February 5, 2009

Puff pastry tarts with cheese and slow roasted tomatoes - Tarte cu branza si rosii coapte

I am cleaning up my photo folders and before I come back with a soup or something else, it is time for these small bites to see the light. I chose them because they pair well with the sunny days and high 70's we had this past 10 days. (i started writing these lines yesterday, but as we speak it started raining and that's how it will be for the rest of the weekend)
I told you already about Chez Pim’s blog being the "virus", but I can be more precise than that. My first reading was her post about oven roasted tomatoes, I craved for them, so I made them that very night. It was my entry to the monthly contest on the Romanian culinary forum reteteculinaro.ro when the theme was canned goods. And then I made it again and again for the past 2 summers because I like them a lot. The only problem - even though you can find tomatoes all year round, they don’t seem ripe, they are not bursting with flavor and although roasting helps, it cannot do wonders.
But last fall I stumbled upon the fix for my roasted tomatoes problem, when reading another recipe which said "you can use canned tomatoes". Hello!!!! How dumb of me, but it never crossed my mind until then.
I owe this food induced happiness to Molly Wizenberg’s article
"My Usual, Please" from September 2008 issue of Bon Appetit which had the recipe for Pomodori al Forno from Café Lago in Seattle.
I made the tarts using store bought puff pastry (cut in 4"x4" squares, pricked with the fork all over) because I had some left over in the fridge. But the tomatoes are just perfect on grilled bread with some cheese and olives.
I topped the puff pastry with a ricotta - feta cheese mixture (no goat cheese laying around in my fridge at the time) and with the tomatoes roasted according to the recipe from Bon Appetit (a couple of changes only - I used 2/3 cup of oil instead of a full cup as the pastry has enough fat, 1 teaspoon of sugar and one of salt, and no parsley at the end), baked them, then drizzled over some basil & chive oil (homemade, because I got myself a pretty fine sieve that day, so I had to use it).
They look springy or summery, don’t they?
here is another recipe for roasted tomatoes which is pretty similar, but comes from Gourmet.
Pomodori al Forno
(recipe from Bon Appetit - September 2008, courtesy to Cafe Lago, Seattle)

1 cups (or more) olive oil, divided
2 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeded
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced fresh Italian parsley
Aged goat cheese (such as Bûcheron)
1 baguette, thinly sliced crosswise, toasted

