Rustic Sweet Onion Tart

The days are getting *cue Oprah voice* loooooongeeeeer!

Caramelized Onion Tart

It doesn’t seem like it today though, but I swear spring is coming. This week for the first time in a long time I gave the treadmill the finger and ran outside. Sure it was along an extremely busy street in Ottawa, and sure I had to wait for traffic lights, but I actually felt like I was moving! Such a triumph. I came home around dinner time without anything planned and decided to make something quick. I took out some refrigerated pie crust, caramelized some sweet onions, and threw some Gruyere cheese on top. Heaven, my friends!

Caramelized Onion Tart

All you need to do is preheat your oven to 425. In a dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, herbs, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stirring occasionally, cook 8-12 minutes, or until tender. Reduce heat to low and cover; cook an additional 5-10 minutes, or until onions are browned and caramelized. *Swoon*. Stir occasionally while cooking.

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Shape pie crust on a lightly floured surface by rolling out into a 12-inch circle. Do this on parchment paper to make the transfer to a baking sheet easier. Then transfer that beauty.

Caramelized Onion Tart

Brush with egg white, and sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over dough.

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Top with onions, leaving a 2 1/2 inch border.

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Sprinkle remaining cheese, and fold the pie crust over the edge of the onions, pleating as you go. Leave a 4-inch wide opening in the center. Brush crust with egg white.

Caramelized Onion Tart

Bake at 425 for 17-19 minutes, or until crust is golden-brown and cheese has melted.

Caramelized Onion Tart

Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Yum!

Caramelized Onion Tart

Rustic Vidalia Onion Tart
adapted from Rustic Vidalia Onion Tart

Ingredients:
2 tbsp butter
3 large sweet onions, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
1/2 recipe pie dough, or 1 refrigerated pie crust (I used Pilsbury)
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (can sub Swiss cheese)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425. In a dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, herbs, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stirring occasionally, cook 8-12 minutes, or until tender. Reduce heat to low and cover; cook an additional 5-10 minutes, or until onions are browned and caramelized. Stir occasionally while cooking.

Shape pie crust on a lightly floured surface by rolling out into a 12-inch circle. Do this on parchment paper to make the transfer to a baking sheet easier. Transfer over to a baking sheet.

Brush with egg white, and sprinkle 1/2 cup cheese over dough. Top with onions, leaving a 2 1/2 inch border. Sprinkle remaining cheese, and fold the pie crust over the edge of the onions, pleating as you go. Leave a 4-inch wide opening in the center. Brush crust with egg white.

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

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Kick Ass Black Bean Skillet Nachos

I feel like I’m getting on this train late, but have you noticed that pretty much anything can be baked in a well seasoned cast iron skillet?!

The idea is pure genius. I have an unreasonable amount of recipes bookmarked under “skillet meals” like this fun breakfast idea, this cookie and this monkey bread. People are freaking creative!

I’ve seen skillet nachos on blogs before, so I can not take credit for the genius behind this recipe, but I used what little knowledge I had about baking things with a skillet, threw some nacho fixings in a pan, and went to town.

There’s something about nachos that has me giddy. It must be the cheese, sour cream and salsa mixture with those salty tortilla chips…the other fixings are optional, but with the right ratio, this skillet recipe is deadly!

To make this, turn on your oven broiler. Using an 8″ cast iron skillet, place your tortilla chips across the bottom of your baking dish. Add the beans evenly across the chips, add the shredded cheese. Then add any extra toppings that you’d like to bake. I used sauteed onions, chopped green olives, and goats cheese.

Place your skillet in your oven and check frequently to make sure you don’t burn the cheese on top (it took me 5 minutes). Remove from heat, serve while hot and add your favorite cold toppings!

Heaven.

Black Bean Skillet Nachos
Serves 2
A Warm Vanilla Sugar Original

Ingredients:
2 Handfuls of good quality tortilla chips
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Nacho toppings to bake: jalapenos, chopped scallions, olives, corn, goats cheese and sauteed onions
Post oven toppings: avocado, salsa, sour cream, chopped tomatoes

Directions:
Turn on the broiler in your oven.

Using an 8″ cast iron skillet, place your tortilla chips across the bottom of your baking dish. Add the beans evenly across the chips, add the shredded cheese. Then add any extra toppings that you’d like to bake. I used sauteed onions, chopped green olives, and goats cheese.

Place your skillet in your oven and check frequently to make sure you don’t burn the cheese on top (it took me 5 minutes). Remove from heat, serve while hot and add your favorite cold toppings!

So easy, and so, so, delicious!

Caramelized Apple Grilled Cheese

Two slices of thick cheddar bread sandwiching cheddar cheese and caramelized apples. HELLO!

Unlike a lot of bloggers I follow, I tend to stick to the regular grilled cheese recipe. Bread+butter+cheddar=heaven. It’s a simple recipe. One we all know and love. But then my world changed. I added caramelized apples to the mix. Awesome.

