Fig Jam & Chevre Cheese Filled Turnovers with Puff Pastry

 

cheese and fig appetizers

I came across a very complicated recipe for fig turnovers that called for a homemade crust, homemade fig jam and a sweetened cream and chevre cheese filling.  The combination sounded absolutely scrumptious but I knew I wasn’t going to go through all that effort.  Instead I streamlined the recipe using puff pastry and purchased fig jam.  The verdict?  Awesome!  Everyone loved it!  And if fig isn’t your thing, replace it with any fruit preserve.

Rosemary Mashed Potatoes (with Lemon and Parmesan too!)

Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Truth be told, the hubby and I are not to big mashed potato eaters.  They tend to be a bit on the ‘blah’ side.  That is until I concocted these.  It combines some of our favorite flavors: rosemary (which pairs perfectly with potatoes), lemon and Parmesan to elevate plain mashed potatoes into something a bit more sophisticated and special.  With very little extra effort.  In fact, I didn’t peel or use beaters or a potato ricer to make these; I simply use a wooden spoon to break up the small red potatoes called for in this recipe.  And although this recipe calls for butter, to turn these into low fat mash potatoes, swap out the butter with fat free evaporated milk.

 

Sweet Potato Galette

This sweet potato recipe is a breeze to make yet it looks like you really put a lot of time into it (let it be your little secret).  I always make it in cast iron skillet although you can also make it in a metal skillet (don’t use non-stick; the oven temperature is too hot for its surface).

I like to put a layer of grated gruyere is the middle – sweet potatos and gruyere are a wonderful taste combination.  But you can certainly leave it out.  Also else that is needed is a bit of unsalted butter and salt.

Don’t be put off by the picture below – the galette is not burned.  The dark edges are were the potatoes carmalelized and they are just oozing with sweet flavor!

This recipe is very similar to my Potato Galette recipe – take a look at it for step-by-step instructions on how to make a galette.

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Chive Mashed Potatoes with Yogurt

What’s so special about these chive mashed potatoes?  It’s the Greek yogurt that is used as a replacement for sour cream.  Greek yogurt tastes sinfully rich and luscious and adds depth of flavor to the typical sour cream mashed potato recipe.

Another flavor profile added to this recipe is garlic, but with a very light touch.  You actually infuse the milk used to make the mashed potatoes with a bit of garlic flavor by heating it (the milk) with two smashed garlic cloves.  You then strain the milk when adding it to the potatoes so you don’t have any over powering hits of garlic!

I use a potato ricer when making mash potatoes – it makes the lightest, fluffiest potatoes imaginable.  But if you don’t happen to have one – simply mash the potatoes like you normally do whether you mash by hand or in a mixer.

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Baked Gnocchi Recipe

Just in time for family gatherings.  This decadent gnocchi ‘pasta’ is really the gnocchi equivalent of mac ‘n cheese.  But this is so much more sophisticated (and better tasting)!

This gnocchi sauce recipe combines Fontina, Gruyere and Parmesan cheese; it’s a delicious combination.  And the gnocchi cheese sauce quickly comes together by first creating a roux and then adding the grated cheese (fontina and Gruyere) to it.  Before the dish goes into the oven it is topped with the grated Parmesan.  In the words of my dear mother, “Yum Yum”!

One word of advice:  if you use a heavy hand with the cheeses like I did, you may need to blot off a little liquid from the top of the gnocchi before serving (similar to cheesy pizza).  Simply blot excess with a paper towel.

* Typically found in the Italian aisle of your supermarket.

** You’ll want to use a metal skillet so that you don’t ruin a nonstick finish with the whisk (unless you have a nonstick whisk).

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Chive Potato Cakes

IMG_1948

A friend shared this wonderful recipe with me and it has fast become a family favorite.  Although the recipe calls for Manchego cheese, you can substitute an easier-to-find, less expensive substitute such as Gouda or Fontina.   You can also use  a softer cheese such as crumbled goat cheese, simply mix the other ingredients first and then fold the goat cheese in.

You can also shape them into large cakes (as shown here) or smaller, thinner cakes.  I like the smaller ones the best.

