Saturday, May 21, 2011

The best ever asparagus tart

My mom has made this tart (I would call it a quiche, but what do I know?) several times, most recently yesterday for lunch with some of her church lady friends and today for lunch with my grandparents. It's delicious and makes a great meal with fruit or a green salad. It comes from a cookbook written by former First Lady of Alabama Patsy Riley. One of my second cousins was the social secretary for the governor, Bob Riley, and one year she gave us the cookbook for Christmas. Her husband was the head of security for the governor, and he is even mentioned in the book on page 47! The cookbook has a more varied selection than you might expect. It has a lot of standard Southern recipes, but she also included a section with a recipe from the first family of every state (the Palins sent a salmon recipe and a black cod recipe, both of which look pretty good) and a section of recipes from a few of the first ladies of the nation. The one for Abigail Adams involves larding a salmon with a skinned eel. I don't think I'll be attempting that. My mom has had fun trying some of the recipes, and this one is definitely a keeper!

Best Ever Asparagus Tart
(from When the Dinner Bells Rings at the Governor's Mansion by Patsy Riley)

1 pie crust, store-bought or homemade
1 lb asparagus spears
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup half and half
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 eggs
2 cups (about 8 oz) shredded Swiss cheese
1 cup (about 4 oz) grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Place the pie crust in a lightly greased 9-inch pie or tart pan and bake for 12 minutes. Let stand until cool, and leave the oven on.

Snap or cut off the bottom of the asparagus spears. Cut the spears into 3-inch pieces. Steam or blanch the asparagus, drain, and set aside.

Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and saute until tender, about 7 minutes.

Combine the cream cheese, mayonnaise, half and half, flour, and eggs in a mixing bowl and beat until blended. Stir in the onion mixture and Swiss cheese. Arrange the asparagus in the pie shell and pour the cream cheese mixture on top. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Jasmine tapioca pudding

This rather unphotogenic pudding is like eating bubble tea: milk, jasmine tea, and tapioca. I saw the idea in a cookbook but based the recipe on the back of the box of tapioca. I was trying to use the last of the tapioca before my move (in just eight days!), so I added about twice the amount of tapioca, and it was definitely too congealed. The recipe below reflects what I think would be a better ratio. I found the jasmine taste to be a little strong and soapy the first day, but it mellowed as it aged, and it's really nice a few days later.

Jasmine tapioca pudding

2 3/4 cups milk
3 tbsp loose jasmine tea
1/4 cup minute tapioca (or quick-cooking, not the stuff you have to soak overnight)
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten

Bring milk and tea to steaming point (probably around 180 F) in a medium saucepan. Turn off heat and steep for ten minutes. Strain and discard tea leaves.
Combine milk, tapioca, sugar, and egg in saucepan again. Let sit for five minutes. Turn heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and eat warm, room temperature, or chilled.

Monday, May 2, 2011

BBQ pizza

Inspired by Golda of The Weekly Pizza, whose mission I admire very much, I decided to make a bbq pizza for lunch on Saturday. I used my go-to half whole wheat crust. I jazzed it up a bit more than Golda did, adding kale and pineapple, two of my favorite pizza ingredients. Next time, I might use more sauce or a spicy wing sauce like she did. The sauce kind of disappeared, even though I thought I put a pretty thick layer on. My sauce was sweet prepared bbq sauce mixed with a spicier steak sauce in equal portions.
I intended to use both "pizza blend" and blue cheese, but I forgot to add the blue cheese. That might have been too much, though, with the extra ingredients. The end result was a pretty satisfying pizza, and I think it was even better as dinner the next day, although maybe that's just because I was really hungry!

BBQ pizza

1/3 cup steak sauce
1/3 cup prepared BBQ sauce1/4 pound firm tofu, pressed and cut into 1-inch cubes
Vegetable oil for sauteing
1/2 medium onion, sliced into half-rings
3 kale leaves, washed and coarsely chopped
1 pizza dough, rolled out
1 cup (or so-I didn't measure) pizza cheese
8 oz diced pineapple

Mix steak sauce and BBQ sauce in a medium bowl. Place tofu in a large container with a sealable lid and spoon some sauce onto it until it's covered. Marinate for about 30 minutes. Spread in a single layer on a baking pan. Bake in an oven or toaster oven at 350 for about 30 minutes, turning once while cooking. The tofu should be a little chewy. Set aside.

Pour oil into a saute pan. Add onion and cook, disturbing only occasionally, until onion is soft and has browned a little. Add the kale and cook until wilted. Set aside.

Spread remaining sauce on pizza dough, or make up some more if necessary. Cover with pizza cheese and add tofu, pineapple, and kale, in that order. Bake in preheated 425-degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until crust is done.