Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy National Eat Outside Day!

     Happy National Eat Outside Day!  I didn't even know that there was such a great day, but what better way to end the month of August then to have a picnic?  I know I have mentioned before, but I love picnics, there is something so relaxing about relaxing and enjoying a meal in nature.

     I love to pack up a picnic lunch, a good book and my dog and enjoy a nice afternoon, and of course its even better when you have someone special to share the picnic with.  I love when I go to the park and I see mothers having picnics with their small children, the kids love it!

     This summer I have had several great picnics, and look forward to more in the fall as well, but these three recipes have been three of my favorites for this season.  Also the soup recipe is even more amazing when you use fresh tomatoes from the garden.  What do you like to have for your picnics? 

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Ingredients:
1/2 head roasted garlic
2 lbs. vine-ripened tomatoes
2 tsp. good-quality balsamic vinegar
Hot pepper sauce, to taste
2-3 tbsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 C. chopped fresh basil

Instructions:

Coarsely chop tomatoes and peel your half-head of roasted garlic.

In a blender, puree garlic and tomatoes (in several batches, if necessary). Pass each batch of puree through a sieve.

Stir in vinegar, pepper sauce, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Cover and chill until very cold. Can be refrigerated at this point up to a day.

Taste for seasonings and add extra basil, salt and pepper, if needed.

Shallot Tart

Ingredients:

1 (8 oz.) prepared pie crust
12 oz. cleaned, trimmed leeks, sliced into 1/2" slices
4 shallots, diced fine
1/2 tbsp. butter
Pinch salt
8 oz. Chevre cheese (firm goat cheese), rind trimmed
3 lg. eggs, beaten
3/4 C. creme fraiche
1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place the rack at the center of the oven. Lightly grease (with butter) a 7 1/2" quiche pan.

Melt butter in a skillet. Toss leeks and shallots with a small amount of salt. Cook on med-low heat 10-15 minutes, until cooked through. To keep the tart firm, you now need to get every last bit of liquid out of them. Drain your veggies in a fine-mesh strainer, pressing lightly to get out as much liquid as possible. (very important step)

On a floured surface, roll out your pastry dough until it's very thin. Carefully place it in your prepared quiche pan, and press dough against bottom and into grooves. Don't pull or stretch the dough, or it will break or thin out too much during cooking. Trim the edges to about 1/2 to 3/4" over the edge of the pan. Pinch the edges down until the edge rises just 1/4" above the pan.

Prick prepared dough all over with a fork. Fill the bottom with pastry weights or dry beans to weigh it down. Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden. Remove from oven and remove weights. Place a baking sheet in the oven to preheat while you prepare the filling (cooking on a baking sheet will help to cook the filling more evenly).

To make filling, crumble your goat cheese into a small mixing bowl. Stir in drained leeks and shallots.

In another bowl, combine the eggs, creme fraiche, salt to taste, and pepper.

Sprinkle leek, shallot, and cheese mixture into the bottom of your pastry shell. Pour your egg mixture over the leek mixture

Carefully place your filled tart onto your preheated baking sheet. Bake about 30 minutes, until the middle is firm and the tart is golden brown. Depending on your oven, it may take a little longer. Let rest 15 minutes, or cool completely before slicing and serving. To remove it easily from the quiche pan, run a knife along the grooves under the crust to loosen it before removing the sides.

Chocolate Nutella Mousse

Ingredients:

1 C. whipping cream, very cold
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 C. Nutella (or other chocolate-hazelnut spread)
Whipped cream, to garnish
Fresh raspberries, to garnish (optional)

Instructions:

With an electric mixer on medium speed for 4 minutes then  3 minutes at highest speed, beat all ingredients until soft peaks form. Scrape bowl occasionally with rubber spatula as you mix.

Divide among 4 dishes. Chill at least four hours, or overnight, garnish with whipped cream and chocolate curls or fresh raspberries, if desired.

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