Roasted Sweet Potato Poblano Salad

As someone who ordinarily detests MBA students, or at the very least, Yale MBA students, I was very happy when their building relocated from right next to our political science department to about 5-7 minutes away. Two weeks ago, my friends and I were even more pleased to discover that the Yale School of Management cafeteria was having its trial week, where it was handing out different kinds of food – for free! Being conditioned to seek out free food as graduate students, we headed there for lunch all week until the free food week was, alas, over. One of my favorite things that I had there was this sweet potato and poblano salad – this salad single-handedly changed my opinion about sweet potatoes. When combined with fresh, roasted ingredients that pack a ton of flavor, this salad by itself seemed like a meal and I couldn’t wait to replicate it at home. I finally got around to doing so this weekend, but I made a slight modification to the meal we had – to make it have more protein and be more hearty, I replaced the roasted red peppers with some black beans. I also crushed some baked tortilla chips on top of the final salad to give it some texture and crunch. If you’re a big fan of roasted red peppers, you can go ahead and add those as well. My main suggestion while preparing this dish would be to use the freshest ingredients possible – fresh peppers and fresh corn that you roast at home, as it really enhances the flavor, instead of giving a bland or salty flavor that might come with bottled or frozen ingredients.

Roasted Sweet Potato Poblano Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 large poblano peppers
  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin (I used 3 because I love a little extra)
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 14 ounces of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 corn cobs
  • 1 diced red onion
  • 3-4 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Salt (to season)
  • Paprika (to season)
  • Baked tortilla chips (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler to high.  Line the baking sheet with foil.  Spray peppers with non-stick spray. Place on baking sheet 4 inches below broiler.  Roast peppers until skins are blistered and black, about 15 minutes on one side and 5 minutes on the other side.  Remove peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to cool. Alternatively, store the peppers in a paper bag and let them cool.
  2. Cut sweet potatoes into 3/4 inch cubes and boil them for 10-15 minutes
  3. Set oven to bake at 375 degrees F.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine sweet potatoes, onions, olive oil, cumin, salt and half of the cilantro.  Mix well.  Spread sweet potatoes onto baking sheet; roast in oven until tender, about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  5. Now, roast your corn. You can choose to do it whichever way you are familiar with – I just put the entire cob with the husks in the oven for about 20-30 minute or until about the corn is soft and you can smell it. You can also choose to grill it. Once the corn is roasted, wait for it to cool.
  6. Meanwhile, peel peppers, cut off their stems and remove seeds. Since the seeds of poblano peppers are extremely spicy, the level of heat you want in this dish should correlate with how careful you are in ensuring whether you want any seeds in your seeds.  Cut flesh into 1/2 inch squares.
  7. Remove sweet potatoes from oven, set aside until cool, about 10-20 minutes.
  8. Take the cooled corn cobs and remove the husks. Now remove the corn from the cob and toss it with some salt, lemon juice and paprika.
  9. In a bowl, combine roasted sweet potatoes, roasted onions, roasted poblano peppers, beans, the seasoned corn, lime juice, and remaining cilantro and season it with salt.  Toss gently.  Serve cold. Sprinkle some baked tortilla chips in case you desire some crunchy texture. Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate and Sea Salt Sables

Having had a really busy summer, I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus from this blog. One of the things that makes a busy summer easier is food that does not take much time to cook, and I was fortunate to discover some pre-made cookie dough that I had made earlier this summer in my freezer! After having lugged my furniture and belongings down three flights of stairs as I moved apartments this summer, these cookies, among others, turned out to be perfect 10 minute desserts that I literally had to take out of the freezer and bake – both to reinvigorate me and whichever friends were helping!

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Sables

With a hint of sea salt, these dark chocolate sables are a light and delicate dessert, perfect for both an after-dinner snack or a pick-me-up during dreary afternoons. Like all cookie dough, I stored this one in the freezer in the form of two logs, making it really easy to bake a few at a time, so that you always have soft, warm cookies straight from the oven. In case the dough is too hard, defrost it for 10 minutes, which should make it much easier to cut away cookies of the desired thickness.

