We’re gearing up for next weekend’s Chopped Challenge. The votes are rolling in and last I checked we had some pretty good neck-to-neck races. Don’t worry though, there’s still time to get your votes in before Friday. It’s going to be so much fun. There’s definite anticipation in the house – a mix of nerves and excitement. So don’t forget, vote early and often. ;)
In the meantime, what better way to start of the New Year than by getting rid of the clutter. So we’ve spent the last few weekends cleaning house. Every drawer, closet and nook and cranny in this house has been cleaned and purged. Baby toys are all packed up and the kids’ new toys all have organized new homes. If we’re being realistic, we know that won’t last long, but it sure feels good for a few minutes anyway.
I have to admit though, we’ve all had our moments with this clean-up. For Mike and I, it was the packing up and donating of the little sleepy sacks. It just doesn’t seem that long ago we were wrapping our little babies up safe and warm in their crib. Mr. N had a hard time packing up some of the baby books even though I promised him we were saving all the well-worn favorites. Our compromise, I return to the nightly reading of “Goodnight Moon.” I literally read this book to Mr. N every night from his birth through the time he was about 18 months old. Even if he had fallen asleep in my arms with his bedtime bottle, his little eyes would flutter open and a smile would flit across his lips at the sounds of, “In the great green room…” While I doubt he remembers me actually reading to him back then, there must still be something about it he finds familiar and comforting. As for Miss A, well in true girl fashion, she was trying on old shoes (boots, Mary Jane’s, etc.) insisting that they still fit and that she would still wear them; despite the fact they were several sizes too small. I didn’t realize that kids could feel just as nostalgic as us grown-ups.
When all was said and done, we were exhausted and ready for a good warm, comforting meal. We also wanted to use up some of the random ingredients we had lying around. Then I remembered a recipe from a recent Cooking Light magazine for a Butternut Squash and Mushroom Tart. Done deal! I have been wanting a savory tart all winter, and no time like the present. So we got to work. Then it hit me – we need something to go with the tart and I’ve been craving a French Onion soup after having my first bite this year. No joke – in all of my 35 years I have never once had French onion soup. Well, needless to say, after one bite, you can be sure I’ll be having it again and again. So we added Charles’ French Onion soup to our dinner menu.
The tart came together pretty easily. Now, I’m no stranger to making a homemade crust. I love making them – butter crusts, shortening crusts, pies, cobblers, tarts, etc. This one was new to me though. It combined the usual flour with salt, but then we added pepper and baking powder. I’m still a little confused about the baking powder for this recipe. I don’t think it brings much to the table. Then in place of butter or shortening, the recipe called for olive oil and water. You also don’t roll out this crust, but rather press it into your pie pan. That actually worked out pretty well.
The crust bakes for about 10 minutes while the oven preheats and the tart ingredients are prepared. Squash is sautéed with onions, then combined with a mixture Gruyère cheese, eggs, salt and pepper. Once the cheesy squash is added to the pie pan it bakes for about nine minutes at 425F. In the meantime, pancetta and shiitake mushrooms are browned in a skillet and then placed evenly over the cooked tart.
The tart is then topped with a bit more Gruyère and tossed back in the oven for a few more minutes. It all cooked up easily and was ready to serve in no time. Now I’ll tell you off the bat, the kids did not like this tart. I believe I’ve mentioned Mr. N’s disdain of butternut squash before, and neither one of the kids likes mushrooms. Mr. N did say the crust was good though. So he scraped off all the ingredients and ate the crust. Miss A did the opposite and only ate the cheese off the top. Not to worry though, they were happy with Charles’ soup and especially the cheese bread that went along with it. As for spoons, it was 2 for Mr. N (the crust kept it from the bottom rating for him) and a 1 for Miss A.
Mike and I, unlike the kids, really enjoyed the savory tart. Mike had no complaints. It hit all the right flavors for him – sweetness, saltiness, peppery. It was a solid 3 spoons, teetering on 4 spoons. I too really didn’t have many complaints, just one. The crust. This was not my favorite crust. I think it was the pepper. Overall though, the rest of the tart was delicious. The squash was sweet and the mushrooms and pancetta were a great salty balance. Not to mention the Gruyère – yum! It was 3 spoons for me too. I will say, the crust did taste better as leftovers to me the next day. Still, I’ll be making a more traditional tart crust next time – no pepper, no baking powder.
Now we’re going to make sure we rest-up this week. We’ll also pop some extra vitamins so as not to catch the flu from Mike (thankfully this started after the massive clean-up and appears to be on its way out just as fast as it came on), and gear up for the big cook-off next Sunday. We may even get outside and enjoy some spring-like weather too. We’re due to hit 60 this week! Then we’ll drop back down to the teens. It’s no wonder this is one of the worst flu seasons ever!
So, until next time…here’s the polls so you can vote once again, or if you haven’t yet voted sneak it in before the deadline! Have a great week!
Print this recipe: Butternut Squash Tart