Tag Archives: wine

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

Chicken Breast with Mushrooms and Pan Sauce

Wild Mushroom and Marjoram Chicken

I started my morning off with a trip to the dentist.   It’s not the most pleasant way to begin the day and truthfully I had no idea that I even had an appointment.  There was some sort of a mix up at the office—they thought Piyush had an appointment at 7am, so they called to remind him about it.  He said he didn’t make the appointment, so they thought maybe it was me.  They called me and I had no idea that I made an appointment either (especially at 7!  on my day off!).   Since I was free for the day, they convinced me to go in and get my pearly whites cleaned and checked out.  Unfortunately, Dr. Watkins gave me some bad news…

This princess is getting a new crown!  I’ve never had a crown before—actually I’ve never really had any dental work, aside from some cavities filled.  Sadly it’s because of one of those cavities (mostly the really bad job my prior dentist did filling it) that I now need this crown.  Ok, and it might also be that I drank too much soda as a kid…and too much hard liquor as a college student, but there’s nothing I can do to change that now.  The damage has been done, my friends.

I was out of the dentist’s office in about an hour, and since I was already awake—and functioning—I decided I might as well check out the thrift store and see if I could find anything neat.  Today was a bust.  I didn’t find anything super exciting, but I did get a new book to read, a shirt for Piyush, some canning jars, a terra cotta garlic roaster and a cake platter.  Total spent?  Around 10 bucks.

There was a big dresser that matched the one I bought for my entry way, it was obviously from the same set.  I thought it’d make an awesome buffet for our dining room (with a little elbow grease and repurposing), but the price tag said $50.  That’s about 30 dollars too much, in my opinion.  So I passed.

When I got bored of thifting, I grabbed a few groceries and headed home to a sink full of dirty dishes.  At home, I was quickly reminded that it was winter and I needed to put on boots and stop wearing my totally awesome crocs:

click photo to go to the crocs website

Seriously, I never thought I’d be a croc kind of girl…but I love these shoes!  They’re slide ons—so they’re quick.  They’re durable, comfy and rubber (or something like that…I don’t really know what they’re made from, actually).  I hate wet feet, so these do a good job of keeping them dry.   I wore them everyday in India—even when we were climbing the steep hills of Darjeeling (I have really high arches and walk more on the sides of my feet. Even without my custom insoles these shoes give me no pain.)  Basically, I love this shoe.  But sadly, they have no traction…and are terrible on ice!  Lucky for me, I am a very graceful faller.  Like, really graceful.  You should have seen it.  I slipped on the ice, went into a perfect lunge—didn’t even crack my knee on the ground—and slid back up, all in one motion.  It was like some sort of weird ice ballet.  I bet it looked awesome.

After shimmying my way down to the mailbox, trying to avoid the ice…and back up to the house, I decided to make Piyush a nice dinner.  I had some chicken breasts, so I knew that was going to be the base.

I eventually settled on seasoning the chicken breasts with marjoram, making a simple pan sauce and serving it all with mushrooms and roasted purple potatoes.  I was worried he wouldn’t like it.  But it turned out really delicious and he scarfed it down…no complaints.  He even told me the recipe was a “keeper.”  Yay.

Marjoram Chicken Breast with Mushrooms and Roasted Purple Potatoes

The purple potatoes were amazing!  I’ve never had them before so I had to try them out.  They taste really similar to red potatoes…but they’re such a beautiful color!

I cut them in half (or quarters, if they were big), drizzed them with some olive oil, seasoned with salt/pepper, added some chopped rosemary and smashed garlic and then roasted in the oven at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.  Simple.  Easy. Fast.

While they roasted away, I got to work on the chicken.

Marjoram Chicken with Mushrooms and Marsala Pan Sauce

(recipe inspired by Bon Appetit)

  • 4  skinless boneless chicken breast halves
  • 6 teaspoons dried marjoram (use fresh if you have it!), divided
  • 1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 10 ounces assorted wild mushrooms (I bought a frozen bag at the co-op…and they were awesome!)
  • 4 shallots, diced
  • 3/4 cup low-salt chicken broth (make your own!)
  • 1/4 cup half and half
  • 1 tsp. flour
  • 3 tablespoons dry Marsala
  • Salt/Pepper

Directions:

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then 2 teaspoons marjoram (I didn’t really measure—just sprinkled liberally).

Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1/2 tablespoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to skillet and sauté until just cooked through. Transfer chicken to plate; tent with foil to keep warm.

