Friday, April 30, 2010

Shakshuka Slowdown

We Tarts eat too fast. Ridiculously though someone's gonna take our food away from us.

On occasion, I've found myself in a crouching tiger position, ready to defend my turf...

It's a bad habit and the origin for my affliction lies in my early years of waitressing. Generally, a dinner shift runs from 4:00 to 10:00, so even if I ate before work, I was ravenous by around 8:00 or 9:00. Eating during a shift is off limits, but what's a gal to do? I needed fuel to finish the job. So I'd edge up to one of the chefs, all stealth-like, and plead for something to eat. Like some drug deal, they'd slide somethin' over, I'd hide the kibble under a napkin, scan for management then bust tail to a hidden corner of the restaurant and slam it like Rowdy Roddy Piper.

But the time has come for me (not fair to force the pregnant Tart to do it) to nip this bad habit in the bud, not only because it isn't pretty, but there are benefits to slowing down and enjoying your slowing down and enjoying your food...and better digestion, weight loss and less stress. Oh and did I mention slowing down and enjoying your food? I mean, I spend so much time making it, why not take the time to savor it?

So last night, as I was powering through my meal (still wearing my apron cuz I don't slow down long enough to take it off), I stopped myself and decided to do a little experiment in hopes of reaching some sort of gastronomical enlightenment. Every time I took a bite, I forced myself to put my fork down and wait 30 seconds before I could pick it up again. It went something like this...





Ahhh...eating once again...

So, did it work? Did my life change for the better? Well, my wrinkles didn't disappear, unexpected checks didn't suddenly appear in the mail and "My So-Called Life" isn't returning to television, but this habit was years in the making, so it may take me a minute to reach enlightenment on my path to becoming the next Foodha. But I'ma keep on tryin'...

Oh and just in case you feel like you're going away with nuthin' and wondering why the heck you bothered stopping by, I'll leave you with the recipe for what I was "slowly" eating. It was insane by the way and made my job that much more difficult.

Shakshuka with Cast Iron Potatoes

(Click link for recipe)

Cast Iron Red Potatoes
by Me

2 lbs. red potatoes, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 to 2 Tbs. chopped, fresh rosemary
Olive oil
Kosher salt/fresh ground black pepper to taste
Cilantro garnish

Combine above ingredients in a bowl, drizzling with enough oil to coat. Heat 1 to 2 Tbsp. oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high. When oil is hot, add contents of bowl. Cook for a few minutes until the edges of some of the potatoes are crispy, turning once or twice so they don't stick. Add a bit more oil and turn down to medium-low. Cover and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes to desired tenderness. Remove lid and turn potatoes periodically, adding more oil if necessary. Garnish with a bit of cilantro.

I then layered the Shakshuka on top of the potatoes and garnished with avocado and a bit more feta. Delish!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Full Of Life

...and we did just that when we saw this sign and cut a hard left into the parking lot of Full of Life Flatbread in the quaint town of Los Alamos, CA. We were on a wine tasting trip in Santa Barbara County last summer and we needed a snack for a little soakin' up. After our first bite, and picking our jaws up off the floor, we canceled our reservations for dinner and took that restaurant to task.

If Full of Life sounds familiar, you may have seen their flatbreads in the frozen section at Whole Foods or other grocery stores. They are delicious, but just like a Beyoncé concert, nothing beats the real live thing. Friday through Sunday, they convert their production bakery into a restaurant, offering weekend specials sourced from local farmers, millers and artisans within a 400 mile radius.

Now we know for many of you, this may be a little difficult to get to, but if you ever find yourself in the area, it's located about an hour north of Santa Barbara and 20 minutes northwest of Solvang...and worth every minute you spend in the car. In fact, when Hamilton asked me what I wanted to do for our anniversary last week, I said, "Eat. Full. Life." No time for prepositions when this is at stake...

Heirloom burrata lima bean salad on top of a fresh crostini...

Flatbread with spring garlic, asparagus, potatoes, leeks and a farm egg...

Ham and I opted to lose the egg...

When I told Danielle, I thought she might slap me.

Meyer lemon tart w/an almond crust. WTF?

So, in short, this place is Crazy Town, in the county of Bananas, in the state of Are You For Real? If it's too out of your way, maybe you'll be inspired to replicate some of the dishes on their website and EAT GOOD FOOD. Maybe the Tarts will get in on the action too.

Oh and if you're wondering...we ate it all. I mean, I ate it all. I even threatened my husband with my fork when he tried to take the last bite. I needed it...

