Sunday, August 27, 2006

Caramelized fig tart with pecan crust

I'm always up for a challenge (well, usually) so when Urban Vegan mentioned her tART contest I got to thinking of what I could make. I didn't want to go to the store so that limited my options. As luck would have it we have two extremely prolific fig trees so I started there. I found a recipe on epicurious.com that looked like it would be easy to veganize. I also happened to have all the other ingredients I'd need on hand.

I was in the middle of preparations when dh decided to take the dogs for a walk. Since he couldn't persuade one of the girls to go with him I told him I'd go along. So off we went - two people, two very happy dogs and one burner still on. Now, you'd think after the blackened tofu incident I would be a little more cautious. You may be thinking perhaps an assisted living facility might be in order... In any case - the girls were home and had the figs started burning they would have been able to handle it. As it was, we came home to some really deliciously caramelized figs - not burned at all. If the dogs had been up for a longer walk it might have had a less happy ending. I don't know that I'd do it that way again but it worked out this time.

The other thing I realized is that if you are making tART for a contest where photography is a big part of it choosing a recipe where the crust and filling are all shades of BROWN probably isn't the best strategy. As I always say, I am a work in progress.

Caramelized fig tart with pecan crust

12 ounces Calimyrna figs, stemmed, chopped
1 cup water
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon (packed) grated lemon peel

Almond meal
6 oz pecans, toasted, cooled
heaping 1/2 cup sugar
scant 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch salt
Energ-G egg replacer - 1 egg

3 oz. chocolate chips

For Filling:

Combine all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves and mixture boils. Reduce heat to medium, cover and cook until figs are very tender, about 35 minutes. Uncover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and filling is thick, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes (or if you take your dogs for a walk and forget the stove is on...30 minutes).

Transfer filling to processor. Using about 5 on/off turns, process just until mixture holds together. Transfer to small bowl; cool filling. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

For Crust:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place round tart pan with removable bottom onto waxed paper. Trace outline of pan bottom on paper; set paper aside. Line pan with heavy-duty foil. Grease foil; dust with almond meal. Combine pecans, sugar, ginger and salt in processor; finely grind nuts. Add egg replacer and process until moist clumps form. Using moistened fingertips, press 3/4 cup dough over bottom and up sides of prepared pan (crust will be thin). Bake crust until puffed and dry looking, about 14 minutes. Transfer pan to rack; press bottom of crust lightly to flatten. Cool crust completely. Maintain over temperature.

Stir 3 ounces chocolate in top double boiler set over simmering water until melted. Spread over bottom of crust. Spoon filling over chocolate.

Press remaining dough over traced circle on waxed paper, filling outline completely. Using paper as aid, turn dough circle over onto tart, aligning carefully; peel off paper. Pinch edge of crust and top dough together to seal.

Bake tart until top is golden and dry looking, about 28 minutes. Cool tart completely in pan on rack. (Can be prepared ahead. Wrap in foil and store 1 day at room temperature or refrigerate up to 5 days.) Push up pan bottom to release tart. Peel off foil from bottom.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

We survived the first week of school!

It was hard getting back into the groove but we all managed. The weather has been beautiful - cool in the mornings leading up to very warm afternoons, then cooling down again at night. Perfect!

I've always tried to take a first day of school picture - and one of these days I will gather them all together. I took one on Tuesday and then dug out this other one that was their first day of preschool - 13 years ago. It has really been just a blink of an eye, those 13 years...

I did a little cooking this week - made some taquitos with black beans and soy cheese that were baked in the oven - they fell apart a little bit but they tasted good! I also made a curried "chicken" salad. I used to make this back when we ate chicken and I think I made it once with tofu and didn't like it so much. I probably have better ways to prepare the tofu now so I should try that again - but I had a couple boxes of Gardenburger chik'n patties so I pan fried those and chopped them up for this salad. I used this recipe from epicurious.com substituting vegan version of mayo and yogurt. I also used apple instead of mango, almonds instead of cashews and added raisins. It was the perfect dinner for a busy school night - I'd made it in the morning and it was ready when we were. I sent the leftovers in Hallie's lunch and she said all her friends tried it and like it... It is, however, one of those things that doesn't photograph all that well:

I've also realized that I need to do some updating on this blog - there are so many great blogs that I read but that I don't have links to on this page. It's on my list! I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Plum Galette

The craziness that is the school year has begun. And other than dropping one kid off for soccer practice on the wrong day and leaving half an hour early today (they start late on Wednesdays) - it's gone okay ;-)

Our dinner with friends the other night went well. I made pasta with garlic cream sauce and it was as awesome as the last time I made it. Truly - an amazingly rich tasting sauce without a drop of cream. My friend told me a funny story from the last time they were over for dinner. That time I made tostada salads and used the smartground taco/burrito soy meat. My friend's 9 year old daughter was talking about the dinner on their way home and how much she liked the salad. But then she said in a worried voice "did they eat the meat that was in it? I think they ate meat mom!"

