Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fig and goat cheese tart with arugula salad

I saw a version of this on the Whole Foods blog and immediately knew that I wanted to try it.
I have had their Adriatic Fig Spread before, and it is perfect with strong cheeses.
Plus, Marcona almond crust made with honey?

The differences in my version and the Whole Foods version is that I used a slightly larger tart pan, but I doubled the recipe. So you get a thicker crust, more fig, more cheese ...
And I added pine nuts to my version and served the arugula salad on the side so people could take it if they wanted it.

A note: Marcona almonds are a Spanish almond. They are sweeter than the standard almond and are lightly fried in oil and salted with a little sea salt. I got these at Whole Foods, but I believe they also have them at Trader Joe's.

Fig and goat cheese tart with arugula salad

1 cup Marcona almonds
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
5 tablespoons honey
8-ounce jar of fig spread (I like the one from Whole Foods)
5 1/2 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup pine nuts
4 cups packed baby arugula
4 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Equipment: 10-inch fluted tart pan - the kind that is the fluted sides and the flat bottom piece

Steps: Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Grind almonds and 1/2 cup flour to a coarse powder in a food processor. Add remaining flour and process until well blended.

Add butter to nut-flour mixture and pulse until blended.

Add honey and pulse until clumps of dough begin to form, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary.

Lightly spray tart pan with non-stick spray.

Press dough into the bottom of the pan, building it evenly up the sides. Freeze 15 minutes until firm.

Bake crust for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. (Crust can be made the day before and kept covered until you are ready for the next step.)

Spoon fig spread evenly over the crust and evenly distribute crumbled goat cheese and pine nuts on top.

Bake about 10 minutes longer until crust is golden brown and goat cheese is softened. Allow to cool slightly.

While tart is cooling, toss arugula with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Top tart with arugula and serve.

I took this to a girls night gathering. It was a great choice to have with red or white wine (I have to say, it really was great with the 2002 Lamborn Napa Valley Zinfandel that I brought.)

The arugula adds a nice, cool crunch and the balsamic on the salad really complements the fig and cheese.

The best part other than how good it tasted? It was really pretty easy to make.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Crock-pot braised short ribs with mushrooms and carrots

Continuing in my attempts to make dinners that are easy but still amazing, I am trying to use the slow cooker a little more often.

I also am trying to save myself some time by buying things that are already prepped to some degree. So for this recipe, I bought pre-sliced mushrooms. I used canned tomatoes. For the side dish of sauteed greens, I bought a bag of mixed greens from Trader Joe's that are already cut and cleaned. The jasmine rice came from Trader Joe's freezer case and was nuked hot in just a few minutes.

Really, the toughest thing about making these braised short ribs was chopping an onion. Oh, and waiting all day at work to get home and eat dinner!

Crock-pot braised short ribs with mushrooms and carrots
(makes 4 servings)

8 boneless beef short ribs
kosher or sea salt
black pepper
1 cup beef broth
1 cup dry red wine
14.5 ounces canned, diced tomatoes (with juice)
4 bay leaves
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 small white onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
8 sprigs Italian parsley
8 carrots, peeled

Season the ribs with salt and pepper and place in an even layer in the slow cooker.
Add broth, wine, tomatoes and bay leaves.
Mix onions, mushrooms and garlic and add to slow cooker.
Layer Italian parsley sprigs over the top.
Arrange carrots on top of parsley.
Cook in crock pot on low heat for 8 hours.

Remove bay leaves and parsley before serving.

I served this over jasmine rice with some of the extra juice from the crock pot.
Also on the side were the mixed greens that I sauteed with some sliced onions and veggie broth.

This is like pot roast from my dreams. And it makes terrific leftovers.