Tag Archives: Herbs & Flowers

Rose and Pistachio Cookie Bars

rose cookies, rose biscuits, rose and pistachio, rose and pistachio dessert, pistachio cookies, persian flavored cookies

Rose and Pistachio Cookie Bars

I’ve had the idea for these cookie bars for quite awhile.  In fact, it’s a recipe that’s been sitting in the recesses of my mind, begging to be created.

The idea came to me one night while I was reading.  For some reason all my best recipe ideas have popped up when I’m relaxing and enjoying someone else’s writing.  I’m not quite sure what triggered the thought, but at that moment I decided I needed to combine the flavors of rose and pistachio in a cookie.

It had to be done.  Continue reading

Cantaloupe, Arugula and Mint Salad with Chevre

Cantaloupe, Arugula and Mint Salad

I haven’t felt so good the past week.

In fact, I’ve felt completely crumby for the past week and a half.

4 days ago I noticed a few little red “bug bites” near my left eye.  I figured I got bit when I was out tending to my (struggling) garden, so I didn’t really think much of it.  I scrubbed my face with cleanser and put a bunch of hydrocortisone cream on the bites, but they only got itchier.

The next day, I had a headache and was incredibly tired.  Man, was I tired!  Actually, I’m still tired!

I did a whole lot of nothing, thinking my body just needed some rest.  Then, I noticed the side of my face hurt.  Like, really hurt.  I also  had a giant, swollen lump in front of my ear.  I knew it was my lymph node; so I figured those bug bites were maybe a spider bite and my body was trying to fight off infection–or something.

I didn’t want to think about a spider crawling on my face (that gives me the heebie jeebies!)…so I didn’t.  Instead, I took ibuprofen and went to bed.

When I finally crawled out of bed the next day, my eye felt funny.  It was really swollen and itchy; and my lymph node was huge (as big as an egg!).  I decided I better see the doc.

She walked in the room, looked at my face, and said “I think it’s shingles.”

What?!  Shingles?!  But…I’m only 27!

I’m young.  I’m healthy.  I shouldn’t have shingles!

Unfortunately, I do.  Apparently they are becoming more common among younger people; and they’re often related to stress.

Stress about what?  I have no idea.  I don’t feel stressed. There is absolutely no reason why I should be stressed; but I guess I am.  Hmphf.

The worst part about having shingles is that I can’t wear my contacts and have to wear my glasses (does that make me vain?).  …Also, I can’t be around my niece, my nephew, or my grandparents.  I’ve been told I can’t go to work either (sorry co-workers!).

Having shingles is unattractive, inconvenient, unpleasant, and BORING! I’m going stir-crazy being stuck in the house!  You’d think I’d have a good time…you know, maybe get caught up on blogging and do some experimental cooking.  But the truth is, I just now opened the computer (4 days into this ordeal)…and haven’t had the energy (or motivation) to cook.

I couldn’t stomach the thought that I’d have to eat takeout for another day.  I’m sick of takeout.  So this afternoon I rummaged through the refrigerator and found a bunch of random ingredients.  I had arugula,  lots of mint and a bunch of chopped shallots hanging out in my produce drawer.  I also had some cut up cantaloupe.

Salad, it was!

Cantaloupe, Arugula and Mint Salad with Chevre

I had no idea how this salad would taste, or if my husband would even eat it, but it turned out to be a success!  The arugula added a little bitterness to what would otherwise be a very sweet salad.  It balanced really nicely.

I think it would make an incredibly beautiful fruit salad as well.  I can imagine less arugula and more cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon.  Maybe add a little more mint and a smidgen of honey drizzled over everything.  Yum!

 

As for a recipe, I simply tossed my greens (I used baby arugula), chopped mint, and chunks of cantaloupe together.  I then drizzled with a little homemade dressing, and garnished with some chevre.