...for the baby, of course.

Friday, April 23, 2010

T'ain't Nothin' But A Salad Ya'll

You may be thinking, "A salad? Seriously? A salad. It's so simple even a Tar..."

Go ahead. Finish your thought. "Even a...Tart...can do it." Exactly. Even we can do it. The problem is, we don't do it enough. What we do DO enough is make too many sweets. So we need a wee bit of a salad cleanse. This is Danielle's salad with a little something spicy and a little something naturally sweet. And always, always, siempre...avocado. We love avocado. Danielle, perhaps a bit too much.

This Here Salad Thang

1 bunch fresh arugula
1 cup pear tomatoes, halved
1/2 Red Anjou pear, sliced
3 green onions, sliced
1 Anaheim chile pepper, sliced
3 oz good quality feta cheese, crumbled
1 avocado, sliced
Sea salt flakes, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Generally there's a little cilantro thrown on top, but not today. Feel free to sprinkle with any fresh herb...

We would tell you how to assemble, but we're pretty sure you'd be like, "Duh."

WTF! Dressing

1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp oregano
1/4 lemon, squeezed
A drop agave nectar, to taste
Salt/Pepper to taste

(This is really a half recipe as we always end up with too much, but feel free to double if making for a larger group. We also use extra shallot cuz we like our dressing shizallot-y.)

Whisk those babies together...

...and dream up the dessert you get to eat, because you were good and ate a salad...

...then drizzle on your ensalada and enjoy!

BTW - You may have noticed there's no avocado on the salad in the photo...

Where is that avocado?

Houston, we have a problem.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cookie Haze...All In Our Brains

The number of insane recipes we Tarts view in a given week is off the charts. We have to keep a towel by our computers to catch the drool before it hits the keyboard.

But one recipe put us in a 'haze' when it mentioned these yummy little ladies...

and this zesty little ingredient...

So we were in, like Laura Flynn.


Btw - we love zesting; it makes us feel sassy.

And because it was crazy beautiful this weekend, we decided to bring the kitchen outside.

"Well hello, dear neighbor. Yes, I am stirring my batter outside.
What am I making? Why, read my blog..."

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp orange zest (about 2 oranges)
2 cups Ghirardelli white chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture until combined. Stir in orange zest and chips.

Drop rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. (We baked on parchment paper.) Do not flatten cookies; it will make them dry. Bake 8 - 10 minutes or until golden brown around edges. Do not overcook! Cookies will be plump.* Cool for several minutes on cookie sheets before transferring to rack to cool completely. Store in airtight container.

*Our cookies were on the flatter side; perhaps our butter was too soft, but no matter. We likey.

Thanks for the inspiration, Christy! These cookies are luscious, right Erin? Erin?

Now, where she did run off to?

What is she doing?


Ya can't leave a pregnant woman alone for a second.

This recipe is a keeper fer sher, but I might use kosher salt next time. I like salt to punch me in the face. Now there's a big ol' batch of cookies callin' my name...

...'scuse me while I kiss the sky.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

This weekend, take the time to stop...

and smell the...

Whether you're kickin' back, road trippin' or sippin' on gin & juice, we hope your weekend rocks! Look for some new posts early next week; we Tarts will be cookin' up somethin' special!

Now you can't say we never bring you flowers:)

Happy One Year, Erin and Ham!

*The 2nd bouquet was a gift from Tina. Thanks girl!

When Life Gives Us Lemons...

...what do we Tarts do?

Give ya'll a hint.

We zest them...

We squeeze them...

...and we what?

Erin? You want to help out here?

"Are you kidding. I'm pregnant. I can't remember anything."

Let's try this again.

When life gives us lemons, we what?

We make lemon bars!

For the crust:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the full-size lemon layer:
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons)
1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup flour

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking sheet.

For the crust, cream butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough onto a well-floured board and gather into a ball. Flatten the dough with floured hands and press it into the greased baking sheet, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack. Leave the oven on.

For the lemon layer, whisk together the eggs, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and flour. Pour over the crust.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or about five minutes beyond the point where the filling is set. Let cool to room temperature.

Slice, sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and serve. We added fresh berries from the farmer's market to convince ourselves we're healthy.

These lemon bars are crazytown. Right Ham?


Well said.

Btw - We Tarts would like to officially change the meaning of "it's a lemon" from 'worthless' to 'rad.' Come on, these lil' yellow dudes are insane! Can we get a "what, what?!!"