Chive Potato Cake (Cafe Pasqual’s cookbook, circa 2003)

Makes 6 ‘large’ potato cakes or 12 small ones

  • 2 whole bulbs garlic
  • 5 medium-large russet baking potatoes
  • 1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese (or gouda, fontina, etc.)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh chives
  • salt and pepper
  • butter for frying
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Trim and roast the garlic cloves by cutting off tips, then placing the whole heads, cut side up, in a small baking pan.  Fill the pan with enough water to go 1/2 way up the side of the bulbs.  Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
  3. Place the unpeeled potatoes in a saucepan, add water to cover, and bring to a boil.  Boil until tender, 25 to 35 minutes; test for doneness by piercing with a fork.  Drain the potatoes and let them cool until they can be handled.  Then, grate them into a large mixing bowl, skin and all, using the largest holes on a hand-held grater (I found that the skin easily comes off while grating).
  4. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from their skins onto the grated potatoes.  Add the cheese, egg and chives and mix well.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. Form the mixture into 6 cakes 1 1/2″ thick or 12 cakes, 3/4″ thick.  Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes or for up to 24 hours before cooking.
  6. Melt the butter in a 12″ inch skillet and fry the cakes until golden, about 4 minutes per side.

Jacques Pepin’s Yukon Gold Potatoes

Jacque Pepin's Potatoes

My understanding of the origin of this recipe is that in 2007 Jacques Pepin made this delicious Yukon Gold potato recipe on Rachel Rays show.   They quickly became famous.  And I can tell you why:  they are damn good! Seriously.

What makes them so good?  They simmer in chicken stock and butter  and those ingredients are absorbed into the potatoes giving each little tot incredible flavor.  Then they are browned on each side – add more to the dish’s flavor profile.  But let me tell you this:  Should you decide you don’t want to go through the second step of browning the potatoes, you will still be rewarded with a wonderful potato side dish.  Known forever as Jacques Pepin Potatoes.

Diva Entertains Potatoes Cooking

*If you use regular chicken broth, taste the dish before you salt it.  It may not need additional salting.

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Crispy Potato Galette (So Darn Easy)

Diva Entertains Galette Up Close

When I first discovered this recipe I couldn’t believe how easy it was to make.   And how delicious it is! On top of that, it always comes out perfect.  And it looks *GORGEOUS*.  Add this to your repertoire and start amazing family and friends soon!

Diva Entertains Galette Slice

The secrets to this recipe: 1) a hot oven,  2) brushed melted butter on the bottom of the pan and 3) the potatoes are first cooked by steaming them (the pan is covered in foil) but the last 20 minutes they are cooked uncovered so the top (which ends up being the bottom) crisps too!

Diva Entertains Galette with Sour Cream

Crispy Potato Galette

  • 3 large Russet (Idaho) potatoes
  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • Boursin Cheese (optional)
  • Salt

Preheat oven to 425F.

Melt the butter.

Using a mandolin*, cut the ends off the potatoes and then slice thin (no slicing device? Just take care to slice the potatoes very thin).

Diva Entertains Slicing Potatoes

Using a pastry or basting brush, brush the bottom and 1/2” up the sides of a oven-proof skillet 9” or 10” skillet*.  Starting in the center of the pan, place one potato slice.  Then start laying potatoes slices around it, slightly overlapping. Diva Entertains Layering Potatoes Repeat until the bottom of the pan is covered.  Sprinkle with salt.  Add another lay of potatoes.  Space little dots of the Boursin over the layer. Diva Entertains Boursin Cover with another layer of potatoes, brush lightly with melted butter**. Continue layering with remaining potato slices, lightly salting one more time.

Cover the pan tightly with foil and put in the over for 25 minutes.  At that point remove the foil and cook another 20 minutes or so until the top is brown.

Remove the potatoes from the oven.  Place a plate larger than pan over the top and very carefully turn over the pan so that the potato galette releases onto the place.  Cut*** and serve (with a dollop of sour cream if you’d like).

Feel free to substitute other cheeses (goat, cheddar).  I often add chives or rosemary to the layers too.

*Slicing ‘machine’. Plastic ones with steel blades can be purchased for under $30 (Target).  Considerably less on Ebay and Amazon.  You’ll LOVE it!

** Only butter the bottom of the pan, one of the layers lightly, and the top of the layers.  Otherwise your galette will be soggy when you serve it.

*** A pizza cutter works beautifully for this.

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