Mushroom Goat Cheese Tart

I’m excited to share an original recipe! Well I’m sure a savory vegetable and chicken tart is not really that original, but I did create this without following any recipes and had fun in the kitchen! IMG_2202I went a little overboard at the grocery store when mushrooms were on sale and I needed to figure out what to do with 16 oz of white mushrooms… if you don’t like mushrooms, that’s totally okay- this recipe is versatile and you can put almost any of your favorite combination of toppings on a puff pastry sheet and you’ll get a delicious savory tart!  IMG_2199For this tart I used…

  • about 10 oz mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 teaspoons of crumbled goat cheese (my fridge is constantly stocked with Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 cup of diced grilled chicken breast
  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, prepare as directed on package
  • 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

Tools you will need:

  • pastry brush
  • measuring cup
  • measuring spoons
  • small pan
  • fork
  • cookie sheet
  • parchment paper or a silicone mat

IMG_2180Pre-heat your oven to 400ºF.

Start by lightly cooking the chopped mushrooms in a pan with a little bit of olive oil at medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook until mushrooms are soft, about 3-4 minutes.

Remove from heat and let it cool while you prep the pastry sheet. IMG_2182Gently roll out the thawed pastry sheet on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper.

Fold in each side about 1/2 inch in to give it a border. If you want to get fancy, you can press the tines into the edges to create a pattern. Totally optional! IMG_2184This next part is not optional, but really important for the puff pastry to not puff up in the middle. Take the fork and poke holes evenly through the center. IMG_2187Now take the cooked mushrooms and spread it evenly on the pastry sheet. IMG_2188For the next part, if you have ever built your own pizza this is not that different. Pile on other toppings in whatever pattern you want to create.

I laid down strips of bell pepper in alternating colors over the mushrooms and sprinkled spoons of crumbled goat cheese and spread the grill chicken pieces over the whole thing.IMG_2191For the final touch, dip a pastry brush into the egg and cover the edges with a light egg wash. IMG_2192IMG_2194The puff pastry box said to bake this for 20-22 minutes, but I needed to bake it for a total of 30 minutes until the edges looked golden brown and the goat cheese had a slightly toasted tinge to ensure that the whole tart was fully baked. IMG_2200Let the tart cool for about 10 minutes and cut with a knife or a pizza cutter. Serve warm with a nice side salad. IMG_2203The puff pastry was flaky and crispy along the edges and the creamy goat cheese balanced out the sweet bell peppers and the umami of the mushrooms. As a meal entree, the chicken definitely helped give it some more fullness.

I always have a pastry sheets stored in the freeze just in case I want to whip up another tart!

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Spam Musubi

Yup that’s right…SPAM. Mystery meat in a can.

Before you make a face and turn up your nose, if you’ve never tried spam musubi- you need to try this! Spam musubi is the ultimate Hawaiian snack- it’s delicious, filling, cheap, and easy to make. 2015-04-18 22.25.15In this post, I will actually be showing you two assembling methods- using a musubi mold OR if you don’t have one-do not despair-you can use the original Spam can!

I actually did not follow a single recipe, but just to make sure I did not go in blind I reviewed Momfuku’s Spam Musubi recipe and Eating Richly’s recipe – both give you the basics and also shows you how Spam musubi can vary! There’s tons of recipes out there you can follow.

Pre-recipe step: make the rice! I used premium grade sushi rice. Sushi rice is moist, sticky, and slightly sweet and can be bought at most large chain grocery stores. But if you don’t have sushi rice, not a big deal, you can use regular rice too. I’ve actually used brown rice (for a “healthy” version) and it was fine, except it’s not as sticky, so the rice may fall out.

Prepare 2 cups of cooked rice according the instructions on the bag.

2015-04-18 22.32.32This recipe makes 8 servings.

You will need:

  • 1 can of spam (they have turkey, low sodium, teriyaki, etc.)
  • 2 cups of sushi rice
  • 4 large sheets of nori, cut in half (sushi seaweed you can get at Japanese/Asian grocery stores)
  • sweet soy sauce (optional)
  • a musubi mold OR save the spam can!!
  • saran wrap
  • small bowl of water

Slide the spam out of the can, cut in half and then cut those halves evenly, and cut them in half again. You should have 8 even slices. Spam from the can is not very pretty to look at, but I promise it will look more appetizing later.
2015-04-18 22.27.20Heat up a wide non-stick pan at medium heat. DO NOT put oil in the pan- it’s not necessary since there is fat in the spam. Place the spam slices in and cook on each side until it’s caramelized and a little crispy. If you want extra flavor, you can add some sweet soy sauce on the top before flipping it over. Wait until the sauce is bubbly and has thickened. 

