Category Archives: Other

Easy Tomato, Goat Cheese and Prosciutto Tarts

There is something about the word ‘tart’ that evokes thoughts of elaborate, complicated food. Innately elegant dining fare, whether savory or sweet, tarts always carry with them a little bit of wow factor. The good news for you and I is that most of the tarts that I make end up being some of the easiest dishes to prepare, making them perfect for entertaining: packing maximum impact with as little work as possible.  We all know by now that individually sized food just sets my heart aflutter, so when I first saw Ina Garten’s recipe for her Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts, you know that I was on board. I mean, buttery puff pastry topped with caramelized onions, goat cheese, tomatoes, basil, thyme, and Parmesan?  As Ina would say, “How bad can that be?”

I followed her recipe carefully, substituting plain goat cheese and tossing in a half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes in with the caramelized onions, for just a little bit of heat. As I was assembling the tarts I remembered that I had some prosciutto di Parma leftover from an event, and I decided what better way to use it than to place a  deliciously buttery, salty slice on each of them (atop the caramelized onions, and underneath the goat cheese and tomato); because, after all,  what isn’t improved by the addition of cured pork?

I love the rustic, earthy look of these tarts. They are equally delicious right out of the oven or at room temperature, and can be assembled before your guests arrive and baked off right before serving. The flaky pastry, sweet onions,  salty prosciutto, grassy thyme, tangy goat cheese, nutty Parmesan, and juicy tomato are all harmonize together beautifully; and  no one has to know that making them requires little more than caramelizing some onions.  Serve it with a simple green salad and you have the makings of a perfect lunch or light dinner.  Simple enough for everyday, yet special enough for company. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

This post made the Foodbuzz.com Top 9!!!

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Filed under Breakfast/Brunch, Foodbuzz Top 9, Meat, Other

Jacob’s Kitchen 2010: A Retrospective

With the new year well underway, I thought it might be fun to take this opportunity to look back at how far we’ve come together this last year. When I started this blog in May I honestly had no idea that anyone would ever be reading it. Yet here you are.Writing and cooking for all of you over the last eight months has been a tremendous privilege, and has served as a source of a great deal of personal joy. Thank you for tuning in from time to time to take a peek inside my kitchen. I hope that you have found some inspiration, learned a new skill, or perfected a troublesome recipe. I have personally learned a great deal this last year (about life, blogging, photography, food, etc.), and hope to only get bigger and better from here. But before we move forward, let’s take a look back at a few highlights from this last year together.

Cranberry Orange Scones

S’more Brownies

Crème Brûlée

Grilled Shrimp with Mango Salsa

Zucchini Pancakes with Horseradish Cream

Goat Cheese Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

Blueberry Ice Cream (dressed as a milkshake)

Chocolate Bread Pudding Old Fashioned Berry Shortcakes

Honey Vanilla Lavender Crème Brûlée

I hope that 2011 is filled with many new adventures (both in and out of the kitchen). My foodie resolutions this year include consistently blogging at least three times a week (imagine that?!), devoting time to the development of vegan and gluten free recipes (since I am constantly asked for them, yet continue to drag my feet), to attend the foodbuzz festival this fall and finally be able to put a face to all of you fabulous foodies out there, and last but not least to not use a single plastic grocery bag this year (wish me luck, fingers crossed!).

What are your foodie resolutions for the new year?

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Playing Catch-up Part 2: From the Beginning to the End

The beginning of December brought about preparations for my (gasp!) thirtieth birthday (yes, I am officially that old).  After much thought and deliberation about what we would do to mark the occasion, we decided that we would host a small gathering at our house, in lieu of trying to all go out somewhere.  Just me and twenty or so of my closest friends, which sounded perfect.

Since it was my birthday, I wanted to do as little work on the food as possible, while still having a bit of wow factor. For the menu I settled on a cheese board (with blue cheese, brie, a creamy goat cheese, grapes and crackers), roasted red pepper hummus (which is my classic hummus recipe with the addition of a drained jar of roasted red peppers and several tablespoons of pimentón) with crudités and pita, roasted shrimp with a spicy chimichurri dipping sauce (for the sauce, in the blender I combine a big bunch of both cilantro and Italian flat leaf parsley, two scallions, four or five garlic cloves, a generous third of a cup or so of extra virgin olive oil, a teaspoon of freshly grated lime zest, the juice of five or six limes, several teaspoons of ground cumin, a dash of salt, freshly ground black pepper, and as many chipotle peppers as I dare. Blend until smooth, adding a little additional olive oil or a splash of water if it is too thick to blend.),  some toasted cashews, pistachios, marinated olives, and for something sweet, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and pecan bars. Along with the food, we had an assortment of beer, mulled wine, and my “pumpkin pie martinis” (which are embarrassingly simple but always a crowd favorite: equal parts of pumpkin spice liqueur and your favorite eggnog, served with a dash of pumpkin pie spice in glasses rimmed in cinnamon sugar and graham cracker crumbs.)