I was recently bombarded with apples. My boyfriends parents invited us to come for the weekend and just as we were getting ready for bed we noticed our bed sheets were lumpy….we opened the covers and there they were!! About 70 apples on top of the sheets. Nice. So, needless to say I had a lot of apples to take home and use up in some way. And this is one of the ways those apples got made!

To begin, shred your cheddar cheese.

I used white and yellow cheddar because I’m a wild woman.

Slice your apple into thin slices.

Melt the butter in a non-stick pan. Add the sugar and cinnamon and cook until bubbly.

Add the apples and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate to wait for assembly.

Get out your awesome bread. That bread is looking mighty fine today if I do say so myself.

Assembly line time. Butter one side of each slice of bread.

Add some grated cheese to two slices of bread.

Add 1/2 of your apple mixture on top of that cheese. Add some more cheese on top of those pretty caramelized apples. Put a buttered slice of bread on top to make a sandwich (buttered side out of course).

Grill until golden brown on both sides, about 2-4 minutes per side.

Eat up! I ate this with some awesome potato salad. Mmmmm.

Caramelized Apple Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Recipe slightly adapted from Closet Cooking
Makes 2 sandwiches

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 dash of cinnamon
2 apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
1/2 cup shredded good cheddar cheese
4 slices of good bread (I used cheddar bread)
2 tablespoon butter

Directions:
Get four slices of bread ready by buttering one side of each slice. Shred your cheese.

Peel and core your apples. Slice them into relatively thin slices.

Melt the butter in a non-stick pan. Add the sugar and cinnamon and cook until bubbly. Add the apples and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.

Assemble sandwich by adding (to the non-buttered side of two slices of bread) cheese, apples, and a bit more cheese. Put the plain buttered bread on top of each cheese and apple mixture (buttered side out).

Grill until golden brown on both sides, about 2-4 minutes per side.

Taco Pizza

Hello from Costa Rica! I hope everyone is having a happy holiday. This Christmas was very non-traditional for me. Instead of spending time with my family, I decided to go away with my boyfriend and his family. Of course I missed having a morning at home – waking up a bit too early to snoop all the presents, and having a big breakfast with my family…but I really can’t complain. Costa Rica is beautiful. There are monkeys everywhere! It’s weird. They’re like little obnoxious people who steal your food. Cute little obnoxious people. I’ll do a post on this lovely place when I get back.

Before I left I made this wicked-good Taco Pizza. Another non-traditional pizza to go with this non-traditional holiday. I like patterns.

To make the pizza dough: Mix yeast with warm water and set aside for 8 to 10 minutes.

Mix flour, salt, and olive oil in a mixing bowl.

With speed on low, drizzle in yeast/water mixture. Allow to mix until totally combined.

Cover bowl with a towel and set bowl in a warm, draft-free place.

Allow to rise for 1 to 2 hours.

Pour black beans into a saucepan. Add seasonings to taste and heat up beans over medium-low heat. Use a potato masher to mash the beans to desired texture. Continue cooking/heating beans over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until no longer runny (should be the texture of refried beans. Set aside.

Fry up your tortilla chips (no picture for this).

Place oven rack in the bottom position in the oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Remove half the pizza dough from the bowl. Place remaining half in a large plastic bag and refrigerate, saving for another use. With hands, spread pizza dough on an oiled baking sheet, making sure it’s relatively thin. Spread layer of refried beans all over pizza crust.

Sprinkle mixed grated cheeses over the top. Place pan in the oven (in the bottom half of the oven) and bake for 9 to 12 minutes. Watch it to make sure crust doesn’t burn.

Remove pizza from oven. Look at that cheesy goodness.

Sprinkle on shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and cilantro leaves.

Mix together sour cream and hot sauce, adding enough hot sauce to make the mixture pourable. With a spoon (or you can put it in a pastry bag) drizzle mixture over finished pizza.

Slice it up and enjoy!

Taco Pizza
Makes 1 pizza
Recipe taken from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
1-½ cup Warm Water
4 cups All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
⅓ cups Olive Oil
1 can (14 Ounce) Black Beans
1 teaspoon Taco Seasoning (prepared, Or Make Your Own)
4 whole Corn Tortillas, Sliced Into Thin Strips
½ cups Canola Oil, For Frying
1 cup Grated Sharp Cheddar
1 cup Grated Monterey Jack Cheese
1 head Green Leaf Lettuce, Sliced/shredded Thin
2 whole Ripe Tomatoes, Diced
½ cups Cilantro Leaves
¼ cups Sour Cream
3 Tablespoons Hot Sauce (more To Taste)

Directions:
Make the pizza dough: Mix yeast with warm water and set aside for 8 to 10 minutes. Mix flour, salt, and olive oil in a mixing bowl. With speed on low, drizzle in yeast/water mixture. Allow to mix until totally combined. Cover bowl with a towel and set bowl in a warm, draft-free place. Allow to rise for 1 to 2 hours.