The dressing was quite simple, and used things I had on hand.  If you decide to try this recipe, feel free to substitute whatever you think would taste good.  You could even make a simple balsamic vinaigrette with some olive oil, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar.

In fact, a flavored olive oil or balsamic vinegar would really enhance the dressing.  I didn’t have any flavored oil or vinegar that would work, so I used a mixture of olive oil and vegetable oil.  I also used apple cider vinegar–for a little flavor.

Cantaloupe, Arugula and Mint Salad Dressing

This recipe makes quite a bit of dressing.  I only use about 2 tbsp to dress my salad, so I’d say this makes enough for 6-10  salads (depending how much dressing you use).

  • 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil (use all olive oil, if you prefer)
  • Honey, to taste (I used a few tbsp.)
  • 3 tbsp. mustard (I used Blueberry mustard, but any Dijon or dark mustard would be great–steer clear of the yellow stuff in the Heinz bottle).
  • 2 medium-large shallots, diced
  • salt-to taste
  • pepper- to taste

I toss all the ingredients in a mason jar (the medium sized one) and shake it until everything is mixed really well.  Drizzle it over the salads, and store the remainder in the jar.  It’ll stay good for a week (even longer…) if kept in the fridge.

Fresh salad of Cantaloupe, Arugula and Mint

Hopefully I’ll get back to blogging more regularly soon!  In the mean time, I hope you enjoy this salad!

 

 

Raspberry Risotto with Herbes de Provence and Chevre

Raspberry Risotto with Herbes de Provence and Chevre

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

When Driscoll’s Berries contacts you and asks if you’d like to try their raspberries, you tell them yes; and then make a risotto!

Raspberry Risotto with Herbes de Provence and Chevre

The truth is, I’ve been buying Driscoll’s berries for years.  Even when the berries aren’t in season, they’re usually pretty good.  But during the summer, when the raspberries are at their peak, they are out-of-this-world-amazing!

I was sent some coupons for $2.00 off a package of berries–which is a good deal, but I was sort of sad that I still had to pay a little over $2 out of pocket per package–especially when they’re in season.  Berries are expensive!

I brought the berries home and devoured a small handful!  They were plump and sweet.  Just how I like them! :)

I knew I had a really busy week ahead, and wouldn’t have a chance to get to the berries before they lost their freshness, so I decided to freeze them.  Freezing the fruit at it’s peak ripeness is a great way to enjoy the berries all winter long.

In my opinion, frozen berries picked in-season always trump fresh berries out-of-season.  Always.

Driscoll’s sweet red raspberries

I had all sorts of sweet ideas about how to use the raspberries.  Pies, tarts, jams, jellies, quick breads…and they would all be equally delicious; but I wanted something savory.  And I didn’t want a sauce.

I found this recipe on Driscoll’s website that looked pretty good, and I’m probably going to give it a try eventually (probably during the holidays…yum!):

But it wasn’t what I wanted tonight.

I did a lot of searching, and had a hard time finding inspiration.  There’s not really many savory raspberry recipes–aside from salads or sauces–that I’m aware of, and that’s quite unfortunate.

So I ventured a little outside of the box and decided to try the raspberries in a risotto.  I was pretty sure it’d taste good, but I was also pretty sure Piyush would hate it.

I was right; the risotto tasted amazing.  But I was also wrong.  Luckily, Piyush didn’t hate my risotto.  Quite the opposite, actually.

In fact, Piyush loved it; and that means something.  He’s such a food critic.

Raspberry Risotto with Herbes de Provence and Chevre

Serves 4

If you are bothered by the seeds in the raspberries or would like a pink colored risotto, you can puree the berries and run them through a fine sieve before adding to the risotto.

