Posts Tagged ‘Menus’

I am the pie crust queen!

I have now made pie crust #2, this time in savory form, and it worked like a charm.  I still can’t roll it out in a nice shape to save my life, but I have truly conquered my pie crust phobia.

As the main event in my dinner party, I prepared a leek and goat cheese galette.  Our guests were vegetarian, but even if you are not, you should make this.  It was awesome.  The leeks get all creamy and rich and the cheese is nice and tangy.  We devoured it.

I found the recipe on the Garden of Eating blog, but as it turns out, it originated in a cookbook I own, Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  Since this recipe was so good, it has inspired me to pour through that book and make more things from it.

I wasn’t sure if leeks were in season, but I managed to find them at the farmer’s market, so apparently they are.  The book suggests using onions or scallions if leeks are not available.  You do need a ton of leeks – 6 to be exact – but don’t skimp.  They cook down and you make a rich sauce for them, so they really are not overwhelming at all. 


Goat Cheese and Leek Galette


6 large leeks, including an inch of the green
3 tablespoons butter
1 tsp chopped thyme
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup cream or craime fraiche
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 egg, beaten
3 tbsps chopped parsley or 1 tbsp chopped tarragon
1/2 to 1 cup soft goat cheese to taste, about 4 ounces

I forgot the thyme and didn’t miss it.  Also, I found I needed more wine, probably about 3/4 cup so don’t drink the bottle before you are done cooking.

Galette dough (Not wanting to tempt fate, I used Martha Stewart’s pate brisee recipe, but the original one that is supposed to accompany the dish can be found here.)


Thinly slice and wash the leeks. You should have about 6 cups. 

Melt the butter in a large skillet or saute pan. Add the leeks, thyme (which I forgot and didn’t miss) and 1/2 cup water. Stew over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the leeks are soft and tender, about 12 minutes.

Add the wine and stir, scraping up any bits on the bottom of the pan.  Add a splash or two more of wine if needed, and continue cooking until it’s reduced.  Add the cream and cook until it just coats the leeks and little liquid remains. Season with salt and pepper.

Let cool for  at least 10 minutes.  At this point, since I was not ready to assemble the tart, I just removed the pan from the heat and covered it for a couple hours. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the dough for one large galette on a counter or upside-down cookie sheet and transfer to a greased baking sheet.

This time, it looked a little less misshapen than last time, but I still do not understand how one rolls out a circle.  Sigh…


When you are ready to assemble, stir in all but 1 tbsp of the beaten egg and 2 tbsps of the parsley (or all the tarragon) into the leek mixture.  Spread the leek mixture on top of the dough, leaving at least a 2-inch border around the filling. Crumble the cheese on top then fold the dough over the filling (again, depending on how large a border you leave, you can close it up completely or leave some of the filling visible in the middle).

Brush with the reserved egg and bake until the crust is browned – 25-30 minutes.  Remove, scatter the remaining parsley over the top, and serve.

The end result was really good.  I may be buying up leeks every time I see them to try this thing again.  It really makes a fantastic vegetarian main couse.



Previously:Summer Dinner Party, Part I: Sweet Basil Cocktail, White Bean Dip, Salt & Sugar Pickles

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On Saturday night, we had friends over for dinner.   The farmers market is just incredible right now, with all the wonderful summer produce everywhere, so I had a lot of fun planning out this meal.  Since I tried several new recipes, I’m going to make three posts over the course of this week.  Today, drinks and appetizers.

We aren’t really cocktail people, but I thought it would be fun to try making one.  I found this recipe in Food and Wine, created by Todd Thrasher.  When we lived in DC, we were lucky enough to enjoy his drinks at the wonderful speakeasy-style bar, PX, and as his other home, the absolutely incredible Restaurant Eve.  His drinks were always fantastic, so I knew this drink would be good.

Sweet Basil


10 basil leaves, plus 1 basil leaf for garnish
3 ounces Lillet blanc
1/2 ounce gin
1 ounce Simple Syrup (equal parts water and sugar, boiled until the sugar dissolves, and cooled)

In a cocktail shaker, lightly muddle the 10 basil leaves. Add ice and the Lillet, gin and Simple Syrup and shake well.  Strain well, using cheese cloth,  into a chilled glass and garnish with the remaining basil leaf.

The drink was amazing.  My only complaint is that this drink was very sweet.  I prefer less sweet cocktails, and if  you do, I suggest reducing the simple sugar and the Lillet and increasing the gin by equal amounts to get to a balance that works for you. 

To accompany it, I wanted something mild tasting that wouldn’t taste weird with the basil drink.  I made a simple white bean puree and some pickled crudite.

