Sunday, January 5, 2014

Artichoke and Feta Tarts with Tomato Salad

This is a recipe from Donna Hay.  It's a nice starter for a small dinner party.  I also think it's suitable for spa food.
Simply cut a sheet of puff pastry into four 4" squares and score about 1/4" around the edges. 
Mix the feta and chopped artichoke on each square.  I actually had quite a bit of this mixture left over and it made for a great dip for Lovey.
While the pastries are baking toss together your salad of peas, tomatoes and mint and dress it with the olive oil and white balsamic vinegar.
When the tarts come out of the oven top each tart with the salad and serve immediately.
My puff pastry didn't puff as much as I thought it should but I'm sure it's because I should have put it back into the refrigerator before putting it into the oven.  It got a little warm while working with it.
Bottom line about this recipe is that I did like it.  It was easy to put together.  Had a nice light flavor with the sweetness of the tomatoes & peas are a nice contrast to the cheese and artichoke.  The chiffonade of mint finishes it off nicely..  I think it more appropriate for Spring or summer so I probably won't visit this again until it gets warmer.  All in all a nice starter. 
Artichoke and Feta Tarts with Tomato Salad
A recipe by Donna Hay
Serves 4
1 sheet store-bought puff pastry, thawed
9 ounces marinated Persian feta
4 marinated artichoke hearts
1 egg
3-1/2 ounces mixed cherry tomatoes
1 cup frozen peas
1/4 mint leaves
olive oil & white balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
Mise en place:
  •  crumble feta
  •  chop artichokes
  •  lightly beat egg
  •  halve tomatoes
  •  rinse peas and allow to thaw
  •  chiffonade the mint leaves
Preheat oven to 400° F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cut the puff pastry into four - 4" squares.  Score  a 1/4" border around each square.  Place on the baking sheet and top each square with the feta-artichoke mixture.  Brush the borders of each tart with the lightly beaten egg.  Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden brown.

In a small mixing bowl toss the tomatoes, peas and mint.  Drizzle with enough oil and vinegar to lightly coat.

Top each tart with the salad and serve immediately.

I'm sharing this recipe at I Heart Cooking Clubs.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Little Bit of New Year's Tradition

Ahh, yet another turkey in our household for the holiday.  This is the third.  Those who know Lovey know that he has to have turkey at every holiday.  This was was smoked which made it a little different.  All I had to do was make some Potatoes au Gratin, throw some Sister Shubert's Parker House Rolls in the oven and make the black eyed peas.  Two good reasons to make black eyed peas to accompany our New Year's dinner:  one, because that's just what you do in the South; and two, I received a new crock pot for Christmas (thanks Char & James!). 

Lovey and I spent New Year's Eve together quietly at home.  I had put a casserole together the night before.  That and champagne was our celebratory fare for the evening (heavy on the champagne).  We watched the Chick-Fil-A Bowl (in our opinion the best bowl game of the season so far) between Duke and Texas A&M.  We were pulling for Duke (sorry Johnny Football).  Even though the ending wasn't how we wished it was an exciting game.  I hate boring football games.

I bought two containers of fresh BEPs so I knew they wouldn't take any time at all to cook; which is a good thing, however I was concerned that the smoked ham hock from Kuby's wouldn't have sufficient time to flavor the beans or the broth if I cooked them on the stove for such a short time.

 Before I went to bed on NYE I threw some onion and garlic into the crock

 Added the hock

and a bouquet garni of fresh rosemary, thyme and bay leaf.  Covered with chicken stock then set the crock pot on low and let it cook overnight.

There's something wonderful about waking up to fabulous aromas coming from the kitchen.  I removed the hock to cool and tossed the bouquet garni.  I cubed a slab of Black Forest ham I had and added that to the stock along with the BEPs.  Re-set the crock pot to high & walked away to let the BEP's slowly get soft and soak up that nice broth.

The broth.  Mmmmmm, the broth turned out better than I have ever made.  It was clear and light, and since the broth wasn't cooked with the beans in it all night it didn't have that starchiness that it normally does.

Insurance for a prosperous and happy new year; that's what this is! 

Black Eyed Peas in a Crock Pot


1/2 yellow onion
2 cloves garlic
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3-4 fresh sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 large smoked ham hock
32 ounce box chicken broth
3/4" thick slab ham such as Black Forest (about 1/2 pound)
2 pint containers fresh black eyed peas
salt and pepper to taste

Mise en place:
  • thinly slice onion
  • peel and crush garlic clove
  • tie in a bundle the rosemary, thyme and bay leaf (can also wrap bundle in cheese cloth)
Place onion, garlic, bouquet garni and ham hock in crock pot.  Pour chicken broth over to cover.  Place lid on crock pot and secure.  Cook over night on low (8 - 10 hours).

Remove hock and let cool thoroughly.  Remove and throw away bouquet garni.

Cube the slab of ham (3/4" cubes) and toss into broth.

Rinse black eyed peas and add to broth.  Replace lid and cook on high approximately 2 hours or until peas have softened (but not to mush).

Salt and pepper to taste.  NOTE:  taste broth before adding any salt!  You can never tell how salty the ham and ham hock may be.  You may not need salt at all.