We also had some delicious bruschetta with heirloom tomatoes and basil. My birthday is next week and it happens to fall the day before Millenium Restaurant holds its annual heirloom tomato dinner. So we will be having my birthday dinner a day late so that we can try this menu. I can't wait!

For dessert I made a really simple but delicious plum galette.

I had bunch of organic plums I'd gotten at the Berkeley Bowl and a single pie crust in the freezer. I used this recipe from epicurious.com. It was easy since I already had a crust. I didn't leave enough of a border to really wrap the dough up and over the edges but that gave me more room for plums. For a topping other than their suggested crème fraîche I made spiced rice dream from the Millenium cookbook. It made an excellent topping and complemented the plum flavor perfectly.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Back to school

Here it is - the last weekend before school starts. This summer seemed to fly by...I certainly didn't accomplish half the things I'd hoped to.

I've been doing some cooking - just not blogging. Here are a couple things we've had lately:

Roasted vegetable ravioli (Rising Moon Brand) with olives, tomatoes and basil. I had a container of olives, mushrooms, peppers, etc from the olive bar at the grocery store. So I sliced everything and warmed it up in a bit of olive oil. Then I tossed the ravioli with that mixture, chopped tomatoes and basil from the garden:

I made some quesadillas with the Follow Your Heart nacho flavored cheese - I'd planned on using the monterey jack flavor but they didn't have it at the store - I'd never tried the nacho and it is actually pretty spicy which was fine for us but Hallie thought it was too hot. I roasted some poblano chilies and cut them into strips and put the cheese and chilies in large corn tortillas. I used just a little bit of spray oil and cooked them until the cheese was melted and the tortillas were browned. These were so simple but very tasty - served with refried black beans and homemade guacamole. Hallie actually came home from Costa Rica liking black beans and guacamole - that alone made that camp worth every penny!

Tonight we're having my best friend and her family over again - they are like family to us and I love cooking for them. I'm going to make the Millennium pasta with garlic cream sauce that I made awhile back. It's so easy and it was a huge hit in this household! I'll also be trying out another dessert so I'll post that if it turns out. It's hard to believe that 48 hours from now my kids will be back in class...

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Two simple desserts

I got one kid home from Costa Rica (not without incident I might add - a missed connection - but they did get on the last flight out of Miami...) then turned around the next day and headed back to the airport to drop the other one off for a flight to UCLA and two weeks of performing arts camp. It's been a busy household with the washing machine running non-stop.

Saturday night we had my best friend and her family over for dinner. I made tostada salads - it was simple but good. I served some jicama that was tossed with lime juice, salt and chili powder. The little ones visiting thought they were french fries - I think they were a tad bit disappointed but the rest of us loved this healthy, crunchy dish.

For dessert I made two different things - both extremely simple - but very well received. First I had a new vanilla rice cream - Good Karma Very Vanilla Rice Cream (I got it at Trader Joe's). I let it soften a bit and then spread it on Anna's Ginger Thin cookies. I topped it with another cookie and then popped them back into the freezer. This was popular with everyone but particularly the kids:

I also made individual deep dish blackberry pies. I was able to pick some blackberries on our street but not nearly enough so I got some frozen organic blackberries at Whole Foods. I cheated on the crust - I had a frozen pie crust (also from WFM) and used a cookie cutter to cut out circles that I placed on top of the berries. Then I used all the various scraps and placed them around the edges. I brushed it all with soymilk and sprinkled it with cinammon and sugar. I baked them at about 425 for 30 minutes.

These were so good. I've never been a big pie fan - I don't dislike it - it's just not one of my favorites. But the pie I do love is blackberry or boysenberry. And what I'm after is the fruit, not crust so I like this deep dish option.

We only have two weeks until school begins again - hopefully I'll be able to post more once the routine settles in. This weekend I'll be playing in San Francisco with the sistahs (my online young cancer survivors group). We know how to have FUN!