Cooking From Memory ~ A Recipe Journal

New Year’s Eve Feasting

Roasted Goat Cheese Tart with Caramelized Balsamic Onions

Goat Cheese Tart

Rich goat cheese makes the perfect backdrop for the sweet and tangy onions in this palate-pleasing tart.  The addition of balsamic vinegar to the onions gives them sparkle and helps pull together the flavors of all the other ingredients. This savory tart is a cinch to take to a party, as it is terrific warm or at room temperature.

The Tart ~

  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator

The Filling ~

  • 4 ounces goat cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 3 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

The Egg Wash 

  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tablespoon water

The Balsamic Onions

  • 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Method ~

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Roll the dough out into a 14 -by-10-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface, and place it on a baking sheet covered with parchment. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Mix the filling ingredients together in a medium bowl and spread onto the dough, leaving a 1 ½-inch border. Fold the uncovered edge of the pastry over the filling mixture, making small pleats along the way.

Mix together the egg and water and brush around the edges of the pastry. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.

To make the onions:

While the tart is baking, heat the butter and oil in a skillet. Add the onions and sugar and cook over medium heat until the onions are a deep golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Add the vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

Place the tart on a serving platter and arrange the onions on top. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.

Make-ahead: The tart can be made up to 4 hours ahead and kept, covered, at room temperature.

Serves six to eight

Seven’s Sweet Potato Soup


Ingredients ~

  • 1 large stalk celery, large chop
  • 2 large white onions, large chop
  • 3 large carrots, large chop
  • 2 large sweet potatoes –
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 4 cups heavy cream
    • or 2 cups heavy cream and 2 cups ½ & ½
    • or 1 cup heavy cream and 3 cups whole milk
    • or 4 cups whole milk
    • (I know… this is not for the faint of heart or anyone with heart issues. Ultimately, you’ll want 4 cups of some combination of cream and milk. I suppose you could go all the way with whole milk, but I wouldn’t lose any more of the fat than that. C’mon, “If you’re not livin’ on the edge, you’re taking up too much space …”)
  • ½ cup (1 stick) brown butter (
  • 1 cup honey
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • salt to taste


The Spice Blend ~ (all together this is about 1 Tablespoon of combined spices)

  • 1 teaspoon curry
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon allspice
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Method ~


Cut the sweet potatoes in half the long way. Rub with oil. Place in oven at 375 degrees F. and bake until soft and caramelized. Take out and let them cool. When cooled enough to handle, scoop out the sweet potato and set aside.)

Prepare a large cooking pot, over high heat. Add canola oil (about 1/8 of a cup) to hot pan and add onion, celery, carrot and spice blend. Cook down for about 10 minutes and then add the chicken stock. Cook this down for another 15 minutes. Add cream, brown butter, brown sugar, honey and sweet potato. Cook down for 15 minutes.

At this point, the instructions are simple: “Buzz up with a buzz wand until smooth and creamy. Salt to taste.”

You can accomplish this in one of a few ways. The best way is with an immersion blender. You can also use either a food processor or a blender, but there are risks with those two tools because of the heat build-up in closed containers. Heat, of course, expands and people have been burned when the blender top explodes or when the top comes off the food processor. Use an immersion blender.

You’re going to love this soup. Enjoy…

A Note about Brown(ed) Butter ~IMG_0233

To make browned butter, simply melt some butter (I prefer unsalted for this) in a small saucepan on the stove. Continue cooking it on medium-high heat until the butter boils and begins to brown. Don’t worry if your butter bubbles or foams; just keep cooking it. When the butter begins to brown, you will see specks of darker brown develop at the bottom of the pan. Stir these up and cook until the butter has a nice and even dark honey color. Remove from heat and transfer to another container to cool.

Browned butter can be used in baking in place of regular melted butter and is a great way to finish off a simple vegetable or pasta dish and really kick up the other flavors.

Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Toasted Pecans

Spinach Strawberry Salad

Ingredients ~

  •  1 (10 ounce) package fresh spinach
  • 2 Tablespoons sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup safflower oil
  • 2 Tablespoons salad vinegar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons minced green onion
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • dash black pepper
  • dash Tabasco Sauce
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled, sliced (about 2 cups)

Method ~

Discard stems from spinach; tear into bite-sized pieces.  Refrigerate, covered.   Toast sesame seeds in a preheated 350 F oven, shaking once or twice until golden (10-12 minutes); cool.  In tightly covered container, combine oil, vinegar, sugar, onion, salt, pepper and Tabasco; shake well.

To Serve: 

In salad bowl, toss dressing into spinach and sesame seeds.  Gently toss in strawberries.  Serves 8.

Chicken Marbella from the Silver Palate Cookbook

There’s nothing like a gray, misty/rainy day to point you toward the stove. Or the oven in this case. The aroma of all of these remarkable ingredients can point to only one thing.

Chicken Marbella.

Not just any Chicken Marbella, but Chicken Marbella from The Silver Palate Cookbook. This is anamazing dish. Remarkable, sweet/savory, comfortable, engaging, and, if any food can be scintillating, Chicken Marbella is all of that.

This was the first main-course dish to be offered at The Silver Palate Restaurant in New York, and the distinctive colors and flavors of the prunes, olives and capers have kept it a favorite for years. It’s good hot or at room temperature. When prepared with small drumsticks and wings, it makes a delicious hors d’oeuvre. The overnight marinating is essential to the moistness of the finished product: the chicken keeps and even improves over several days of refrigeration; it travels well and makes excellent picnic fare.

There are, literally, thousands of recipes for Chicken Marbella, but I have to assume that most of them are the same. This one is from the Epicurious website. Servings: 10-12.

Enjoy! Ingredients ~

  • 4 chickens, 2 ½ pounds each, quartered (feel free to substitute any combination of chicken pieces that appeal to you) OR… three chicken breasts, cut into 3 to 4 bite-sized chunks
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed
  • ¼ cup dried oregano
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup pitted prunes, chopped
  • 1 5.75 ounce jar of green olives with pimentos, halved or chopped
  • 1 3.5 ounce jar of capers with the juice
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white wine
  • ½ cup Italian parsley or fresh coriander (cilantro), finely chopped

Method ~

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine chicken quarters, garlic, oregano, pepper and coarse salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, olives, capers and juice, and bay leaves. Cover and let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.

Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two large, shallow baking pans and spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar and pour white wine around them.

Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, basting frequently with pan juices. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest, yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice.

With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives and capers to a serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices and sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Pass remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.

To serve Chicken Marbella cold, cool to room temperature in cooking juices before transferring to a serving platter. If chicken has been covered and refrigerated, allow it to return to room temperature before serving. Spoon some of the reserved juices over chicken.

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