheese. You have to understand that ever since I was five years old, I have had a deep affinity for deliciously tangy goat cheese. That summer, when I was five, we visited my great grandmother’s farm in Washington, where she kept chickens, rabbits, pigs, cows, and goats. While I was not, unlike my siblings, very keen on the idea of milking the goats, the tangy, salty, earthy, homemade cheese was a revelation. And, even today, I still consider it to be a decadent treat. I began by slicing the tops off of the cherry tomatoes, and, using a melon baller, scooped out the seeds and pulp. (You may also want to make a tiny slice on the bottom of each to give any uncooperative tomatoes a flat surface upon which to stand.) In a mixing bowl, I then combined four ounces of goat cheese, about a third of a cup of Greek yogurt (which helped to loosen the cheese up a little bit, though sour cream, or a splash of buttermilk would work equally well), about a fourth of a teaspoon of prepared horseradish (or to taste), one small garlic clove (which I grated on a microplane zester), about two tablespoons each of minced fresh basil and chives (though dill, tarragon, or any fresh green herb would also be equally delicious… these are just what I happened to have on hand today), a dash of salt, and freshly ground black pepper. I loaded the cheese mixture into a zip lock bag, snipped off the corner, and “piped” the filling into each of the tomatoes. (Depending on the size of your tomatoes, you should be able to fill about a dozen or so.) The sweet tomatoes are a perfect backdrop to the herbaceous, creamy, tangy, filling. They are beautiful served on a bed of fresh chives (splayed out “pick up sticks” style), and garnished with either more fresh chives or a chiffonade of fresh basil, and the tiniest sprinkling of pimentón (for color, and hint of smoke).  These are the perfect little bites to serve with cocktails.  They are easy to make, quick to put together, and people really go crazy for them. Enjoy!  (And don’t forget, there is only one day left to enter for your chance to win my first giveaway – a $50 Williams-Sonoma gift card!!! )

This post made the Top 9!!!

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Filed under Foodbuzz Top 9, Snacks, Vegetables

Zucchini Pancakes with Horseradish Cream

These last several weeks I have been absolutely inundated with farm fresh zucchini in our weekly CSA bins. Mountains of them! I have been grilling them, stuffing them, roasting them with Parmesan cheese, making them into a roasted vegetable tian, and anything else I can possibly think of to use them up in some form of non redundant fashion. In searching for recipes, I stumbled across Ina Garten’s zucchini pancakes recipe, and thought, yes! That’s it! And while her recipe is, I’m sure, positively delectable, I decided to sort of come up with my own take on them, based on what other ingredients I had from the CSA. I started by grating about a pound of both green and yellow zucchini in my food processor fitted with the grating disc. I then placed the shredded zucchini in a colander and sprinkled it with about a tablespoon of salt, and allowed it to sit for about twenty minutes. I then rinsed the zucchini in cold water, and squeezed out as much liquid from them as I could, using my hands. In a large mixing bowl I then combined the drained zucchini, about a cup or so of chopped green onions, a handful each of chopped fresh basil and Italian flat leaf parsley, two large garlic cloves (grated on my microplane zester), four large eggs, a little salt, a healthy grind of black pepper, a dash of chipotle powder, and enough flour to pull it all together (about a half a cup or so). I then heated some extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet, and,while it was heating, mixed together a half a cup of sour cream, a half a teaspoon or so of prepared horseradish (or more depending on the strength of your particular brand), and a dash of salt and freshly ground black pepper. I placed heaping spoonfuls of the zucchini mixture into the hot pan, and cooked them for about two minutes per side, or until nicely golden brown (placing them onto a sheet pan in a 250º oven in between batches to keep them warm). I serve them up with a dollop of the horseradish cream, a sprig of fresh parsley, and a few lemon wedges for squeezing over them. The pancakes are crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. The delicious, savory flavor of the garlic and herbs hit you in waves, with a gentle little nudge from the chipotle powder. The creaminess of the sour cream, and the subtle kick from the horseradish perfectly compliment the pancakes, without overwhelming them.  These are perfect as an appetizer, first course, or lite lunch (and I imagine that they are a great way to get vegetables into your kids).  Now if only I can come up with a use for the REST of Mount St. Zucchini I will be in good shape. Enjoy!

This post made the Top 9!!!