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup Dutched cocoa powder (ordinary cocoa powder will do if you do not have it)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking sod
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt + extra to sprinkle on top of cookie
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, grated or finely chopped until almost powdery (I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar)

Directions

  1. Sift together the flour, cocoa and baking soda together into a bowl and set aside.
  2. Cream butter, sugar and salt together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla, beating until combined, then scraping down sides. Add dry ingredients and grated chocolate together and mix until just combined.
  3. Scrape dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, wrap it up and chill it in the fridge until just firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. No need to get it fully hard, or it will be harder to roll out.
  4. Heat oven to 350 degrees. On a floured surface, roll dough gently — it will still be on the crumbly side, so only attempt to flatten it slightly with each roll — until it is  1/4-inch thick. Cut into desired shapes and space them an inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle some extra sea salt on top of cookie. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (for thinner cookies) or 10 to 12 minutes (for thicker ones). Leave cookies on baking sheets out of the oven for a couple minutes before gently, carefully transferring them to cooling racks, as they’ll be fragile until they cool.
  5. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks. Alternatively, you can store the logs of unbaked cookie dough for months in the freezer, cutting away chunks to quickly bake some as and when you need them.

And in case you’re in the mood for similar flavors and happen to be visiting/living in New Haven, don’t forget to try out Ordinary’s dark chocolate cookies with sea salt served with some warm milk! Priced at $7, these 2 huge cookies are more than enough to feed at least a few people!

Cookies with Sea Salt @ Ordinary, New Haven, CT

Cookies with Sea Salt @ Ordinary, New Haven, CT

 

To 3 Years of Blogging – French Martini

As I was browsing one of my favorite food blogs, The Kitchn, today, I came across this post 3 Things Cooking Has Taught Me. Reading through it, I just realized this blog just turned 3 years old today, and I am surprised and thankful that it has survived three years of graduate school! I started taking an interest in cooking and especially, baking, at a time when I was not particularly happy with my life. Over time, it really has become my favorite activity to destress, both in cooking with someone, and particularly so by myself. The smell of warm bread in the oven filling your kitchen, the berries with their sweet and tart flavors infusing pies and breads, the melted chocolate chips that ooze out of a warm cookie fresh from the oven, the taste of fresh basil with some great, ripe summer tomatoes in focaccia – these are just some of the few sensations that I have grown to love as I have continued baking over the last few years. But enough about baking, to celebrate the three year birthday of the blog, below is one of my favorite drinks – a french martini. With the fresh and cool pineapple juice combining with the taste and smell of raspberry liquer, this is perfect for both a quiet night or an evening of entertaining.

french martini_opt

 

Ingredients

  • 2 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz chambord (raspberry liquer)
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • Ice

Directions

  1. Place all 3 ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously
  2. Strain the mixture into a martini glass and serve

Shakshuka

I’ve been meaning to try cooking Shakshuka ever since I saw it on Smitten Kitchen – and a few weeks ago, when I placed an order for groceries while almost falling asleep, thus ending up purchasing 36 instead of 6 eggs, I decided it was time to try this egg-heavy dish. Of Tunisian origin, this dish consists of poaching eggs in a fiery tomato sauce, often loaded with a lot of spices. Though it seemed like a perfect dish to bring for a potluck brunch, a friend and I decided to cook it for dinner. As you might notice from the recipe, I threw in some predominantly Indian spices as well (such as garam masala) – the yolks turned out nice and runny, and paired with spiciness of the sauce, the saltiness of the feta and the freshness of the parsley atop freshly baked and toasted bread, this turned out to be quite the filling and delicious meal. It’s also an excellent post-workout snack, as it has a lot of protein and not much fat (except from the feta).

shakshuka

 

Serves 3-4. Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 1  yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons green onions, chopped
  • Warm pitas or toasted bread, for serving

Directions

  • Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add chiles and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes.
  • Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.
  • Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.
  • Crack eggs over sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across sauce’s surface. Cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.

shakshuka

Senegalese Peanut Tofu Soup

One of my favorite lunch places in Charlottesville is Revolutionary Soup – located both at the Corner and in the Downtown Mall, this little place offers some of my favorite soups that are absolutely irresistible during the winter. My favorite one  is their Spicy Senegalese Peanut Tofu Soup – as someone who does not even like tofu, I was amazed by how much the tofu had taken on the taste of the tomato and peanut broth in which it had been cooked. So a few weeks ago, we decided to try replicating it, thanks to the recipe I found at It’s Not About the Recipe. We were away for a mini-vacation and this soup, along with some guacamole grilled cheese seemed like the perfect dinner for a chilly evening in a cabin. Though the final version was not spicy like that in Rev.Soup, the rest of the flavor profile was the same and the next time I’ll definitely add jalapenos to the soup as well. This recipe gives enough servings for 5-6 people.