Melt remaining 1 tablespoon butter with1/2 tablespoon oil in same skillet. Add mushrooms, shallots, and 2 teaspoons marjoram. Sauté until mushrooms are brown and tender, about 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to bowl.

Combine broth, cream, Marsala, rosemary and remaining 2 teaspoons marjoram in same skillet; boil until thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

Divide mushrooms among 4 plates. Top mushrooms with chicken. Spoon sauce over and serve.

This meal came in at around 650 calories for my portion (pictured above).  It’s not something I’d eat all that often, because it’s so rich.  But it’s definitely something I’ll make again!  It had a lot of flavors and they all worked extremely well with one another.  The original recipe didn’t call for rosemary but I thought it’d be a good addition…and I was right!

If you’re looking to impress someone (Valentine’s Day is around the corner….I’m just sayin’), this will do it.  This meal is seriously restaurant quality…and I’m not talking “Olive Garden” or “Applebees” kind of restaurants.  This tasted like something I’d expect from a really fancy place.  It was that good!

Now that I have a full belly, Teen Mom is over, and my face has been cleansed…it’s off to bed!  I have a long day tomorrow!

pheasant

Braised Pheasant with Red Cabbage and Wild Rice

I come from a family who loves to hunt for their food.  Saturdays and Sundays during the fall were spent walking the fields around SE Minnesota, with dogs in tow, trying to flush out birds.  …Pheasants, to be exact.

This is Titan. He's a britany spaniel. He's one of many, many hunting/family dogs we've had through all the years

I never really enjoyed hunting and only went with a few times (I never actually carried a gun…and if I would have, I would have never been able to point it at something to kill it.  That’s just not something I could do).   Most of the times that I tagged along, I was more of an annoyance for my dad than anything.  I hated that I had to be quiet, I didn’t like that you couldn’t eat anything for hours on end, and I despised that I was really expected to go to the bathroom behind some trees?!?!  I also didn’t enjoy when I’d be walking along, minding my own business, and all the sudden a pheasant would fly up right in front of me!  That is scary!

Aside from not enjoying hunting, I also refused to eat any of their kills.  Infact, this extended to me refusing to eat fish as well.  I just could not bear to see an animal being shot, skinned, caught or filleted.  I was kind of a hypocrite though.  I’d eat beef and chicken without ever questioning how it got on my plate.  My mom would often cook venison and pheasant and tell me that it was beef or chicken.  She knew I liked the taste, but if I knew the truth, I would not touch it. This lasted for years.

Eventually, when I was in college, I began to eat venison occasionally…and I loved it!  I also started eating fish again.  I still refused the pheasant. But last year my brother in law went pheasant hunting for the first time,

Brian, after his first hunting adventure

he got 2 birds and gave one to Piyush.  Piyush has never eaten pheasant and really wanted to try it, so I agreed to fix it for him.  …I put the bird in the freezer, where it has been haunting me ever since.

The truth is, this is the first time I have knowingly eaten pheasant since I was probably 10 years old.  It is also the first time I have ever cooked it.  Mom always put it in the slow cooker with some veggies, but I didn’t really want to do that.  So I turned to google.  Not very many recipes turned up, and so I decided to search epicurious.  Success!  I found a recipe for “Braised Pheasant with Red Cabbage Wild Rice”.  This sounded delicious!…but then again, anything with wild rice sounds delicious to me!

I have to say, this recipe was incredibly time consuming.  You have to be a good multi-tasker (thank god, I am) for this to be a success.  It also uses a lot of pans and utensils, so aside from having awesome multitasking skills, you should also have extraordinary dish washing abilities.  Believe me, you’ll need them!

I followed the recipe for the most part, but had to make a few substitutions.  I also noticed that the recipe had some major problems—mainly involving the wild rice.  It called for 1 cup of water to 1/2 cup of rice.  Now, if it was regular white rice, this would not be an issue.  But wild rice is not white rice.  It needs approximately 4c of liquid to ever 1c of rice.  The recipe also says to bake the rice.  I did as I was told, but I did not like the results and would totally do it differently next time.  I’d boil the rice, uncovered, on my stove top.  Rice aside, this recipe was pure gold!  The flavor was tremendous and I could imagine ordering this at a high class restaurant (and paying a pretty penny for it, too!).

 Braised Pheasant with Red Cabbage Wild Rice (via Epicurious)

The Recipe:

For wild rice

  • 1/2 cup wild rice
  • 1 cup chicken broth (please, increase this to 2c…at least!)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 small onion, sliced thin
  • 2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage (about 1/6 head)
  • 2 teaspoons red-wine vinegar ( I used a mixture of balsamic vinegar–probably 2 teaspoons, and red wine–probably a good 3/4 of a cup.  It made the flavor shine!)