Ingredients:
  • 1 c. uncooked arborio rice
  • 5-6 c. veggie stock
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 large shallots – chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves- smashed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. herbes de provence
  • 3 tbsp. dry white wine (I used a dry Marsala)
  • zest of 1 small lemon
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • 2 oz. chevre (goat cheese)
  • 1 c. frozen Driscoll’s raspberries
  • salt- to taste
  • cracked black pepper- to taste
Directions:
  • Bring Stock to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
  • Pour 2 tbsp. olive oil into a heavy bottomed pan (I used my dutch oven) and heat over medium-high flame.  Once the oil is hot, add the shallot and garlic–stirring constantly.  You don’t want the shallot to take on a brown color, but you want it to be cooked through and semi-translucent –approximately 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Once the shallot and garlic are cooked, add the Herbes de Provence.  Stir to combine.
  • Add the uncooked rice to the pot and cook (stirring constantly) for about a minute.  Add 3 tbsp. wine to deglaze. Keep stirring the rice until all the wine seems to be absorbed and the pan is looking dry.
  • Add one ladle of stock (approximately 1/2 c.) and stir until nearly all of it is absorbed by the rice.  Keep stirring and adding stock 1/2 c. at a time as the rice absorbs it.  I ended up using about 5 cups of stock, but it will really depend on how long your rice takes to cook (you want the rice to be al dente –it should have a little bite to it) and how creamy you like your risotto. This process will take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Add the goat cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Keep cooking and stirring until the cheese is completely melted.  The risotto should have a nice thick, creamy consistency at this point. Fold in the frozen raspberries. Cook 1 or 2 minutes longer, until the raspberries are no longer frozen. Remove from heat.
  • Serve as soon as possible for best flavor.  Garnish with extra chevre.

Raspberry Risotto with Herbes de Provence and Goat Cheese

Herbes de Provence is a fantastic French dried-herb blend.  It usually includes herbs such as: lavender, rosemary, tarragon, basil and thyme.  Aside from this risotto, it’s also wonderful to use when roasting a chicken.  It smells so fragrant and floral!

Raspberry Risotto garnished with a sprig of lavender from my garden!

This was a perfect meal on a hot, summer day.  Nothing beats a bowl of risotto and a nice, chilled glass of wine!  :)

Well….almost nothing!  You see, I also made a batch of Kala Jamuns.  Kala Jumuns–blackened gulab jamuns– are amazing Indian sweets, and I finally recreated them perfectly (thanks Maa, Baba, and everyone else that helped with the sweet-making advice)!

Homemade Kala Jamun

You can read about kala jamuns and gulab jamuns HERE, and see my first attempt to master this sweet.  …and if you’re interested, check back.  I’ll have the basic recipe posted soon!

Pan Seared Scallops With Sweet Pea, Tarragon and Lemon Risotto

Pan Seared Scallops With Sweet Pea, Tarragon and Lemon Risotto

Pan Seared Scallops With Sweet Pea, Tarragon and Lemon Risotto

Sometimes figuring out what to make for dinner can be quite the challenge.

You see, I have this terrible problem of never knowing exactly what I want.  Then, when I think I have it all figured out…BAM!…it changes, and doesn’t sound interesting anymore.  (Haha!  Kind of like my career-path, now that I think about it.  I never could decide exactly what it was that I wanted to be…).

So today, like most days, I wandered off to the supermarket to buy ingredients for an Indian-inspired dish using scallops.  Small problem.  I didn’t really feel like eating Indian.

I wanted something flavorful, but not spicy.  Something that was both hearty and filling.  I wanted to eat out!

I knew Piyush would not be happy if I told him I wanted to go out tonight, especially because our refrigerator was well stocked and I had just spent a small fortune on fresh scallops.  So I opened up the pantry doors and hoped for a little inspiration.

And then I saw it.  A big jar of arborio rice, sitting right in front of me.  I decided to try my hand at making risotto.

I’ve never attempted to make risotto before, and have actually only tried it once.  I remembered it being a little crunchy and dry and I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about, really.

But now that the idea was in my head, I had to have risotto.  And I had to have it now.  That’s just how I am, I guess.