Preheat oven to 250°F. Pour 1/2 cup oil into 13x9x2-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Arrange tomatoes in dish, cut side up. Drizzle with remaining 1/2 cup oil. Sprinkle with oregano, sugar, and salt. Bake 1 hour. Using tongs, turn tomatoes over. Bake 1 hour longer. Turn tomatoes over again. Bake until deep red and very tender, transferring tomatoes to plate when soft (time will vary, depending on ripeness of tomatoes), about 15 to 45 minutes longer.
Layer tomatoes in medium bowl, sprinkling garlic and parsley over each layer; reserve oil in baking dish. Drizzle tomatoes with reserved oil, adding more if necessary to cover. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours. DO AHEAD Cover; chill up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Serve with aged goat cheese and toasted baguette slices.
Tarte cu branza si rosii la cuptor
Incerc sa trec prin pozele nepostate inca, si pana sa revin cu o supa sau alta mancare mai serioasa, a venit vremea gustarilor astora sa vada lumina. Le-am ales de fapt pentru ca se potriveau foarte bine zilelor insorite cu peste 20 C pe care le-am avut in ultimele 10 zile. (am scris randurile astea ieri, dar azi e innorat si ploua, si la fel o sa fie tot weekendul)
V-am spus mai inainte cum m-am "virusat" de la blogul lui Pim, dar pot spune ca prima mea lectura a fost despre rosiile uscate in cuptor, la care am poftit instantaneu, asa ca le-am facut in aceeasi seara. Au fost intrarea mea la concursul lunar de pe retete culinare cand tema concursului a fost conserve de toamna. Si apoi le-am refacut in ultimele doua veri pentru ca ne-au placut mult. Singura problema - desi gasesti rosii tot timpul anului, nu sunt cu adevarat coapte si gustoase, si desi uscandu-le in cuptor sunt mult mai bune, nici macar metoda asta nu poate face minuni cu ele.Dar toamna trecuta am gasit din fericire solutia citind o reteta care spunea ca poti folosi rosii din conserva, din cele puse intregi in suc de rosii. Ca sa vezi!!! Ce prostie sa nu imi treaca asa ceva prin cap pana atunci......
Ideea minunata apare in articolul scris de Molly Wizenberg
"My Usual, Please" din revista Bon Appetit - Septembrie 2008, care avea reteta pentru Rosii la Cuptor (apartinand Cafenelei Lago din Seattle). Am facut tartele cu aluat cumparat (l-am taiat in patrate de 10x10 cm si le-am intepat cu furculita peste tot), pentru ca imi ramasese de la niste pateuri. Dar nu sunt necesare tartele pentru rosiile astea minunate, sunt absolut perfecte pe paine prajita sau la gratar, cu niste branza si masline.
Am pus pe fiecare tarta un amestec de branza telemea - ricotta (urda) (reteta originala cere branza de capra, dar nu aveam deloc in casa in ziua cu pricina) si deasupra rosiile pregatite dupa reteta de mai jos ( cateva schimbari, am folosit numai 2/3 din uleiul recomandat pentru ca aluatul e destul de gras si el, am pus o lingurita fiecare sare si zahar, si nu am pus patrunjel proaspat la sfarsit); am copt tartele si apoi le-am stropit cu niste ulei "verde" cu busuioc si frunze de ceapa verde (pentru ca tocmai imi luasem o sita deasa si trebuia sa o folosesc la ceva).
Miros a primavara/ vara, nu-i asa?
Iar aici e o alta reteta asemanatoare, gasita pe Gourmet.
Rosii la cuptor
(reteta din revista Bon Appetit - Septembrie 2008, oferita de Cafe Lago, Seattle)
225 ml ulei de masline
900 g rosii, taiate pe jumatate, fara seminte (sau rosii din bulion, conservate intregi)
1 1/2 lingurite oregano
3/4 lingurita zahar
1/2 lingurita sare
1-2 catei de usturoi pisati
2 lingurite patrunjel proaspat tocat
branza de capra
o bagheta taiata in felii subtiri pe diagonala
Se incinge cuptorul la 250 F ( 120C). Se toarna jumatate din ulei intr-un vas termorezistent. Se aseaza rosiile in vas cu partea taiata in sus. Se toarna peste restul de ulei. Se condimenteaza cu oregano, zahar si sare. Se coc o ora. Se intorc rosiile cu partea taiata in jos si se mai pun la copt inca o ora. Se intorc rosiile din nou cu fata in sus si se mai coc intre 15 si 45 minute pana cand sunt de un rosu intens si sunt foarte coapte.
Se pun rosiile pe platou, se presara deasupra usturoiul si patrunjelul si peste se toarna uleiul din vasul in care au fost coapte. Daca este nevoie de mai mult ueli, se adauga dupa plac. Se lasa la temperatura camerei timp de 2 ore. Daca nu sunt servite imediat, se acopera si se pun la frigider pana la 5 zile. Se lasa sa revina la temperatura camerei inainte de a fi servite.
Se servesc cu branza de capra si felii de bagheta prajita.

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February 4, 2009

Got milk for these pop-tarts? - "Placintele"