Instead of a cake this year, I decided to go with some childlike fun and have a decorate your own cookie bar instead. I had homemade shortbread cookies (cut out in the shape of Christmas trees and ornaments), and an assortment of  colorful candies, sprinkles and dragées, along with six different store bought icing colors (hey, there is no shame in that!), all served on this adorable lazy Susan with inset white dishes. It was almost too charming.

I have to confess to being semi horribly devastated that none of the food table photos survived for you all to see them now (after my new SD card debacle). It was really, really beautiful (if I do say so myself). The centerpiece was comprised of antiqued, blood red roses and evergreen bows, votive holders filled with fresh cranberries and unscented candles, and about a thousand little (intricately hand placed) rhinestones atop one of my favorite “special occasion”  (read: dry clean only!) table clothes, which added sparkle. It was just the right amount of over the top for my taste. That along with the big white platters of food, each more lovingly garnished than the last… sigh… I can’t go on…(*wipes imaginary tear from cheek*)… it was some of my best work. But for now, we can all pretend that a description of it all is just as satisfying.

The evening started off with a big surprise as one of my dearest friends (who lives in California – you may know her from her comments here on Jacob’s Kitchen under the name Woman&Warrior… an apt description of a fantastic human being) showed up on our doorstep just as guests were arriving. It was really great seeing her, and being able to spend a leisurely weekend together, and also to finally introduce her to all of my friends here in Oregon who have heard far too many wonderful things about her that I’m sure they all thought that I was making her up. Spending my birthday with all of my friends was exactly what I needed, and her presence made the evening extra special.

The other big news, of course, was the purchase of my new Canon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR camera! Hooray!  (Cue confetti!) I hope to soon actually learn how to use all of its many functions and take my food photography to the next level. I still stand behind all of my point and shoot pictures, and am a firm believer that one does not require a DSLR to create beautiful food images.  Having a DSLR, however, as I am coming to realize, does much more easily capture beautiful food images.  So for all of my fellow point and shoot foodies out there, keep up the great work! It’s not easy, but it can still be fabulous.

Unfortunately, my birthday weekend turned somber when my grandfather (whom you may recall suffered from Alzheimer’s and lived with us here in Oregon for quite some time after I spent a year caring for him and his wife in New Mexico, until we finally had him placed into an assisted living facility less than a mile away from our house) fell and broke his arm. At first the doctors seemed to underplay his injury as though it were not a very big deal.  Less than 48 hours later, however, we were forced to make the difficult decision to begin hospice. For five days my sister and I camped out at his bedside. Though he was unconscious nearly the entire time, we played his favorite music, held his hand, read him the stories and poems that he had read to us as children, and did everything in our power to ensure that he was comfortable. He died very early in the morning, just one week after my party. I was holding his hand and stroking his brow the whole time, and my sister was right beside him talking into his ear. While he certainly suffered through  a lot of pain throughout the week, in the end it was very peaceful.

I cannot even begin to express to you how amazing the entire staff at Brookstone (his care facility) was with him. The loving care, kindness and support that they showed to him, to me, and to my entire family over the last year has been nothing short of heroic.  As someone who has seen a lot of care facilities in my day, I can say with absolute certainty that better care simply does not exist.  Period. They have twenty nine locations across the United States. If you have a loved one suffering with Alzheimer’s or dementia and are near one such location, I encourage you to seek out their services.  You don’t have to do it alone. They are there as much for you, as for your loved one. Seriously. You won’t regret it.

My grandfather, Earl Rolla Bates, (who we called “Grumpa,” because he always had a sour expression on his face) would have been 89 in March. Long after he could no longer remember my name, what he always remembered was that I bake. “How’s the baking coming?” he’d ask when we would visit “Well, keep it up. You’ve got a real knack for it!”

He was the perfect taste tester, since he loved everything, but some of his particular favorites included Ina Garten’s croissant bread pudding (with a simple brandy butter sauce), New Mexico style green chili stew, a perfectly grilled steak (which he always liked to marinate in a little bit of teriyaki sauce, salt, black pepper, and garlic, and top with a fire roasted green chili and melted pepper jack cheese), my buttermilk biscuits, apricot jam, my signature salad, potatoes in any form, and his grandmother’s rolls. (Leave it to a foodie like me to sum up someone’s life by the foods that they enjoyed!)

He was a ship’s cook in the navy, and ran a small restaurant with my grandmother for several years in his early twenties. He appreciated good food, but even more he appreciated the effort that you invested into making good food. It never went unnoticed. He was always very grateful for everything that he was given, and openly expressed that gratitude to those around him. That is perhaps the greatest lesson that he has left behind: to live a life of endless gratitude.

