Merry Christmas from me a few days early. I’m giving away my favorite recipe from the Pic Niques chapter of my newly released cookbook, Sunday Best. I do so because I know the “most wonderful time of the year” is full of office parties, gift exchanges and special luncheons. My Smoked Gruyere Cheese Tart with Spinach and Bacon is the perfect dish for your afternoon party. It pairs well with a deep red French wine…which gives me an idea for a unique Xmas gift. A Francophile foodie basket for the Julia Child in your life!
Use your imagination to add to this basket with the Cabaret Sauvignon.
Add a fluted tart pan, and you are well on your way. In my book, I recommend the best and most time tested cooking tools, gadgets, and food stuffs on the market – the ones that have kept me eating well since I started in this business over 30 years ago. I can’t wait to sign your book! Cheers, and do let me know if you take this fabulous quiche to your next holiday party!
8 ounces smoked Gruyere cheese, grated, about 1 cup
4 large eggs
½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 400°. Unroll the pie crust and press into a 9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Pierce the bottom of the pie crust with a fork. Bake until the pie crust is golden, about 9 to 12 minutes.
Cook the bacon in a skillet, over medium high heat, until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Pour off the bacon drippings.
Heat the olive oil and butter in the skillet, over medium high heat. Cook the onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and cook for 4 to 5 minutes more. The diced onion should be golden and slightly syrupy. Transfer to a bowl. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with Herbs de Provence and set aside.
Carefully slide the baked tart shell onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle the bacon onto the bottom of the baked tart shell. Cover the bacon with grated cheese. Cover the cheese with the caramelized onion. Spread the spinach over the top. Whisk together the eggs and cream, and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Carefully pour this mixture over the ingredients in the tart. Place the baking sheet with tart into the oven. Bake until the egg mixture puffs and is golden, about 30 minutes.
If not serving immediately, cool the tart to room temperature. Wrap the tart in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Everything you do, you do better if you enjoy the process – the more masterful the setting, the more enjoyable the experience. That being said, I just made baking cookies and cakes a Zen-like event!
Ree Drummond aka “Pioneer Woman”; book and mixer
If you think you have seen a mixer that has been airbrushed like this you must be a fan of the Pioneer Woman on Food Network. When I saw her mixer painted with the same bright blue flower pattern as the cover of her cookbook, I was inspired to put my own mark on the KitchenAid Mixer, often the defining characteristic on every serious cook’s counter space!
I channeled my inner detective and tracked down the artist. We started a conversation and I developed an artistic crush. Nicole Dinardo of Un Amore Design calls her art kitchen couture and she delivers on her promise, “A custom painted KitchenAid Mixer – it is a match made in custom kitchen couture heaven.”
Lookie, lookie at my new work of art. It is my brand new KitchenAid Mixer, hand painted by the incredibly talented Nicole Dinardo.
I purchased the mixer and sent it directly to Nicole’s’ Snohomish, Washington address along with a check for her fee. Then the wait begins. Nicole does not promise you a time for delivery and lets you know there is a months-long waiting list—some of her clients include Mario Batali and Hubert Keller; the latter is a chef at the Fleur de Lys restaurant in San Francisco, and loves his mixer so much that when he gives people tours of his house, the mixer is the first thing on it!
I can certainly understand how he feels! My kitchen in Linville, North Carolina loves the new KitchenAid almost as much as I do—the gray background and yellow flowers match everything so beautifully, and I think the way Nicole chose to do it lends the mixer a certain southern charm.
It was definitely worth waiting for, and so akin—even if it is just an appliance—to buying an original painting from an artist that will definitely appreciate in value. You cannot imagine how happy I was when I finally got a chance to open it! Once it was out of the box I spent a lot of time moving it around, just to make sure the mixer was happy in its new home. I think we will keep each other!
So, no… I have not actually used it yet…. But when I do, you betcha those cookies and cakes are going to taste way more upscale than they used to!
In search of a dessert for a dinner party that I had last week, I came across a recipe for “S’mores Cupcakes”. If you know me, you know that I am a way better cook than I am a baker. These little darlings were a bit more complicated than I like to attempt, but my gal pal, Diana, had made them for a group and everyone oohed and aahed so much that I decided to give them a try. First you bake a layer of graham cracker crusts topped with chopped chocolate in the bottom of the cupcake liners. Then you pour in a really rich, dark chocolate batter and bake again. But the BEST PART is the mile-high topping of marshmallowy meringue frosting. It’s yummy and gorgeous.
To make the S’mores cupcakes as authentic as possible you toast the top of the frosting to scorch the edges. I used a kitchen torch to do the job and it worked just perfectly. This little flame thrower does a bunch more than caramelize the top of decadent crème brûlée. Use it to scorch tomato skins for roasted tomato salsa. For a super brunch treat sprinkle sugar on the top of a grapefruit half and torch to caramelize. You can use it to brown the cheese on top of your gratin or to toast your marshmallows when you’re lacking an outdoor campfire.
The best kitchen gadget is one that is used often. Do you have a special use for your brûlée torch?