Ally


Have you guys started your spring gardens yet? I just planted most of mine Sunday. This year Mr.S and I are being a bit more selective regarding what we stick in our dirt box. Last year we went all empire and planted tons of tomatoes and loads of peppers...they came in like gangbusters but we're not huge fans of either and ended up feeling overwhelmed. I made some of the tomatoes into sauce but ended up giving most of them away. This year we're doing ONE tomato plant (Roma), some Japanese eggplant, two different kinds of beets, chard, purple tomatillos, Parisian carrots, leeks and garlic. I'll probably add another veggie or two once this week of rain is over. And of course, we'll have a herb garden again- rosemary, thyme, oregano, dill, mint and a few different kinds of basil. I go through fresh herbs like crazy in the summer.

  
In the meantime, I'm enjoying this belated rainy weather. It's the perfect opportunity to eat some hearty soups, like this rich Mushroom-Barley Soup that I made for a recent soup swap:

 
Mushroom-Barley Soup
(adapted from Saveur's Mushroom Barley Soup, Sept 2012)
 
Ingredients
 
1 oz. dried assorted mushrooms (I used porcinis, shiitakes, morels and oyster mushrooms)
1/4 cup olive oil
8-10 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large carrots, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
a handful of sliced greens like chard or beet greens (optional)
1 lb. crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sherry
8 cups beef broth
1/2 cup pearl barley
1 Parmesan rind
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground celery seed
2 teaspoons Maggi seasoning
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons of Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
 
(Note: Worcestershire sauce is not vegetarian- Worcestershire sauce has anchovy in it.)
 
Instructions
 
1. Placed dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with 1 cup of boiling water. Let it sit, covered with a plate for about a half hour. Then using a slotted spoon, remove the mushrooms. Pour the liquid through a fine strainer into another bowl, leaving the last tidbit with the sediment in the bowl. Set the strained liquid aside.
 
2. Finely chop the rehydrated mushrooms and set the aside.
 
3. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add your garlic, carrots, celery and onion. Sauté for about 5 minutes. (You can throw in some greens at this point if you wish.) Add the chopped rehydrated mushrooms and sliced crimini mushrooms - cook, stirring frequently for about 15 minutes.
 
4. Add sherry and cook until it evaporates (about 2 minutes). Mix in your reserved mushroom liquid, beef stock, pearl barley, Parmesan rind, thyme, ground celery seed, Maggi seasoning and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender. About 30-40 minutes. Remove Parmesan rind remains (it's edible so don't toss it), add lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
 
5. This soup freezes well.

Ally


Sometimes it's nice to get out of town, even if it's just for the day. A change of scenery, cooler weather and a bit of adventure is often just what you need to break out of a rut. This past Saturday, my friend Amanda and I took a mini-trip to San Francisco. Not much was on our agenda- just the desire to putter around, get some fresh air and grab a delicious lunch.

Pulling into town, we hit up the Ferry Building to check out it's myriad of culinary goods and to take a peek at the farmers' market. The produce selection that day was about what it is in Sac, just twice the price. We did find two great mushroom stands though...one in the building and one in the farmers' market. Amanda bought these gorgeous pink (yes, pink!) Tree Oyster mushrooms.




I bought some morels, nameko mushrooms and fiddlehead ferns at the indoor stand. I'm still not quite sure what I'm going to use the nameko mushrooms for but I did whip up an amazing tart with the morels and fiddlehead ferns on Saturday afternoon. If you're unfamiliar with the two-- morels are a mushroom that have a spongy, honeycomb-like texture and a wonderfully complex, meaty taste. Mr. S loves them and looks forward to them every year. They have a very short season, you can usually purchase them for a week or two in the spring. Morels love to grow in forests near dead or decaying trees and also in areas that have been burnt by a wildfire.



Fiddleheads ferns are the tightly coiled fronds of a young Ostrich fern. They're called fiddleheads because they resemble the curled end of a violin or a fiddle. This wild edible can usually be found in the early spring. They're a bit elusive, so you most likely won't find them at your local supermarket but sometimes you can find them at the farmers' market, if you're lucky. Fiddleheads are a great source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, potassium, iron and fiber. They are green, crunchy and have a grassy, slightly bitter taste similar to asparagus.