As an example, while in New Mexico, after dinner while I would be doing the dishes, he would often pull me aside and say something like “You know, that meal was perhaps the finest I have ever had. That salad…that salad was just so delicate, and those biscuits were just fabulous. You have become quite a young man. And I want you to know that I am really proud to have you as a member of my family.” Then, with a simple pat on my shoulder, he would turn, pick up his poodle, and retire to bed. And that would be for just any rushed, nothing special, weeknight meal. He was a hard working, funny, sarcastic, generous, ornery, little sprite of a man, and he will be missed.

Fwew! That should just about catch us up! Later this week we shall finally return to business as usual here at Jacob’s Kitchen. Between the holiday baking, my birthday, and his passing, you can imagine that this has been a particularly busy, very contemplative time for me.  But with the new year comes new hope for an even more fabulous tomorrow.

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Filed under Beverages, Jams/Spreads/Sauces, Other, Snacks

My Interview with Femina Magazine

I apologize for being away from the blog for so long. The Thanksgiving holiday had me very busy in my kitchen, and all of that is finally starting to wind down enough for me to catch my breath again. I want to regale you with stories of Thanksgiving triumphs and a few blunders, but for now I wanted to share this link with you to my recent interview with India’s Femina Magazine. The talented and inspiring Rajani Mani of Eat Write Think conducted the interview, and I am very flattered that she selected Jacob’s Kitchen to be featured.  She asked for me to share a short recipe with them, and I couldn’t think of anything easier or more delicious than my Salted Vanilla Caramel Sauce, which is the perfect thing to have on hand to make any last minute dessert feel really special. Enjoy!

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And the winner is. . .

So the time has come to crown the winner of my $45 CSN gift card giveaway!  Thanks to all of you who entered and thanks for all of your wonderful comments. I’m already neck deep into Thanksgiving cooking and baking, and you have all given me some delicious new ideas.

The winner was selected using a random number generator, and that lucky reader is…

(…can we have a drum roll please…)

Mark from Ohio!!!

(Congratulations Mark! I will be contacting you shortly via email with your gift card information. I hope this gift card helps you build your own kitchen arsenal.)

Thanks again to all who participated. Stay tuned for more great giveaways here on Jacob’s Kitchen!!!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have a wonderful holiday surrounded by all of the people that you care about most. Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be back again later in the week to give you my Thanksgiving recap.

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Project Food Blog: In Memorium

Well kids, I had a good run. Unfortunately, while I would have loved to make it all the way to the end, I have not advanced to the next round of Project Food Blog. But just look at how far we’ve come together.

This competition forced me to examine and define exactly what this blog is all about, and taught me so much about photography, and step by step photos, process shots, and great blogging. It definitely raised the bar around here. So instead of feeling sad, I am choosing to feel very proud that my humble little blog was able to make the top 48 out 2000 of the best bloggers in the world. That’s not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

I cannot even begin to thank you all for your amazing support, encouragement, and kind words. They have meant the world to me. Thank you for your votes, your comments, and for taking time out of your busy lives to stop by now and then to see what kind of mischief I’m stirring up in my kitchen.

I will be back up again and blogging more consistently right after Thanksgiving. But in the meantime, here is a look back at some of the great times we had together throughout the competition. . .

(…cue sad but triumphant music…)

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$45 CSN Giveaway from Jacob’s Kitchen

The generous people at the CSN stores have given me another great opportunity to give back to all of you, by offering a $45 gift card giveaway!!! Yay!!! If you are not familiar with the CSN online stores they have everything you could ever possibly need and more, from every chef’s tool you could ever imagine to these beautiful counter stools. I have purchased many a kitchen gadget from them, and have lots of other wish list items to go. They are fabulous! You can peruse their entire selection from all of their stores here, and I encourage you to do so.

To enter the giveaway simply leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite Thanksgiving recipe (a brief description will suffice).

For additional entries you can:

1. Follow Jacob’s Kitchen on facebook and/or twitter.

2. Subscribe to Jacob’s Kitchen via email/rss (you will find a link on the upper right hand side bar)

3.Retweet: “Check it out: $45 CSN gift card giveaway from @Jacobs_Kitchen http://tinyurl.com/2fyfjbe

4. And, last but not least (in a transparent and shameless act of bribery) you can vote for Jacob’s Kitchen in Project Food Blog challenge 7 by clicking here.

Please leave one additional comment for each additional entry, telling me which you have done. Unfortunately, only US and Canadian readers are eligible to win. (For the rest of you, check back soon for more giveaways!) Comments can be received up until 11:59pm on Monday, November 22, 2010. One winner will be randomly selected and announced on Tuesday, November 23, 2010. Best of luck to you all!


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