Cheesy Three Potato Bake

This cheesy three potato bake always brings smiles to our Thanksgiving table. Tender, fluffy potatoes that have been smothered in a rich and creamy cheese and chorizo sauce then baked in a hot oven until tender and delicious. 

Can you imagine Thanksgiving without a side of potatoes? Crazy, right. But, they can be, dare I say, boring! Bring some excitement back to the table with this cheesy three potato bake. Looking at it you are probably thinking, au gratin potatoes, what’s the big deal. Well, a variety of potatoes, chorizo sausage for more depth and interest, a complex Manchego cheese, and fresh herbs that complement the potatoes perfectly.

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Penne with Sausage and Pumpkin Tomato Sauce

This baked penne recipe is our favorite cozy comfort food. I add pumpkin to the tomato sauce for a silky-smooth sauce and replace the mozzarella with a creamy parmesan fondue.

Are you tired of the same old pasta dish? This recipe takes the boring midweek pasta to the next level with a few restaurant worthy additions. Of course, I have heard of adding pumpkin to tomato sauce, but I have never gone there. This year, with an outstanding pumpkin harvest, I decided to give it a try. I have one word, Wow!

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Chocolate Mint Tart

A decadent chocolate mint tart! A baked chocolate pie crust topped with layers of mint white chocolate and dark chocolate ganaches.

If you have been following my blog, you already know my garden is the inspiration for many of my recipes. You also know I adore my herbs. None more than my chocolate mint. Just working in the garden, a gentle bump against these fragrant beauties releases the most glorious aroma. You’ve heard the saying, stop and smell the roses. I rather stop and smell the chocolate mint which I do each time I get a whiff of them.

I’m bringing all those wonderful smells into this tart. The mint ganache layer incorporates fresh mint leaves in a homemade chocolate mint extract. This adds that extra freshness to the mint ganache layer which is so much better than an imitation extract that can taste a bit like chemicals. Using a dark chocolate balances the mint for that perfect balance between the layers.

*Chocolate Mint Extract:

Do you want to make your own extract? Cram a clean canning jar full of fresh chocolate mint herb and cover the herb with vodka. Let it age in the back of a cabinet that does not get any direct sunlight for a minimum of four months. The longer it ages the more intense and beautiful the extract will be. Once distilled drain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and discard the leaves. Store the extract in an airtight jar.

Secret Ingredient:

I actually do not like cocoa powder. I find it to be too bitter for my liking. My trick is to use a cocoa mix instead. It adds a creamier, slightly sweeter, flavor to the dough.

Chocolate Mint Tart

Cedar Oak Farms
This chocolate mint tart is wonderfully reminiscent of an after dinner Andes mint, tucked into a chocolate pastry shell. 
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Chill Time 5 hrs
Course Dessert
Cuisine French

Ingredients
  

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Mint Ganache Layer:

  • 9 ounces white chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon *chocolate mint extract
  • Green food coloring, optional

Chocolate Ganache Layer:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • Pinch of Salt

Garnish:

  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, melted
  • White chocolate shaves
  • Dark chocolate shaves
  • Mint Leaves

Instructions
 

Make Crust:

  • Place the butter into the bowl of a stand-up mixer. Sift in the powdered sugar through a fine-mesh sieve. Turn the mixture on medium and beat until smooth.
  • Beat the egg and add half at a time to the butter mixture, beating well to incorporate between additions.
  • In a medium bowl sift the flour and peppermint cocoa powder together. Add to the butter mixture.
  • Using a rubber spatula, mix the cocoa mixture into the dough until evenly distributed. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerator for at least 30 minutes
  • Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
  • Grease a 9-inch tart pan and roll out the chilled dough to an 11-inch circle. Roll the dough around the rolling pin, then unroll the dough over the pan.
  • Press the dough against the bottom and sides of the pan, then use the rolling pin to roll over the top of the pan, cutting off any excess dough. Press the dough gently against the pan once more. Using a folk, prick some holes in the bottom of the crust so it doesn’t puff up.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the tart shell from the oven. Let cool completely.

Mint Ganache Layer:

  • Finely chop the white chocolate and place in a heat proof bowl. Place the cream in a saucepan and bring just to the boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Stir in the chocolate mint extract. Pour over the pastry and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or until set.

Chocolate Ganache Layer:

  • Finely chop the chocolate and place in a heat proof bowl. In a heavy saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Do not let it boil. Pour the whipping cream over the chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth. Add in the vanilla and salt and stir well until evenly combined.
  • Pour the chocolate ganache on top of the set mint layer in the tart tin and gently tap the tin on your work surface to knock out any air bubbles. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before transferring the tart to the fridge to set for 4 hours (or overnight).

