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Mini Shepherd’s Pie Tarts

17 Mar Shepherd's Pie Tarts (golden brown)

Luck o’ the Irish be with you all! Ho ho ho!

Just imagine a big leprechaun saying this.

But either way, I think I just combined two holidays (St. Patrick’s Day and Christmas). Uh, that kind of shows you how much I know about St. Patrick’s Day lingo. And I just found out after I made the mini shepherd’s pies that they aren’t even Irish; they’re English. (I know I’m 1/8th Irish, but hey, I just found out a earlier this year.)

Anyway, if you’ve got nothing better to do, then sit back and enjoy my anecdote and lovely pictures.

For a recipe, please comment below or email me at nell.notebook@yahoo.com

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In the Kitchen with Sarah Lodick (Sur La Table)

9 Aug

When I got back from UC Davis, I did not have much planned except for doing homework. How lame, I know.

So by Tuesday night, I had pretty much finished my summer reading assignment to read and respond to online questions regarding the chapter themes of “The Axemaker’s Gift” by Burke and Orstein. Don’t misjudge the book by my unenthusiastic attitude though. It’s a rather interesting take on how technology has changed man’s perspective of the world and how man can get back in touch with his more natural roots. If you’re looking for a serious read, this is a good choice.

Luckily, my mom already had things planned for me for the rest of the week. She had apparently called the Sur La Table in San Francisco Union Square to see if there was still room in the Teen Baking Camp; and luckily for me, there was not only room available but Chef Sarah Lodick was still willing to let me join the class for the rest of the week! Sarah had remembered me from last year and knew that I was not a troublemaker and readily let me join.Sur La Table Kitchen

Monday was apparently “Breakfast Creations” and Tuesday had been “Shortcakes, Cobblers, and Crisps”, but I don’t mind having missed these classes because Sarah gave me the recipes for the savory scones, nectarine and blueberry crisp, cherry almond crisp, (and more!).

Wednesday, “Pies and Tarts”

When I came in on Wednesday, the theme was “Pies and Tarts” so we – the 12 teens – made a banana cream pie with a Nutella Crust (delicious!), an all american apple pie, a chocolate pecan pie, and a lemon tart.

Chef Sarah putting the final "burn" on the lemon tart

Chef Sarah putting the final "burn" on the lemon tart

Lemon Tart

Lemon Tart - my student partner and I actually made this!

The Apple Pie

The Apple Pie - check out the cute apple cut-outs!

The Chocolate Pecan Pie

The Chocolate Pecan Pie - filled with toasted, nutty pecans and chocolate chunks

Even though the class was nice to take because we got to eat whatever we made, I think what I enjoyed the most was the quick baking lessons Sarah taught us.

On Wednesday, Sarah clarified the single difference between a pie and a tart, which is that a pie is meant to be served in the decorative pie ceramic/tin while a tart is meant to be served on a plate to show its decorative crust.

The second lesson of the day was between the different kinds of salts used in cooking and baking. The first shown to us was Kosher salt, which is what is primarily used in cooking because it does not have a very salty taste. This is why in cooking shows you’ll see the chef put in what seems to be a large amount of salt. Because Kosher salt is not as salty, the chef can put more of it in the dish.

The second salt was sea salt because it was going to be used in a chocolate chip cookie recipe the next day. This salt is often used in baking rather than cooking. The third salt was Morton’s iodized table salt – the salt that is in the salt shaker at a table. This is the saltiest of all the salts so it is only used in small amounts. Sarah then showed us flavored salts, flaky salts, and a block of pink salt. Who knew that there were so many kinds of salts?

Amazingly enough, when I went to check out the open house of the Art Institute in San Francisco, the chef had prepared a similar salt tasting.

Thursday, “Chocolate Overload”

On Thursday, the theme of the camp was “Chocolate Overload”. Simply by reading the name, I should have known what kind of overload I would be in for. But no, I barely considered what kind of overload would be presented to me when I arrived.