Morel and Fiddlehead Fern Tart

Ingredients

1 frozen pie crust, defrosted (I like the ones at Trader Joe's)

1 tablespoon olive oil or cooking spray

10-12 fresh morels

10-12 fresh fiddlehead ferns (woody ends trimmed)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

8 oz. goat cheese, softened

2 eggs

1/4 cup Parmesan, grated

1/4 cup half and half

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

2 tablespoons chives, chopped

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper


Instructions

1.  Cut each morel in half lengthwise. Place morels in a large bowl of cold water. Swish around to loosen any dirt or critters. Soak for about 10-20 minutes, Lift the morels out and dump the water and debris. Gently pat the morels dry with paper towels. (Do your morel cleaning right before making your tart. Do not do it earlier as the morels can get soggy after being cleaned.)

2. Boil a pot of salted water. Blanch fiddleheads ferns for two to three  minutes. Remove and place in  a small bowl of ice cold water to shock the fiddleheads and stop the cooking process.

3. In a large pan, heat the butter. Sauté the morels and fiddleheads for about 5 minutes. Set aside.

4. Roll out pie crust. Spray 12" tart pan with cooking spray. Place pie crust in pan. Trim to fit. Poke a few holes in middle with fork to aerate. Par bake according to instructions. Remove from oven and let cool.

5. In a large bowl, beat together goat cheese, eggs, Parmesan, half and half, garlic, thyme, rosemary, chives, sea salt and fresh ground pepper. (I like to use my Kitchenaid mixer so that I can make sure the filling gets nice and smooth. You don't want any lumps.)

6. Spread evenly over pie crust. Place morels and fiddleheads ferns on top.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Stick a knife in the center and if it comes out clean, it's done.  Remove from oven. Can be served hot, warm or at room-temperature.

8. Can be kept in the fridge for 1-2 days and reheated.

Ally
I'm always swapping product recommendations with friends (and sometimes even strangers) and one brand often comes up in our conversation - Trader Joe's. Although, I'm not too big on their bread products (they tend to go bad quickly) and their produce (I prefer the farmers' market), I love a lot of their products. What are your favorites?

Here's a few of mine:


1. Fair Trade Organic Bolivian Blend Coffee - It's a medium roast with a mild nutty, caramel-like flavor. Both Mr. S and I like this coffee and have been buying it for a few years now. It's nice to have on hand for when we're out of coffee beans from Temple or Philz.


2. Parisian Carrots - I just started buying these recently. I keep a bag stowed in the freezer for the nights when I'm low on fresh produce and want something healthy and easy to roast. The short, squat carrots are the size of a radish...super cute and taste a bit on the sweet side.
3. Korean Scallion Pancakes (Pa jeon) - These are great for a snack or for a light dinner on nights when you're too wiped out to cook. The pancakes are egg-batter based and full of scallions, onions, leeks, carrots, and oyster mushrooms. They can be prepared in a pan on the stove or in the oven on a baking sheet. I like to cook mine in the oven and it just takes a few minutes on each side. I've even turned my parents onto these.



4. 10-Minute Farro and 10-Minute Barley - Both of these choices are cheap ($1.79, a bag!) and are great for making salads, risotto or soups with.



5. Candied Pecans - These are so versatile. I chop them up and use them in my wild rice salad, stuffings and baked goods. Don't get these confused with TJ's Sweet and Spicy Pecans though...which in my opinion taste pretty gross.



6. Canned Cannellini/White Kidney Beans - Great to have on hand for emergencies. I can grab a can or two from the cupboard and zap up some garlic-white bean dip for a potluck, BBQ or an unexpected guest.


7. Frozen Pie Crust - (Comes in sheets, 2 to a box.) Terrific for when I'm crunched on time and don't have any homemade crust on hand. Can be used for appetizers, pies, pot pies and tarts. This is probably the best pre-made pie crust brand I've tried, much better than the stuff sold at my other local grocery stores. It has a nice buttery taste that could pass as homemade.



8. Colossal Olives Hand Stuffed with Garlic Cloves - One of my favorite snacks and terrific in dirty martinis. During my last visit to TJ's, my checker told me if I like these I should check out the ones stuffed with jalapeno peppers, that they're equally as good. I'll let you know.
 


9. Organic Virgin Coconut Oil - A great moisturizer. I liquefy it then apply some on my legs before shaving. It makes your legs crazy-soft. (Be careful though, the oil makes the floor of your shower/tub pretty slick.)



