Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oh my...Sweet Onion Tarts

I love parties where appetizer/hor d'oeuvres are served. There really is nothing better than standing around the kitchen (because everyone knows that the kitchen is where the party always ends up) in good company and having heavenly little bites of perfection.

There is nothing that really bugs me more than:
1) having that morsel of yumminess be super messy, and
2) trying to eat said appetizer in more than a couple of nibbles.

I mean, who really wants to stand there trying to have a conversation with sauce dribbling down their faces or hand, napkin held under the chin unceremoniously...and possibly wearing the sauce on your fabulous outfit!?

These little tarts also let me make use of a fantastic little tart tin I bought at Christmas time and hadn't gotten around to using. I had originally thought that it would be perfect vessel for making one-bite butter tarts...but who am I trying to kid? Those suckers wouldn't stand a chance in my house. My DH LOVES butter tarts...and chocolate chip cookies...and well, actually...I think he's secretly the cookie monster.

So, without further adieu... 

Sweet Onion Tarts
Makes 24 tartlets

1 cup flour
75g (2.5 oz) butter, chopped
1 tbsp bottled green peppercorns, drained and crushed
1 egg yolk
1 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp olive oil
3 onions, sliced
1 garlic clove, sliced
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp olive paste
75g (2.5 oz) feta cheese, crumbled

1. Grease your tart pan.

2. Sift the flour and 1/4 tsp salt together. Add the butter. Rub together with fingertips until the mixture starts to look like breadcrumbs. Make well in center of mixture and add peppercorns, egg yolk, mustard and up to 2 tsp of water. Mix with a flat edged knife until it starts to come together. Turn out onto a floured surface and form mixture into a ball. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 400F.

4. Roll dough out on lightly floured surface until it reaches a thickness of 2-3 mm. Cut rounds with 8 cm cutter. Place rounds in tart tin and prick with fork. (Or for a more rustic look, form 24 balls of dough and drop into the tin. Press dough along bottom and sides, then prick with fork)

5. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the pastry turns golden.

6. Heat oil in a heavy pan. Add onion and garlic. Cook, covered over low heat for approximately 30 minutes. Increase heat to medium then add sugar and balsamic vinegar, stirring until most of the liquid has evaporated and the onion mixture becomes glossy. Stir in raisins.

7. Spread a little olive paste into the base of each of the pastry shells. Spoon the onion mixture into the shells and crumble the feta cheese over it. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Not so authentic "Couscous Tabbouli"

Tabbouli is also known as Tabbouleh, Tabouleh or Tabuli. It's a salad that is traditionally made with bulgur, finely chopped parsley and mint, tomato, green onion and seasoned with olive oil and lemon juice.

What I really love about Tabbouli is that it's so refreshing. What I dislike is the amount of time it takes to prepare the bulgur wheat. Really...soaking overnight or doing the shortcut version with boiling water and waiting a hour. IMHO, that is much too long for salad prep.

In my version, I used couscous because I'm lazy (10 minutes baby...whoot!)...and that's what I have at home in the pantry. I am also a sucker for anything with garlic in it, so guess what? I added a couple cloves of garlic yumminess. Seriously, the most time consuming part about this recipe is all the chopping. Enjoy, and bon appetit :)

Couscous Tabbouli
Serves about 4 people

3 green onions (finely chopped)
2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1/4 Cup olive oil
1/2 Cup couscous (boiled in chicken stock)
2 Bunches parsley (preferably organic Italian parsley)
2 Medium tomatoes
1/4 Cup lemon juice
1 tsp Sea Salt
1/4 balsamic vinegar

1. Boil a ½ cup of chicken stock and add couscous. Remove from heat and cover.
2. Let couscous steam for about 10 minutes, then fluff with fork.
3. Allow to cool to room temperature.
4. Finely chop onions, garlic, parsley leaves and tomatoes. Mix with couscous.
5. Make a dressing out of lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and sea salt.
6. Mix all together in a bowl.
7. If you want more spice, throw in some fresh ground pepper and/or chili flakes to taste.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Rosolje - Estonian Herring, Beet & Potato Salad

Rosolje is an interesting thing to eat. I find that you either really like it, or you don't. I think it may have something to do with the fact that there is pickled herring in the salad. Pickled herring is a funny ingredient. I like to think of this particular ingredient much like I think of anchovies in a caesar salad. I suppose that if you are a herring-phobe (like my DH), you can always leave it out...but then again, it wouldn't really be Rosolje. I have heard people say that you can't taste the herring and that you can't tell that it's there (but my overly sensitive palate can, so I'm not going to say the same).

I first made this years ago alongside my best friends' Estonian grandmother. She only made this for special occasions because it was very labor intensive (took her two days) chopping all those ingredients into the perfect dice by herself. Now that she has moved onto a better place, we had a party and made this in her honor/memory. Since there were quite a few of us, we placed all the ingredients we needed to dice upon slips of paper and drew ingredients to make it a little less of a tedious task. I think Grandma would have been so proud and happy to see us all together passing on her recipe.

The flavor develops nicely with a day or two in the fridge...but if you are like my DH, and are trying it for the first time, then having it right after it's made might be a safer bet.

Rosolje (Estonian Herring, Beet & Potato Salad)
Makes a lot

1 small jar pickled herring in wine
7 potatoes - cooked and peeled
7 eggs, hard boiled
2 cans beets
1 lb cooked roast beef, cooled
1 small jar kosher pickles

2 cups mayonnaise
Salt and Pepper - to taste
Keens Mustard - to taste

1. Cut the herring, potatoes, eggs, beets, roast beef and pickles into a small dice (about 1/4").
2. Place all diced ingredients into large bowl.
3. Mix mayonnaise, mustard (to taste) and salt and pepper throughly in a small bowl.
4. Add dressing to diced ingredients and mix. Salad will be a nice pink color.
5. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.