Who Doesn’t Love a Tart? A White Wine Mushroom Tart…

See, when tax season ends it is supposed to be spring.  Normally I can get outside in the fresh air and putter about in the garden.  Mother Nature did not get the memo this year!  On Monday we had a two hour delay for school due to snow and ice.  It’s just been cold this week.  The strong winds took down a large tree in town.  She is being cruel!

I really hope the warm weather shows soon because it would be nice to have a spring longer than a couple of weeks.  Summer likes to show early here.

Every Tuesday night we have pizza and sometimes I buy a phyllo dough mushroom tarts with white wine.  It’s been on my list to recreate it but I decided instead of fiddling round with the phyllo that I would make my short crust pastry.

Mushroom tarts 1 2018

In a skillet melt 3 tablespoons of butter.  Finely chop shiitake mushrooms to give you a cupful.  Finely chop shallots until you have about 1/3 cup.  Sauté the mushrooms and shallots on medium heat.  Chop up fresh thyme and rosemary, about a small handful total and add them to the skillet.  After cooking for several minutes add a 1/4 cup/2oz of dry white wine.

Mushroom tarts 2 2018

Grate about 3/4 cup of jarlsberg and put it in a medium bowl and set aside.

Mushroom tarts 3 2018

Preheat the oven to 350F/175C and prep the pastry.  Technique to do the pastry is here.  For this recipe I used 1/2 cup/70g of flour, a pinch of salt, and just under a 1/4 cup of butter.  When the butter is fully incorporated into the flour gradually add cold water a bit at a time until the dough comes together.  Roll out thinly.

Add the mushroom mixture to the cheese and mix well.  Add a dollop to the pastry.

Mushroom tarts 4 2018

Pinch the dough closed and slice three vents into the top.  Brush with a beaten egg.

Mushroom tarts 5 2018

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden and flaky.

Mushroom tarts 6 2018

These are great for a cheese and wine night or if you have a potluck to go to.

 

Garlic and Herb Sauce with Pork and Pasta

It’s common for people to lament the fact the younger generation will never make something of themselves.  Every generation does it.  They don’t work hard, they feel entitled etc.  But then something happens and you can’t deny they are a force to be reckoned with.

When I was in high school the district was doing the usual layoffs but just using the seniority system rather than getting rid of teachers that weren’t good.  The students including me were not pleased.  There was a public meeting where students gave impassioned arguments saying we wanted teachers that would give us a good education. One of the maths teachers had to be constantly corrected by the students and she would get all flustered and it would get worse.  She had seniority so she would stay.  Hence the displeasure of those of us who were heading to university.  We didn’t get very far but we showed the higher ups that we should have a say in decisions that would affect our future.

We’re seeing the power of students now for a much more serious reason.  This country is plagued with school shootings but nothing has been done about it.  Well the ground swell that is happening now is completely down to the students.  Rightfully so they say enough is enough.  They are using their voices for change.  On the 14th of March there will be walk outs across the country and I’m proud to say my kids are going to be part of it.  I really hope change will happen.  It shouldn’t be a dangerous thing to send your kids to school.

Here is to positive changes with the students leading the way!

And now onto the cooking portion of this programme.

I came across a recipe for pork chops with a creamy garlic herb sauce by What’s In The Pan that looked good.  I hope you enjoy my version.  🙂

Pork with garlic herb sauce 1 2018

We had 4 boneless pork ribs to use so I didn’t bother buying extra pork chops.  I prepped the pork first so it could be finished off in the oven.  Mix a 1/4 cup of flour, a teaspoon of dried oregano, 1/2 a teaspoon of sea salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of ground pepper on a dish.

Pork with garlic herb sauce 2 2018

Season the pork with sea salt and pepper then dredge them in the flour mixture.  Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet.  Brown all sides of the pork until they are nice and golden brown.  Finish them in the oven at 350F/175C.  I’ve no picture of this step as the one I took came out really blurry.  No idea why I only took one!  While the pork is cooking prep the rest of the ingredients.

