Thursday, November 29, 2012

Ottolenghi's Surprise Tatin, Mostly

Over the last two weeks, I've made four different vegetable pies/tarts either directly out of or based on recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi's spectacular cookbook, Plenty. Three of them were made yesterday, because I'm a little bit insane. I am actually planning to announce my engagement to this magical book to my family at Christmas. Because... it's just that good. Here's the first of the recipes, and definitely my favorite of the four pies. I made a number of changes to ingredients based on what I had on hand, so if you'd like the original recipe you can find it here. (Note on the photo: I forgot to add the herbs before the potatoes, so they're hiding underneath. It would look much nicer if they were on top.)

surprise tatin modified recipe

2/3 cup sundried tomatoes in oil, drained
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 lb baby potatoes, washed but not peeled
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for dish
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
6 oz sharp cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
1 sheet puff pastry
1 small egg, beaten (optional)
parchment paper

Cook the potatoes in boiling, salted water for about 20 minutes or until softened. Drain and cool. Trim the tops and bottoms, and cut into 1-inch-thick discs. Preheat the oven to 400F.

Sauté the onion in the oil and a bit of salt over medium heat, or until brown. Add the garlic for the last few minutes, and cook until softened.

Pour a small amount of olive oil into the bottom of your pie pan, and use a paper towel or basting brush to wipe it evenly over the inside of the dish. Cut out a circle of parchment paper and line the bottom of the pan.

In a small pot, cook the sugar and butter on high heat until it forms a semi-dark caramel. Quickly pour the caramel into the pan (on top of the parchment paper) and tilt the dish to spread it evenly (you may need to use a spoon to help spread it). Scatter the chopped sage over the caramel.

Place the potato slices close together on top of the caramel, filling the pan. Gently press the onions, garlic, and sundried tomatoes into the spaces between the slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and spread the cheese slices evenly over the vegetables.

Roll out the sheet of puff pastry until it's a little bigger than the pan, and cut it into a circle. Place this on top of the cheese, tucking the edges down around the potatoes. Brush with the beaten egg if you have it on hand. 

Bake for 25 minutes, reduce the temperature to 350F and bake for another 15 or 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and puffy. Remove from the oven and let sit for a couple of minutes. Set a (heatproof!) plate upside-down over the dish and quickly flip them over so that the tart falls gently onto the plate.

The fact that I managed to flip this without damaging it is one of my proudest moments of the year. That never, ever works for me.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Crisp vegetable stir-fry with peanut sauce

I'm posting this more because it was so damn pretty than because it's a unique recipe, but it was damn tasty as well as being lovely. Nothing even vaguely authentic, just something I threw together because I had lots of vegetables and some leftover peanut sauce.

Peanut Sauce

1/2 cup peanut butter
2-3 dashes soy sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
sriracha sauce to taste

Mix the peanut butter, soy sauce, sriracha, and garlic powder together until the mixture is smooth. You may have to heat it a little to get it to mix, so do the mixing in a microwavable dish or a small saucepan. Add water, a tablespoon or so at a time, until the mixture has a thin-ish sauce consistency. Dip stuff into it or put it on stuff. Will last at least a week in the fridge.

Crisp Vegetable Stir-Fry

1 large carrot, chopped
1 large bell pepper or 4-5 mini ones, sliced
5-10 thin slices of lotus root
4 large radishes, sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly shredded
1 package firm tofu, baked/fried or steamed (your choice)
1/3 cup peanut sauce (plus a little more water)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon mirin
soy sauce to taste

Heat the oil in a large wok or pan, and cook the carrots over medium/medium-high heat for about three minutes. Mix in the mirin and a few splashes of soy sauce. The idea behind this dish being 'crisp' is that all the vegetables retain some of their crunch, so don't let anything cook too long.

 Add the peppers and lotus root. Cook for two or three minutes, then add the peanut sauce. Splash in another tablespoon or so of water to help it liquify if it's not melting, and stir to coat the vegetables.

When the sauce is evenly distributed, add the radishes, and cook for another minute. Stir in the tofu, coating it with the sauce. Add the basil and cook another few seconds, until it's just barely wilted.

Serve with rice, sriracha, and black sesame seeds.