Thursday, October 31, 2013

Sweet Potato, Caramelized Shallot, and Goat Cheese Tart

Oh, so good. So, so good!
 Hubby and I are on a healthy, whole foods kick. We purchased a quarter of a cow from one of his co-workers, who has a beef farm, which resulted in 175 pounds of organic, grass-fed beef filling our freezer. We are splitting it with my parents, but I can't tell you how excited I am to see all that wonderful meat! It was really cost-effective too, when you broke it all down.

In addition to our beautiful quarter beef, we have started using Full Circle produce. They deliver a box of certified organic produce to our front door once a week. Now, I am NOT one of those it-must-be-organic-or-I'm-going-to-freak-out types, but it is really exciting to get such good, local produce (I am a big proponent of eating local!) at such a great price. And delivered to our door, no less! The best thing about it is that we are being forced to cook outside the box, figuratively speaking. Just this week, we got a pie pumpkin, a bunch of kale, yams, an avocado, shallots, valencia oranges, persimmons, and fuji apples. We found out that persimmons are yummy! And I sautéed some kale with red pepper flakes, garlic, and balsamic vinegar. It was delicious!

The best thing I've made with some of this amazing produce was a sweet potato, caramelized shallot, and goat cheese tart. I actually cheated and made it the day before we got the box of produce because I had a bunch of sweet potatoes, but I'm sure it will be just as good when I make it again with the yams! This is my favorite thing I've made in a long time. Hubs enjoyed it, but he's a meat lover, so this vegetarian dish wasn't in his top 5. It was definitely in mine though! I can't even begin to describe how yummy it was, and although a bit labor intensive, the results are SO worth it. Thank you to Full Circle for posting this recipe, which I will be using for the rest of my life. I swear. The only change I MIGHT make would be to sprinkle some crumbled bacon on top. Because everything is better with bacon. Maybe.

Oh, and I apologize for the poor quality of the photos. It was 7:30 when I started it, so it didn't get done until around 9. 9pm in the fall=crummy light!

Sweet Potato, Caramelized Shallot, and Goat Cheese Tart
*From Full Circle

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1 1/4 pounds (2 medium) sweet potatoes or garnet yams, peeled and thinly sliced (we used a mandolin)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 cup goat cheese, crumbled
2 strips cooked bacon, crumbled (optional)

Preheat oven to 400º.  In a medium saucepan, heat oil oer medium-high heat. Add shallots and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Spray a 10-inch tart pan with non-stick spray (we used our Misto) and place it on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Place sweet potatoes or yams in overlapping layers, starting at the outer edge and spiraling inward to make one layer. Sprinkle some shallots, thyme, Parm, goat cheese, salt and pepper, and repeat the process to create 3 layers.

Cover the top of the tart with crumbled bacon, if you're using it (I'm still on the fence about the bacon), and any remaining cheese (I set aside some Parm so I had plenty to sprinkle on top), then very lightly salt.

Bake until the top is golden brown and the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork, about 40-45 minutes. Remove and cut into wedges to serve. It also reheats really well the next day. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Broccoli Cheese Soup

I used to hate broccoli. Like I had a true, honest, complete HATRED for broccoli. It's nasty, I can't stand the taste, I don't want to eat mini trees . . . and on and on and on. It was pretty dramatic-and ridiculous. I have since seen the error of my ways and now I LOVE broccoli. We buy the giant bags of florets from Costco and use it up within two weeks. Broccoli in everything! This soup, in particular, is a family favorite. I wrote down the recipe and have reworked it over and over again until it is perfect-at least in our opinion. The notebook page it's on is covered with mashed broccoli bits, dried cheese, and splashes of milk-all signs of a well-used recipe! My husband is a huge fan and claims that it is just as good as Chili's, which is really, really high praise coming from a self-proclaimed broccoli cheese soup aficionado.

I know that 8 cups of chopped broccoli is a lot, but that is the way we like it--with lots and lots of broccoli! We have made it with 5 cups of chopped broccoli, 2 cups of half and half, 3 cups of chicken stock, and 3 cups of shredded cheese, but my family likes it as written below. My 6-year-old is so excited to take the leftovers to school for lunch in her thermos. She inhaled two huge servings tonight! If you ask her, she will tell you that Mom's broccoli cheese soup is her favorite meal. That's a win in my book!

Broccoli Cheese Soup

2 shallots, finely diced (or one small yellow onion)
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
5 tablespoons salted butter
1/2 cup flour
3 cups half and half
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
8 cups chopped broccoli florets (from about 7 broccoli crowns)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese (sharp or extra sharp is best)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Melt the butter in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Add onion and season lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté on medium heat about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add flour and cook 2 minutes.

Slowly whisk in half and half, milk, and chicken stock. Simmer on medium low heat for 20 minutes.

Add broccoli and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer on medium low heat for 30 minutes or until broccoli is fork tender.

Using an immersion blender, blend the soup for a few minutes to your desired consistency, or, alternately, use a blender and purée half the soup, then add it back to the pot. Bring the soup back up to temp and add the cheese. Once the cheese is melted, it's ready to serve with some extra cheddar sprinkled on top. Let's face it, this is not a healthy recipe, so go nuts with the cheese! Enjoy!