Slice 4-5 mushrooms and chop 5-7 cloves of garlic.  Add two tablespoons of butter to the skillet and add the mushrooms and garlic.  As the mushrooms begin to cook add another tablespoon or so of butter.  Also add small handfuls of fresh thyme and rosemary.

Pork with garlic herb sauce 3 2018

Pork with garlic herb sauce 4 2018Take about a tablespoon or so of the flour mixture and add it to the skillet.  To this add a heaping spoonful of brown mustard.  Stir well and cook for a couple of minutes to cook the flour.  To create the sauce add 1/2 cup/4oz of dry white wine, 1/2 cup/4oz of chicken sauce and 1/4 cup/2oz of lemon juice.  Bring to a simmer to reduce down by a third.

Pork with garlic herb sauce 5 2018

Once the pork is nearly cooked along with pasta add 1/2 cup/4oz of heavy cream.  Heat through and toss in the pasta.

Pork with garlic herb sauce 6 2018

Serve with a bit of parsley.  I have to say one of my weaknesses is a cream sauce with lots of garlic.  I could eat that all day!

 

Rosemary Lemon Chicken Kebabs

Tomorrow is a big day with the vote in the UK.  It’s surreal because, like for a lot of people, this vote can directly effect how we transition in a few years to move back.  But I can’t vote as subjects of the crown can’t vote if they don’t live in the UK.  So I just have to wait and see.  It will be nice to see the propaganda from both sides to die down.  Talk about muddying the waters!

In the meantime I’ll just keep cooking along.

We didn’t just have a Dalek cake for the small family gathering.  To avoid a sugar high I cooked healthy food as well.  I kept it very simple with grilled veg and chicken kebabs.  I grilled up mushrooms, peppers, onions, scallions, and aubergine.

The inspiration for the chicken came from a restaurant chain, Bertucci’s, where they have a spicy chicken wing with lemon and rosemary.  No idea what the recipe is but I figured I could get close to the recipe.

Rosemary lemon chicken 1 2016

I popped into my local store (my garden) for fresh thyme and rosemary.  I do wish there was an easy way to prep thyme, so annoying, but what can you do?  Finely chop a small handful of each.  In a bowl add a ratio of 2:1 of olive oil and lemon juice, the herbs, 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped, sea salt and pepper to taste.  Then add cayenne pepper to the level of spiciness you want.  I kept it on the mild side as my aunt isn’t a huge fan of spicy food.

Rosemary lemon chicken 2 2016

Mix well and add chicken to marinate.

Rosemary lemon chicken 3 2016

When you are ready to grill add the chicken to the skewers and cook until the chicken is cooked through.  Turn a few times so the chicken is cooked evenly.

Rosemary lemon chicken 4 2016

It was a lovely relaxing lunch with family with plenty of room left over for cake!  And any left over chicken and grilled veg is perfect for a salad later on.  Which is handy after a bike ride and you aren’t up to cooking!

Rustic Red Wine Lamb Stew

It was no surprise last week that I got to the point of being really tired of turkey.  Given that it is a large bird, you have to be very creative with leftovers to use it up.  I needed something different!  It was a raw and rainy day so it also had to be comfort food.

Red wine lamb stew 1 2015

I had some stewing lamb to use so I thought a red wine stew would do the trick.  Very often the stewing meat comes in large pieces so I cut them down to smaller pieces.  Makes it easier to eat.  Dredge the meat in flour and season with sea salt and pepper.

Red wine lamb stew 2 2015

In a large saucepan heat up some olive oil and start browning the lamb.  While that is browning, cut up a scallion and a few cloves of garlic.  Finely chop up a small handful of rosemary.  Add it all to the saucepan.

Red wine lamb stew 3 2015

Cook for a few minutes more then add about a cup of good red wine.  Bring to a simmer and add a couple chopped mushrooms.

