Roasted Pepper and Goat Cheese Tart

Savory pies and quiches, vegetarian

As I may have mentioned once before, I often enjoy the process more than the product. It’s not that I don’t like eating the results of my cooking and baking efforts, I do. I love that almost all the food I eat when we are home, is made by me. But sometimes, I pick recipes because they are fun to do and the eating part is just kind of secondary (and necessary for survival). This can be especially the case with dinner. If I spend over an hour making food for us at the end of the day, you can pretty much guarantee that  by the time we sit down to eat, I too tired to really appreciate the meal like I should.

This recipe was a huge exception.

When I got home the other evening and began to prepare this tart I thought I was ahead of the game because I had made the crust earlier in the day. Unfortunately I had not read my recipe thoroughly and there was still some serious work to be done (roasting, peeling and marinating the peppers — something that could have easily been done ahead). I briefly considered changing the recipe, but forged on nonetheless, and when we sad down to eat at 9pm, I was not sorry.

Do this recipe in stages, and you will be even happier than I was with the delicious result.

Roasted Pepper & Goat Cheese Tart, from Nick Malgieri’s The Modern Baker

You can and should make the olive oil crust and the marinated roasted red peppers ahead of time. This will make assembling the tart a breeze and will also give the peppers time to absorb the flavors of the marinade.

Step 1: Olive Oil Crust

makes a single crust for a 10-11 inch tart or pie

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large egg

1 large yolk

2 Tbs water

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse several times.

Add the oil, whole egg and yolk, and the water. Pulse repeatedly until the dough forms a shaggy ball. Don’t overmix or the oil could separate from the dough and make it impossible to work with.

Invert the food processor bowl over a floured work surface to turn out the dough. Carefully remove the blade and transfer any remaining dough to the work surface. Press the dough into a rough 1/2 inch thick disk. Roll the dough out using a rolling pin, rotating it as you roll so that you end up with a shape resembling a circle. When it is about 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick transfer the dough to a tart pan and gently press it in to fit. Trim excess. Carefully place the pan on a flat sheet pan and cover with plastic wrap so it will not dry out (I like to only handle the tart pan on a sheet pan once the dough is inside, so that I do not accidentally knock the bottom of the pan out and ruin my work). Keep crust in the fridge until you are ready to fill and bake it. This tart does not need to be pre-baked.

Step 2: Roasting and Marinating the Peppers

4 medium (or two large) sweet bell peppers

Salt

2 Tbs olive oil

1 garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced

Place an oven rack about 6 inches from the heating element and preheat the broiler. Place the peppers on a sheet pan lined with foil and slide them under the broiler. Let the skins of the peppers char on one side, then use tongs to turn each pepper 90 degrees. Repeat until the peppers are evenly charred on all sides and have collapsed.

Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap (or a plate). Th peppers will steam as they cool and the skins will loosen. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, place them in a colander (do not rinse! They will loose their flavor) and stem, seed and peel them. The peppers should separate into smaller pieces as you peel them. Place the cleaned peppers back into the bowl (cut them into strips if this does not happen while peeling and cleaning).

Place a layer of peppers in a shallow bowl and sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt. Drizzle on the olive oil and scatter a few of the garlic slices over the pepper. Repeat until you have layered all the peppers with the seasonings. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days (the crust should not be refrigerated for more than this).

Step 3: Baking the Tart

prepared crust

marinated roasted peppers

10 oz. mild goat cheese such as Montrachet, crumbled

6 large eggs

salt and pepper

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Set a rack in the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 375˚ F

Sprinkle the prepared tart crust with half of the goat cheese. Cover the cheese with a layer of the marinated peppers (do not include the garlic), overlapping the peppers slightly. Repeat with the remaining cheese and peppers, ending with peppers on top.

Layering the peppers and goat cheese

Whisk the eggs with salt, pepper and chopped parsley and pour into the crust.

Bake the tart until the filling is set and well colored and the crust is baked through ~    30-35 minutes. Cool the tart on a rack before slicing.


Muffins: the cake method

AriCooks, breakfast, quick breads and tea cakes, Tips and Tricks

Chocolatey, moist, banana-y, tender, sweet breakfast deliciousness. How does that sound?

That’s what I though.

As I mentioned in my post ‘Marathon Muffins’, Nick Malgieri of The Modern Baker, likes to make his muffins using the ‘cake method’ as opposed to the ‘muffin method’. For those of you familiar with the differences between those two methods, feel free to skip ahead a bit, for the rest of you, I’ll explain:

In the realm of Quick Breads — which is how we refer to baked goods such as tea cakes, muffins, scones, biscuits and so on (pretty much anything that goes into a tin or a pan and contains flour, baking soda or powder, eggs, butter or oil, sugar and so forth) — there are three main mixing methods.

The Muffin Method (named aptly, because it is traditionally used to make muffins) involves putting your dry ingredients into one bowl (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder/soda, and spices) and your wet ingredients into another bowl (oil, eggs, vanilla) and combining the two mixtures with as few swift strokes as possible.

The Cake Method will usually call for butter (or margerine) instead of oil, and milk or buttermilk as well. The butter will be creamed with some sugar, the eggs and vanilla then added in, and after they are all combined nicely the flour/salt/baking powder mixture will be added alternately will the milk or buttermilk.

