Friday, January 31, 2014

A Savory Roasted Root Vegetable and Goat Cheese Tart

Here it is -- hot out of the oven!  A Savory Roasted Root Vegetable and Goat Cheese Tart!  I used roasted sweet potatoes, beets, and yellow gold potatoes as the root vegetable toppings.  You can choose any combination of root vegetables you prefer.  It is the perfect mid-winter meal--pretty enough for company and so healthy.

I love the flavor of roasted vegetables, as I find the high oven heat brings out their natural sweetness. To roast, heat your oven to 400 degrees F. Wash, peel and slice the root vegetables and then slice them thinly--about 1/4 inch. You can use a micro plane if you have one to do this task or just eyeball it using a good knife and cutting broad. Spread some olive oil on your baking sheets and place slices on the pan. Roast about 10 minutes on one side, and then turn them over with a fork and continue roasting another 5 to 10 minutes. The vegetables are done when they are fork tender. Total time will depend on how hot your oven is and how thinly you sliced your vegetables. For this recipe, I would not crisp the vegetables too much in the pre-cook.

I find the most time-consuming part of making tarts is the crust--I usually prepare and pre-bake them the day before.  I love Williams Sonoma's cornmeal tart crust (recipe below), or you can use your favorite pie crust or frozen prepared pie crust or even puff pastry. Adjust the recipe accordingly. The roasted vegetables and goat cheese combination taste terrific with any crust you desire!

 Roasted Root Vegetable and Goat Cheese Tart

Cornmeal Dough: (adapted from Williams Sonoma)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground cornmeal
6 tablespoon unsalted butter cut into slices
One egg, slightly beaten
Ice cold water

To make the dough in food processor, combine the flour and cornmeal and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add butter slices and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg and 1/4 cup cold water and pulse just until the dough comes together. Remove dough from the food processor and flatten into a disc, and wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour or up to two days.

When cooled, roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface into a circle, about 1/8 inch thick and an inch or so larger than your tart pan.  Place dough over the tart pan and press down to fit.  Fold back extra dough to reinforce the tart edges. Refrigerate again at least 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the lower third of your oven and preheat to 400 degrees F

Line the cooled tart shell with parchment paper and pie weights, (or dried beans), and place on a baking sheet and bake until set, about 20 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment paper and continue to bake until the shell is lightly golden about five more minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool completely before adding filling.

Roasted Root Vegetable Topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Wash, peel and thinly slice root vegetables, approximately 1/4 inch thick. Pat dry I used two large sweet potatoes, three large beets, and two large yellow gold potatoes for this recipe.
Spread a thin layer of olive oil on your roasting pans. I use a separate pan for each vegetable, as they may finish cooking at different times.
Place vegetable slices in one layer on pans and place pans in hot oven
Roast 10 minutes, remove pans from oven and turn each slice over and return pans to the oven for another 5 -10 minutes, or until the vegetables are fork tender and crisping on edges. You should also rotate the pans position to different racks in the oven, at this time, to ensure even roasting.
Remove pans from oven and allow vegetables to cool on wire racks

Goat Cheese Filling: (adapted from Williams Sonoma)

Two eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
One tablespoon fresh or dried chopped herbs such as rosemary and thyme
Three ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, heavy cream, grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, salt, pepper, 1/4 nutmeg, and the one tablespoon of chopped herbs.  Pour into the cooled tart shell. Sprinkle on the crumbled goat cheese as evenly as possible. Layer the cooled, pre-roasted vegetables on top, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and dried herbs as desired.

Bake until the tart is dark golden around the edges and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. The tart can be served warm or at room temperature. Serves 6 to 9, depending on the size of your slices.

A savory tart like this is perfect for a brunch, lunch or buffet. Sliced thin it can be an elegant appetizer, sliced more generously it makes a wonderful dinner entree if accompanied by bread and salad. It's a wonderful way to serve your root vegetables with a flair, and I hope you enjoy it!

Looking at my tart, and seeing all the orange color in it, I am reminded that this Sunday is the Superbowl! You know I will be rooting for the Denver Broncos to win! The buffalo outside the History Colorado Center will certainly be wearing its orange Broncos shirt, and all of Colorado will be yelling "Go Broncos!"

Won't you join us?