Senegalese Peanut Tofu Soup with a Guacamole Grilled Cheese

Senegalese Peanut Tofu Soup with a Guacamole Grilled Cheese

Ingredients

  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 tsp, chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne or red pepper flakes
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 5 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 lb tofu, diced into 1/4 inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Directions

  1. Heat oil over high heat in a large heavy pot.  Add onions, ginger, and sweet potato and saute about 8 minutes until the onion starts to brown.
  2. Add garlic after five minutes.  Add 1 tsp of salt, some ground pepper, and the cayenne pepper.  Cook for two more minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and use the juice to scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.  Add the vegetable stock or water, bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat, and simmer for 25 minutes.
  4. Add the peanut butter and stir until dissolved.
  5. Puree the soup until smooth using an immersion blender or in batches in a blender (since we did not have a blender at that point, we ended up just mashing the mix, and it turned out pretty delicious even when it was a little chunky!).
  6. Add the tofu and cook until tofu is heated through.  Serve hot. Top with scallions and cilantro.

Munching my way through Portland

As someone who is skeptical of every new hipster food obsession that emerges (constantly eating gluten-free food even when you aren’t celiac? kale in everything?), I wasn’t quite sure of what to expect when I visited Portland in late December last year. I knew that there existed a high number of food trucks and some amazing wineries and breweries in and around this city, but other than that, would I be underwhelmed by hipster food trends in an otherwise hipster city? Thankfully not! I got more than my fair share of amazing food in this city over a few days, and also got to check out some of their famous breweries. So here’s my recommendations for some delicious (and definitely unique!) foods to check out the next time you’re there:

Screen Door

Serving Southern (particularly Cajun) and soul food, I was eager to visit this place and with an impressive 1,500 reviews on Yelp, I had my hopes up quite high for this one. Everyone recommended arriving there before they opened in order to not wait in a line for over an hour. We arrived half an hour before it opened, and we were still the 20th party standing in line! Thankfully, the restaurant is pretty spacious and we managed to get in the first cycle. Service was quick and we were not disappointed by their famous chicken & waffles and the bananas foster french toast. I preferred the french toast a lot more than the chicken and waffles, even though the latter is more popular – the bananas were perfectly caramelized, the rum paired perfectly with the bananas and it definitely convinced me to make one of my resolutions for this new year – which is learning how to flambé!

Chicken & Waffles @ Screen Door, Portland, OR.

Chicken & Waffles @ Screen Door, Portland, OR.

Bananas Foster French Toast @ Screen Door, Portland, OR

Bananas Foster French Toast @ Screen Door, Portland, OR

Mother’s Bistro and Bar

Located in the heart of downtown Portland, Mother’s has a warm, inviting feel that would be perfect for a lazy brunch or at their Velvet Lounge next to the bar, for some pre or post-dinner cocktails. We went there for a Sunday brunch and it was absolutely packed – though we were on the waiting list, it surprisingly did not take more than 20 minutes for us to get seated given how many other people were also waiting. Service was prompt and courteous and the food came out quickly and was quite delicious. I especially liked their breakfast nachos which contained roasted red potatoes sauteed with bacon, caramelized onions and a touch of sour cream, topped with melted cheddar cheese, green onions and some sour cream. Definitely a must-prepare the next time I’m hosting brunch. The peach compote on top of the crisp belgian waffle was also really fresh, and was the right balance of sweet and acidic.

Breakfast Tacos @ Mother's Bistro & Bar, Portland, OR.

Breakfast Tacos @ Mother’s Bistro & Bar, Portland, OR.

Crispy Belgian waffle with a peach compote and whipped cream @ Mother's Bistro & Bar

Crispy Belgian waffle with a peach compote and whipped cream @ Mother’s Bistro & Bar

Voodoo Doughnuts

Which indepedent donut seller makes $600,000 in revenue each year? Voodoo Donuts established a little over a decade ago, has shown that donuts can be just an empty canvas and can given whatever flavor that a baker chooses. With a rotating menu, some of their most famous donuts include their signature Voodoo Doll Doughnut, Captain my Captain doughnut (both of which I ate and was surprised by how amazing they tasted) and the Portland Creme donut (which I unfortunately did not taste!), also designated as Portland’s “Official City Doughnut” by a resolution introduced by Portland Mayor Tom Potter and passed by city commissioners the same night. Their Bacon Maple Doughnut was also pretty great with the sweetness of the maple syrup pairing excellently with the saltiness of the bacon, which also provided a nice crunch to the glaze on top of the doughnut.