The Biscuit Method is what we use to make scones and biscuits. It involves keeping the butter or shortening very very cold and ‘cutting’ it into the dry ingredients using a pastry cutter, two knives or a food processor with a ‘pulse’ setting. The liquids (often cream and sometimes and egg or two) and then added quickly and the whole thing comes together with as little handling as possible.

The muffin method is appealing when making breakfast on the spot because it is very fast and involves little fuss. I appreciate not having to use an electric mixer or to soften anything ahead of time and getting as few bowls and kitchen implements dirty as possible, always makes me happy, since we don’t have a dishwasher these days. Muffin Method, I salute you.

That being said however, I am a convert now to the cake method when it comes to making muffins, because the results are FAR superior and certainly seem worth the time and effort if you can spare it. These cocoa banana muffins were the stars of our Mother’s Day brunch this past Sunday and in spite of this recipe making 16 instead of 12, by the next day they were gone.

Cocoa Banana Muffins, Adapted from The Modern Baker, by Nick Malgieri

Update 8/26/10: I added 1/4 cup of finely chopped crystallized ginger to these and will be making it this way from now on! Yum!

Makes 16 standard muffins

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour  (spoon flours into dry-measure cup and level off)

2/3 cup alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa powder, sifted after measuring (I substituted in a couple of Tablespoons of black onyx cocoa powder available from savoryspiceshop.com)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3  very ripe medium bananas (they should be mottled with dark brown and black spots, otherwise your muffins will be lacking flavor), peeled and mashed with a fork to make 1 1/2 cups

1/2 cup sour cream (I used toffuti brand non-dairy sour cream, with wonderful results)

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

3 large eggs (I did not try to make these egg-replacer, if you do, please let me know how they come out)

1/4 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped (optional)

Two 12-cavity muffin pans with 8 paper liners in each

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees
  2. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl and stir well to mix.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the mashed bananas and sour cream; set aside.
  4. Combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and place on mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed for about a minute, or until well mixed and a little lightened in color.
  5. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating smooth after each addition.
  6. Decrease the mixer speed to low and beat in half the flour mixture. Stop the mixer and use a large rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl and beater.
  7. On low speed, beat in the banana mixture. After the batter has absorbed the banana mixture, beat in the remaining flour mixture.
  8. Stop and scrape down the bowl and beater again.
  9. add the crystallized ginger, if using
  10. Remove the bowl from the mixer and use a large rubber spatula to give a final mixing to the batter.
  11. Divide the batter equally among the paper-lined cavities in the muffin pans.
  12. Bake the muffins for about 30 minutes, or until they are well risen and feel firm to the touch. Because this is such a liquid batter, test a muffin with a toothpick or the point if a thin-bladed knife – it should emerge with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it.
  13. Cool the muffins in the pan on a rack.

Marathon Muffins

breakfast, Dairy Free, quick breads and tea cakes

(flowers by Corinna)

Yesterday our downstairs neighbors hosted a brunch in honor of Patriot’s Day and the Boston Marathon. People lingered over delicious little salmon-dill sandwiches, homemade quiche, fruit salad, coffee (my friend Corinna, brews the best pot of coffee I have ever tasted, hands down), and these blackberry muffins that I contributed to the occasion. After eating and shmoozing, we walked down to Beacon Street and watched the runners go by, including my friend Ryan, of Tea and Limpets, who completed the marathon in 2 hours and 39 minutes!!! Giving him 201st place in a marathon that sees over 26,000 runners!

Although baking these muffins was not quite as great an accomplishment as running 26.2 miles, the preparation was a lot easier and they lasted a tad longer than our view of Ryan, shooting by us in little shorts and these very strange running shoes. I think you’ll like them, and now that he can indulge in sweet breakfast treats again, Ryan will probably enjoy them too.

Blackberry Muffins with Crumble Topping, adapted from Nick Malgieri’s, Modern Baker

This was originally a blueberry muffin recipe and is a bit unusual in that it uses a “cake method” (creaming butter and sugar, adding eggs, then mixing in your dry ingredients and milk, alternately), as opposed to a “muffin method” (mixing all liquids in one bowl and all dries in another, and combining them in a few swift strokes). If you cannot find blackberries that are on the smallish side, I would go ahead and use blueberries, they will distribute more evenly in the batter.

Ingredients:

crumb topping

1 cup all purpose flour (or 1/2 cup all purpose and 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry)

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons butter or vegan margarine

1/3 cup light brown sugar

muffin batter

2 1/2 cups flour (I used 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour and 1 cup of all purpose)

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 salt

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

8 Tbs (1 stick) butter or Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, softened to room temp

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 milk or soy milk

1 pint blueberries or small blackberries

Preparation:

Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 F. Line a 12-muffin tin, with paper liners.

For the crumb topping, combine the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon in a medium mixing bowl and stir well. Melt the butter/margarine in a small pan. Remove from heat and add the brown sugar, stirring to combine. Scrape the butter-sugar mixture into the flour mixture, stirring until the whole thing is evenly moistened. Set aside and prepare the muffin batter.

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg in a mixing bowl and stir will to mix.

Combine the butter/vegan stick and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (a handheld mixer will work fine as well). Beat on medium speed for about one minute, until it has slightly lightened in color. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth after each addition.

Decrease the mixer speed to low and add half the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Add the milk and combine, then mix in the remaining flour. On very low speed mix in the berries, mixing for just a few seconds. Scoop batter into paper-lined tins and top each one with a spoonful of the reserved crumble topping (you will have to break it apart a bit with your fingers). Bake for approximately 30 minutes, before transferring to a cooling rack.