Bookmark and Share

Friday, January 24, 2014

Putting on "The Ritz" and the Museum of the City of New York

After our weekend staying with friends in Brooklyn, New York, (see that post on this link), my husband had to report to his Manhattan office, as the reason for his portion of the trip was to attend an important meeting being held Tuesday. The company he works for had regional managers report in for this meeting and put them up at the downtown Manhattan Ritz Carlton Hotel at Battery Park. As you can see from my photo of the hotel (above) it was raining heavily in Manhattan during our visit, and photo opportunities were hard to come by.

This is the view from the front of the hotel on West Street, looking towards the new One World Trade Center tower.

The inside lobby and reception area of the Ritz Carton Hotel, Battery Park.

Our room was obviously a business class and not one of the luxury suites, but it was very comfortable. The views we had were of West Street, as you can see by the photos at the bottom of the photo collage. If I craned my neck I could get a slight glimpse of One World Trade Center which was north, but mainly I could see the co-ops and condos across the street, and the traffic coming out of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. I liked the large bathroom with separate tub and walk-in shower in our room, and also the very large walk-in closet that lit up automatically when the doors were opened. If you knew how much I spent for my breakfast of Eggs Benedict at the hotel you would be astounded -- I know I was! *Smile* It was very good, but I thought the hash brown "patty" was pretty skimpy.

I wanted to put a photo up from the hotel website of the beautiful view the western facing rooms have of the harbor and the Statue of Liberty, but I now hesitate to put up photos without permission after reading this article on BlogHer.   If you'd like to see that view, please go to this link on the hotel's website gallery to see the other room accommodations.

On Monday, my friend and I spent the day out on Long Island at Tanger Outlet Center.  It was one of our favorite trips to make together when I lived in Brooklyn. We went for old times sake, even though I wasn't going to be able to do much shopping on this occasion, but it was fun to window shop and have a chance to do a lot of catch up talking on the ride. On Tuesday, my friend met me in Manhattan and we decided to spend another rainy day at a museum we had never visited before. We chose the Museum of the City of New York.  The Museum of the City of New York is a history and art museum located at 1220-1227 Fifth Avenue, from 103rd to 104th Street, across from Central Park in the East Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan.

The elegant main lobby inside the museum.

This Youtube video will give you an overview of the museum and show some of it's past and present exhibitions. Direct link to this video on Youtube is on this link

One of the ongoing exhibits we enjoyed was called "Gilded New York."  You can read the definition of the gilded age in New York City in the museum's exhibit below.

 Click to enlarge the above photo, and all photos in this post, for easier viewing.

The exhibition presents a lavish display of jewelry, portraits, dresses, decorative items and other objects that are from the era between the mid-1870s and the early 20th century 

You can click on the photo collage to enlarge it and you can see close up photos of many of the objects in the exhibit in the image gallery on the museum's web site.

Another ongoing exhibit is the Marine Paintings, which chronicle an important part of New York City's rich maritime history. This painting by Edward Moran is entitled: "Unveiling the Statue of Liberty."

The museum did not allow photographs of the exhibit about Norman Bel Geddes, who has been called the "Leonardo da Vinci of the 20th Century".  Bel Geddes was a leader in the '20s and '30s in industrial and theater design, and there was a fascinating collection of his original works on display of his dynamic vision of the American future. This interesting exhibit runs until February 10, 2014.

The next exhibit we visited is called Rising Waters: Photographs of Sandy, and runs until March 31, 2014.

The exhibit is being presented to mark the one year anniversary of  Hurricane Sandy.  The museum made an open call for photographic images from the storm, and over 1,000 photographers, both professional and amateur, responded with the submission of tens of thousands of photos.

This map in the exhibit shows, with the color blue, how the five boroughs of the City of New York, and some of the surrounding areas of New Jersey, that were impacted by water surge of Hurricane Sandy. Dark blue areas were inundated with as high as almost 19 feet of flooding. 17% of the city's landmass was flooded, with an estimated 33 billion dollars of damage done to New York City.

Click to enlarge to read this epic storm and the impact it had on the city.

The juried exhibition of photographs features the before and after the impact of the storm on the New York Region, including preparations, the hurricanes destructive effects, and the ongoing rebuilding efforts. To see close-ups of many of the photos from the exhibit you can click here to view them on Time Magazine's lightbox feature.

Photo of a portion of the temporary debris dump placed in Riis Park, of all the destroyed possessions of those affected by the hurricane. Citywide, there was 700,000 tons of debris.