The signature voodoo donut

The signature voodoo donut

Bacon Maple Doughnut

Bacon Maple Doughnut

I also tried the Mexican Hot Chocolate Doughnut which is a chocolate cake doughnut dusted in cinnamon sugar and cayenne pepper. It might have been good if I had tried it at some other shop on some other day, but after the above listed donuts, this one, as well as the Lemon Chiffon Doughnut, both tasted a bit underwhelming. The latter was a bit too sweet for my taste with lemon dust and three marshmallows melted on top of the donut.

Cap'n Crunch Doughnut

Captain my captain Doughnut

Food Carts

Given how many food carts exist throughout Portland, I immediately felt overwhelmed and didn’t quite know where to start. With hundreds of food carts concentrated throughout various hubs in Portland, there is probably no better place to grab a quick, cheap and delicious lunch. Some of the notable ones that stand out in my memory include The Frying Scotsman – I’m not even a huge fan of fish, but his fish and chips had light, crunchy batter that paired perfectly with a squeeze of lemon. Currently, their fried cod and chips is their main bestseller, with the other dishes in large demand being haddock and chips, halibut and chips. Sideshow, also located in downtown Portland, offered 5 beignets for $3 – I wasn’t too sure about how beignets from a cart would turn out, but they were fresh, warm, light and fluffy. They could have used a little more powdered sugar, but other than that I was quite pleased with their quality. The other famous item at Sideshow Eatery is their poutine – a Canadian dish consisting of fries doused with gravy and topped with a pile of cheese curds!

In case you’re looking for specific kinds of food carts, check out this map of food carts in Portland.

Beignets from a food cart? Check.

Beignets from a food cart? Check.

And in case this post made you hungry, here’s how to make some of these delicious goodies at home:

 

 

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

I ate Muhammara for the first time 2 years ago, and I’ve thinking of trying out the recipe ever since then. It’s a Syrian red pepper dip that has a nice, nutty flavor to it from walnuts and is really versatile and can be used as a smear or a dip. Unfortunately, that thought totally skipped my mind while roasting some red peppers and I decided to go with roasted red pepper hummus. This recipe is perfect for eating with pita chips, or what I did – stuffed into some cucumbers. These make for some amazing party appetizers, look good and taste great. Plus, they’re gluten-free, which is good for those who can’t dip pita bread or crackers into this hummus. This recipe can be easily adjusted depending on your preference, so go ahead and experiment with the amount of salt, paprika and cumin you want in your hummus.

Cucumber rolls stuffed with roasted red pepper hummus

Cucumber rolls stuffed with roasted red pepper hummus

Recipe adapted from Crepes of Wrath

Ingredients

  • 3 large red bell peppers or 1 jar roasted bell peppers
  • 1 15 oz. canned/rinsed/drained garbanzo beans
  • 2 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

 

Directions

1. If you have fresh bell peppers, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Cut your peppers in half, removing the pith and seeds, and place skin side up on a roasting tray. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until nice and charred. Allow the peppers to become cool enough to handle, then simple peel away the skin and roughly chop the peppers so that they will all fit in your food processor.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

 

2. Add the chopped roasted red peppers, garbanzo beans, tahini, minced garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, paprika, cumin and salt to your food processor and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. This keeps well in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.

Salted Caramel Popcorn

I can’t believe this is my 100th blog post! :) This blog began a little over two and a half years ago when I was living in Turkey and finally had a big enough kitchen/oven to embark upon my baking (and sometimes, cooking) adventures. My love for baking would have not been possible without a few people who inspired and taught me along the way. Margot Conover is one of my main inspirations and she showed me that it was possible to bake anything, and that I didn’t need to go buy delicious baked goods when I had a craving for them – I think her espresso and spicy Mexican chocolate brownies were the most memorable things she ever baked for us. Numerous other people’s baking talents also stand out in my mind – Kristen Smart, especially the Irish car bomb cake truffles and braided lemon sweet cheese-filled bread, James Duncan Welke’s lemon bars, as well as numerous desserts by Brenda Kay Zylstra. In short, my desire to start baking would not have been realized had I not met these amazing people in Chicago :) Later, when I was living in Turkey and finally started baking, Aisha Bradshaw taught me the basics of mixing butter and sugar, while Owen Barron with his pie-skills, as well as his spontaneity and imagination, showed me that baking and cooking didn’t always need to be a science. Though on the other side of spectrum, I had Matt Scroggs who always emphasized the science of measuring ingredients correctly, got me hooked to Food Network, and taught me to keep trying if my initial attempts resulted in underwhelming results. Maybe if I keep trying, one day I’ll be able to replicate my mom’s rajma chawal – a meal that I’ve never stopped craving. In short, I wouldn’t have felt half as passionate about this blog if it weren’t for these people!