Pour black beans into a saucepan. Add seasonings to taste and heat up beans over medium-low heat. Use a potato masher to mash the beans to desired texture. Continue cooking/heating beans over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until no longer runny (should be the texture of refried beans. Set aside.
In a small skillet, heat canola oil over medium heat. When hot enough to fry, drop in the tortilla strips in batches, frying quickly and removing from oil with a fork when crisp–about 30 to 45 seconds per batch. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Set aside.

Place oven rack in the bottom position in the oven. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Remove half the pizza dough from the bowl. Place remaining half in a large plastic bag and refrigerate, saving for another use. With hands, spread pizza dough on an oiled baking sheet, making sure it’s relatively thin. Spread layer of refried beans all over pizza crust. Sprinkle mixed grated cheeses over the top. Place pan in the oven (in the bottom half of the oven) and bake for 9 to 12 minutes. Watch it to make sure crust doesn’t burn.

Remove pizza from oven. Sprinkle on shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, and cilantro leaves.
Mix together sour cream and hot sauce, adding enough hot sauce to make the mixture pourable. With a spoon (or you can put it in a pastry bag) drizzle mixture over finished pizza.

Sprinkle with tortilla strips. Cut into squares and serve immediately with good quality salsa.

Traditional Swiss Cheese Fondue

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve recently returned from a 2 month tour of Europe. The food in every country I visited (Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, and England) was amazing, and each country had it’s own special meal that I’m now finding myself missing very much. I spent most of my time (half my trip in fact) in Switzerland, seeing the sights, and trying as much food as I possibly could. I fell in love. Traditional Swiss food is simple, plain, and very tasty. It’s no lie that the Swiss eat a lot of cheese, and probably because they make the best. Say what you want. I tried the famous cheeses in France, tasted cheddar cheese from Cheddar, but Swiss Gruyere cheese is Mmm-mmm-good!

And MELTED Gruyere cheese? Even better. Luckily, during my stay in Switzerland I got to know many of the locals. One man in particular would often make traditional meals like Raclette, various pasta bakes and potato dishes, and of course traditional Swiss Fondue.

I simply couldn’t leave Switzerland without knowing how to make Fondue. The secret? You need the right cheese. Gruyere and Vacherin. Yeah baby. This recipe will serve a crowd of 6 for an appetizer, but double the recipe to make a main meal! It’s super easy, and you won’t regret it :) First, grate the scrumptious cheese.

Then get your garlic, onions and mushrooms together in a saucepan. Add the wine and grappa, stir in the cheese and transfer the yummy hot cheese mixture into your fondue pot.

Serve with cubed dipping bread, and eat the night away. Don’t expect regular bowel movement after this…for serious :P

This recipe serves 6 people for an appetizer-sized meal. Double/triple the recipe to make it a main.

Ingredients:
-Rustic bread for dipping, cut into cubes (if it’s a fresh loaf, I recommend cutting it up a few hours ahead and letting it sit out so it hardens a bit and is less likely to fall off the fondue forks into the cheese)
-1/2 pound Gruyere cheese
-1/2 pound Vacherin cheese
-2 tbsp all-purpose flour
-1 tsp butter
-1/2 large onion
-1 clove garlic
-1 cup DRY white wine
-1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced very thinly (optional)
-2 tbsp Swiss Grappa (optional)
-dash of pepper

Directions:
1. Grate the cheese and toss the cheese with the 2 tablespoons flour in a large bowl.
2. In a large saucepan melt butter. Add chopped garlic and onions and fry until the onions start turn glossy and clear. Add mushrooms and fry for another 2 minutes.
3. Add the wine and grappa to the saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat.
4. Lower the heat to medium low, and stir in the cheese 1/2 cup at a time until it is pretty much melted. Add the pepper.
5. Pour hot cheese mixture into fondue pots and serve with yummy dipping bread.

Raclette

Are you lactose intolerant? If so, take your pills and dig into an amazing, and simple meal – Raclette.

I’m in Switzerland right now. The mountains are spectacular, the chocolate is smooth, and the cheese is pure and unlike anything I’ve ever tasted. I’ve had tons of different Swiss cheeses so far; Emmentaler, Gruyère, Appenzeller, Formaggini, tons of others…and alas, Raclette.

The Swiss eat Raclette in a particular way, and I’d like to share it with you. First they make an outdoor fire, and keep it going long enough to get some good coals going. After the fire has produced a big batch of coals, you get started on the goodness. First, you need to build a holder for the hot coals. You put bricks together with a wire in front of them. Then you add the hot coals from the fire inside of the homeade “coal hut”.

The Raclette cheese round is heated in front of the hot coals on a wet board.

Then the heated cheese is scraped onto plates on top of warm potatoes.

Traditionally you eat the Raclette with gherkins and pickled onions. Check it out:

If you don’t have the time to build an elaborate fire pit, go to your local cheese shop, and simply melt Raclette cheese on top of warm, salted, potatoes. It’s heavenly.