05 July 2008

{feasting on the fourth}

Yesterday was Independance Day....and it was such a great day! Our friends (John and Erin) threw a grand party at their chic loft near the water. After eating up all the hors d'oeuvres, we headed to the roof top for a front row seat to the amazing Seattle fireworks show. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! (...and quite romantic - as it was the first 4th of July my husband and I have spent together!)

I love to bake. And...I'm loving to cook, as well! After becoming a wife, I really had to fast foward into cooking. I've always liked the "idea" of it, but never "needed" to do too much. Well, I've learned quite a bit these past few months, but mostly, I've learned to LOVE the process of it all...and creating yummy things is a bonus! It's really the reason why I started this blog. It's a great place to jot down recipes and keep me pursuing cooking...and baking of course (since it's my first love)!

  • The following is a little photo documentary (w/ recipes) of my cooking experience yesterday for the party.

Artichoke Dip w/ Crudites, Blue Chips and Pita slices...

*2 cans (14 oz) - Artichoke Hearts (in Water); drain, rinse, coarsely chop *1/2 C - mayo *1/4 C, plus 1 Tbl - Parmesan Cheese; grated *1 Tbl - lemon juice *1 garlic glove; coarsely chop *1 scallion; minced, plus more for garnish *Crudites (choose your fave! I used raw peppers)  *Oven 425  *Place 1/2 artichoke hearts, mayo, parmesan, lemon juice & garlic in food processor. Process till smooth. Add scallions and remaining artichokes. Pulse to combine. Transfer to baking dish and top with parmesan cheese. Bake till golden and bubbling. 30-35 minutes. Garnish with scallions and serve!

Proscuitto-Basil Crostinis *1 baguette (thinly cut on the diagonal) *3-4 Tbl Olive Oil, plus extra *2 Tbl coarse salt *Fresh ground pepper *12 Fresh basil leaves *6 oz Proscuitto (thinly sliced)  *Oven 400  *Lightly brush both sides of cut baguette with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toast about 7 minutes till golden (put on baking sheet).  *Remove from oven and cool completely. Once cool, top with basil, proscuitto, a bit of olive oil and cracked pepper. Serve and enjoy!

Pate Brisee (Pie Dough): for mini quiches

*this is officially my FAVORITE DOUGH to date. It makes 1 dbl crust or 2 singles. It's perfectly flaky and just so yummy!  *2 1/2 C - flour *1 t - salt *1 t - sugar *1 C (2 sticks) - unsalted butter (cold!!! cubed) *1/4 - 1/2 cup ice water  *In the bowl of the processor combine flour, salt and sugar. Once mixed, add butter. Process till mixture resembles coarse meal. *With machine running, ad ice water through feed, slowly. Start with 1/4 C. Once combined, pulse any extra you need. Want the consistancy to be "together", but not wet or sticky.  *Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Flaten into disc. Cover with plastic wrap and refridgerate at least 1 hour (2 hours is best). Dough can be frozen for up to one month.

Mini Quiches: Asparagus & Gruyere; Italian Sausage & Swiss

*1 bunch pencil asparagus *Coarse salt & ground pepper *1/2 C milk *1/2 C heavy cream *2 large eggs *1 large yolk *Pinch nutmeg *Flour - for surface *Dough (1/2 of pate brisee recipe) *3 oz Gruyere Cheese *2 oz Ham  *Oven 375  *Boil water. Cut 3" from asparagus tip ends. Add salt liberally to water. Boil asparagus till tender (about 2 minutes). Drain. Cut into 1/2" pieces. *Whisk milk, cream, eggs, yolk, and nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Strain through sieve into bowl. *Rolls out pate brisee to less than 1/8" thick (basically thin). Cut 24 rounds (about 2 3/4). (I used a scalloped cookie cutter.) Fit into mini muffin molds. *Divide gruyere between all 24 cups. Top with ham. Divide milk mixture. Top each with several asparagus. Sprinkle with remaining gruyere.  *Bake till puffed and browned - about 30 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Blackberry-Raspberry Cream Cheese Tarts

*2 blocks of cream cheese *2 eggs *1 C sugar *1 t vanilla *12 Vanilla Wafers *favorite choice of pie filling *Fresh berries for garnish *12 paper cups  *Oven 350  *Place paper cups in muffin pan. Add one vanilla wafer to each cup (flat side down). *Mix cream cheese till soften. Add sugar and vanilla and mix till creamed. Add eggs one at a time (mixing thoroughly after each). *Divide cream cheese mixture between the cups. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.  *Top with filling and fresh berries. Most of all enjoy this delicious and way too easy dessert!


All in all the day was a success. Credit goes to my dear husband for helping me get everything together, especially the dessert!! I needed him since I really didn't start cooking until 3p and we left just a couple hours later! (yes...I already know I'm a procrastinator!)

Happy Weekend!

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