Friday, September 23, 2011

Double Take: Vidalia Onion Tart

A few years ago, Mel introduced me to a vidalia onion casserole that is awesome. You'll really have to get her to share it with you sometime. This recipe reminds me of it in its caramelized onion and cheese but the two are quite different. This one is a tart and the other is a casserole. This one is herbed and takes on a different flavor from the tangy and mild cheeses but the other recipe has the yummy cheddary goodness. Both are tasty. 

Vidalia Onion Tart slice at right. Pecan rosemary crusted chicken at 7 o'clock. Asparagus at 12 o'clock.
Let's eat!
While the recipe says Vidalia onion, any sweet onion will do nicely. Sweet onions have a short season that is about to end so get this one in the oven while you have the chance!

Vidalia Onion Tart
(Inspired Pink Parsley and Southern Living, May 2009)

Prep Time: 20 minutes (assumes you make your own dough and are a fairly fast onion chopper)
Cook Time: 30 min for onions, 20 minutes for baking
Total time: 75 - 90 minutes
Serves: 4-6


2 Tablespoons butter
3 to 4 medium-sized Vidalia onions, halved and thinly sliced (about 6 1/2 cups) (I only needed 3)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (other herbs can be subbed)
1-2 cloves garlic, diced * optional
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 recipe pie dough (see below for a simple recipe I use regularly), or 1 refrigerated pie crust
1/2 c. swiss, shredded
1/4 c. asiago, shredded (can sub Parmesan but Asiago will give more of a flavor kick)

How To:

Preheat oven to 425. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, salt, and pepper (and sugar, 1 - 2 Tbsp can speed up the onion cooking, if necessary). Stirring occasionally, cook 15 - 20 minutes, or until tender. Reduce heat to low, add rosemary and cover; cook an additional 5-10 minutes, or until onions are browned and caramelized. Stir occasionally while cooking.

Place the dough into a tart or pie pan. I really like my tart pan and enjoy looking for ways to use it.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over dough. 

Cheese....Level 1

Top with onions. Sprinkle remaining cheese.

Sprinkling with more cheese.

Bake at 425 F on the bottom rack 17-19 minutes, or until crust is golden-brown and cheese has melted. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Finally Done! Let's eat!

I started by making the one crust pie crust I posted previously. For convenience sake, I'm reposting it here too.

Pie Crust (1 crust):


1 c. flour
½ tsp salt
3 rounded Tbsp Crisco (shortening)
3 Tbsp ice water

How To:

Measure flour and salt into a large bowl. Blend shortening into flour and salt with a pastry blender or fork until it reaches the consistency of heavy cornmeal. Add water 1 tablespoonful at a time, tossing wet and dry ingredients together with blender until all the flour is moistened. Turn out on floured board. Roll into a circle 1/8 to ¼ inch thick and large enough to allow 1 to 1 ½ inches hanging over the edge of the pie tin. Fold up and back to make an upright rim and flute with fingers. Sprinkle dough lightly with flour. Place another tin the same size over the crust. Bake 12 minutes at 450 F until browned at the bottom. Remove upper tin and allow inside of crust to brown.

This crust can be rolled thinly and make enough for 2 crusts. Some days, though, I'm better off making a double recipe. This was a double recipe sort of day. (Actually, it was more than that but for this pie, it was a double recipe.)

I rolled out the main dough and laid it in the bottom of the pie crust. Then I pinched small bits and made a ring of triangular nubs all around the top of the pie.


Food is about taste and smell. I like the taste of gruyere but the smell is tough for me to handle. We made and ate the gruyere version (3/4 c. gruyere) but I'm posting the recipe as I'd make it in the future: 1/2 c. swiss and 1/4 c. asiago. If you're a gruyere lover though, go for the gruyere. I found the flavor to be really tasty but the recipe was a bit peppery for my taste so I adapted that to a more reasonable level for future use too. The original recipe called for 4 Vidalia onions but I only needed about 2.5 but chopped 3 b/c I didn't want to have a random bit left over. I like the sweet onions but this is not a dish that I can eat all week. Its a once or twice and I'm done. The leftovers heated well. 

Hop, skip, or jump over to Fabulously Fun Food to see what Mel thought of this recipe! (Don't skip at work though, people might look at you funny. Ahem...Not that I would know.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Double Take: Chorizo, Poblano, and Beef Soft Tacos with Homemade Cheese Sauce

September 16th, 1810....The beginning of the Mexican War of Independence from Spain.
September 16th, 1910....The beginning of the Mexican Revolution that removed Dictator Diaz from power.

2011 marked the year long celebration of Mexico's bicentennial. With that in mind, I realized I knew very little of Mexico's history. I knew that the Spanish went there and that's why most people there speak Spanish. Our church from back home did annual shoe donations to indigenous Indians in Mexico or I probably wouldn't have even known they existed.

I knew the Spanish conquered the Aztecs...but  I didn't know the Aztecs were ruling over other tribes and that the other tribes banded with the Spanish to defeat one conqueror only to be conquered by the Spanish.

I knew the Spanish ruled Mexico as a colony but I didn't know their rule lasted for 3 centuries!

I had no idea that Mexico used to be called New Spain or that it operated with a cast system with 5 classes of people!