I made this back in November, but i didn't get to post it then, and since now my daughter asked me to make them again tonight, i thought it's time for this post, too.
I found the idea on Chez Pim's blog, and fell in love with it immediately. (And digressing a little bit from the post - Chez Pim's blog was one of the first blogs i discovered about 2 years ago on the net. I cannot tell you how mesmerized i was and how much time i spent reading every single post over and over again, checking all the other blogs she mentioned and starting saving them in my bookmarks. I think that is the time when i was actually "contaminated" for good. And i couldn't be happier that i found that this is IT for me, my passion and calling. While i still lack in so many departments - knowledge, experience, writing or photographic talent, and also the courage to give up my job for a culinary training, i am living this dream now every moment. And though the level is still below the bar set by those who inspire me so much and whose blogs i admire, they push and help me every step of the way, without them even knowing i exist.)
Back to the subject of this post -I bought the pop tarts for Clara only once, because the kids at her school were eating them, there were commercials on TV and she wanted to see how they taste. And while she keeps asking me from time to time to buy them again, i never did after tasting one from that first and only box. And saying that they are not healthy would be the understatement of the year, although the sweetness and colors make them so very popular for kids. Don't get me wrong, if i would have had one when i was Clara's age i am sure i would have loved them too, without thinking as i do now what am i actually swallowing?!?!
That's why i was so happy when i found Pim's post. It's nothing complicated (if you don't start panicking at the thought that you have to make pie crust), and when you see them you ask yourself: how come i never thought of this until now? This is brilliant.
Here is Pim's post, and please take the time to check it, her photos are beautiful and the post is explicit. Also check out the links she gives for pie crust recipes here, here, here and there, for step by step instructions with photos, you never know which recipe you'd actually like better.
I've read all of these links, some of them more than once, but in the end i went with the crust recipe i have from my friend Lili, as i made it so many times before, and we really like it.
The fillings were Nutella (what else ?!?!?!), cherry jam and the last of my homemade plum jam. I think it took us only about 2-3 hours to finish them, and they were just perfect with a glass of cold milk on the side. We were all kids again, happy, happy ones, and tonight is once more time for some sweet pop-tarts induced happiness. Got milk?

Pie crust

2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 sticks very cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
7 tablespoons ice water + 3 tablespoons vinegar

I use two knives and my hands to mix the ingredients, I don’t like the food processor and I don’t have a pastry cutter.
In a bowl put the flour, salt, sugar and the butter and cut the butter into the flour using the both knives. Mix them only until the mixture is grainy and coarse. Pour slowly the water-vinegar mix and mix with your hands or a spatula until the dough comes together. If needed, add up to 3 tablespoons more ice water, one at a time. DO NOT OVERMIX.
Cut the dough in two, shape them into disks, wrap them in plastic and put them in the fridge for at least an hour.

Flour your work surface very well and roll the dough until about 1/8" thick. Cut the dough in 4x6(8) rectangles. Spread a tablespoon of your favorite filling on one half of each rectangle, leaving about 2/3" on each side, then fold the other half over. Press the edges to close the tart (you can use water to brush the edges if they don’t stick well). Use a fork to press the sides of the tart to make a pattern. Trim off the edges (if you want to), then brush the pockets with eggwash, sprinkle some raw sugar and cut a few vents on top.
Place the tarts on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and put them back in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
Bake at 400F (~200C) for about 15-20 minutes, until the pop tarts are nicely golden and not too brown around the edges.