For pheasant

  • a 2-pound pheasant (mine was skinless, breasts still on bone)**
  • 1 1/2 cups water (I skipped this and used chicken broth instead)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (made my own using equal parts cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup minced shallots (about 3)
  • 1/4 cup gin
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste (I used 1/2 of a large sized heirloom tomato)
  • a 3-inch fresh rosemary sprig plus 1/2 teaspoon minced leaves (had to use dried.  Unfortunately.  I didn’t have fresh on hand)
  • 1/2 cup halved red and/or green seedless grapes (I used red, and this totally made the recipe!)

**I think you could probably substitute chicken, venison, maybe even beef? for the pheasant in the recipe and it would turn out divine!

Make wild rice:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a fine sieve rinse wild rice well and drain. In a small saucepan bring broth to a simmer. In a small flameproof casserole Sauté rice in oil over moderately high heat, stirring, 1 minute and stir in hot broth and salt and pepper to taste. Bring mixture to a boil and bake, covered, in middle of oven 1 hour, or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

While rice is cooking, in a 10-inch skillet cook bacon over moderate heat until crisp and transfer to paper towels to drain. Transfer all but 1 tablespoon drippings to a small bowl and reserve for cooking pheasant.

Heat drippings remaining in skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté onion and cabbage, stirring, until softened. Add vinegar and salt and pepper to taste and sauté, stirring, 1 minute. Chop bacon. Just before serving, stir cabbage mixture and bacon into wild rice.

Again, I have to say, Please boil the rice.  It’ll turn out better.  If you insist on baking it, at least increase the liquid by about 4 times. 

Make pheasant while rice is cooking:

Rinse pheasant under cold water and pat dry inside and out. Cut pheasant into 6 serving pieces, transferring feet, back, neck, and wing tips to a small saucepan. To saucepan add water and bay leaf and simmer, uncovered, 15 to 20 minutes, or until reduced to about 3/4 cup. Strain stock through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl.

In a small bowl stir together salt, pepper, and allspice. Pat pheasant dry again and sprinkle evenly with allspice mixture. In a 10-inch heavy ovenproof skillet heat oil with 1 tablespoon reserved drippings over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and sauté pheasant until golden, about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer pheasant to a plate.

In fat remaining in skillet cook raisins and shallots over moderate heat, stirring, until shallots are softened. Stir in gin and boil until most is evaporated. Stir in wine and boil until reduced by about half. Stir in stock, tomato paste, rosemary sprig, and salt and pepper to taste and bring sauce to a boil.

Add pheasant to sauce, skin sides down, and braise, tightly covered, in middle of 350°F. oven until breast meat is cooked through and tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer breasts to a clean plate and keep warm, covered. Braise legs and thighs until cooked through and tender, about 10 minutes more. Transfer legs and thighs to plate and keep warm, covered. Stir minced rosemary and grapes into sauce and boil until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.

Divide pheasant between 2 dinner plates, spooning sauce over it, and serve with red cabbage wild rice.

I wish my house had better lighting in the evening, because these photos don’t even do this dish justice!  It was stunning on the plate!

Fantastic!

After eating pheasant again…and not being tricked into it…I have to say, we’ll be eating this more often!  The meat was moist and had so much flavor.  It wasn’t tough at all (which is sometimes a problem with pheasant).  The grapes added at the end were brilliant!  They added a little sweetness and were flavored with that beautiful sauce.  I wish you could taste it right now!!!
I’d really like to make this for my family and see what their thoughts are.  They’ve only had pheasant in a crock pot, so I think it would be quite the change!
DSC01498

Coq Au Vin

Today I was craving Coq Au Vin.  I’m not really sure why I was craving it, because I’ve never actually had it before.  It just sounded good.  The weather has been dreary so something slow cooked sounded amazing.  I knew I wanted to use chicken and some veggies, but I didn’t want a hotdish or a casserole (yes, in MN they are 2 different things!).  All the sudden coq au vin popped into my head and I couldn’t get it out.  I looked up a couple recipes in some books I had and then decided to google it too, just in case.  I chose to use Ina Garten’s recipe.  I swear, if you really want to cook something good and know the results will be completely delicious, you want to turn to Ina.  Ina knows everything.