Now that my emotional outburst is over, I’ll get back to talking about how easy it is to make salted caramel popcorn! I made some for the superbowl last weekend and they turned out pretty great. Next time I might try adding a little extra flavor as well – maybe some paprika for some kick. Before actually starting this recipe, I would highly recommend having everything ready to go – the caramel hardens extremely fast, so if the popcorn isn’t already popped, or you don’t have your spatula in hand, then things might get difficult. Also, when you first mix the vanilla extract into the brown sugar and butter mixture which had been boiling on the stove, be careful! Since vanilla extract has alcohol in it, the mixture might splash,and unlike me, you should be smart enough to put the vanilla extract into the mixture either more gently or from a distance.

Salted Caramel Popcorn

Recipe adapted from The Kitchn

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unpopped corn kernels (10-12 cups popped)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Special equipment

  • Large heatproof mixing bowl
  • Heatproof spatula
  • 2 baking sheets
  • Parchment paper or silpats

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line the baking sheets with parchment or silpats.
  2. Make the popcorn
  3. Make the caramel sauce. Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Mix in the sugar until the sugar is completely moistened. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, boil for 4-5 minutes while stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan continuously. The longer you cook the syrup, the crunchier it will be. For very crunchy popcorn, stop cooking when you see the first wisps of smoke coming from the sugar mixture.
  4. Take the saucepan off the heat, add the vanilla, kosher salt, baking soda, and any extras, and stir until combined. Be careful – The sugar mixture will bubble up violently. Continue stirring until you form a thick, glossy sauce.
  5. Slowly pour the caramel sauce over the popcorn while stirring the popcorn . Continue stirring the sauce into the popcorn until all of the kernels are coated.
  6. Divide the popcorn between two baking sheets, spreading the popcorn out into an even layer. It’s ok if the popcorn clumps together. Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes and breaking up any clumps.
  7. When you take the trays out of the oven, sprinkle the baked popcorn with sea salt while it is still warm. Let the popcorn cool completely on the baking sheets. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Chocolate-Caramel Macadamia Nut Tart

It’s hard to believe how the last few weeks have flown so fast – Christmas and New Year’s looks like a really long time away. The semester’s started in full swing, and as I settle back into my normal work routine, I can’t believe there are still so many recipes and foods from over the holiday season that I want to blog about! I miss all the wonderful food I had in Seattle and Portland and I can’t wait to write a blog post about the wonderful (and fattening, haha) food that I had in Portland, and what a great food truck culture that city has, but that will have to wait for another day.

Over Christmas, one of the gifts that I got was a tart pan, so I decided to make this tart whose recipe I’d been eyeing since last Christmas actually. So far an indulgent New Year’s day dinner, we decided to make this chocolate caramel macadamia nut tart – I didn’t have the requisite amount of macadamia nuts, so I used a mixture of pecans and macadamia nuts. This tart is actually on the heavier side, so I’d recommend cutting it into really small pieces while serving – one can easily serve at least 8 helpings from this 9-inch tart. The macadamia nuts combined with the salt in the caramel give it more of a salty flavor, which goes really well with the bittersweet chocolate. If you’re looking for a less salty flavor, I’d recommend scaling down the salt in the pie crust. My main word of caution before setting out to make this – read through the entire recipe once! It’s quite time-consuming, and will probably be hard to complete if you just start a few hours before you intend to serve it.

tart300

Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, December 2009

INGREDIENTS

Crust:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) ice water

Ganache:

  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt 70% cocoa dark chocolate)
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted macadamia nuts (about 7 1/2 ounces), toasted , coarsely chopped

Caramel filling:

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Vanilla ice cream (optional)

DIRECTIONS

For crust:

  • Blend flour, powdered sugar, and salt in processor.
  • Add butter and cut in using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 1 tablespoon ice water and blend just until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if mixture is dry.
  • Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Using lightly floured fingers, press dough firmly and evenly onto bottom and up sides of pan.
  • Chill crust 1 hour.
  • Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line crust with foil; fill with dried beans or pie weights.
  • Bake crust until pale golden around edges and sides are set, about 20 minutes.
  • Remove foil and beans; bake until crust is golden and cooked through, about 14 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool crust completely in pan.