The recipes for the day included: Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt, Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes with Ganache Glaze,  Chocolate Profiteroles with Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate Hazelnut Bread Pudding, and Chocolate Soufflés. That’s what I call an overload of chocolate.

Chocolate Souffles

Chocolate Souffles and Chocolate Chip Cookies (in background)

Chocolate Profiterolesand Chocolate Bundt Cake Slices

Chocolate Profiteroles and Chocolate Bundt Cake Slices - it's like a work of art with the light reflecting off the chocolate sauce!

Before any of the desserts were made, Sarah treated us to a mini chocolate tasting. Using E. Guittard chocolate, she gave each of us semi-sweet, bittersweet, milk chocolate, and white chocolate pieces. She explained the difference between all these kinds of chocolate, which is the ratio of  chocolate liquor to to cocoa butter. Best of all, she explained the whole chocolate process. I’ll repeat it here in case you don’t know how chocolate is made. :)

  1. The cocoa beans are taken from the cocoa plant pod and roasted in a large oven after being sorted out for quality. The roasting dries the bean to bring out the aroma and flavors.
  2. The cocoa beans are then cracked and the inside of the beans are broken into bits called cocoa nibs. These nibs taste just like chocolate except they’re extremely bitter. However, they are sometimes used to decorate the sides of a cake.
  3. The cocoa nibs are crushed and thickened into a paste called chocolate liquor – it has no alcohol! The cocoa nibs can also be made into cocoa liquor through a hydraulic machine that will separate the cocoa from the cocoa butter.
  4. The chocolate liquor is then mixed with different amounts of  cocoa butter according to the manufacture’s taste. Milk, vanilla, and sugar are added as well. To make white chocolate, one must only add these ingredients to the cocoa butter – leave out the chocolate and cocoa liquor.
  5. Finally, through a refining and tempering process, the chocolate is made to have the texture of the chocolate bars we know today.

And there you go! The chocolate process.

For more information on the chocolate making process, check out: How Chocolate Is Made

The last lesson in chocolate Sarah taught us was the difference between Dutch-processed cocoa and unprocessed cocoa, which is that Dutch-processed cocoa is treated with alkali to neutralize the chocolate’s acids. Again, I was happy to know that I was doing more than just baking with Sarah at Sur La Table; I was learning too!

Chocolate Tasting

Chocolate Tasting - the small little jars are chocolate at its different phases; the larger boxes are the types of finished chocolate.

Friday, “Cupcake Madness”

When I realized that Friday was “cupcake madness” I was not looking forward to it initially. I have had so many bad attempts at making cupcakes and then frosting them at home that I was not particularly excited about Friday’s class. Not even the recipes for the day really intrigued me except for the coconut raspberry cupcakes. The rest seemed medicore at best.

Oh, but boy was I wrong. (See, this is why I try to keep an open mind because the rare times that I don’t, I am always pleasantly surprised!)

Because of the small size of the class, I only worked with one other student and we got to bake TWO recipes instead of just one! My partner and I baked up the coconut raspberry cupcakes and the brownie cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. The rest of the groups made the red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting (my second choice), caramel cupcakes with caramelized frosting,  and black and white cupcakes.

Cupcake Madness

Cupcake Madness - the big front three are caramel cupcakes; the front small minis are the brownie cupcakes with peanut butter frosting; the back are the coconut raspberry mini cupcakes, red velvet, and black and white cupcakes. These lasted my family and I a good three days to finish. My dad agreed on the superb taste. :)

I have to say that one of my favorites (with no bias!) was the coconut raspberry cupcakes because they had a distinct texture and taste. I had never tasted anything like it before so the mingling of raspberry and coconut was new to me. The caramel cupcakes were pretty good. I’m not much of a caramel fan so this could be why I didn’t find it that great. But it did taste like caramel and the frosting paired well with the cake part.