Red wine lamb stew 4 2015

Add 3 cups of chicken stock.  Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer.  Keep it on a low simmer for a few hours to allow the flavours to develop and the meat to get nice and tender.  Closer to dinner time add either potatoes or pasta.  I chose pasta for this stew.  I also added some sliced carrots.  I didn’t add them at the beginning because I don’t like mushy carrots, just like I don’t like mushy peas!

Red wine lamb stew 5 2015

Add buttered rustic toast and it was a great bowl to enjoy in comfy pjs and a bit of tele.  I’m not complaining about the raw rainy day though.  This winter has been mild so far, may it continue!  Saves on the heating bills.  🙂

Jerk Chicken and What Kind of World

Tragedy brings out the best and the worst of us.  And it was true to form this past weekend.  After the attacks in Paris I, like millions of others, added the French flag to our profile pic on Facebook.  But I also quickly, like many, realised the hypocrisy of not speaking out against the terror in Beirut and many other countries.

And that’s when it started getting ugly.  When you combine fear with bigotry some seriously hateful things start getting posted.  It saddens me no end we have a serious humanitarian situation and we have people running for president saying we should only accept Christians.  Never mind that this isn’t a Christian nation as laid out in the Treaty of Tripoli which said this was a secular nation.  And it was ratified by 100% of the senate of the time.  That concept is being lost to the mists of time.  The West has a lot of responsibility of the vacuum that keeps being created in the Middle East but yet a lot would wash their hands of the crisis.  A situation where you have children so scared they put their hands up in fear because they think the journalist cameras are guns.

I am well aware there aren’t any easy solutions laying about.  But I do wish the powers that be would start thinking of the ramifications before they keep repeating history.  I mean how many times do we put people in power to only have to forcibly remove them.  Or how many times do we change the governments or boundaries without fully understanding the region.

Because not only do I want peace and not have people living in fear, I would love to be able to not have to figure out how to explain to my kids how much humanity is still getting it wrong.

While all this was going on we were preparing for my husband’s birthday party.  The theme?  A pirate murder mystery night.  There was a lot of planning for this as I had to assign characters for our guests and get the packets ready for each person so they knew what their objectives were for the murder and investigation.

One of our friends had great fun with doing themed food of cannon balls, shark teeth, etc.  She also did a great Minecraft themed party for her son a few weeks ago.  This is definitely up her alley.

One of the dishes I made was jerk chicken.  A great time to try using our dried habaneros.  I also used some dried cayenne.  Sinuses would be cleared for miles around.

Jerk chicken 1 2015

The recipe I used as a guide was from food.com and I followed it for the most part.  I didn’t have bay leaves but I’m not a fan of that ingredient.  I didn’t have any dried thyme either.  But I have to say the ingredients weren’t missed.

In a spice grinder, finely grind 3 habaneros and 2 cayenne peppers that have been dried.  Add that to a medium sized bowl.  Then grind rosemary and allspice so you have about a tablespoon of each.  Again add that to the bowl.  Add a tablespoon of ground ginger and a tablespoon and a half of sea salt.  Next you will need 1 1/2 teaspoons each of onion powder, black pepper, and ground cinnamon.  Add 3/4 teaspoon of each of ground nutmeg and paprika.  Finish with 1/3 cup sugar, a juice of a lime, and 1/3 cup of olive oil.

Jerk chicken 2 2015

Mix well and add about a pound and a half of chicken that you have cubed.  Make sure the chicken is well coated.  Then remember not to touch your eyes.  Ahem.  Even after washing your hands.

Jerk chicken 3 2015

Let this marinate for a couple of hours.  I chose to grill this on the stove top.  But given the potency of the hot peppers I should have done this outside.  It was like I pepper sprayed the kitchen!  What a way to welcome guests.

Jerk chicken 4 2015

I did want to do a mango dipping sauce but the mango I bought refused to ripen so it was just the chicken.