The Mexican Revolution (from Spain) was aided by Napolean and was started by a man named Father Hildago ringing a bell to call people together. The same bell that was originally rung in 1810 is rung every year on September 16th. It's amazing to me that the bell is still in good enough shape to ring. Wow.

In honor of Mexico's Independence, we wanted to share a Mexican dish with you today. The key thing here is that its a lot like your basic taco but includes the Spanish sausage, chorizo, and the poblano pepper native to Mexico. Fun foodie fact: Ancho chili is simply dried poblano. The chorizo brings an interesting flavor to the dish that I liked a lot. For those of you who've struggled with making a good Mexican cheese dip...look no further. This one is tasty but in the future I'd encourage those with tongues who can't take tons of heat to dial down the cayenne in the cheese dip.

Chorizo, Poblano, and Beef Soft Taco with Cheese Sauce.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Double Take: Zucchini, Ham, Basil, and Ricotta Fritters

(To the tune of 'The Song that Never Ends')

*We made these fritters on a whim,
Chopped, stirred, and cooked and only then,
Realized we started making them not knowing what they'd be.
And we'll continue thinking how to change them for you see...*

What do you get when you cross a pancake with a quiche?

Answer: A veggie fritter.

When I think of a fritter I think of those fried fruit pies. This is not what is meant here. Its more like a stuffed pancake. You can stuff it with whatever you like but I'd recommend adding more flavor. In fact, I added more flavor to half the batter but it needs further amplification. Zucchini is good but it doesn't have a ton of flavor on its own. If you put zucchini and a mild flavored cheese into flour, you still don't have a ton of flavor. I'd rate this recipe as ok but I wouldn't repeat it without modification. To be honest, I was initially disappointed in the base flavors of it. I was expecting more somehow. I tried it again today at lunch though and it was great. Perhaps I was too tired to enjoy it last night. This recipe is crazy easy to modify and has a lot of potential for incorporating zucchini and other vegetables into your life. I pumped one half up with some roasted garlic but don't stop there. I'll list what we did and include suggestions as well.

Huge zucchini fritter. Its the size of a plate!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Double Take: Spicy Roast Chicken

(For all those people concerned about heat: this recipe isn't hot spicy, but herbed spicy. If concerned, ditch the red pepper. For those who like heat, you can add that element here by amping up the red pepper.)

Sometimes less is more. Today's recipe doesn't brag major craziness. Instead it asks you to accept it as it is (more or less) and enjoy a meal that has really great flavor. We've had some very good chicken recipes in our Double Takes recipes over the last few months. Mel has been very excited about chicken dishes and especially enthusiastic about roasted chicken. This is only the second roasted chicken dish I've made but both I've had were great. I'd have to say this one wins due to its simplicity and abundant flavor. It might roll over my favorite of the past year ...Morroccan Chicken. Yeah, I'm going to post that eventually. Lab work is eating my life right now so you'll need to be satisfied with this for now.

Reasons to be satisfied with this recipe:

It is...

Minimal Hands on Time
Both Mel and I liked it and so does Mel's if-you-have-a-recipe-I-like-why-change-it Husband, Bender  (It is not that common for all of us to love something.)

On the theme of less is more, that's all I have to say about that.

Spicy Roast Chicken served with steamed green beans, broccoli, and potatoes

Spicy Roast Chicken (adapted from The Wednesday Chef )

This recipe  was originally from Barbara Fairchild's list of favorite dishes from 50 years of Bon Appetit.

Serves 2-4 (It served me 4 times.)
Total Time: 45 minutes

1 1/2 c. whole cherry tomatoes stemmed
1/8 cup olive oil
5 garlic cloves, pressed
3/4 teaspoons dried crushed red pepper
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano (divided in half)
1 Tbsp dried rosemary (divided in half)
4 boneless chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Toss the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper and 1 tablespoon marjoram in a large bowl to combine.

2. Place the chicken on a rimmed baking sheet, an 8x8 glass dish or a dutch oven. (I used the 8x8 baking dish so I wouldn't have to worry about spilling. I hate cleaning the oven.) Pour the tomato mixture over the chicken, arranging the tomatoes in a single layer on the sheet around the chicken. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast until the chicken is cooked through and the tomatoes are blistered, about 35 minutes.

Spicy Roast Chicken with Blistered Tomatoes? Check! Time to eat!

3. Transfer the chicken to plates. Spoon the tomatoes and juices over the chicken. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 tablespoon oregano and 1/2 Tbsp rosemary. Sniff deeply with pleasure, then serve.


As a graduate student, time in the evening can be scarce, if existent. This recipe takes about 45 minutes and its delicious. I'm not talking about 45 minutes of prep work either. It takes less time to prep this than it does to heat my oven. Once in the oven, I diced some potatoes and steamed them for 10 minutes. Fresh from my garden, I added strung green beans (half runners) and broccoli.  I sprinkled the veggies with rosemary, oregano, 2 garlic cloves, kosher salt, and ground pepper and let them steam another 7 minutes.

The taste had a balance of herbs that made me want a second piece even though I was already full. (I stopped at one though.) This was so flavorful I ate all 4 servings without getting bored of having the same leftovers. This is no small feat for me.

Eager for a second opinion? Check out Mel's post at Fabulously Fun Food.