The brownie cupcakes with peanut butter frosting seemed to be an odd pair. I remember reading the recipe and thinking, “Really?”, but the peanut butter actually complemented the brownie. This combination worked well texture-ly because the peanut butter and brownie are both dense.

Another good reliable cupcake was the black and white  variety. I did not help make these cupcakes so I didn’t know what it would taste like but when I tasted it, I was very pleased. The white and black frosting on the top had a distinct sweetness like I had expected, but the cake itself was lemon so it cut through the sweetness and balanced it out. I’m not sure if you’re a lemon cake fan, but this was good. As of recently, I’ve begun to enjoy the taste of a lemon cake. Not of the lemon tart though because the liquidy lemon-ness of the tart was too much for me. But a lemon cake is beautiful.

Of the cupcakes, I did have a “first”.

Before Friday, I had never tried a red velvet cupcake. I know that sounds strange for a baker, but I’ve never actually tried one. The only red velvet cupcakes I had seen before were in Starbucks, but I never thought of buying on there because I didn’t want my first red velvet cupcake to be from Starbucks of all places (no offense to Starbuck fans).

The special ingredient of red velvet, as Sarah explained, is the addition of cocoa in it so basically a red velvet cupcake has  a hint of chocolate flavor in it but it colored red. Apparently, the new fad is blue velvet cupcakes, according to Sarah, but I have yet to see a blue version of this cupcake.

Trying the red velvet cupcake was an experience for me. I took a bite not knowing what to expect, but it was good. The subtle cocoa flavor does the trick with this cake. I can now say that I am a fan of red velvet cake. And this was my favorite of all the cupcakes. :)

Another small tip for making frosting and cupcakes different colors, use gel food coloring! It helps keep the shape of the batter.

So that has been my baking adventures so far. It had only been four days since I got back from Davis and I was already in the kitchen. In fact, the night I got home, I made a pound cake but it was from a box so that doesn’t really count. It’s nice to be back home, but I’m still missing my YSP friends.

"YSP" in frosting

I got a bit distracted and wrote "YSP" in frosting during the time we were waiting for the cupcakes to bake.

If you are interested in the recipes of any of the foods I mentioned above, send me an email/comment and I’ll be happy to send you the recipe. :)

‘Til next time ~

From My Turkey Table to Your Christmas Table: Holiday Recipes

19 Dec

Phew! I finally have time to sit down and write to you guys! I know that it has been a while, and trust me I miss writing as much as I miss baking.

My Thanksgiving break only allowed a short fleeting moment for me to relax. I was basically in the kitchen baking like a mad woman. I had 1 apple pie, 4 pumpkin pies, 2 galettes, 1 apple strudel puff pastry, 1 large batch of FRESH dinner rolls and 1 batch of snickerdoodles to make. Our actual night-before Thanksgiving dinner only had 1 apple pie, 1 pumpkin pie, and one batch of fresh dinner rolls, but the rest for the family in Los Angeles. Mom and I decided to fly down and visit Lola (Filipino for “grandmother”). We hadn’t seen her in over a year! It was good to see her even though she was a bit sick.

Anyhow, the dessert that got rave reviews was my apple pie. My dad, who – if you knew him would know that – doesn’t eat more than one slice of any dessert let alone have his slice with ice cream, had 1 slice of pumpkin pie, tried a small piece of the apple pie, and actually went back for a large slice of apple pie and topped it with a huge chunk of vanilla ice cream! It was absolutely amazing! What was probably more amazing was that our tiny, tiny kitchen apartment and oven (the miniature kind) was able to accommodate all that food. I now deem my oven “the little oven that could”. It was working from 8 am to 6 pm.