Her recipe called for a dry red wine and some cognac, so I headed to the wine shop.  The guy is always so nice and I won’t buy my wine anywhere else, if I can help it.  I told him I didn’t want to spend a lot of money but I wanted something with incredible flavor.  He picked out Crane Lake,  a Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was only $4.99…which made my pocketbook happy.  When I was paying he told me how pretty my drivers license picture is and that it is one of the best he’s seen….which made me happy.

Then it was off to the butcher shop.  I wish Rochester had a butcher shop with more variety, but what the Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe lacks in product, it makes up for in customer service.  People are just so nice!  I got 1/4 lb of their house smoked bacon and a 3.5lb chicken.  The guy offered to dice up the bacon for me (how did he know that’s what I was going to do with it?) and he chopped the chicken into 8 pieces for me.  Next time I’ll ask them to slice the breasts in half too, they were just huge!

I finally made it home after adventuring around town and running all sorts of errands.  I got some oil in the dutch oven and sliced an onion and some carrots while it all got nice and hot.  When the oil was hot I threw in the bacon and let it sizzle.  I’m not someone who loves bacon…I’m not even sure that I like it all that much…but this stuff from the butcher shop was like nothing I’ve ever tasted from the grocery store.  It had so much flavor!

Then it was time to brown the chicken.  I’ve never actually fried anything successfully in my life.  I don’t like fried food, so I don’t make fried food.  I needed the skin to be crispy though so I tossed it in the hot oil and hoped for the best.  It got some nice color but gosh!, hot oil sure makes a mess!!!

A glass of wine makes frying chicken a whole heck of a lot easier! :)

I love that Coq Au Vin is, for the most part, a one pot meal.  After I set the chicken aside, it was time to throw the sliced onion, carrots and garlic in.  I also love that Coq Au Vin requires ingredients that I usually have on hand.  I only had to buy 4 things to make this dish.

After the carrots got a little tender and the onions turned a little brown…I dumped in the cognac and added the bacon and chicken back into the dish.  I poured 1/2 the bottle of wine and 1 cup of delicious, homemade chicken stock into the pot.  I keep chicken stock in the freezer, frozen flat in ziplock bags.  It’s so easy to make and tastes a billion-trillion times better than store bought.  I had forgot to thaw some out so I simply ran hot water over the bag until I had a cup of liquid.  I set the rest aside to finish thawing.

so easy!

I added some thyme and parsley to the pot and then plopped the lid on and put it into a 250 degree (preheated) oven.  I forgot about it for about 40 minutes…during which I made 3 batches of butter-cream frosting for a wedding cake I’m working on tomorrow.  Making the frosting is the worst part!  I absolutely hate it, but now it’s over so I’m feeling a little better about it.  :)  I also tossed 5 small red potatoes into a pot of boiling water.  When they were done cooking I drained the liquid into a jar.  You want to keep that stuff!  It makes awesome bread.

Make sure to slap a label on it! It looks almost the same as chicken stock!

I threw a little butter into a pan and once it got hot, tossed in 3 fat cloves of garlic.  I sauted for a little while until the garlic was cooked.  Added in some chives and the potatoes, and then smashed away!!!  I added a little of the potato water to the potatoes along with a few ounces of goat cheese, because everything is better with goat cheese!!!

Back to the Coq au Vin.  I chopped the stems off the mushrooms and sliced them pretty thick.

I sauted them in 1tbsp of butter until they were nice and tender…but not overcooked!  The cooked mushrooms and some peeled pearl onions  (definitely buy these frozen….or else they’re just a pain in the ass!) got tossed into the pot and left to simmer awhile with everything else.  It was really that easy!!!  I think it took me about an hour and a half from start to finish—including the time it was chillin’…errr…cookin’ in the oven.

time to dig in!

so good that there was nothin' but chicken bones left!

Find Ina’s recipe for Coq Au Vin HERE.

Garlic-Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

(about 6 servings)

  • about 5 small to medium red potatoes, skin on.
  • 1tbsp. butter
  • reserved potato water
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chives, chopped
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, minced
  • goat cheese, to your taste

Directions:

  • Boil some water in a large pot.  Once it’s boiling add in the potatoes.  Allow them to boil for about 20 minutes or until tender.
  • Strain potatoes from water, reserving water for later.
  • Heat 1tbsp butter in a pot and add the garlic.  Saute until it’s cooked.  Add the chives and the potatoes.  Mash the potatoes until they are a smooth consistency.
  • Add in the goat cheese—to your taste, and keep mashing.  Add salt and pepper.
  • Keep mashing, adding reserved potato water a little at a time until you get super smooth, yummy mashed potatoes!

Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Now…time to relax, finish my glass of wine and watch Teen Mom.  Ahhh!  Tuesday nights!