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Filed under Foodbuzz Top 9, Side Dishes, Snacks, Vegetables

Fire Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

When we received our CSA bin for the week I was happy to find a big bag of fresh tomatillos among its contents. I like tomatillos, but unfortunately I never think to buy them. So having them, instead, delivered right to my  front door worked out perfectly. This morning, still on my quest to use all of our CSA produce each week, I set about making  a large batch of basil pesto (I was out of pine nuts so I substituted  toasted cashews instead, and it turned out really well! who knew?). Continuing along the green theme, I figured I would fire up the grill and make this fire roasted tomatillo salsa, perfect to have around to serve over grilled meats, scrambled eggs, quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas, or just for a delicious snack with crunchy, corn tortilla chips. I started by peeling the husks from about two pounds of tomatillos and giving them a good rinse to remove that sticky, sappy tomatillo goo and placed them  all in a large bowl. I then peeled and cut a red onion into thick one inch slices (I didn’t have quite enough red onion, so I added a small yellow onion as well, but I decided to leave it whole) and added those to the bowl along with a couple of jalapeño peppers, and about ten cloves of garlic (still in their skins). I drizzled a little extra virgin olive oil over the vegetables, and then threw them on a hot grill. I was looking to blacken the jalapeños, after which I placed them in a zip lock bag, and allowed them to steam for five minutes before removing their skins and seeds.I cooked the remaining vegetables until they were soft and had developed a nice char. (Alternatively, you could cook the vegetables on a sheet pan under the broiler.) I then removed the vegetables and allowed everything to come to room temperature. In the bowl of my food processor fitted with the steel blade, I added the onions and pulsed them until they were finely diced (but still with some good texture) and emptied those into a bowl. I then added two jalapeños, and all of the peeled roasted garlic, giving that a pulse until it was finely chopped. Next I added the roasted tomatillos and pulsed until they, too, were finely chopped, but not completely pureed, adding that mixture into the bowl as well. I squeezed in the juice of two limes, added a dash of salt, about a teaspoon of sugar, a hefty pinch of ground cumin, and a large handful of chopped cilantro.  It is fresh, smokey, tart, spicy, and ever so slightly sweet from the grilled onions. Delicious, and just in time for Labor day. Enjoy!

This post made the Top 9!!!


Filed under Foodbuzz Top 9, Jams/Spreads/Sauces, Snacks, Vegetables

Blueberry Ice Cream

It had been a while since I busted out my ice cream making attachment for my Kitchen Aid mixer, and having all of these fresh blueberries on hand, and looking at the scorching weather report for this weekend I decided what better time than now. In a sauce pan, I start by combining about one cup or so of sugar, one fourth of a cup of water, the juice and zest of a lemon, a couple of slices of fresh ginger, a generous dollop of homemade blueberry jam, and heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Meanwhile, I puree two pints of fresh, washed blueberries in the food processor. Once the sugar has dissolved I add the blueberry puree to the syrup and cook for about five to seven minutes. In another sauce pan I scald one quart of heavy cream, and slowly whisk it into two large egg yolks. Add a splash of vanilla extract and the blueberry mixture (removing the slices of ginger), cover, and chill in the refrigerator until very cold. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s instructions, and voila! Easy, delicious blueberry ice cream. Creamy, rich, silky, and fully of fresh blueberry flavor this cool summer treat is sure to satisfy. If you, on the other hand, prefer to drink your ice cream, add several scoops to a blender with a splash of milk, and blend until smooth. In either case, serve it up with a few extra berries, and a sprig of fresh mint. Enjoy!

This post made the Top 9!!!


Filed under Beverages, Desserts, Foodbuzz Top 9

Fried Risotto Balls (Arancini di Riso)

I purposely made extra mushroom risotto last night knowing that I would make these delicious fried rice balls today with the leftovers. For my risotto I start with one chopped, large yellow onion, six or seven minced garlic cloves,  a mixture of cremini and oyster mushrooms (or whatever you have on hand) that roughly measures one pound or so, which I sauté in butter and extra virgin olive oil, and season with salt, freshly ground black pepper, red pepper flakes, and dried thyme (since I didn’t have any fresh thyme on hand). Once those are nicely softened and starting to brown, I add about two cups of arborio rice, and cook the rice for about two minutes. I then add one cup of a good quality, dry white wine and a large pinch of saffron threads, and cook until the wine has been absorbed by the rice. I then ladle in hot, homemade chicken stock one cup at a time, stirring constantly, being sure that the previous liquid is absorbed before my next addition. In total the process takes about thirty minutes, and approximately eight cups of stock. Once the rice is tender, I add a generous handful of both Parmesan cheese and chopped Italian flat leaf parsley. Is there anything more delicious than risotto? Perhaps deep fried balls of cheese stuffed risotto? Indeed!

Today I took two cups of the leftover risotto and mixed it together with a handful of both panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, along with two large eggs. I rolled the rice mixture into balls, and shoved a small cube of cheese into the center of each (here I used extra sharp cheddar, because it is what I had laying around, though mozzarella would perhaps be more appropriate), I then rolled each ball in panko bread crumbs, and fried them in vegetable oil until golden brown (in about two inches of oil…somewhere between a pan fry and a deep fry, turning half way through to ensure even browning), and drain them on paper towels. Serve these up as a delicious hors d’oeuvres, first course, or side dish with a puddle of homemade marinara, or sun dried tomato pesto. They are crisp, tender, creamy, and packed with great flavor. Never have leftovers tasted so good. Enjoy!