Since I think my dad’s dessert miracle moment was astounding, I’ve decided to post up my all-American apple pie recipe that I got from my Caucasian friend’s grandmother who grew up in Idaho. This is about the most American thanksgiving I’ve ever had: homemade pies, mashed potatoes, FRESH dinner rolls, and stuffing! And since my friend, Michelle, decided that the rolls were her favorite, I’ll post the recipe up too. They turned out soft, fluffy, and tasty! I suggest that you use them for your Christmas dinner/party. They are sure to be a hit!

Grandmother’s All-American Apple Pie

Thanks to my friend’s grandmother and her ancient family cookbook

Ingredients

For one 9-inch Pie

  • Two 9-inch pie crusts (can be found in the freezer section of grocery, or make it yourself from this recipe)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (both white and brown will work)
  • 1/4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Dash of salt
  • 6 cups thinly sliced pared tart apples or 6 medium apples (Green Granny Smith apples work best)
  • 2 tablespoons margarine or butter (if you use really sweet Fuji apples then omit this)
  • Aluminum foil
  • *For Dutch Apple Pie: 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • Procedure

    1. Preheat oven to 425.
    2. Mix sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in apples, coating each piece.
    3. Turn into pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with margarine/butter. If you have sweet Fuji apples, then you don’t need the butter.
    4. Cover with top crust that has slits cut in it; seal and flute. Cover edges with 3-inch strips of aluminum foil so that the edges of the crust won’t burn.
    5. Bake pie for about 30 minutes. Remove foil. Bake pie for another 15 minutes until crust is golden brown and juice begins to bubble through the slits in crust.
    6. *For a Dutch Apple Pie: Make extra large slits, take 5 minutes out of baking time; and before end of baking, pour 1/2 cup whipping cream through slits in top crust.
    7. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream! Enjoy!

    Dinner Roll

    Okay, so here’s the dinner roll recipe that I promised. This was my first time making them, but I was not disappointed! These turned out so soft and fluffy that I was so proud of myself. Just as a note, they spread out a lot when in the oven especially when they’ve risen well in a warm room.

    Grandmother’s Parker House Rolls

    By: Linda Larsen, About.com Guide

    “This recipe works best if you have a large stand mixer. If you don’t, go ahead and make it anyway. Just beat and beat the dough really well as you add the flour. Nobody will ever make these as light and fluffy as my Grandmother Matha did, but every year I try!”

    Prep Time: 45 minutes
    Cook Time: 20 minutes
    Makes: 24 rolls

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup whole milk
    • 2 pkg. active dry yeast
    • 1/2 cup butter, melted plus more for topping rolls
    • 1/4 tsp – 1 tsp salt
    • 1/4 cup white sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 4.5 – 5 cups all-purpose flour

    Procedure

    1. Warm the milk in a small saucepan over low heat. Make sure the milk is not too hot or else this will kill the yeast. Mix 1/3 of the milk with the dry yeast in a small bowl and let sit until bubbly, about 15 minutes.
    2. In a large bowl, combine remaining milk, melted butter, salt and sugar and beat until the sugar is dissolved. Then add the beaten eggs and bubbly yeast.
    3. Add flour, 1/4 cup at a time, beating on high speed of stand mixer. This step should take at least 5 minutes. When the dough gets too stiff to beat, stir in rest of flour by hand, if necessary, to make a soft dough.
    4. Turn out onto floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, until smooth and satiny. Place dough in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover and let rise in warm place until light and doubled in size, about 1 hour. (I have also covered the dough well and placed it in the refrigerator overnight. This works really well. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 1 hour before proceeding with recipe.)
    5. Punch down the dough and roll out on floured surface to 1/2″ thickness. Cut with 3″ round cookie cutter. Brush each roll with melted butter. Place in 2 greased 13×9″ pans, cover, and let rise again until double, about 45 minutes. (If you refrigerated the dough, this will take longer, about 60-75 minutes.)
    6. Bake rolls at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan immediately and brush with more melted butter. Don’t use the same butter you used when forming the rolls – melt some fresh just for this step.

