Potato and Onion Tart

Happy New Year!!  I hope that 2014 brings you peace, happiness, love, and the best of health..

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Looking back on 2013, I’m thankful to have my son here today. He gave us quite the scare last April, but with the wonderful doctors at Children’s hospital in Buffalo, he’s here and will be for many many years to come.

I’m also thankful for my friends who supported this crazy notion of starting a blog. For helping me come up with the name, and proofreading and proofreading, and tasting and tasting!!  And for all the tasting that is still to come!! I’m thankful for those of you who commented on my very first post,  and for the quick friendships that have grown…I’m thankful for those of you who follow my blog… and I look forward to sharing 2014 with each and every one of you. I’ve enjoyed every last minute of this blog for the last few months, and I can’t wait to see what the New Year brings!!

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I felt that it was fitting to start butter, basil and breadcrumbs’ 2014 the way that it began in September 2013… with a savory tart.  This one isn’t as complex as my Rustic Tomato Tartlet, but it certainly has the flavor of a complex tart. Of course, it definitely has to involve bacon and some sort of caramelized sweet onions…and what would it be without some sort of cheesy goodness?

I had a lot of potatoes to use up this morning.  I wasn’t really hungry for potato soup, or scalloped potatoes, or potato salad.  I was limited on ingredients because I didn’t have the desire to run to the store, which would have meant changing into decent clothes and taking my hair out of the ponytail. Lazy. And in the same fashion as I usually prepare a meal, I started rummaging through the fridge to see what I had on hand. Pepper Jack cheese. Eggs for custard. Onions. How about roasted balsamic onions? And bacon.  A potato tart it would be. Perfect.

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I have to say that I love this tart. I just love it when you can throw some simple ingredients together to come up with a recipe worth saving. It’s simple. It’s rustic. It’s perfect as a side dish for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  It’s perfect to be the main course for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Potato and Onion Tart

I used a 9×9 square tart pan with a removable bottom.

The whole time I was preparing this tart, I kept wishing that I had sharp cheddar in the fridge, because I really believed it would really make this tart what my taste buds thought it should be.  But…after taking that first taste of this tart, those taste buds of mine were absolutely certain that the pepper jack was the honest to goodness cheese for this tart.

Since I made this for breakfast, I thought that a couple of fried eggs would top it off nicely.  I was right!

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You’ll notice that the picture shows five potatoes in a pan of water.  That’s what I started out with, but to be honest, I only used three of the potatoes.  The other two are now a small potato salad in the fridge.

Tart Filling:
3 medium potatoes, all the same diameter
3 medium onions, all the same diameter
8 oz pepper jack cheese, cut into cubes
½ pound bacon
2 tbsp spicy brown mustard
Custard (recipe below)
1 tsp dried rosemary

Boil three medium size (same size) potatoes until they’re tender, but not completely softened. When they’re cooled, slice into ½” slices.  Set aside.

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Slice three medium onions that are about the same diameter into ½” thick slices.  Place each slice on a greased baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil, and a generous amount of balsamic vinegar.  Season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Roast at 400 degrees for about ½ hour, until the onions are soft and browned.  Remove from oven, set aside.

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While the onions are roasting, fry ½ pound of bacon until crispy.  Roughly chop.  Set aside.

Custard:
6 egg yolks
¾ cup heavy cream
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
pinch of cayenne (or more to suit your desired heat)

In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks, heavy cream, salt, pepper, and cayenne until well blended.  Store in refrigerator until ready to use.

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For the tart, I used Aunt Linda’s pie crust:
2 cups flour
1 cup shortening
½ tsp salt
½ cup milk
1 tbsp vinegar

In a small bowl, mix the milk and vinegar together.  Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, blend the flour, shortening, and salt together until mixture is in pea size crumbles. Pour the milk and vinegar mixture into the flour mixture and stir.   The dough will be sticky.

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Use plenty of flour, and roll the dough into a ball. Cut the dough ball in half, and if you’re using a square tart pan, shape the dough into a square.  (You can refrigerate the other half of the dough for a later use) Using plenty of flour on your rolling board, roll the square to 1/8 inch thick.  Press the square of dough into the tartlet pan, and fold the overlapping dough back down the inside of the pan to make the sides of the tart sturdy.  I always weigh my pie crust down with dried beans and a piece of aluminum foil. To make it easier to handle the tart pan, place it on a baking sheet, and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.  Remove the pie weight and let the crust cool in the pan. Set aside. Do not remove the crust from the pan at this point!! 