Garnish:

  • Once set, remove the tart from the tart tin. Drizzle the melted dark chocolate over the tart. Garnish with the white and dark chocolate shaves and fresh mint leaves.

Notes

* This recipe assumes you are using a homemade extract. If you are using a store bought extract reduce the amount you use to 1 teaspoon.
Keyword Pies & Tarts

Smoked Salmon Pizza

A homemade pizza dough smoldered in a cheesy white sauce with slivers of smoked salmon, spinach, a bite of fresh dill, and smothered in provolone and mozzarella.

The first time I had this pizza was back in my college days and you know all college students are pizza connoisseur. At least, it was a constant staple in my diet. Dinner on Saturday and breakfast all week long. Perfect for a broke college student. So when I say this pizza is delicious you can trust me. A few decades later and it is still one of my favorite pizzas. Definitely in the top five.

Salmon & Dill:

Salmon and dill is the perfect blend of flavors. It may not be as synonymous as peanut butter and jelly, but it should be. Dill adds that perfect delicate kick to salmon giving it a light herby taste that allows the rich and buttery flavor of the salmon to stand out.

Smoked Salmon:

Smoked salmon is considered a delicacy and often carries the price tag as such, but it is worth it. Do not use regular salmon or you will miss the complexity of this pizza. I use sliced smoked salmon because I like the look of it on the pizza, but you can break up a fillet if you cannot find sliced. Smoked salmon is usually in the meat department in most grocery stores.

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Smoked Salmon Pizza

Cedar Oak Farms
smoked salmon, cream sauce, mozzarella + provolone, smoked salmon, spinach + dill
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2 Pizzas

Ingredients
  

Pizza Dough:

  • 1 ½ cups warm water
  • 3 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 2 envelopes active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 cups pizza flour we use Janie’s Mill

Cream Sauce:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove fresh garlic minced

Toppings:

  • 1/2 cup mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup provolone
  • 4 ounces smoked salmon
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Instructions
 

  • Preheat the oven to 450˚F. Place a pizza stone or heavy baking sheet turn upside down in the oven.
  • In a 2-cup measuring cup measure out the water. Add the corn syrup and yeast, mix. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes or until the yeast starts to bubble.
  • Pour the yeast mixture into a food processor bowl. Add the olive oil and salt. Pulse for 30 seconds. Slowly begin to add the flour one cup at time, mixing for 2 minutes between additions. Turn the dough onto a floured board. The dough will be very sticky at this point so sprinkle some extra flour on top.
  • Knead adding additional flour from the board until no longer sticky, about 5 – 6 kneads is all that is needed. Place a warm, moist towel over the dough and let rest for 15 minutes.
  • Roll the dough into a ½-inch thick circle, or two ovals, dusting the pizza dough with flour as needed. Poke holes in the pizza dough with a fork to prevent bubbles.

Cream Sauce:

  • Combine heavy cream, butter, and cream cheese in a saucepan over medium heat stirring occasionally. Simmer until melted.
  • Stir in parmesan cheese and garlic. Continue cooking on low for 15-20 minutes.
  • Spread over the pizza dough.

Toppings:

  • Add a drizzle or two of olive oil to a skillet and heat. When hot, add the spinach. Piece the garlic with a fork and keeping the garlic on the tines mix the spinach until wilted down, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
  • Position the spinach evenly over the cream sauce dividing evenly. Add the dill, reserving 1 – 2 tablespoons, smoked salmon and cheeses.

Bake:

  • Slide the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone or pan. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Garnish with the reserved dill, if desired.

Notes

If you prefer to freeze the pizzas, do not add the cheese yet. Bake the cheese-less pizza for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover with plastic or foil to protect from freezer burn and freeze in a plastic container or box. When ready to serve, remove from freezer. Place on a pizza stone or on the oven rack and bake at 375°F for 20- 25 minutes.
Keyword Pizzas & Flatbreads

Chocolate Mint Ice Cream

We’re taking the classic chocolate mint ice cream up a notch by using the chocolate mint grown here on the farm and letting it soak in Down East Vodka (it’s nice to have neighbors that know how to make a good vodka!) for a robust homemade mint extract that brings the yum to this dish. Like any fine wine, or expensive whiskey, the taste of the extract improves the longer it ages. We let it steep for 3 months.

Fresh heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, homemade mint extract, and chopped chocolate chips makes this one of the best mint ice creams we have ever tasted.