For ganache: 

  • Bring cream to simmer in heavy small saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; stir until smooth. tart2
  • Spoon 3 tablespoons ganache into 1 corner of small resealable plastic bag and seal; set aside at room temperature for piping. Spread remaining ganache evenly over bottom of crust. Sprinkle chopped macadamia nuts evenly over ganache layer in crust. Freeze crust while preparing caramel filling.tart3

For caramel filling:

  • Combine sugar and 1/3 cup water in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.
  • Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup is golden amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 8 minutes. Remove pan from heat. tart4
  • Add cream and butter; stir until any caramel bits dissolve and mixture is smooth.
  • Attach candy thermometer to side of pan and bring mixture to boil over medium-high heat. Boil without stirring until thermometer registers 210°F, . Remove from heat. Whisk in vanilla and salt.

Assembling the tart

  • Remove crust from freezer. Working quickly, pour caramel filling into crust. Gently shake tart pan to allow filling to settle evenly in crust. Cool completely at room temperature, about 3 hours. Remove crust from freezer. Working quickly, pour caramel filling into crust. Gently shake tart pan to allow filling to settle evenly in crust. Cool completely at room temperature, about 3 hours.

    Let the caramel cool completely before piping the chocolate ganache on top

    Let the caramel cool completely before piping the chocolate ganache on top

  • Place reserved resealable plastic bag with chocolate ganache in microwave and heat in 5-second intervals just until smooth and pourable. Using scissors, cut off very small tip from corner of bag with ganache. Pipe ganache decoratively over caramel filling in crosshatch pattern. Chill until chocolate is set, about 20 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled. Bring tart to room temperature before serving.
  • Remove sides from tart pan. Place tart on platter. Cut into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Eggnog

My favorite thing about making food resolutions is that those are actually things that I end up completing/accomplishing (as opposed to any ahem, fitness-related resolutions). My last year’s food resolutions was learning how to make a souffle and a creme brulee and my new year’s food resolution recipes include learning how to flambé (yay bananas foster!), how to make paella (but without the shrimp because I really dislike shrimp), and finally, making my own infused liquors. I also got a tart pan over Christmas, so I guess I’ll be making more tarts this year as well – the one tart I’ve been dying to try out is a lemon curd tart. Of course I’d love to have really amazing chopping skills as well, but I don’t really envision myself spending hours perfecting those! What are some of your food /cooking/baking resolutions for this year?

In the meanwhile, here’s a recipe for eggnog in case you still have a little bit of holiday spirit left in you, or are procrastinating on your fitness-related resolutions, haha. This recipe is on the stronger side, so if you want to dilute the strong flavor, I’d recommend putting in a little less of the bourbon or a little more of the cream and milk. We made it over Christmas and it makes 8-10 servings. Definitely try this out because it takes 5-7 minutes to whip this up and it tastes much, much better than the store-bought version.

eggnog

Ingredients

  • 1 pint cream
  • 1 pint whole milk (if you only have low-fat milk, then use a little bit more of the cream)
  • 6 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 oz rum
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • grated nutmeg

Directions

  • Separate the egg yolks from the whites.
  • Beat the yolks separately and then mix 1/2 cup sugar into them.
  • Beat the whites separately and mix 1/4 cup sugar into this whipped whites. The whites should be whipped until they achieve soft to medium peaks. (What does it mean for egg whites to have soft peaks?)
  • Mix the whites mixture and the yolks mixture together.
  • Stir in the other ingredients except for the nutmeg.
  • Sprinkle the nutmeg on the top and serve cold.

Eggnog

Finally, I read one resolution in Huffington Post that is absolutely fitting for me – Cook at least one recipe from all the cookbooks we “collect” and never use. Seems like a great resolution for me, especially after collecting books from Anne Burrell, Ina Garten and Aaron Sanchez (yes, I’m a huge Food Network Fan!). What’s the point of collecting cookbooks by such great chefs if you never try their recipes? Happy new year, everyone!