    Mmkay, so now you’ve got both recipes. Both are very versatile: apple pie recipe can be used to make mini open-faced tartlets and dinner rolls can be shaped into knots and even put in brioche molds.

    Apple Pie Filing with Cranberries

    Mini Apple Tarlets

    Up-Close and Beautiful!

    Bon Appetite! :)

    American Tart: Banana, Strawberry, Blueberry Galette

    6 Aug


    By the looks of it, you might be thinking… “Hey…there’s some red…white…and blue… Oh! I get it! It’s an American Tart! Gotcha! …But wait, it’s past July 4th…”

    Yes, I’ll agree with you, it’s a great idea for July 4th. Had I realized that earlier I would have made it then. I didn’t actually notice the colors until I was assembling the galette.

    The story behind the galette is quite simple. If you’ve read my last post, then you’ll know that I made the savory onion, potato, Gruyere galette about a week ago. When I made the crust or that galette, I had made a second one for another galette. Since I had three ripe bananas at home and an abundance of blueberries, I decided that I’d make a galette with those two items. The strawberries came in at the last minute.

    My favorite part about this galette is that because I used ripe bananas, I only used 1/4 cup of sugar for the filling. :)

    If you’d like to make the recipe, then here it is! Just remember that this is my own experimental recipe!

    American Tart: Banana, Strawberry, Blueberry Galette Recipe

    Ingredients:

    • 1 flaky tart/pie dough from here
    • 3 ripe bananas (#7 at the right), sliced and chilled
    • about 5 or 6 medium strawberries, sliced from top to bottom
    • about 1/4 cup of ripe fresh blueberries
      I suggest fresh because it bakes quicker; otherwise, frozen blueberries at room tempt should work fine
    • 1/4 cup of white granulated sugar
    • 1 egg for egg wash

    Directions:

    1. Roll out the pie dough into a 10in circle, about 1/4 inch thick as best you can; galettes don’t have to be perfectly circular because you will end up folding the sides later. Place rolled out dough on a baking sheet either lined with parchment paper or greased. Chill about the dough on baking sheet for at least 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
    2. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the rack in the middle.
    3. Place the sliced strawberries and blueberries in a medium size bowl. Add the sugar and mix just until the sugar dissolves and the natural juices of the berries show.
    4. Take the dough and baking sheet from the refridgerator. Arrange the bananas pointing towards the center of the dough. The bananas should be easier to work with since they’ve been chilling. If you didn’t chill them, don’t worry. You’ll just have a stickier mess. :) Arrange the strawberries facing outwards and add the blueberries around it. It should look something like this.
    5. Fold up the sides of the tart so that it’s pleated and looks pretty. The berries will get very juicey if you placed the on top like I did, so make sure that your crust comes up pretty high, unlike mine below. I didn’t fold the tart high enough so the juices spilled out on the baking sheet, which resulted in a big mess.
    6. See? The blueberries are peaking out. Try covering them or use less bananas.

    7. Brush the tart dough with the whisked egg. This will make the tart a golden brown color.
    8. Place tart in preheated oven and bake for about 37 – 40 minutes or until crust is a golden brown color and fruits are somewhat soft.
    9. Once done, let it cool on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes. Otherwise serve warm and garnish with ice cream, whipped cream, or fresh berries. :)
    10. Enjoy!

    A Savory Onion, Potato, Gruyere Galette

    3 Aug

    Recipe from Sur La Table; recipe also available on blog

    I attended baking class at my local Sur La Table downtown. I’ve learned good tips about baking with cookies, pies, tarts, souffles, and just kitchen tips in general. One of the best things is that I got to keep all 25 recipes. :) The Onion, Potato, Gruyere (Cheese) Galette was a big hit at home so I decided I’d try to recreate the galette at home by myself (without the crew at the class). In case you don’t know what a galette is, a galette is a French pastry tart that can either be made sweet with fruit or savory for a dinner.

    Here’s my result!