I lived through Hurricane Sandy last year, and it was an event I will never forget. We were very fortunate that our house did not flood, although houses two blocks away from us in both directions had up to seven feet of water pour down into their basements during the storm's surge. I will never forget the screams I heard reverberate through my neighborhood at that moment. I saw panicked people running down my street screaming: "The water is coming!" and afterward the many sirens from emergency vehicles. For the second time in his career, my husband was displaced from his workplace-the first was on 9-11, when 7 World Trade Center collapsed. That was the building where his office was located. After Hurricane Sandy, his office building on Water Street in Manhattan had been extremely flooded with the water filling sub-basements and up to half the lobby with water from the East River.  It took many months before they were able to work in that building again.
My husband and I were also in the process of trying to sell our home at the time of the hurricane, and the sale basically came to a standstill for a few months afterward.  We felt very fortunate to have survived this storm unscathed, however, and tried our best to volunteer to help in local areas that were not so lucky. Rebuilding goes on till this day, and there are many areas of the coastline that will never be the same.

I'm glad the museum has documented this storm for their archives for future generations to see and learn from. They even have a phone number set up where you can leave a short message about your experience during the storm for their archives. See the bottom of the exhibit page for that number

I would definitely not hesitate to return to the Museum of the city of New York on a future visit, and hopefully have a chance to see the section of Central Park that is located across the street from the front of the museum on a fairer weather day. I hope you will consider a visit too!

My husband and I flew back to Colorado the next morning and it felt so good to be home. When I now look at the foothills of the front range I am so happy. Life is certainly different on this side of the country, but I really feel like I belong here now, and it's a wonderful new adventure full of many things I want to explore and experience in the west. It's certainly nice to feel at home in two such beautiful states!

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Trip "Home" to Brooklyn

My husband and I took a quick trip to New York City last week, just a few days over the year anniversary of our move from Brooklyn, New York to a suburb of the Denver area of Colorado. My husband had been back many times this past year because he is still technically working for his NYC based company, but this was the first trip back for me. We were picked up on a rainy Saturday evening at LaGuardia Airport by good friends, and stayed the weekend with our friends, enjoying their wonderful hospitality. Sitting and chatting and laughing by their living room fireplace that Saturday night we felt as if we had never left Brooklyn.  It was so nice to catch up on things we couldn't squeeze into erratic phone calls and e-mails.

The next afternoon my friends drove us by our old home in Brooklyn so we could take a peek.  I thought I'd be more nostalgic when I saw my house, but it definitely didn't feel like home to me any longer. It looked smaller than I remembered and the garden was not as tidy as the way we had kept it. I did hear from former neighbors, through their Christmas cards, that the new family enjoys our old home, so I'm glad about that. The neighborhood looked the same--not surprisingly after being away for only one year--but the feeling of "HOME" was definitely not there any longer.

We drove down the main thoroughfare of Brooklyn--Flatbush Avenue -- almost from one end to another and reminisced about our lives in Brooklyn.

It was fun to see the iconic Brooklyn landmarks again, both old and new. The new are Barclay's Center--the new powerhouse home of the Brooklyn Nets, and numerous concerts and entertainment events, and the many high rise co-op and condo apartment buildings, rising up like blades of grass in spring in this now chic borough of New York City. Among the old sights was Erasmus High School, seen in the middle of the collage above. The original school on this location was founded in 1786 as a private institution of higher learning named for the Dutch scholar Desiderius Erasmus. The original building still stands in a quadrangle in the middle of the campus. The school was turned over to the public school system in 1896. As the borough's population grew so did the physical structure of the school, which grew in many different phases.  The high school has many famous alumni -- Mae West, Barbara Stanwyck, Eli Wallach, Mickey Spillane, Neil Diamond, Barbra Streisand, among many others.  The academic performance of the school declined in the 1990s and the school was reorganized in 1994 into five different smaller high schools, each with their own administration. The spire of the Flatbush Reformed Dutch Church can be seen in the upper right on the collage above.  The first church located here was built in 1654, by order of Governor Stuyvesant. The present edifice was constructed from 1793-98. The next landmarks are the Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch in Grand Army Plaza, seen in the upper left of the collage above, and the large central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, where I spent many hours over the years, seen in the lower right of the photo collage.  All of these sights brought back wonderful memories of a borough with a long and illustrious history!

We turned off Flatbush Avenue on Tillary Street and drove towards Cadman Plaza West and the Brooklyn Bridge.

It was thrilling to see this part of Brooklyn's view of the World Trade Center One completed, complete with its antenna making the building reach 1776 feet!

