In the last week I’ve had what I’ve considered three incidents of cooking failure. On Sunday night I slow cooked a bit of ham I carved off a larger hock I’d squirreled away in the fridge shortly after Easter since it was still on sale, but it was drier than I would have liked and the honey glaze I used was too sweet. Then Tuesday night, after seeing a recipe for Thai spicy peanut and chicken noodles I thought, YUM! I loosely followed the recipe I found, but what resulted looked better than it tasted. No depth of flavor. Too much peanut butteriness. To compensate for that, I thought, I will go for a tried-and-true standard for lunch: the quiche. Maybe it was a bad idea to use the ham for Sunday in the quiche, but I thought, c’mon, how can I quiche fail? Well…it can. Even my boyfriend said it wasn’t quite up to snuff, and except for about 2 occasions in the last 3 years, he usually gives my meals the thumbs up.
And, so to bolster my self confidence one more, I thought I’d come back to the blog and post about a recipe that succeeded! I present to you the asparagus and mushroom tart, which I made for a quick dinner on several occasions and then made again for Easter as a sort of appetizer to share.
It’s been a while since I last posted. I’ve had every intention, but things have been busy! In between bouts of work and sickness (no worries–I’m swine-flu free), I’ve been something of a professional wedding guest. In late March my boyfriend and I went to our first of five this year, and this one, mercifully, was local. Two weeks later, we found ourselves flying out to San Francisco to attend the wedding of a friend from our graduate MFA program. I’ve never been to San Francisco before and it was gorgeous out there. I’m a Midwestern girl at heart and never thought I would want to live in California, but San Francisco, you might have changed my mind. The wedding was held at the Shakespeare Garden in Golden Gate park, and afterward we headed to the Cliff House out by the ocean for the reception.
Easter was sandwiched in next, and then just one short week later, the boy and I were off again for wedding #3 in Sedona, Arizona, with a layover in Tucson to visit friends and revisit grad school nostalgia.
While I lived in Arizona for two years while I was in school, I somehow rarely left the confines of Pima County, which meant I had not gone to the Grand Canyon, which meant that I had not gone to Sedona, either. Until now. And wow. People aren’t mincing words when they say how beautiful this place is. Driving into Red Rock country was like driving into a post card. It was a picture perfect place to hold the wedding, and aside from a bit of a stumble on this trip (literally: my boyfriend rolled his ankle while playing basketball on our first day there and was on crutches the rest of the trip), it was a wonderful time.
Now that I’ve wildly digressed, my point was this: I’ve been busy! But I’ve been cooking and taking photographs. I just haven’t been writing. But now, I resolve to change that. We now proceed to the actual recipe!
Asparagus and Mushroom Tarts
- 1 17.3-ounce package of frozen puff pastry
- 8 rehydred shitake mushroom, cut into 1/4 inch strips
- 1 lb. asparagus spears,trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup grated Gryuere cheese
- kosher salt and lemon pepper to taste
- Roll out the puff pastry and cut each sheet into 4 squares. Score a 1/2 inch border around the inside edges. Place squares onto baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a medium-sized bowl, mix together ricotta cheese, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme. Divide the mix into 8 equal parts and spread onto the pastry squares, save for the outside edges.
- Arrange the sliced mushrooms (dried shitakes should be soaked overnight in warm water or soaked in hot water for at least 20 minutes before use) and asparagus on top of the cheese mixture.
- Place the baking sheets on the top third and bottom third racks in the oven.
- Bake the tarts for 10 minutes. Reverse the positioning of the sheets and bake for another 5-10, or until golden.
- Dust with fresh cracked salt and pepper, and a little bit of lemon zest if you have it.
This dish is vegetarian, though in this particular case I added some leftover shredded rotisserie chicken for a little bit more flavor and protein, but you can customize it (or not) as you wish. It’s pretty delicious either way.