10. Dark Chocolate Almonds with Sea Salt and Turbinado Sugar - Mr.S stocks up on these when PMS time rolls around. He knows how to keep me placated. ☺


11. Julienne Sliced Sun Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil - Mr.S uses these when he makes me my Sunday omelets. They really fancy up the omelet and taste much better then regular dehydrated tomatoes. (I use them in my mini frittatas too.)


Ally

The Pre-Flite Lounge, a beloved Sacramento drinking establishment since the early 70's is closing its doors. What started as a lounge where travelers could relax, have a cocktail and then take the shuttle to the airport evolved to becoming a favorite dive bar with local residents over the years. I know I for one will miss its kitschy décor, friendly cocktail waitress and wonderful jukebox...especially during the summer when it's cool, dark interior was a welcome respite from the valley heat.

Come by the Pre-Flite to wish it and its crew Bon Voyage.
Last night of business will be April 26th.

http://www.preflitelounge.com
Ally

 
If you've followed my blog for awhile, you probably know that I've been squawking for years that Sacramento needs another sushi place or brewery like I need a hole in my head. What I would love to see instead though is a restaurant dedicated to yakitori (known as a "yakitori-ya"). “Yaki” means grilled and “tori” means bird; however, nowadays the term yakitori is used interchangeably with the more formal kushiyaki (which means grilled poultry and non-poultry items). Yakitori is one of those dishes that is universally loved in Japan. You can often find it being sold by street vendors, at festivals and at izakayas. It consists of small bite-sized pieces of meat threaded onto a bamboo skewer, basted with tare (a glaze made with soy sauce, mirin, sake and sugar) then grilled over special Japanese hot coals called binchoutan and served with sake, beer or shochu. Well Santa's apparently coming early kiddos because a yakitori-ya is coming to the Valley- finally! It's not located quite in Sacramento, but in Davis rather...but hey, I'll take what I can get. ☺

The restaurant, Yakitori Yuchan is still in the midst of obtaining permits. Construction should be starting soon and it will be taking over the space formerly occupied by a Beach Hut Deli at 109 E Street. I can't wait! Hopefully they'll carry my favorite yakitori - rebā  and kawa.

Here's a Crash Course on Some Common Types of Yakitori/Kushiyaki:

Momo (chicken thigh)
Negima (chicken and negi- a type of leek)
Tebasaki (chicken wings)
Sunagimo (chicken gizzard)
Rebā (chicken liver)
Nankotsu (chicken cartilage)
Shiro (chicken small intestine)
Tsukune (chicken meatballs with cartilage mixed in)
Bonjiri (chicken tail)
Tori kawa (crispy chicken skin)
Hāto / Hatsu  (chicken heart)
Tori niku (all white meat chicken)
Seseri (chicken neck)
Mune (chicken breast meat)
Hatsumoto (chicken aorta)
Mame (chicken spleen)
Sasami (chicken tenderloin)
Hiza nan-kotsu (chicken knee cartilage)

Gyūtan (beef tongue)
Butabara (pork belly)
Kashira (pork cheeks)
Atsuage tofu (thick, deep-fried tofu)
Shiratama (quail egg)

Shishito- (small Japanese pepper)
Ninniku (garlic)
Ikada (grilled scallion)
Shiitake (shiitake mushroom, sometimes sprinkled with bonito flakes)
Ally
 
1226 20th Street, Sacramento, CA 95811. (916) 447-3300
 
Lately, Midtown seems to resemble a revolving door of eating establishments shutting down and opening up. There's been a lot of turnover and not everything that has hung up an "Open" sign has been worth checking out. However, if there's one place you should scribble onto your list of worthwhile places to explore -it's Plan B Café. Plan B Café is the casual, hip little sister to the slightly more sophisticated Plan B Restaurant located in the Arden suburbs. The cozy café took the place of the now defunct Capitol Dawg on 20th and Capitol, just around the corner from Jack's. If my lunch on Friday was any indication, Plan B Café is poised to become the next Midtown superstar.