We drove onto the DUMBO neighborhood where we were lucky to find a parking spot. I could not resist taking a photo of this iconic view of the Empire State building framed by the Manhattan Bridge.

We went shopping in the West Elm Market.  As you can see from the small shopping bag my husband carried out, compared to that of our friends, I practiced great restraint at the store because I knew I had to take back what I bought in a small suitcase--smile

I was really tempted by all the wonderful Brooklyn memorabilia in the store but had a good chuckle at the bag of "Brooklyn Compost" in the clearance section. Who would ever believe Brooklyn dirt would one day be offered for sale? Brooklyn has really come up in the world!

 My husband and I decided to pose for a bridge photo!

We stopped at Jacques Torres for hot chocolate drinks and walked around DUMBO until the glow of the Empire State building lit the early evening sky.  It was so much fun to spend a lovely day with good friends and enjoy a place we love.  Brooklyn will always be my hometown, and a place that will always be very special to us, but home is really where the heart is, and that home is in Colorado now.

 Join my next post as I'll show you what we did in Manhattan on our quick visit--we were "putting on the Ritz"!

As a resident of Colorado, I must also take this opportunity to congratulate the Denver Broncos who became the American Football Conference Champions today!  On to the Superbowl!  Go Broncos!

Bookmark and Share

Friday, January 10, 2014

All God's Creatures

When I was taking down my Christmas decorations last week, I happened to look out my front window to see one of Santa's reindeer waiting for him outside! (All photos will enlarge for easier viewing if clicked on)

Needing a little break, I went outside to investigate.  There were actually three mule deer bucks outside, happily munching on a juniper bush in front of my house. Since we live in close proximity to protected open space near the foothills of the Front Range of Colorado, they are a common sight in our neighborhood. They are also very used to humans, but don't worry --I made sure to keep a safe distance from them, none-the-less.

 Most of the time they will look up at me for a second, and then just go right on eating.

But this day, this particular buck pulled on my heartstrings.  He had obviously been previously attacked by another wild animal in the vicinity--perhaps a mountain lion or coyotes--and had escaped, but not without injury.

His front right leg was injured and he was limping on it.  He had marks on his flanks and back that looked like healing bite and scratch marks.  Although he was limping badly, he still was able to walk and did not appear to be in too much pain.  He certainly enjoyed eating my shrubs and dried tree leaves!  If you notice, one of his antlers was also broken, so I guess he fought a brave battle, and fortunately for him, he won this time!

The next morning I looked out my bedroom window and there he was, resting in my backyard.

Since I do not have a dog, I often see deer in my yard, as there is nothing to discourage them from entering. As you can see, he has his injured right leg extended in front of him.

When I went outside later that morning I saw he was still sitting and leisurely chewing his cud, and did not look in distress, which made me feel a little better.  I looked into the protocol for injured animals on our community Rangers web site, and their literature states that as long as the animal can walk, they do not intervene. If the deer was unable to walk, then they would come over and euthanize him.  I know that would be the kind thing to do if he could not feed himself, and had no chances for survival.

Since moving here, exactly one year ago today, I've found watching these animals fascinating! I know many people dislike that deer eat their landscaping and flowers, but one Ranger article I read addressed this issue by telling us that since we chose to live close to open spaces, we should treat our property as wildlife habitats. All wildlife seeks out food, water, and shelter, and our properties will be included in their search. It is best then, for us not to plant anything that attracts wildlife, and to realize that they will seek out food in our yards, regardless. It is best to plant deer resistant plants and flowers and to use deer repellents and barriers to protect our landscaping. There are also Colorado state wildlife statutes that prohibit feeding wildlife, including giving them salt licks, with fines and summonses if we are caught doing so. It might seem kind to leave food out for the deer in harsh weather, but they explain it often leads to a spread of a condition called chronic wasting disease. Deer complex digestive systems cannot digest large amounts of grain, bread, bird seed or hay, and feeding them such foods weaken their condition.

A deer's life is really a matter of survival of the fittest.  They face quite a bit of hazard living int the wild and among humans.  Since this injured deer seems to be a frequent visitor to my yard, I can't help but root for him to heal and survive the winter.  I'll keep you posted!

Thank you all for your kind words of sympathy on my last post--they were very much appreciated. It is hard to begin the new year with such sadness, but my daughter and son-in-law have been fortunate to have their baby girl to give them daily joy, and now my son-in-law is going for tests to make sure he does not suffer from heart disease, as his older brothers did. Please continue to keep them in your prayers!  Thank you!

Bookmark and Share