This post made the Top 9!!!

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Filed under Foodbuzz Top 9, Side Dishes, Snacks

Old Fashioned Berry Shortcakes

There are still many people from my generation who don’t know what a shortcake really is. So accustomed are they to the store bought Hostess brand shortcakes, that they don’t understand that, in reality, shortcakes are much less like a Twinkie and much more like a sweet biscuit. Very similar to a plain vanilla scone, these old fashioned shortcakes are a heavenly compliment to mounds of freshly whipped, sweetened, vanilla flavored cream, and a heap of fresh macerated berries. Since I still have blackberries coming out of my ears, I decided to continue with this week of very berry madness, and whip together this easy, but incredibly comforting dessert.

I have always had great success with Ina Garten’s shortcake recipe with a few of my own modifications. I up the sugar from one tablespoon to a third of a cup, reduce the salt to one half teaspoon, use salted butter (which I always use in everything no matter what the recipe may say… I prefer Tillamook brand), add about a tablespoon of pure vanilla extract (clear, if you have it) which the recipe doesn’t call for, and I also toss in the grated zest of half a large orange into the wet ingredients for that little background note of fruitiness (though, if I don’t happen to have an orange on hand I simply omit the zest). I have also found that it is important to chill the cut dough for at least an hour, lest you risk the possibility that your shortcakes bake up in amorphous mounds (which, granted, will still be delicious). Before baking I brush the tops with a beaten egg, and then dip the egg coated top of each shortcake into a small bowl of  turbinado or demerara sugar (clear white sanding sugar would also work well here) until no more will stick, which adds a nice sparkle, sweetness, and crunch. These are best served warm out of the oven, but the good news is that these shortcakes can be made, cut, wrapped, and refrigerated up to five days in advance, and you can simply bake them off right before you want to serve them, making them perfect for summertime entertaining. (Better still, if you would like to make the dough up to six weeks in advance, place the cut dough onto a baking sheet and freeze uncovered until frozen solid, then transfer to a freezer bag. Bake from frozen (do not thaw the dough), adding an additional 5 minutes or so to the baking time. Whether with strawberries, peaches, or assorted berries, these shortcakes are always a crowd pleaser. Enjoy!

This post made the Top 9!!!

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Filed under Breads, Desserts, Foodbuzz Top 9

Pesto Palmiers

Like their sweet counterparts, savory palmiers are an incredibly easy secret weapon to have in your kitchen arsenal. There are always times where people are coming over, and you would like to have a little nibbley something to offer, but are out of time, energy, and ideas. These pesto palmiers are the perfect solution. Frozen puff pastry, pesto (either homemade or from the store), and Parmesan cheese (all of which I always have on hand) are all that you need. Take your thawed puff pastry sheet, and on a floured surface, roll it out to roughly thirteen inches squared. Spread about a third of a cup of good quality pesto over the entire surface, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Fold each side three times, meeting in the middle, and then fold it over onto itself. Slice the log into half inch slices, and place them cut side down on a baking sheet, brush with a beaten egg, and bake at 400º for fifteen minutes, or until nicely golden brown. They are buttery, and flaky, with a delightfully savory kick. The perfect little thing to serve with cocktails. Enjoy!

This post made the Top 9!!!

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Filed under Foodbuzz Top 9, Snacks

More Easy Fruit Tarts

In a desperate (and transparent) attempt to avoid making  more jam with my remaining leftover apricots, I decided that more tarts were in order. (I mean, I love me some jam, but it is just too hot!) While prepping the tarts, I wondered why I had never made this recipe with fruits other than apricots.  With a simple reach over to the fruit bowl, I grabbed a pear and a nectarine, and decided to give it a try. And voila! So simple and easy. I took the same sized circles of puff pastry (my stemless martini glasses make the perfect sized stencil), added about a tablespoon of cinnamon sugar to the center of each, gave them a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg, and topped two with sliced nectarines, and two with pear halves (which I peeled, cored, and sliced, keeping the stem end intact). I gave each an extra little sprinkling of cinnamon sugar on top, and into the 400º oven they went for 20-25 minutes until they were golden brown and puffed. Brush the baked tarts with a generous amount of hot, strained apricot jam, and you have the easiest “fancy” fake out dessert in the world. I had never thought of it before, but as a reader suggested, these would also make a delicious breakfast pastry. I mean, who wouldn’t love waking up to one of these? Happy Eating!

This post made the Top 9!!!


Filed under Breakfast/Brunch, Desserts, Foodbuzz Top 9