White Bean Puree

I’ve made this dip a number of times, and each time it turns out differently.  Basically, I throw a can of white beans into the food processor and add whatever is around – herbs, spices, onions, garlic, whatever.  This time, I used 12 scallions, a clove of garlic, juice of half a lemon, and a splash of olive oil.  Add some salt and you are good to go.


Salt and Sugar Pickles

Back in February, I wrote about the easiest appetizers ever.  I take that back.  These are the easiest appetizers ever.  I got the recipe from the June 2007 Food and Wine.  Mix equal parts sea salt and sugar and sprinkle on cut vegetables.   Let it sit for 5-10 minutes and the mixture quickly brines the vegetables.  Serve immediately, because the vegetables get watery and soggy after about an hour.


Food and Wine recommends radishes, daikons, cucumbers, and watermelon.  I used radishes and lemon cucumbers, both of which were great.  The salt and sugar mixture is very subtle, but cuts the raw taste of the vegetable just enough, so you feel like you are eating a yummy snack and not just a pile of bland vegetables.  I really think this might become an entertaining staple. 

Later this week, I’ll blog about the sides and the main course.

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Over the weekend, we took a friend on a drive up to Napa Valley for some wine tasting and gorgeous views.  I packed a picnic lunch and we stopped at the gorgeous Diamond Oaks winery to eat.

On the menu were chicken salad sandwiches, olives and roasted peppers, fresh strawberries from the farmers’ market, olive oil cookies, and Diamond Oaks Mina Ranch Chalk Hill Chardonnay.


Chicken Salad with Grapes and Tarragon

I’ve seen this combination pop up on menus and most recently, on Barefoot Contessa.  She’s got a couple different versions, but I mostly improvised. To make mine, I roasted a mix of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and thighs on 350 for about a half hour.  I used about five pieces combined.  Before baking, I drizzled them with some olive oil and salt and pepper, but other than that, I kept it simple. 

After they had cooled, I diced the chicken up into small cubes, and tossed it with a small shallot, a cup or so of green grapes that I had halved and quartered (cut before measuring), and a tablespoon of tarragon.  I mixed it all together with about a half cup of mayonnaise, maybe a bit more, and a bit of salt and pepper to taste.

I served the salad on thick slices of Acme’s pain au levain.  It’s the best bread ever.  If you live in the Bay area and have not tried it yet, go buy some now.  It’s like the perfect mix of sourdough and wheat bread and makes any sandwich taste magical.

Lemon Scented Olive Oil Cookies with Citrus Glaze

I stumbled upon Joy’s blog doing a Google search for olive oil cookies.  I had never eaten one, but I figured that they must exist and I wanted them for my wine country lunch.

This is a really fun recipe.  The cookies had a wonderful flavor – very fruity and light.    I didn’t want to buy almond extract for the glaze that she recommends, so I mixed the confectioner’s sugar with one part milk and one part orange juice, then added a pinch of lemon and orange zest to the mix.  I think the almond glaze would probably taste better, though I did like my improvisation. 

They are very cake like cookies, so I definitely want to make them again, but I’m thinking of making them into sandwich cookies with a fluffier icing in the middle, sort of like a food snob’s whoopie pie. 


All in all, a delicious lunch.

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Since I probably won’t be doing much food photography while preparing Thanksgiving dinner, I thought I’d just share my menu.

My husband and I are hosting a small Thanksgiving dinner – just his mom and a family friend. On the menu:

Cheese, crackers, and sliced persimmon from our farm share

Brined Turkey
A friend of ours made this for us last year and it was incredible. The recipe comes from Emeril Lagasse of the Food Network. We’ve never brined a turkey before, so this ought to be interesting.

New England Sausage, Apple, and Dried Cranberry Stuffing
From Epicurious. We’ve made this a few times now for Thanksgiving. It’s wonderful.

Mashed Potatoes with Parsnips
Another item served up to us by friends. They made it with 3 potatoes and 6 parsnips, plus butter and a bit of half and half.

Green Beans
We’ll keep those simple.

Candied Cranberry Sauce
It’s from Food and Wine. The cranberries get cooked in a skillet with minimal water, so they stay whole. I’ve never made it, but it sounds good.

Pumpkin Pie with Gingersnap Crust, whipped cream, and candied pepitas
The pumpkin pie and pepitas come courtesy of Martha Stewart. The gingersnap crust idea came from the blog Martha Stewart Baking at Home. I love anything ginger, and the pepitas just look like a fun addition.

To drink, I’ll be serving up some of these cocktails from Martha Stewart, made with rose cava and bay-infused simple syrup. We’ll probably pop open a nice bottle of white from one of our recent trips to Napa.

And that’s dinner. Hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving!

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