After searching online and getting a little inspiration from Gordon Ramsay, random youtube people and the lovely Angela @ Madame Croquette (truthfully it was probably reading her post on saffron risotto with tiger prawns that sparked tonight’s dinner), I got to work.

I found a recipe from Cooking Light that sounded like it would taste spectacular (It did!)–and I had all the ingredients on hand.  From start to finish, making the risotto took about a half hour–with at least 25 of those minutes spent stirring the rice.  It was tedious, but zen-like at the same time.  I liked it.

Unfortunately I didn’t take any photos of the risotto making process.  It really is a process, and I was too involved with stirring (and day-dreaming) to even think about clicking photos.  Sorry!

I’ll pass on a little risotto-makin’ knowledge though…

First, make sure you have all your stuff ready.  Usually I run around like a crazy person, digging through cupboards and raiding the refrigerator; but this time I had everything pre-chopped and pre-measured.  I think this was the biggest contributor to my risotto success!

Second, make sure to taste your rice as you cook.  Each time I tossed in a ladle of stock, I tried a grain or two of the rice.  You don’t want it to be crunchy, but it shouldn’t be mushy either.  Aim for your rice to be cooked al dente.  A little “bite” is a good thing!

Once the risotto was finished, I set it aside and got started on the scallops.  I learned to cook scallops last year, and I’ve got to tell you…it’s simple!  They look intimidating…but looks are deceiving!  I really have no idea how all those cooks on the “reality” cooking shows can screw them up.  Honestly.  It’s crazy.

One thing I love about scallops is that they cook really, really fast–which make them an ideal match for risotto (you don’t want the risotto to go cold).  On the other hand, one thing I hate about scallops is that they stink up your house.  Completely.

Brown Butter Pan Seared Scallops–garnished with a little radish sprout

To cook the scallops I used a non-stick pan.  I usually always use my cast iron pan, but I was feeling lazy and I didn’t want to have to scrub it out when I was done.  The non-stick pan gave a nice sear, but I really think I get a much better color on the scallops when I use the cast iron pan.

You win some.  You lose some.

I tossed a tablespoon–or so–of olive oil in the pan and waited for it to get hot.  Real hot.  That’s important.  Then, I placed the scallops–which I generously seasoned with salt and pepper– in the pan and let them cook for a minute or so before flipping.  After flipping, I let them cook for another 30 seconds before tossing in a “butter bomb.”

The butter bomb is simply a pat of butter (about 1 1/2 tbsp–give or take) with fresh herbs stuck into it.  I toss it right in and let the butter brown up.  It adds a delicious nutty flavor to the scallops.

After the scallops get “bombed,” they really only take about a minute longer to fully cook through.  Watch them closely, scallops are very easy to overcook; and nobody likes rubbery scallops!  It’s much better to have them slightly underdone.

This dinner was fantastic!  I think risotto might be my new favorite thing.  Seriously.

It’s weird, but for some reason it really reminded me of macaroni and cheese.  It must have been the creaminess or how comforting the dish is, I don’t know.  It didn’t taste like macaroni and cheese…

I’m so excited to try other variations.  In fact, I was thinking I’d find a way to “Indianize” it…

Until then, I’ll leave you with this recipe!

Pan Seared Scallops With Sweet Pea, Tarragon and Lemon Risotto

Makes approximately 8 servings — 1/2 c. each (each serving is around 210 calories)

Recipe adapted and modified from Cooking Light 

Ingredients for Risotto:
  • 1 c. fresh or frozen sweet peas (If using fresh, be sure to blanch them.  If using frozen, simply let thaw)
  • 4 to 5 c. Vegetable Stock (I used 2 c. homemade chicken stock and 3 c. store bought veggie stock)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves- minced
  • 3 shallots- chopped
  • 1 c. uncooked Arborio rice
  • 3 tbsp. dry white wine (I used a dry marsala)
  • 1/2 c. fresh Parmesan cheese- grated
  • zest and juice of 1 small lemon (I used a meyer lemon)
  • salt- to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper- to taste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon mascarpone cheese (may substitute butter)
Directions for Risotto:

  • Bring Stock to a simmer in a small saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.
  • Pour 2 tbsp. olive oil into a heavy bottomed pan (I used my dutch oven) and heat over medium-high flame.  Once the oil is hot, add the shallot and garlic–stirring constantly.  You don’t want the shallot to take on a brown color, but you want it to be cooked through and semi-translucent –approximately 3 to 4 minutes.  
  • Once the shallot and garlic are cooked, add the chopped tarragon and thyme.  Stir to combine. 
  • Add the uncooked rice to the pot and cook (stirring constantly) for about a minute.  Add 3 tbsp. wine to deglaze. Keep stirring the rice until all the wine seems to be absorbed and the pan is looking dry. 
  • Add one ladle of stock (approximately 1/2 c.) and stir until nearly all of it is absorbed by the rice.  Keep stirring and adding stock 1/2 c. at a time as the rice absorbs it.  I ended up using about 5 cups of stock, but it will really depend on how long your rice takes to cook (you want the rice to be al dente –it should have a little bite to it) and how creamy you like your risotto. This process will take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. 
  • Stir in peas and cook the risotto for about 1 minute before adding the cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Keep cooking and stirring until the cheese is melted and is no longer “stringy.”  The risotto should have a nice thick, creamy consistency at this point. Remove from heat.  Stir in the 1 tbsp. mascarpone cheese to finish.  
  • Serve as soon as possible for best flavor.

Ingredients for Scallops:
(increase as needed for more servings.  This will make 2 servings of 3 scallops each)

  • 6 wild caught sea scallops (dry packed)
  • 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 large sprig of fresh tarragon
  • salt- to season
  • pepper- to season
Directions for Scallops:
  • Dry scallops with a paper towel and set aside on a plate.  Season the scallops with salt and pepper.  Don’t be shy with the seasoning, most of it will get lost in the pan and won’t stick to the scallop.
  • Heat 1/2 tbsp. olive oil in a medium sized non-stick pan.  Once the oil is hot add the scallops one at a time in a circular position.  (Imagine a clock.  You’ll want to place the scallops at approximately 12:00, 2:00, 4:00, 6:00, 8:00 and 10:00–this will ensure the scallops cook evenly).  
  • Scallops cook quickly.  Sear the first side for about a minute.  When you notice some nice color, flip the scallops.  Cook for 30 seconds and then add the butter and fresh herbs to the center of the pan.  Let the butter cook for about a minute.
  • You’ll notice the butter will begin to brown and smell a little nutty.  Spoon the butter over each of the scallops, and cook for about 30 seconds more.  
  • Remove the scallops from the pan and place them on a plate with paper towels.  You can drizzle the left over browned butter over the scallops if you’d like.  
  • Serve immediately on top of the risotto. 

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The Easiest (& Best!) Banana Bread…and a Weekend Away

After a change in our plans, Piyush and I decided to take a weekend trip to Grand Marais, MN.

Grand Marais is a small town located on Lake Superior in northeastern Minnesota.  It holds a very special spot in my heart; and, in my opinion, just might be among the most beautiful places on this Earth.

Riding the waves of Lake Superior…

When I was a teenager, my parents purchased a cabin in Grand Marais–off the famous Gunflint Trail.  Now, if you’re from Minnesota–or even Wisconsin–you’re probably pretty familiar with the term “cabin.”  If you’re not, “cabin” is a term that usually describes a second piece of property and can mean anything from a rustic shack in the woods to a magnificent mansion on the banks of Lake Superior.

My family’s cabin is definitely not a mansion, but it’s no shack either.  It’s more like a charming cottage, hidden along the banks of a beautiful lake about 10 miles away from Lake Superior.

