Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tomato Basil Goat Cheese Tart

This one is so incredibly simple. It is perfect for a light dinner for two people or would be a great, easy starter for a dinner party. Each slice is light and delicate, not overly filling. I used heirloom cherry tomatoes, but regular tomatoes would work beautifully as well.  Also, if you're not crazy about goat cheese, you could easily substitute feta or Parmesan.

Tomato Basil Goat Cheese Tart

  • 1 frozen pie crust, defrosted
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 3 tbsp basil, chiffonade
  • 1/4 lb goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400F. Turn pie crust out onto larger pan so that crust is flat. Layer tomatoes and zucchini, alternating in a circular design. Top with crumbled goat cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 20 minutes. Top with basil. Bake for an additional 5 to 8 minutes until crust and cheese are golden brown and tart is bubbling. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Nectarine Berry Cobbler Clafoutis

Cobbler is an absolute staple in our house. It's one of those amazing desserts that works with seasonal fruit year-round. It can be made ahead for parties and makes for a gorgeous presentation in individual ramekins. My staple cobbler recipe is really a short bread cookie recipe over the top of fresh fruit. However, I recently had one reminded me of a clafouti. A clafouti is a traditional french dessert, which is like a cobbler, but, instead of a crumbly baked topping. The fruit is poured into a dish filled with batter, and the batter bakes up around the fruit. I played with the recipe a bit, and this delight is what I came up with. It would work with any combination of stone fruit and berries.

Nectarine Berry Cobbler Clafouti

  • 2 c chopped nectarines
  • 1 c blackberries
  • 2/3 c flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c butter, softened
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c half & half
Preheat oven to 375F. In an 8 inch square baking dish, mix nectarines and berries. 

Set aside. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla extract and half & half. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, stirring just until combined. 

Pour batter over fruit, covering the fruit as evenly as possible. 

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until topping is golden brown and edges are bubbling.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Smoked Whole Fish

This past weekend, I was lucky enough to travel to Amelia Island for my "beachlorette" weekend. When I'm at the beach, I try to eat as much fresh, local and sustainably caught seafood as possible. As with most meats, fish is more flavorful, more tender and retains more moisture when cooked on the bone. One of my favorite ways to enhance these benefits is to grill or smoke fish whole. This super simple preparation looks impressive on the table and really tastes amazing. It also requires surprisingly little effort...unless you catch the fish yourself. If you buy the fish from a market, you can ask them to clean and gut the fish, leaving the head, tail and skin on, and to score it. If you catch the fish yourself, you're on your own for those steps. I used Pompano, which is a wonderful fish for smoking. It is an oily fish, but that is actually makes it perfect for smoking. It is unlikely to dry out, and the flavor of the smoke balances the flavor of the fish beautifully. If you don't have access to Pompano, another one of my favorites to prepare this way is Branzino. For this preparation, I used a charcoal grill and wood chips. Follow the instructions and use whichever preparation is recommended for the equipment you have.

Serves 6-8

Smoked Whole Pompano

  • 3 cups hickory chips
  • 3 medium Pompano, cleaned, gutted and scored (approximately 6 lbs)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 large lemon, sliced
  • 1 large onion, sliced into rounds
Cover wood chips in water and soak for at least 30 minutes. Start the grill. 
Rinse the fish in cold water and pat dry inside and out. Place fish on grill-safe pan. Rub salt, pepper and olive oil over outside and inside of each fish. 
Slide at least one slice each of lemon and onion into the inside of the fish. Add more if it will fit. 
Once charcoal is ashed over and hot, drain wood chips. Layer 2 cups of drained wood chips on top of the hot coals. Replace grill rack and place grill-pan on rack. If you put it off direct heat, increase cooking time by approximately 5 minutes. Cover the grill and seal to contain smoke. Allow to smoke for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pan and rack. Add remaining wood chips on top of coals. Flip fish to cook on other side. 
Cook for an additional 10 to 12 minutes, or until fish is white and flaky. Top with additional lemon slices and serve.