Money Tartlets

tarts1Happy 2017! Yes, here we are barreling forward into the new year and I’d planned to post this at the beginning of it…then mid-January, and now it will be just in time for the Super Bowl Sunday festivities this coming weekend. That’s okay because really, these little tartlets are wonderful for any day, any occasion, or no occasion at all.

Why are these called “Money” tartlets, you may ask? Well there’s a tradition here in the southern U.S. to eat your “greens” on New Year’s Day to guarantee wealth in the coming months (as well as eating black-eyed peas for good luck), and since New Year’s Day was the first time I made these, it only made sense to call them “money” tarts. Plus once they are baked, these really are the color of (U.S.) dollars. So there you go.

No matter what you call them, they are delightful to eat and a lovely way to enjoy your greens. These savory morsels sport a filling that is much like the Greek greens pie spanakopita, but with a few tasty twists including a touch of toasted almonds and a bit of parmesan cheese to finish. Since they are small and made with phyllo dough instead of a traditional pastry crust, I like to think that they’re a bit healthier than your average tart, too…or three…or four!

Money Tartlets make a perfect small bite for an appetizer with a cocktail or a welcome addition to any pot luck event. As an added bonus, using purchased phyllo tartlet shells from your grocer’s freezer helps these tartlets to come together quickly. Of course if you have the time and the desire, feel free to make your own phyllo pastry. I sure won’t hold it against you.

Make these tartlets for the game, place your bets and enjoy! (Go Atlanta Falcons.)


Money Tartlets
Makes 30

1/2 large red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 large clove of fresh garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
several grinds of fresh black pepper
1/8 teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg
1 – 10 oz. package of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed and drained of as much liquid as possible
1 large egg, whisked to combine
1/3 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted and finely chopped
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup cottage cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons Panko breadcrumbs
Additional 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt and a few more grinds of freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
30 frozen phyllo mini-tart shells

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and the garlic, stirring until the onion is softened and transparent, about 3-5 minutes. Add the spinach, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, freshly ground black pepper and nutmeg to the onion and garlic, and cook a minute or two longer, stirring to combine and until any liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 4 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the egg, feta, cottage cheese, almonds, Panko bread crumbs, 1/8 teaspoon of kosher salt, a few more grinds of black pepper and the spinach mixture, then stir until well mixed.

Place the 30 phyllo tartlet shells onto a rimmed baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Fill each shell with about 1 Tablespoon of the mixture, dividing the entire mixture evenly between all of the shells. Sprinkle each tartlet with some grated Parmesan cheese. Bake the tartlets for about 16 – 18 minutes, or until the cheese is starting to lightly brown, the centers are firm and the shells have a little bit of color around the edges. Remove from the oven and gently place the tartlets on a rack to cool to room temperature. Serve and enjoy.


Back in the Saddle, er, Kitchen, with a Retro Dip!

I can trick myself into believing I'm eating a salad when I serve this with veggies!

I can trick myself into believing I’m eating a healthy salad when I serve this with veggies!

I hope you all had lovely holidays and that your new year has started off swimmingly!

This first full weekend of 2013 finds me back in my kitchen (yay!) with the almost full use of both hands. The bandage is off of my injured right hand and it is getting back to normal. One more week of treating it with kid gloves, so to speak, and I think all will be well. Meanwhile, I’m able to do some slow chopping and other basic cooking necessities as long as I don’t twist or put too much pressure on it. Thanks for all your wonderfully kind comments and inquiries. Believe me, I will go out of my way to try to NOT do this again.

Today I want to revisit and share a relatively easy and very yummy dip recipe from my “repertoire.” For those of you who are football fans, this is a great one to make for the upcoming American football and Super Bowl game parties, or down the road a way for rugby, soccer or baseball gatherings. It’s always been a hit for pot-lucks, Formula One racing parties and as a part of any appetizer spread. It’s definitely a rift on an old-fashioned traditional dry soup-based dip that we’ve all known in this country (and secretly loved), but transcends the original in every way. Yes, we’re talking about the ultimate chip and veggie dip: Caramelized Shallot and Blue Cheese Dip, and I’m making it to take to a little cocktail and nosh event this evening.

For those of you who follow this blog closely, you’ll remember a mention of this dip from my two party posts last summer, Party On! and Encore (More party recipes), and those posts get another mention now because they have a lot of other great ideas for appetizers of various kinds to keep in mind for these seasonal bowl game parties. This fabulous dip is from a Bon Appétit recipe, and it’s one that never disappoints or gets old. I’ve adapted it ever so slightly from the original, adding more shallots and blue cheese (can you ever have too much, I ask ya?) for extra flavor, used a lighter mayo and some added seasonings. Here’s my version and you can see the original recipe at Epicurious if your click on the dip name above. Have a great weekend!

Warning: Do not make this unless you have someone to share it with. It is addictive.

Hmmm. Those shallots kind of look like some sort of weird college logo, don’t they?

Caramelized Shallot and Blue Cheese Dip (adapted from Bon Appétit)
Makes 2 generous cups

Start this in time to allow the flavors to blend for a couple of hours before serving.

2 cups thinly sliced shallots (about 7 ounces)
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
3/4 cup good quality mayonnaise (you can use light or canola mayonnaise)
3/4 cup sour cream (you can use light but do not use non-fat)
5 oz. Maytag Blue Cheese, or other crumbling variety of blue cheese, allowed to come to room temperature
Salt and some freshly ground black pepper to taste (remember, the cheese adds a little salty component, too)
*If you like some spice you can use a tiny pinch of cayenne instead of, or in addition to, the black pepper

shallots after

Your caramelized shallots should look like this.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy, medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are a deep golden brown in color and caramelized, about 15-20 minutes…do not burn. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the mayonnaise and the sour cream until well blended. Add the blue cheese and mash it into the mayo mixture with the back of a spoon or a rubber spatula until it is well blended. Add the caramelized shallots and mix well. Add the salt and pepper to taste or the cayenne if using. Remember, the flavors will build. Cover and place in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight. Taste and season again if needed. Serve with veggies and/or chips.

Confession: There's a big 'ole bowl of regular and sweet potato chips off to the side here.

Confession: There’s a big ‘ole bowl of regular and sweet potato chips in the wings awaiting this dip!