Monday, April 18, 2011

Baking Bits from the Welcome-back Party

Ok, so next up on the party line-up we had "Onion Tart with Mustard and Fennel" which basically starts out with an armful of onions... It is a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, a blog which I didn't get into for a long time, then realized how awesome, honest, and funny Deb the writer is. And I was looking for something low-maintenance, low-cost to fill up stomachs. This is a GREAT choice for that because it also tastes AMAZING!
When I saw what was involved {onion-caramelizing, real mustard, good cheese} I knew it would be a taste winner. The fennel would be a new twist for me and the long stove time would be fine because it was mostly no-fuss, no-touch, the kind of pot-watching I at which I excel. Tip from the photo at right- keep onions moist with parchment paper loosely covering your football field of onions. Then your reward is this:

You mix in a little cheese- it was supposed to be all Parmigiano, but I was wrestling with old HARD Parmesan and using both a microplane grater and a chef's knife, both unsuccessfully, to make it work. So I substituted some pre-grated mozzarella. I know, sue me! My fingers sure thanked me, but as you will see it led to a not so pretty result in the oven.
Here I was using my sister's old ruler to demonstrate that I was emphatically NOT at the required stretch-out length of 15"x12"- it was too ... crabby. Each time I tried to coax it out, either by hand rolling or with the rolling pin, it would ooze back into itself like a crabby-crab that didn't want to come out and play. This may have something to do with the fact that I let it rise too long... any help, readers? 

No matter, I eventually got to this stage, where I could schmear all that caramelized fennel-onion goodness onto the dough and it looked lovely. But then as you see below, sprinkling mozzarella on top of the tart made it broil and turn a different color- a bit weird-looking.
But it's all good, since it was dee-licious.
The other dish I feature today was a Baked Brie. No pictures, since it was in the oven, then out, then pretty much gone. And it was ri-di-culously easy. I bought two wedges of Brie from Trader Joe's, stuck them together facing each other, and placed them on a defrosted piece of puff pastry. I then rolled the puff pastry up over the Brie, and flipped it so that the squished-together bits were on the bottom. Then I baked it for about 40 minutes.
I served it with Trader Joe's Mango Ginger Chutney- a shortcut because I was making so many things but also a favorite of mine- but I also could have done as my base recipe told me and slathered it on top of the brie before closing it up in puff pastry. I forgot, and it might have been messier that way to flip it... if you try it, let me know!
Two dishes to do-mostly-ahead that would be great for a gathering at home! You're welcome.

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