2015-04-18 22.30.12Now we are ready to assemble! Here is my assembly station already to go (except for the wine!).  

2015-04-18 22.41.50First I’ll show you guys how to make the musubi with just the can! Wash the grease from the can and line it with saran wrap. Fill about 1/4 of the can with sushi rice. Pack it in with a spoon, make sure the rice is super-squished in. 

2015-04-18 22.43.16Lay a spam slice on top of the rice layer and fill up the rest of the space with more rice. Wrap up the saran wrap and gently pull it all out. Take the “naked” musubi and place it on top of half sheet of nori (shiny side down) and roll it up! 

2015-04-18 22.43.41While I think the can mold is a brilliant way to do it if you cannot get your hands on a mold. I really do recommend getting one though. You can get it online and I bought this one from the local Japanese grocery store for $3 and it was the best $3 spent!! Made a huge difference in neatness and speed of making them.  

2015-05-17 22.44.23With a mold, you want to set it on top of the nori sheet, slight off center. Again fill it will a little bit of rice. Use the little handle to press the rice layer down flat. 

2015-05-17 22.53.58Place a slice of spam on top, press it down with the mold so it “melds” to the rice better. 

2015-05-17 22.54.26Rice layer #2 and press again. Pushing down on the handle, lift the mold up….

2015-05-17 22.55.32It’s it perfect? Now tightly wrap the nori around it. Dip your finger in a small bowl of water and spread it across the edge of the nori to help it stick and seal close.  2015-05-17 22.55.51As much as I hate waiting to devour these, I’d advise to leave them for about 15 minutes so the nori soaks some moisture from the rice and spam and softens or else your nori will be crunchy and may rip and fall apart when you bite into it.

2015-05-17 23.01.03I like to wrap the musubis in saran wrap so the rice does not dry out and it makes  a really awesome grab-n-go lunch/snack! The musubis should be eaten within a day or two. You should fridge them after a day since it is meat,  but know that if you do -the rice can harden. You can microwave them too- they are really best when warm.

2015-04-18 23.14.56

On nom nom nom. Hope you like it!
2015-05-17 23.13.54

Basic Zucchini Pancake

My mom calls this an “Italian Pancake” – I have no idea what makes it Italian (Google ‘Italian pancake’ and this does not come up)! But with this super easy, über-basic recipe you can definitely give it whatever cultural spin you want. This savory pancake is similar to vegetable fritters (less crispy and oily) or Korean zucchini pancakes called Hobak Buchim. When my mom made this years ago, I was blown away and asked her for the recipe. As a true home cook, she never used precise measurements but attempted to give me some guidance:

You’ll need:

  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 eggs
  • chopped deli ham (optionally of course)
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup of water (or broth for extra flavor!)
  • a large shallow pan
  • large spoon or small soup ladle
  • spatula
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

Makes about 2-3 pancakes about 6″ in diameter

Start off by washing, peeling and grating the zucchini with a medium cheese grater- you don’t want it to be too fine or else it starts getting mushy.

Combine the flour, eggs, broth or water in a large bowl then add your vegetable or meat ingredients last. Make sure it is well mixed and the zucchini is coated with the batter.

2014-03-31 18.50.18Heat the pan to medium and add the oil, wait until the pan is nice and warm-hot and drop about 3/4 cup of the mixture into the pan and cook like you would a breakfast pancake.

2014-03-31 18.32.26When you start seen bits of golden brown (after about 5-6 minutes) you can flip the pancake over and cook for about another 5-6 minutes.

2014-03-31 18.36.19These pancakes are delicious and best served piping hot. You can eat it by itself or get creative and eat it like a crepe! Below I made zucchini pancakes and added ham afterwards for a quick lunch!

2014-03-31 18.54.58You can go crazy with the recipe and substitute or add other vegetables or experiment with different types of squash. I would, however, avoid vegetables that have a high water content, cheese, or extra sauces so the pancake does not get soggy. Some ideas for additions:

  • bell peppers
  • jalapeños (for a KICK!)
  • mushrooms
  • fresh herbs
  • thinly sliced onions
  • sun-dried tomato slices
  • artichoke
  • julienned carrots
  • spinach
  • hashbrowns (!!)

Note: if you do decide to add much more ingredients then you may need to adjust the batter to make sure its well proportioned.

2014-03-31 18.51.06Thanks ma!