I absolutely love it there, and it really does feel like a second home.

View from the dock at the cabin. It’s so peaceful!

Unfortunately, Piyush and I only seem to venture to Grand Marais about one or two times a year.  I wish we could go more often, but it’s 6 hours away…and there just aren’t enough weekends in the summer (and there is way too much snow in the winter!).

Piyush and I left Friday morning and decided to take our time.  Usually we’re in such a rush to get to the cabin that we don’t really stop or enjoy any of the sights along the way (excluding Duluth.  We always stop in Duluth).

This time we stopped at a few antique shops, played 18  holes of golf, and even stopped for some pie.

Betty’s Pies is a relatively famous Minnesota destination.  Personally, I think it’s history is more interesting than the pie, but  I’m not much of a pie person.  We picked up a Bumbleberry pie (raspberry, strawberry, blackberry and blueberry) to share with my parents.  When I opened the box, this is what I saw:

Isn’t that the maddest pie you’ve ever seen?  I got such a kick out of the pies angry-face!  It still makes me giggle.

pie in the woods!

The filling was yummy! …the crust, meh.  It was pretty dry.  But I guess dry pie is better than no pie, right?  …Right?

Piyush and I also stopped for dinner at The Angry Trout.  The food was amazing, and I wish there was an Angry Trout clone in Rochester!

Fresh grilled trout (caught in Lake Superior), Minnesota wild rice, and a big veggie salad

The trout was fresh caught in Lake Superior, and the taste was incredible.  I don’t usually enjoy fish all that much, but I think I could eat this everyday!!!  YUM!

The view from the restaurant was pretty incredible too…

The Angry Trout Restaurant: Grand Marais, MN

Once we finished with dinner and began driving north on the Gunflint Trail, I noticed all the beautiful wild flowers were beginning to bloom.  Lupine, roses, and blackberries (among other things) grow wild along the roads.  It’s such a lovely welcome, and I always look forward to it.

Wild Lupine

Wild Roses

Lake Superior

The weekend was so relaxing, but unfortunately it rained all of Saturday.  We didn’t get to spend much time on the water, but that’s okay.  Just being in Grand Marais was good enough for me!

Now…on to the banana bread!  

This recipe for banana bread is the easiest version I’ve ever come across.  It is also probably the first thing I really learned to bake myself.

The recipe allows for all sorts of variation, and a lot of times I’ll toss in some dark chocolate or dried cranberries.  It always turns out incredible, and I’ve never baked a dry loaf.  There really isn’t anything worse than dry banana bread.  Yuck!

This recipe makes amazing muffins!

I couldn’t tell you where this recipe came from.  I don’t know if it was from a book, my grandma, or maybe I found it online.  I don’t know.  I’ve had it for well over 15 years.

What I do know is that if you make this banana bread…you won’t regret it!

Easy Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 3 browned bananas- smashed
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/4 c. butter- melted
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F
  • In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together smashed banana, and the melted butter.  Once everything is combined, add the egg and mix again.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until everything is combined–but don’t over-stir.  Add any mix-ins (chocolate, dried fruits, nuts…) and stir until they are evenly distributed.
  • Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour at 325 degrees F.
  • Remove from oven, let cool a couple minutes and remove from loaf pan.  Let the bread cool on a rack for about a half hour or so.  Enjoy!
**I sometimes sprinkle the top with raw sugar crystals before baking.  It makes the crust have a pretty shine.  :) **

This recipe freezes extremely well! 

caramelized onion, fennel and mushroom puff pastry tart

Mushroom Puff Pastry Tarts

Sometimes I feel lazy.  Yup.  I said it.  Lazy.

I don’t feel like cooking much; but I don’t feel like going out, either.  I just want to sit at home with a giant glass of wine, enjoy life, and eat mushroom puff pastry tarts.  What?  That’s weird?  hmmph.