Jerk chicken 5 2015

This was a hit.  Fortunately our friends could handle the heat.  Because, while the flavours were balanced, this is not for the weak of heart.

 

Finally French Baked Eggs!

There are times where you have to try, try, and try again.  Such is life.  It gets a bit annoying when that happens with a recipe.

I saw a recipe in a cookery book of Barefoot Contessa’s for easy baked eggs.  Ooh, I thought, this looks amazing.  Let’s have a go.

To start her method was to broil.  I followed it to the letter.  Three times and failed each time.  I was starting to get annoyed!  The flavours were there but the yolk would over cook and the whites would stay runny.  Not the way I wanted.

In the meantime I tried Jovina Cooks Italian recipe for Marinara Baked Eggs.  I still struggled with getting the yolks runny but it was a better result.  My husband and I talked about maybe separating the eggs and cooking the whites for a bit.  Darya on Tortore mentioned in the comments the same idea so that settled it.  I was going to give it another try.

French baked eggs 1 2015

This recipe is for one serving.  Finely chop a handful of parsley, rosemary, and thyme.  Then finely mince a clove of garlic.  Grate about a 1/4 cup of fresh parmesan.  Set all this aside.

French baked eggs 2 2015

Preheat the oven to 400F/205C.  In a shallow bake safe dish heat up 1 1/2 tablespoons of cream and a tablespoon of butter.

French baked eggs 3 2015

Separate three eggs and add the whites and half the cheese and herb mixture to the dish.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Bake until the whites are almost set, fluffing a few times as it cooks.  Add the three yolks.

French baked eggs 4 2015

Add the rest of the herb and cheese mixture.  Bake a few minutes more until the yolks are warm but still runny.  I was feeling really positive by this point!  Once the eggs are cooked, remove from the heat.  Grate a bit more parmesan over the eggs.  Toast up crusty bread to serve with.

French baked eggs 5 2015

Look at that, runny yolks!  This was easy.  🙂  And oh so good.  I am so happy I figured this out.  There is an extra step but it means I get the result I’m supposed to.

Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms and Cruel Cowardice

It’s hard not to be distressed by the capacity of some people to be heartless.  Don’t get me wrong there is a lot of good in this world.  People who have compassion and work hard to bring light to those that need it.  But there is a side of humanity that seems desperate to cause harm.  There is a endless list of horrors.  It gets overwhelming.

Such a representation of that this week was the senseless killing of Cecil.  In the scheme of things it’s a lion, there are much deeper issues of children in this world not safe, women not safe, people starving.  But it is indicative people lacking the basic compassion of living things.  It takes a special kind arrogance and cowardice to travel to the other side of the world, pay thousands, and then to bait an animal to give it a slow death.

I get the need for hunting in turns of population control.  Deer can face slow and painful death with overpopulation in winter.  And I get people hunting for food.  In our area there are a lot of families who need to put food on the table.  But to hunt so you can decorate your wall?  I find that disgusting.  I do hope the outrage keeps at its current level.  We need to stop the destroying of this earth’s gifts and resources.

This just really fired me up.  Thank you for letting me say my piece and I’ll get on with the usual program of food!

Due to the dietary needs of my various family members I always try to come up with ideas of tasty dishes that everyone can eat.  I thought repurposing a crostini into stuffed mushrooms would be fun.

Bacon stuffed mushrooms 1 2015

We learned how to make this bacon crostini in Tuscany on our honeymoon.  For this recipe I added onion to it.  I finely chopped a clove of garlic, half a small onion, and a bit of rosemary.  Then chop up half the mushroom stems.

Bacon stuffed mushrooms 2 2015

Chop up 3 rashers of streaky bacon and begin to render it in a small skillet.  After a few minutes add the onion.

Bacon stuffed mushrooms 3 2015

After the onion has softened a bit add the garlic, rosemary, and mushroom to the skillet.