I've always felt a great dining experience can mainly be gauged by three things- a relaxing atmosphere, friendly and efficient service and delicious food. When my friend Misa and I stopped in on Friday, Plan B Café delivered strong on all three counts. The owners of the new bistro have really spruced the place up. Don't let the partial tent-like exterior fool you. The inside is decorated in a tasteful, contemporary manner with several booths and the netted "tent" portion of the building allows you to recharge with some fresh air during your lunch break. Kind of like al fresco dining minus the bothersome flies and mosquitoes. Each table is outfitted with a small tabletop tablet computer for ordering. The tablet called "Presto," lists all of the dishes on the menu complete with photographs (even the soup du jour). You sign in and place your order for foods and drinks. It's quite easy to use but if you have any difficulty there's plenty of staff available to assist you. You can put your entire food order in at one time if you want all of your order at once or you can stagger your meal by entering each course separately in whatever manner you desire. There's also games for the kidlets (and grown-ups) to play on Presto while waiting for meals to arrive and bill paying is a snap. You can even split your bill in half or by individual items with the touch of the screen. Presto also accepts your plastic, just swipe your card along the top and it processed the payment for you. Receipts can be printed and brought to you or emailed to an address of your choice. If you're paying cash, there's a button to inform your server. My first inclination was to think Presto was going to be tacky or gimmicky but it turned out to be a fun, easy-to-use experience. I loved the convenience of having everything at my fingertips and not having to worry about flagging down a server each time we needed something or when were ready to go. Closing out was effortless.
 
 
The café choosing to utilize Presto did not take away from a personable dining experience. There was still plenty of interaction with the staff. The Plan B Café staff was friendly and stopped by our table often to chat, inquire if we needed anything, clear empty plates and ask how we liked our dishes. Each person we encountered during our visit was gracious and seemed to care about providing terrific customer service. Our waiter, Jason was wonderful. Within seconds of being seated, he greeted us like old friends and made sure we were comfortable and wanted for naught during our service. I don't think there was a single time that we spoke to Jason that he didn't have a smile on his face.

Now for the food...Misa had visited the original Plan B restaurant several times and had warned me that the food was delectable. Well, the café version didn't disappoint. Everything we tasted was amazing.  We took quite awhile to peruse the menu since everything on it sounded delish. The asparagus and the French onion soups sounded divine, as did the duck confit, the bourguignon sandwich (made with short ribs, horseradish and crème fraîche) and the fresh savory tartlettes. I was salivating just looking over the menu. Finally, Misa and I both settled on the house favorite- the steamed mussels. She assured me she had had them before and they were sublime. There were six different broth options available for the mussels, Misa went with the nantaise (butter, shallots and crème fraîche). She joked that it was so good that she wanted to drink the broth. Our waiter, always on task, offered to bring her a straw. I went with the coconut mussels (the broth consisted of coconut milk, chile, garlic, cilantro and jalapeno slices). It was exquisite. The broth was fragrant and tasted like liquid gold. It consisted of a subtle sweetness with a spicy finish, I just couldn't get enough of it. Once I ate all my mussels, I dunked some of the Acme baguette we ordered into the flavorful broth, sopping up its magical goodness. We had also ordered two sides to share- a roasted cauliflower gratin and some ratatouille. Both were noteworthy. The roasted cauliflower gratin was rich and creamy and intensely satisfying. I felt it needed a touch of salt though to make it perfect, it was a smidge underseasoned. The ratatouille was prepared well, the colorful tiny squares of vegetables tasted bright, slightly tangy, and were a nice complement to the heavy gratin. Next time, I may have to have a plate of their pomme frites which Misa swears are a must order. Although we didn't indulge in any cocktails during our lunchtime visit, it's my understanding that Plan B has a full liquor license.
 

 
 
 
Plan B Café may be a newcomer to the Grid but I think it's destined to quickly become a neighborhood gem. Although it's a French restaurant, there's nothing pretentious about the place. The food is on point and the staff is knowledgeable and customer-oriented. I definitely plan on visiting again soon. In fact, I think this might be the a great place to go for my next date night with Mr.S. He's sure to love it!
Ally

No matter how much  you try to focus on having a positive attitude, there will be some days when everything will seem to irritate you and you'll feel like pulling your hair out. For me most recently it was when my neighbor across the courtyard decided to practice his guitar solo with the amp cranked up at 1 am in the morning (yet again!). I got no sleep as it resonated throughout my cottage, all the way back to my bedroom. Not only was the guitar playing loud but it sounded awful- like feral cats having a Battle Royale outside.