    Here’s the recipe in case you wish to tackle it. You can also use your own high-quality pie dough from the store, but if you’re extra ambitious you use the following recipe for flaky, homemade pie/tart crust.

    I know that there looks like there is a lot of directions to read, but it’s actually a lot easier than that. Don’t be intimidated!

    Pie/Tart Crust Recipe

    *Can be made up to 2 days ahead, cover with plastic wrap, and keep refrigerator.

    Ingredients

    • 1 stick (4 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
    • 3 to 4 tablespoons cold water (I ended up using more; you need just enough water to allow the flour and butter to come together to make a dough)
    • 1 1/4 cup (6 1/4 ounces) unbleached, all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons sugar (omit for an savory crust; I forgot to do this and it turned out fine)
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt


    Equipment: small measuring cup, pastry blender or food processor, large bowl rolling pin, pastry brush(/span>

    Directions:



    Potato, Onion, & Gruyere Galette Recipe

    Ingredients:

    • 1 recipe Pie/Tart Dough (see above)
    • 1 1/4 tbs olive oil, plus 1 tbs for drizzling
    • 1 large onion (12 ounces), thinly sliced
    • 1/4 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme or rosemary (I used both)
    • 1/4 tsp plus 1 pinch kosher salt
    • black pepper
    • 4 ounces Gruyere cheese; coarsely grated
    • 1 lb red potatoes, washed (left unpeeled) and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
    • 1 egg, lightly beaten

    Equipment: rolling pin, baking sheet, parchement paper or a sillicone mat, medium saute pan large bowl, pastry brush, pairing knige, metal spatula, cooling rack, cake lifter or two metal spatulas, tart pan bottom, chef’s knife

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degree Fahrenheit and position an oven rack in the lower third. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Roll the dough out starting from the center outward while rotating the dough until the dough is circular and about 13 inches in diameter. Transfer to baking sheet and chill for 1 hour.
    2. Heat the 1/2 tbl olive oil in the medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly colored, about 8 to 10 minutes. (It only took me 8 minutes). Stire in the thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 5 grinds pepper and blender well. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.
    3. Combine the cooled onion mixture, cheese, and potatoes in a large bowl. Mound the filling in the center of the chilled tart shell, leaving a 1.5 inch border at the edge. Fold that border up around the filling, pleating it to make a pretty enclosure and leaving the center open. Drizzle the filling with the remaining 1 tbp olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and 3 grinds of pepper. Lightly brush the pleated dough with the beaten egg to give it a shine and help it brown in the oven.
    4. Bake the galette for 45 to 50 minutes. (It took my galette only 45 minutes), or until the pastry is golden brown and the potatoes are soft when tested with a pairing knife or skewer. Use the metal spatula to life the edge of the galette sightly and check underneath to see if the bottom crust is a beautiful brown color. If so, transfer to a rack to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
    5. Transfer galette to a serving plate with the cake lighter or 2 spatulas or tart pan bottom supporting the bottom as you move it. Slice with a chef’s knife and serve warm. If you like, serve with dollops of creme fraiche and spoonfuls of caviar.

    Storing:
    Store uncovered at room temperature for up to 6 hours, or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerator for up to days. Reheat in a 400 F for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

    I hope you enjoy! :)

    What I’ve Been Making Lately

    27 Jun
    Breakfast: Whole Wheat Pancakes with Strawberries

    Well, I’ve been having quite fun making breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings for the past two weeks and I’ve finally gotten around to posting the recipes and (delicious) photos. (You’ll come to learn that I use the word delicious a lot because, well, it is. :) )

    Whole-Wheat Pancakes with Strawberries

    This is a great alternative to the regular white flour pancakes. It keeps you fuller, offers more fiber, and is just naturally better for you than the processed stuff.

    Ingredients:

    – Bob’s Red Mill Buttermilk Pancake Mix (found here)
    *Just as a note, Bob’s Red Mill has so many other good mixes, flours, oats, and organic, non-gluten products. Check it out. I found it in my local Lucky’s Grocery store.