Bacon stuffed mushrooms 4 2015

Keep cooking until the bacon starts to crisp a bit.  Add a few splashes of white balsamic vinegar.  Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 375F/190C.  Remove the bacon mixture from the heat and grate fresh parmesan over it and mix well.  Stuff the mushrooms and grate more parmesan over it.

Bacon stuffed mushrooms 5 2015

Bake until the mushrooms are cooked.  About 10 minutes or so.  While it is baking make up the salad if you are having this as a main meal.

Bacon stuffed mushrooms 6 2015

Of course I put more fresh parmesan on.  I can’t resist the stuff!  And it’s gluten free.  🙂

Tarragon Steak and Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Yesterday was very frustrating.  We like to make cheese so we bought quite a bit of raw milk at a local farm.  Grand plans were made.  Grand plans failed in a spectacular fashion.  The cheddar may turn out ok but the camembert I tried didn’t get off the ground.  The pH seemed to be too low and the curd didn’t break properly.  We had issues with the cheddar as well.  Like I said very frustrating.

So being tired and feeling grumpy I needed a good dinner that wasn’t too complicated.  And it had to be quick!  There was wine to be had at the end of a long day.

We grow tarragon in our garden, though it’s currently getting overshadowed by hops.  If you ever grow hops put them somewhere by themselves.  We grossly underestimated their takeover talents.  So I waded in to find the tarragon and took a handful for this marinade.

Tarragon steak 1 2015

Chop up a handful of tarragon and a few cloves of garlic.  In a bowl add a few tablespoons of olive oil and one or two tablespoons of white wine vinegar.  Shake it up to mix.  Season the steak with sea salt and pepper then add it to the marinade.  Let it marinate for at least an hour.

Tarragon steak 2 2015

For those that follow my blog know I’m a huge fan of roasted potatoes.  I thought rosemary and lemon would be a nice touch for this meal.  Cube the potatoes and microwave them for 8 minutes.  Do not cover them with plastic or cling film.  That just leaches chemicals into the food.  In a baking dish add a few tablespoons of olive oil and a tablespoon of lemon juice. While the potatoes are in the microwave preheat the oven or toaster oven to 375F/190C with the baking dish in it.  Add the potatoes to the hot oil, stir well and season with sea salt and pepper.  Stir occasionally as it cooks.  Once it is cooked halfway add a couple of tablespoons of rosemary, finely chopped.  Heat the grill to medium high.  I picked skirt steak which is pretty thin so it cooks quickly.

Tarragon 3 2015

Given that it’s summer a salad is called for!  Make up the salad while the steak is resting.  Then slice the steak and top the salad.  Drizzle with olive oil and white wine vinegar.  Serve with the potatoes.

Tarragon 5 2015

Tarragon 4 2015

We were lucky that there was low humidity last night so we had a lovely dinner outside on the porch.  The only interruptions we had was when we had to take turns chasing off the rabbits in our back garden.  They are showing no fear!

Rabbit and the Need to Strangle a Cock….

4am.  Still dead of night as far as I am concerned.  Cock-a-doodle-doo!  My husband then rolls out of bed to close the ceiling window because I’m too short to reach it.  Every morning the bloody thing would go off.  And it would go all day.  There is another one down the road that answers but that is more muted.  Ours was about 10 feet from our window. I say was as this morning it’s been quiet.  I’m wondering if coq a vin is on the menu next door.  If I never hear another cock-a-doodle-doo I’ll be a happy camper.

On my list of ingredients to cook while here in France was rabbit.  So off to the market we went in search of one.  

 
We were successful.  Good thing I asked the head be removed.  An unfortunate thing about the kitchen we’re using, aside from a very anemic oven, is the knives are very dull.  We’ve tried sharpening them without a whole lot of success.  Which made butchering this rabbit quite the chore!  My MIL helped as I had to wrestle it to submission.  I ended up removing the legs and then took what I could of the remaining meat to add to the sauce.  I didn’t want to waste the rest of the rabbit so when my MIL suggested making a quick stock I went in that direction.  In a saucepan I covered the rabbit in water, added a shallot, salt and pepper, and thyme.