So the next day, I was exhausted and cranky but I had promised to make Mr.S and Kidlet #1 dinner. I mulled over what to make and settled on lentils. (Kidlet #1 is in training for mountain biking and Mr.S is focused on eating more protein lately, so I thought it'd be a good choice.) One of my favorite slow cooker recipes to make during the winter is my Crockpot Chorizo and Lentil dish but sometimes I just don't have the time to wait 5-6 hours for dinner to cook. A great fall back is this rich and hearty (but low in fat), vegetarian Red Curry Lentils recipe. No pre-soaking of lentils required and it utilizes coconut milk and Soyrizo, perfect if you have vegetarian friends coming over for dinner or are just looking to cut back on your meat consumption. Now before you go, "Ugh! Soyrizo ?!" Give it a chance. My friend Christina recommended it to me a few years ago and I was suspicious, but Soyrizo actually turned out to be pretty good tasting. (Tip: You can buy it for cheap at Trader Joe's.)

Spicy Red Curry Lentils

Ingredients

12 oz. Soyrizo
1 medium onion, diced
4-5 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 1/2 cups lentils (green or brown)
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1/2 tablespoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar (optional)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
couple of shakes of your favorite hot sauce (I used Cholula)
a few dashes of paprika
1/4 to 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (depending on how hot you like it)
1 (14 oz.) can of diced tomatoes or unsweetened tomato sauce
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

1. In a large pan, heat up your butter over med-high heat. Sauté your Soyrizo, diced onion and garlic. Set aside.

2. Rinse and pick over your lentils. In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook your lentils per package instructions. When done, add back in your Soyrizo, garlic and onions.

3. Add in red curry paste, garam masala, coriander, curry powder, brown sugar, turmeric, minced ginger, hot sauce, paprika and cayenne pepper.

4. Cook for 2-4 minutes.

5. Add in diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Cook for 1-2 minutes more, mixing so that the ingredients blend well. Add in the coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper. Mix. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook thoroughly for 20-25 minutes, stirring periodically.

6. Garnish with green onions, Thai basil or a dollop of Greek yogurt. Serve over jasmine or basmati rice. The dish goes equally well with garlic naan.

7. Leftovers can be frozen.

☺ TIP: If the end product turns out to be a bit too spicy for you, you can adjust the heat by adding extra coconut milk.

Ally

It's Sacramento Beer Week folks! If you can't get out to one of the myriad of activities going on around town, that's ok- you can still celebrate at home. Pick up a 6-pack or a growler of your favorite local brew and make a beer-based recipe. I made a big batch of delicious Chile Colorado recently and it went over like gangbusters with Mr.S and the kidlets. The Chile Colorado recipe was acquired from my friend Cary Miller, he's brought this magical concoction to some of our potlucks and I've always found myself going back for a second helping- it's that good! You can use any kind of light beer you want. I just happened to have some Blue Moon leftover so I used that (I actually threw in a bit more than 1 bottle--shhh!). Next time I might try and use one of my favorite beers from Berryessa or Track 7. The recipe is a bit labor intensive so make a big batch- you won't regret it. We got a couple of meals out of ours. The kidlets especially loved it over rice but you can use it in tacos, burritos or eat with eggs for breakfast.

(Art Source: Heather Calderon)


Cary's Chile Colorado (recipe reprinted with permission)

Ingredients
  • 8 New Mexico Chiles  (dried)
  • One bottle of beer  (what's your poison?)
  • 8 pounds of beef  (Boneless Beef Chuck Roast. Preferably already cut into cubes.)
  • One large yellow onion
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 3 cloves of garlic  (finely minced)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 
1. Bring three cups of water to a boil. Place your dried chiles in the boiling water, cover, and turn off the heat. Let sit for 20 minutes, or until the chiles are reconstituted.
 
2. In the mean time, dice up your large yellow onion, and sauté it in a pan with 1 Tbs butter. Cook until it starts to caramelize, then set aside.
 
3. If the meat isn't already cut into cubes, do so now. You will want roughly 1.5" cubes, depending on your preference. Put 1 Tbs butter in a large stock pot, turn your heat to medium, and sear all of your cubed meat, preferably in small batches, so that all sides of beef are seared.
 
4. When you are done searing in batches, place all of the beef back in the stockpot.
 
5. Add the sautéed onions, one bottle of beer (whatever you like... I prefer something kind of light for this recipe) three cloves of garlic (minced,) and salt and pepper to the stockpot as well. Let the stock pot sit without heat while you prepare the New Mexico chiles.
 