Puff pastry is one of my favorite things.  I don’t really make it myself though–remember, I’m lazy–and puff pastry is a lot of work.  Instead, I buy it from the freezer section at the supermarket.

This particular recipe is quite delicious and has many different layers of flavor.  I actually got the idea for this recipe last week when I made Ina Garten’s Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts (recipe HERE).

Tomato and Goat Cheese Puff Pastry Tart (Ina Garten’s Recipe)–spiced up with a few Indian flavors!

These tarts were amazing, and the idea for the crust–or tart shell–was quite genius!  I couldn’t wait to try my own version as soon as possible!

My Mushroom Puff Pastry Tart combines caramelized onions and fennel with tender mushrooms, goat cheese, and a creamy, flavorful sauce.  They’re divine!  …Especially paired with a fabulous glass of wine!

The idea to use mushrooms and a cream sauce as a topping stemmed from a fabulous olive oil I received in the mail last week: Devo Olive Oil Company’s Wild Mushroom and Sage Olive Oil.

I was super excited to try this oil!  Devo makes some pretty cool balsamic vinegar and olive oils.

Dark Chocolate Balsamic, Coconut White Balsamic and my new Wild Mushroom and Sage Olive Oil

Last year I was in Branson visiting relatives, and my cousin Nikki and I did a lot of wine tasting.  We also ventured to the Landing (Nikki is the manager at Bath and Body Works @ the Landing–if you’re in Branson, stop in and tell her hello!) and into Devo’s shop.

It was so neat!  They had tons of vinegar and oils to sample.  I probably drank 1200 calories of just olive oil!  No lie.  They were all so good.  It was hard to choose, but Piyush and I came home with a Blackberry-Ginger Balsamic (my favorite!), Dark Chocolate Balsamic and Coconut White Balsamic.

I can’t wait to visit Branson again…and Devo will definitely be on my list of places to stop.  I’m such a food-nerd.

Anyway…the Wild Mushroom and Sage oil was really nice.  It lent a good flavor to my aromatics, and wasn’t too overpowering (sage can sometimes be a little overwhelming, in my opinion).

To make the tarts, I cut circles out of puff pastry–using plates as stencils.

I then traced a smaller circle inside the cut-out and poked holes in it with a fork, and tossed them in the fridge until I was ready for them.

Puff pastry involves a lot of butter, and you’ll want to keep that butter as chilled as possible.  If it warms up and melts into the dough, you won’t have that gorgeous, flaky and puffy crust.

I caramelized some sliced onions and fennel using the wild mushroom and sage olive oil.

Caramelized Onions and Fennel

Cooked up some mushrooms and shallots, also in the wild mushroom and sage olive oil.

Shallots– similar to an onion, but much more mild.

And I whisked together a creamy mushroom-flavored sauce.

Once all the layers to my tart were ready, I began to put everything together.  This recipe seems like a lot, I know…but I promise it’s not.  It’s a perfect meal for a lazy night at home.

I removed the puff pastry from the refrigerator and topped each circle with a little crumbled goat cheese.

then, tossed on the onion/fennel mixture.

And finally, topped with the mushrooms.

I baked the tarts in a oven heated to 425 degrees F for about 10 minutes, and when they were done they looked like this:

all puffed up!

I spooned some mushroom-cream sauce over the tarts and garnished with a little extra crumbled goat cheese and chopped parsley.

printer-friendly recipe

These were perfect for a nice, weekend lunch; but would also make amazing appetizers!  Use a smaller stencil, and you could get about 16 from one sheet of puff pastry!

Yum!

On another note, want to see some of my garden’s progress?  Of course you do! (haha…)

My treasured lavender plant. This is definitely my “baby” of the garden.

marigold! Reminds me of India….

peony–after a light rain

This is the same rose that budded in December—in Minnesota! It’s actually thriving now, surprisingly!

garlic, onions, shallots and some potatoes—growing good!

Yes, I grow awesome dandelions!!! lol