Placintelele de azi le-am facut tot inainte de postul Craciunului, dar nu am apucat sa le postez pana acum, si pentru ca mandruta mea m-a rugat sa le facem din nou diseara, m-am gandit ca e timpul sa le postez.
Am gasit ideea asta minunata pe blogul lui Pim, si m-a cucerit imediat. (Si abatandu-ma de la subiect - blogul lui Pim e unul dintre primele pe care le-am descoperit pe net in urma cu vreo 2 ani. Nu pot sa spun cat de "vrajita" am fost si cat timp am petrecut de atunci citind fiecare post de nenumarate ori, mergand pe toate linkurile catre alte bloguri postate de ea si incepand sa le salvez ca favorite cu zecile. Si asa m-am "imbolnavit" definitiv. Nu pot sa spun ce mult m-am bucurat sa descopar ca asta e pasiunea si chemarea mea. Si desi inca imi lipseste experienta, cunostintele, talentul scrisului sau al fotografiei, si curajul de a renunta la slujba mea de acum ca sa o iau de la inceput in lumea culinara, sunt bucuroasa ca traiesc acest vis in fiecare zi. Si desi nivelul este inca mult sub cel al persoanelor care ma inspira si ale caror bloguri le admir, ei ma imping si ma ajuta in fiecare pas, fara macar sa stie ca exist.)
Inapoi la subiectul postului de azi - am cumparat "placintelele" astea pentru Clara inainte (le pui in prajitorul de paine si gata), pentru ca i-a vazut pe colegii ei mancand asa ceva, le faceau reclama la Tv si a vrut sa vada ce gust au. Si desi ma roaga din cand in cand sa ii mai iau o cutie, nu le-am mai cumparat niciodata de cand am gustat una din prima / ultima cutie. Sa spun ca nu sunt sanatoase si gretos de dulci ar fi mult prea putin, dar copiilor de aici le plac mult. Nu vreau sa fac pe lupul moralist, probabil ca daca as fi mancat una cand eram de varsta Clarei le-as fi placut si eu, fara sa ma gandesc ca acum ce inghit de fapt.
De asta am fost bucuroasa cand am gasit postul lui Pim. Nu e nimic complicat ( daca nu te apuca panica gandindu-te ca trebuie sa faci aluat de placinta), si cand le vezi te intrebi cum de nu m-am gandit la asta pana acum? Pentru ca sunt absolut minunate.
Aici este postul lui Pim, cu fotografii si pasi explicati pe larg. Si puteti intra pe linkurile puse de ea pentru aluatul de placinta, aici, aici, aici si aici, pentru retete cu instructiuni detaliate cu poze, nu stii care reteta o sa va placa mai mult.
Am citit toate linkurile de mai sus, unele din ele chiar de mai multe ori, dar pana la urma am urmat reteta pe care o folosesc de vreo 3 ani, de la prietena mea Lili, pentru ca sunt sigura de rezultate si ne place cum iese.
Umplutura a fost Nutella ( se poate altfel ?!?!?), gem de cirese si ultimele linguri din gemul meu de prune. Cred ca ne-a luat numai vreo 2-3 ore sa le terminam, si au fost perfecte cu un pahar de lapte rece langa. Ne-am simtit cu totii copii iarasi, foarte foarte veseli, asa ca diseara e din nou timpul pentru niste "placintele". Bineinteles cu lapte :)).

Aluat de placinta

325 g faina
o lingurita sare
o lingura zahar
225 g unt nesarat, foaret rece, taiat in cuburi
7 linguri de apa foarte rece + 3 linguri otet

Eu amestec aluatul folosindu-ma de doua cutite si cu mainile, nu imi place cum iese la robot / mixer si nu am un cutit din ala de patiserie pentru aluat.
Se pun intr-un bol faina, zaharul, sarea si untul, si se amesteca taind untul in faina cu ajutorul cutitelor ( sau daca aveti maini mai reci, cu mana). Se amesteca numai cat sa arate ca niste firimituri mai mari. Se toarna treptat lichdiul (apa + otetul) si se amesteca pana aluatul se aduna intr-o minge mare. Daca aluatul e prea uscat, puteti adauga pana la 3 linguri de apa rece in plus. NU SE AMESTECA MAI MULT.
Se imparte aluatul in doua bucati, se inveleste fiecare in folie de plastic si se pune la frigider cel putin o ora.
Se presara faina din belsug pe suprafata de lucru si se intinde aluatul pana are grosimea de 3-4 mm. Se taie aluatul in dreptunghiuri de 8(10) x 16 (20) cm. Se pune o lingura din umplutura preferata pe una din jumatatile fiecarui dreptunghi, lasand liber cam 2 cm pe fiecare margine, apoi se acopera cu jumatatea cealalta. Se apasa marginile si se formeaza un pachetel. Daca marginile nu se lipesc, ungeti cu putina apa si le apasati din nou. Cu ajutorul unei furculite se face un model de jur imprejur. Se niveleaza marginile ( daca vreti), se ung pachetele cu ou, se presara cu zahar neprocesat (brun) si se taie cateva deschizaturi in partea de deasupra.
Se pun tartele pe o tava tapetata cu hartie de copt si se pun la frigider 15 minute.
Se coc la 400F (~200C) timp de 15-20 minute, pana cand se auresc. Se verifica dupa 15 minute pentru ca marginile sa ard foarte usor.

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