6. Put your re-constituted chiles on a cutting board (setting aside the water they were cooked in) and cut their tops off, then slice them open and remove all of the seeds (it's easiest to do this under running water.)
 
7. Place all of the chiles in a blender and add whatever is left of the three cups of water that you boiled. Blend until pureed. Get it as smooth as you can. Then filter through a mesh, or something similar, to get rid of any stringy pieces of skin, etc.
 
8. Pour the chile sauce you've just created into the stock pot, and mix everything around really good. If needed, add a bit of water (or more beer!) to just cover the beef with liquid. Bring the entire mixture to a boil, over medium heat, and then set the temp to low and slow-cook, without a lid, for three hours or so.
 
9. If the liquid gets too far below the meat you can always add more liquid (water, beef broth, beer,) but it will generally stay pretty wet in the pot if you cook it on a nice, low temperature.
 
10. Stir the pot once ever 30 minutes or so. Chile Colorado is done when you can easily break the meat apart with a fork -- remember, we want Melt In Your Mouth Goodness!!
 
Ally


"You can't just eat good food. You've got to talk about it too. And you've got to talk about it to somebody who understands that kind of food.”  - Kurt Vonnegut, "Jailbird"

I love going out to dine with friends but equally fun in my book is attending a potluck, a dinner at a friend's home or just getting together for a cooking night. I've always felt lucky that I have so many friends that enjoy talking about food and cooking as much as I do. Mr.S. is great about indulging my endless chatter about articles I've read in Saveur or my intent search for a hard to find ingredient; however, nothing beats getting together with my amigos and shooting the breeze about new recipes, techniques and restaurants over a table full of good grub and a few glasses of primo vino.  This month was especially full of fun food-centric activities. I attended a tamale making party at my friend Amanda's where we made Mississippi Delta Hot Tamales. I had never made tamales from scratch before so I found the event fascinating and not quite as daunting of a task as I thought it would be.


I also attended a soup swap at my friend Sarah's (of Undercover Caterer). Yes, I know National Soup Swap Day was back in January but with the erratic weather Sacramento has been having, holding the soup swap this weekend made perfect sense. As a result, I now have a freezer full of some fantastic soups to dive into during the upcoming week of inclement weather (Michelle's pasta fagioli, Sarah's $800 chili, Lacy's hot and sour, Ellen's red lentil-coconut curry and my mushroom barley). Can't wait!


Have you done any fun food-centric parties or activities with your friends? Anything unusual or that you particularly enjoyed? I'd love to hear about it!

Below is a recipe for a goat cheese and apple tart I threw together to take to the soup swap. It's super easy to make and if you want to save even more time you can use a ready-made pie crust (Trader Joe's makes a great one that tastes almost homemade). The best part is that if you're lactose-intolerant this creamy filling won't bother your stomach.



Goat Cheese and Apple Tart

Ingredients

1 pie crust (your favorite recipe or store-bought)
2 Fuji apples, cored then thinly sliced
1.5 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons lavender honey (regular honey works just as well)
1.5 tablespoons cinnamon
8 oz. goat cheese, softened
1/2 cup coconut milk creamer (So Delicious makes a good one and is available at most grocery stores in the Natural Foods section or where the coffee creamers are)
1 large egg
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

2. Press your dough into your tart pan. Cook as directed in your recipe. (Mine requires 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes.) Usually halfway through I check in on the pie crust and if it's puffing up, I give it a couple of stabs with a fork to aerate it.

3. While the crust is baking, you want to prep your apples. The easiest way to do this is to use an apple corer, like this:


Push it down, remove the core and then slice each wedge into thin slices. Place in a bowl, sprinkle with lemon juice. Toss. Set aside.

4. In a large mixing bowl, combine goat cheese, coconut milk creamer, egg, sugar and vanilla. (I used my mixer so that I could get it nice and smooth- you don't want any chunks.)

5. Pour the goat cheese mixture into the crust. Smooth it out in the tart pan so that it's spread evenly. Arrange your apple slices on top of the goat cheese.

6. Sprinkle with cinnamon then drizzle with honey.

7. Place tart back in the oven and bake at 450 degrees for another 15-20 minutes.

8. Remove tart from oven and allow to cool. Serve. Leftovers can be kept in the fridge.