    Directions:
    You can either follow the directions on the back, or do what I do, which is…. omit the egg and just keep the same amount of water.
    1. Prepare and mix batter according to instructions on the box or on your recipe card.
    2. Pour about a teaspoon of oil on a pan on low heat. Sometimes I don’t even have to use oil if I use a non-stick pan.
    3. Pour about 1/4 or 1/4 of a cup of better into the pan.
    4. Watch for the bubbles to show evenly throughout the pancake and for the edges to turn slightly golden. (See picture below)
    5. Flip the pancake over. Cook otherside for less than a minute. Once done cooking, remove from pan immediately to prevent burning.
    6. Continue with the rest of the batter. Then marvel at your beautiful pancakes!
    Look for the bubbles and at the edges turning golden.

    Look for the bubbles and at the edges turning golden.

    Stuffed Tomato with Noodles

    Lunch Time: Stuffed Tomatoes with Noodles

    I took this idea from the “stuffed pepper” dinners I’ve seen on TV and in the magazines. This is a good alternative, but I must admit that there is an intense tomato flavor. Have more stuffing on the side.

    Ingredients
    serves 2

    • 2 large, round, stuffing tomatoes (or peppers)
    • 1.5lbs ground meat (i used lean ground turkey and sausages)
    • vegetables (optional), (i used broccoli)
    • 3-4 cloves cut garlic
    • pepper and salt for seasoning and to taste
    • pre-cooked noddles
    • 1 tbsp olive oil

    Directions:

    1. Heat a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil.
    2. Put in cut up garlic. Cook and stir until slightly brown.
    3. Put in ground meat (and sausages if uncooked) and cook until no pink shows, breaking it up into small pieces. Add in a pinch of salt and pepper. Put in sausages if already cooked and add in the vegetables. Add in some more pepper if needed.
    4. Cut up tomatoes and take out the seeds while the meat is cooking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    5. Once meat is done cooking, divide everything into two equal portions, and put in the tomatoes. If there is extra, save it for the topping of the noodles.
    6. Place tomatoes on greased baking sheet, and bake for about 25 minutes. Watch the oven consciously. It will be done when the tomatoes are tender, but not completely wilted. Tomatoes should serve as a bowl for the meat so try not to over cook it.
    7. Serve with noddles!

    Dessert: Blueberry Galette with Lemon Ice Cream

    Blueberry Galette Recipe

    Ingredients
    Serves 6-8

    For lemon ice cream

    • 1 pt superpremium vanilla ice cream
    • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

    For galette

    • 1 lb fresh blueberries (3 cups)
    • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
    • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
    • 1 (9-inch) refrigerated pie dough (from a 15-oz package)
    • 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

    Directions:

    1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and butter foil.
    2. Make lemon ice cream:
      Transfer ice cream to a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 30 percent power at 10-second intervals until softened, about 50 seconds total. Stir in zest and juice, then thinly spread in a shallow baking pan and freeze while making galette.
    3. Assemble and bake galette:
      Stir together blueberries, cornstarch, zest, juice, cinnamon, salt, and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl until combined.
    4. Unwrap pie dough and unfold onto baking sheet, then spoon blueberry mixture onto center of dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border around edge.
    5. Fold edge of dough over 1 inch of blueberry mixture, pleating dough, then dot blueberry filling with butter pieces. Lightly brush pastry with some of beaten egg and sprinkle with remaining teaspoon sugar.
    6. Bake until blueberry filling is bubbling and pastry is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool slightly on baking sheet on a rack. Serve warm galette with scoops of lemon ice cream.

    Blueberry Galette Recipe

    I hope you enjoy the recipes as much as I did. I have to say that the Blueberry Galette and lemon ice cream are probably the best recipes. But let me know, I could be wrong.