To assemble the tart:

When the tart crust is cooled, spread 2 tablespoons of spicy brown mustard on the bottom of the crust.  Spread the chopped bacon over the bottom of the crust. Spread the pepper jack cubes over the bacon.

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Layer the top of the tart starting with the potatoes, and alternating with the onions, until the tart is filled.

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Pour the custard over the potato and onion layers, making sure that the custard fills all of the nooks and crannies between the potatoes and onions.

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Season with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes, or until the custard is set.

Serve immediately as a side dish, or your main course.  Enjoy!!

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Sausage and Bean Soup

This weekend started out with so many plans.  But…I almost want to call this a failed weekend, because the man who invented weekends really didn’t think it through.    He should have realized that the weekend should begin on Friday, with a few more hours added to both Saturday and Sunday.  Therefore, I did not have enough time to get everything done that I wanted to do.

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I wanted to get through this massive pile of laundry that has been building up for the last couple of months.  I don’t know how it piles up, it just does.  I’ve never been able to keep up with laundry, and I’d have to say it’s my biggest weakness.  I guess I’d rather be cooking, shopping, ANYTHING, rather than doing laundry.  I’m not sorry for this weakness….One thing I know for sure, is that when I’m 95, I’ll be sitting on my front porch sipping a glass of lemonade thinking about how I’m glad that I spent my life doing the things that I love….rather than sitting there thinking how happy I am that I had clean clothes throughout my life!  Sometimes my priorities might seem a little off, but it’s all good.  Right?  But in the end, laundry was my priority for the weekend, and I did manage to get through that pile.

Anyway, getting back to my failed weekend.  I also wanted to start baking Christmas cookies. On Friday night, I pulled all of my cookie recipes out, and put them somewhere.  I say put them somewhere, because I can’t remember where. I’m afraid that they might be in the garbage.  Maybe I absent-mindedly threw them in the garbage while I was cleaning the kitchen.  I was in slight panic mode, but they’re pretty much all of my mom’s recipes, so I left a message for my father to scan them and email them to me.  Mom to the rescue once again…and the recipes are now back in my possession!

I thought I had a ton of eggs in the fridge… Nope.  I had six.  I thought I had anise oil in my spice cabinet, but all I had was ½ teaspoon in the bottle.  The rest of the bottles are cinnamon oil.   I swear I bought a brand new bag of sugar.  I had about 2 cups in my container.  I should have read the signs that it just wasn’t the weekend to make cookies…but of course…I didn’t.

Instead, I had a little under what I needed of anise oil to make my first batch of biscotti, and I figured I would at least get them made.  ….And…..I burned them.  You know why?  Because I was downstairs throwing clothes into the washer and dryer; and folding dried clothes.  See what I mean? Laundry is the root of all evil.  I swear to you, it truly is.   As I’m sitting here typing this, I’m looking at a trash bin with burned biscotti.

I was totally unprepared for cookie baking… as a haphazard baker always is!

So, as I stood in my kitchen folding towels, I couldn’t help but feel a little cranky.  That’s when I decided to stop and regroup. But how?  Well, that’s an easy answer! Make myself a pot of Sausage and Bean soup….and…. as my friend Jamison told me…Relax.

The soup was just what the doctor ordered. Just chopping the vegetables, frying the sausage..and then the soup simmering on the stove, along with the gooey bits of cheese with every bite, was the perfect antidote that this girl needed to make everything all right with the world again.

It’s so rich and flavorful, a rustically delicious soup for a cold, and unprepared day. Honestly, if you were serving this soup to your guests, they would never believe that this soup takes only an hour and a half or so from start to finish.  It’s just that good.

I’ll start my cookies tomorrow night…in the meantime, let’s start a petition about those weekend hours…

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Sausage and Bean Soup

½ pound bulk hot Italian sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 – 15.5 oz can Cannellini beans, drained
1 large potato, peeled, and cut into chunks
1 – 32 oz container chicken stock
½ cup grated romano cheese
4 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
1 – 6 oz bag fresh baby spinach
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Romano cheese for garnish
Crushed red pepper for garnish

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In a soup pot, sauté the onion and garlic until translucent.  Add the sausage to the pan, breaking it apart into bite size pieces as it cooks. When the sausage is fully cooked, add the chicken stock, cannellini beans, salt and pepper.  Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about one hour. Add the romano and pepper jack cheeses, and stir until melted into the soup.  So the baby spinach doesn’t get all wilted and discolored, it will be the very last ingredient added to the soup.  Once you add it to the pot, it only takes a couple of minutes for the spinach to cook down.

Serve immediately, with romano cheese and crushed red pepper for garnish.

Enjoy!

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