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Tarts Have Sprung

Spring has definitely sprung and the Tarts got the fever for grillin' and chillin'.

So last Sunday we set the table...

...cracked open a bottle of Rosé (Preggers just had a sip) and kicked back. As we soaked up some sun, waiting for our pals to arrive, we realized we were forgetting something...


Crikey! We leapt into action and got started on our menu. First up...

Rosemary Tart Burgers

2 1/2 pounds ground turkey (makes 8 burgers)
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

Mix well.

Make into patties...or beg a Hotcake to do it...

...and grill on high for 2 min. on each side, then grill on low, about 5 min. on each side. Remove and place on a toasted, quality whole wheat bun. Stack that patty with goat cheese, caramelized onions and arugula. Place sliced avocado on the top bun, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.


*For the onions, we sliced and sautéed with a bit of butter and red wine until soft.

Next up...

Grilled Vegetables

Slice any assortment of fresh veggies: we used eggplant, bell peppers and zucchini. For eggplant: place in a colander, sprinkle with salt and let it sit in the sink to get some of the water out...

...then wipe off the excess salt with a paper towel. Brush all of your veggies with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and grill for about 7 min on each side.


Meyer Lemon Scented Farro and Asparagus Salad

...which will be brought to you later as we have no photos. Speaking of, WHERE WAS our photographer when we were making that dish? Interesting that Hamilton was missing too. I wonder what they were busy doing...

Oh, okay, yeah, fine. While we're slaving away! Great! (deep breath) Well, hey, they did do the actual grilling bit...guess we can cut them a little slack.

And if you're wondering about dessert, was so hardcore, it deserves a post of its own. Until then, we'll leave you with a little something sweet...

Here's to a kick-ass spring...

...may you grill and chill to your heart's content!

*The pretty blond lady on the right is eating a veggie burger. Don't want to misrepresent her:)

Monday, April 5, 2010

The 'Why?' Pie

Why an ice cream pie? Good question. Why, when trying to be healthy, would we Tarts make an ice cream pie...with caramel sauce to boot? Because we threw a birthday party for a youngin'? Nope. A new report came out that said 'Ice Cream will add years to your life?' Uh-uh. Clint Eastwood put a gun to our heads, declaring that an ice cream pie would make his day? If only.

We made an ice cream pie because of this here durn blog...The Pioneer Woman. Okay, it's more 'dang' than 'durn.' In fact, it's so damn divine that we lick the computer screen every time Ree posts a new recipe...which is like, every minute. That's a lot of licking...of a surface we're pretty sure is toxic. Anyway, she posted said pie from her ranch in Oklahoma and Danielle, a bonafied Okie, got a brilliant idea and roped Erin into it.

by Ree Drummond

(We reversed the order of the recipe and made the crust first. Why? Because it's The 'Why?' Pie.)

The crust:

1/4 cup egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup Pecans, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat egg whites until frothy. Add sugar and salt and beat on high until stiff. Fold in nuts. Spread mixture over bottom and sides of a non-glass pie pan, making sure to adequately coat all sides. (Thanks Viv for the cute dish!)

Bake 15 to 20 min, watching toward the end to make sure it doesn't get too brown. Remove from oven when crust is golden brown. Cool completely.

While the crust is baking, start the caramel sauce, henceforth referred to as Crack Sauce.

Easy Crack Sauce:

4 tablespoons butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup half and half
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon vanilla

Mix butter, brown sugar, half and half and salt in saucepan over medium low heat.

Cook while whisking gently for 5 to 7 minutes, until thicker. Add vanilla and cook for another minute to thicken further. Turn off heat and pour sauce into a jar.

Refrigerate until cold.

When crust is cooled, remove 2 pints of ice cream from freezer. We used coffee and vanilla bean, per Ree's suggestion. This crust is so light and delicious, it goes with any flavor. Allow to soften. Spread one pint of ice cream over the bottom of crust.

Spread the other pint over the first flavor. We would suggest freezing for a few minutes before applying the next flavor. Cover with foil and freeze until very hard. When ready, serve and drizzle with crack sauce.

As you can see, we were a bit impatient... the freezing part, yeah...not so much.

But that didn't stop us.

Why didn't that stop us?

Somebody stop us!!!

Btw - in the pic above, Danielle is about to suggest sliced bananas and caramel between the crust and ice cream for next time. Somebody stop HER!!!!!