Bring it to a boil then let it simmer for 30-45 minutes.  Once that is done heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and brown the legs of the rabbit.

  

While that is happening, prep a small onion, a few cloves of garlic, and some fresh rosemary.

  
Remove the rabbit legs and set aside.  Sauté the onions and garlic until they soften.  Add some of the rabbit stock to simmer with the onion and garlic.

 
Add the rabbit bits and rosemary and sauté for a few more minutes.  I bought some local mushrooms at the market which were really nice.  I sliced a few and added them the the skillet.  Again add some stock.  About half a cup or 4 ounces each time.

  

Chop up a few tomatoes.  I also had a can of diced tomatoes that needed to be used.  Toss these in and add 4-8 ounces of red wine.  Bring to a simmer and add the rabbit legs to finish off cooking.

  
The tricky bit is not to over cook and toughen the meat.  In fact after simmering awhile there was still a bit of rabbit on the larger leg that wasn’t cooked through.  We still had plenty of meat to go round.  

 
The sauce with the stock was really nice.  Not sure if I’d cook a lot of rabbit going forward.  It was nice but not something I would crave.  But I can cross this off the bucket list so to speak.  

Today is packing day as we have a long journey home.  I’ll miss this place.  I’ve loved the food, the sightseeing, working on the language, and the leisurely meals.  No one rushes you and it’s perfectly fine to have a glass of wine or two with lunch.  And I could eat bread here with minimal side effects.  It’s been fabulous!  But back to reality I’m afraid. 

Rosemary Garlic Pork

Apparently we missed one hell of a game last night.  We don’t have cable any more so I started the day checking out the ads from the Superbowl.  I’m guessing the game was way better than the ads.  I made the mistake yesterday of going to the grocery store to pick up a few things.  It was mobbed.  Not only was the “big” game last night but we are also now in the middle of yet another big snow storm.  So there was game shopping on top of the panic shopping people do before a storm.  This storm didn’t shift to the east this time so we’ll be getting a lot of snow today.

My husband lucked out with the travel and was able to come home safely.  I had a good time with the kids last week but it’s great to have him home with us.  I was struck the other day how much our kids are growing up.  After taking them out for a light meal we drove back and bad music was playing on the radio.  Our daughter decided that we needed to listen to some real music.  So she put on Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen and she and I belted out the song.  Slightly to our son’s dismay!  She took us through the 80’s and we ended with the Cupid Shuffle dancing in the kitchen.  Then we topped it off watching Master Chef Junior.  Those kids are incredible cooks.  We are just blown away that an 8 year old can do restaurant quality dishes and an 11 year old did up a branzino.  It’s insane.

To welcome home my husband I decided to make a pork loin with garlic and rosemary.   I found this recipe from Daily Dish Magazine to use as an inspiration.

Rosemary garlic pork 1 2015

Coarsely chop the rosemary and garlic.  This recipe takes a lot of garlic which is fabulous.  I used almost a whole bulb of garlic.  Place in a bag and add about 3/4 cup of dry white wine, 1/2 a cup of olive oil, and a few squeezes of lemon juice.  Season the pork loin with sea salt and pepper and marinate for at least an hour.

Rosemary garlic pork 2 2015

In a skillet heat up olive oil and pan sear the pork loin on both sides.

Rosemary garlic pork 3 2015

Finish in the oven at 350F/175C.  In a small skillet heat up the marinade and begin to reduce down.

Rosemary garlic pork 4 2015

Add butter a tablespoon at a time until there is a nice balance of the wine, lemon, and butter.  While the pork is resting saute some swiss chard with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Slice the pork and serve over the chard.  Top with the sauce.

Rosemary garlic pork 5 2015

It goes very well with roasted potato and parsnip.  It was wonderful catching my husband up with how our week went and listening to him tell us about his.  🙂