Entries from January 11th, 2011

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tart

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11.1.11

or How I taught my friends to stop freaking out and love running in the cold.

Have I ever told you that I started a running club?  I don’t think I have — so, for your information, I did.  And it’s fabulous.

At the cookie rager, a couple of friends expressed their interest in running, but also a fear of pain and suffering.  We established a weekly running club, which meets on Monday evenings for an easy jog around Washington, and ends with a Sweetsonian dinner — called Monday Rundays.  Oh, and it’s ladies only.  Very important.

It’s happened a few times now, with the holidays interrupting a few weeks — travel schedules, abhorrent weather, etc.  In my opinion, it’s a great way to start off each week: one easy run. Add girlish chatter, a smidgeon of complaints, and a slew of sarcasm.  Within thirty minutes, I have a dinner party of women (girls?) who had no idea that they could be hooked on running.  I only know they are hooked because Rachel skipped the run tonight (so lame, I know) and came to dinner feeling so guilty and lazy that she pledged not to skip out on our run again.

I usually put the girls to work as space permits in the closet that is disguised as my kitchen, and we normally assemble a very healthy runner’s dinner — high in protein, low in complex carbs.

I would never in my life make this — this beautiful tart — after a run.  What a waste!  No way.  I would only make this dish on a day of complete lethargy and indulgence.  A day filled with shopping, sleeping, and probably (obviously) gluttony.

But anyway, days like that balance out the other days in my life, most of which are spent training for half marathons.  And speaking of, tomorrow is day three of training.  Good-bye, gluttony :(

WHAT YOU NEED:


for the crust (makes about 2 6-inch tarts):
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
6 tablespoons butter, cold and diced into 1/4-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 teaspoons cold water


for caramelized onion the filling:
1 or 2 medium-sized onions
enough goat cheese to fill your tart mold


for the spinach quiche:
2 eggs
150 mL of milk (I didn’t try to convert the European measurements)
1 small onion, finely diced
a generous handful of fresh spinach, chopped finely
sprinkles of cheddar or goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste

WHAT TO DO:

To make the crust, simply combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse-grind until finely mixed, and the dough begins to form a ball.  Then, remove the dough, knead in any straggling pieces, and roll to your desired thickness.  I prefer a very thin crust, usually about 1/8 of an inch.  After rolling, transfer to your tart dish, fork the base to prevent bubbles, and bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

For the caramelized onion and goat cheese tarts, first slice the onions as thinly as possible.  Drizzle a few tablespoons of olive oil into a wide, shallow pan, and sautee the onions until soft.  Add one minced clove of garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook on low for about twenty minutes, stirring frequently.  Some people like to add a little sugar to speed the caramelization, but I prefer my onions as savory as possible — there’s enough sugar in them to begin with!  When your onions are fairly transparent and a deep brown color, you’ll know you’re done.

crumble the goat cheese in your tarts, and top with the hot caramelized onions.  I let them sit in the oven at 350 degrees for another ten minutes — it added a little bit of color to the crust and melted the goat cheese to better mold into the tart.

For the quiche, first whip the eggs and milk in a medium mixing bowl.  Then, sautee the onion in a tablespoon or so of olive oil.  Add the spinach, and remove from heat after spinach has completely collapsed — 30 seconds to one minute.  Combine with the egg and milk mixture, and pour into your half-cooked tart crust.  Bake the quiche at 300 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

On New Year’s Resolutions

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01.1.11

Looking back — 2010 was good to me.  I’ve never been one to set new year’s resolutions, but I’ve always believed that self-improvement was a never-ending goal.  And if I make a “resolution,” per se, it’s one of those “always put in one hundred percent” resolutions.  Like one year, I decided to look my best every day.  It wasn’t just about putting on make up or doing my hair before leaving the house, but about exercising, eating well, not drinking too much, and dressing to impress.  All in all, my resolutions gear towards making good decisions.
And sure, everyone makes bad decisions every now and then.  Like when my roommate ate her entire Advent Calendar in one sitting, or the time I had to opt out of a half marathon because I ran my body into the ground by running six days a week (I know, so stupid).  But for the most part, this year was filled with some epic wins, and minimal fails:
  • Staying employed.  Take that, recession.
  • Upgrading to a digital SLR — photography improved significantly.
  • Running my first half marathon (and signing up for my second!)
  • Leaving the federal government for a much better non-profit job.
  • Snowmageddon.  Best week ever!
  • Travel like whoa: Boston, NYC, LA, Delaware (two times each), then Louisiana/Mississippi, Bogotá, and a mini plantation in Virginia (arguably a Dachshund farm).
  • Hosting countless dinners at my house… favorites below.
  • Successfully teaching Rachel how to cook and run — our friends in Los Angeles couldn’t believe it.
  • Breaking into the international development blogosphere.  I need to work on that more.
  • Cooking about half of Christmas dinner for my family in California, thus demonstrating the cooking skills I’ve built up since moving out :)
  • Convincing a significant amount of people to move to DC this year.  You know who you are.

    And now, Sweetsonian in review — here are some of my favorite recipes, along with your favorites (thank you, Google Analytics).

    • Sweet Potato Fries and a Spicy Tomato Garlic Aioli.  By far the most popular recipe — it got almost 8k page views a couple of days after I posted it!  I have to say, it was one of my favorites, and definitely a favorite amongst my friends.  I made a variation of it for my family’s Christmas dinner in California — huge hit.
    • Bacon Jam.  I didn’t realize how obsessed the world is with bacon.
    • Mexican Tacos.  What a fun day that was!  I miss the days I spent with Silje, our Norwegian embassy exchange intern.  Here’s a resolution: see Silje this year.
    • Almond Ice Cream.  I just bought a new ice cream maker.  My affinity for almond ice cream will be a primary motivator behind my half marathon.
    • Pizza Bianca.  Also a favorite memory of mine — having my best friend visiting for July Fourth weekend in Washington.
    • Waffle Iron Panini.  You really should try this.  No need to buy a panini grill!
    • Chocolate Waffles.  By far my favorite thing on this blog, hands down.
    Happy new year, world!  Thanks for reading, commenting, tasting, and testing my kitchen work.  I look forward to all of your feedback in the year to come.
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