FREEZE!!! Nobody move!!
Put down the knives and forks and nobody'll get hurt!
OK, face it, you've been eating non-stop for the last four weeks. Between Thanksgiving, office parties, neighborhood get-togethers and trolling through the free samples at Hickory Farms your belly's bulging and your jaws are tired.
Freeze, nobody move?
Are you kidding?
The only way you could move is with the help of a series of cranes, trusses and pulleys. You need a shoehorn to get into the bathtub! The relatives have to fluff up metal chairs after you sit in them. You're one fruitcake away from being that guy on TV who needs a fork-lift to get to the bathroom.
We've all been over indulging. The problem is that there's still one more holiday to go. Do you know why so many people resolve to go on diets after New Year's? It's because they're flat out tired of eating. So for the next week, take it easy. Pick at the leftovers, if you're going to cook, cook something light. Have a yogurt, go for one of my soup recipes. Slow down.
Here's a recipe that's easy, relatively light but packed with good flavors. This is more of an appetizer than a meal, but you've got enough extra fluff in you to last at least through August, so use it as a light lunch. It's from one of the New York Times cookbooks, the original recipe was horribly written, so you can thank me later for making it readable, but for now enjoy...
Leek, Mushroom & Goat Cheese Tart
from Country Weekend Cookbook, New York Times Press
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted according to package directions
1 small fennel bulb
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only
1 pound mushrooms, mix of white button and cremini
1 TBSP plus 1 teaspoon, olive oil
Salt and Pepper
8 ounces goat cheese, divided and at room temperature
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Defrost the puff pastry. Unfold the pastry onto a lightgly floured surface. Gently roll out the pastry to approximately a 5 x 14 in sheet.
Break 1 egg into a small bowl and beat slightly. Trim 1/4 inch strips all around the edge of the pastry. Set the strips aside.
Brush the entire surface of the pastry with the egg wash.
Use the saved edge strips to raise the border of the rectangle. Brush them with egg. Using a fork, prick holes in the interior of the pastry. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. When done, remove pastry and set aside to cool slightly.
While the pastry is cooking, trim off the green top and root end of the fennel bulb and leeks. Reserve the fennel fronds for presentation.
Using a sharp knife or mandoline, cut the fennel and leeks into thins slices. Clean and thinly slice the mushrooms.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the fennel and leeks and saute until just tender but not brown, approximately 6 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl.
Heat the remaining teaspoon of oil in the skillet and add the mushrooms. Saute the mushrooms until they release all their water and it boils away, approximately 7 minutes. Remove the mushrooms from the heat, add the fennel and leek mixture to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
Combine the remaining 2 eggs with 6 ounces of the goat cheese. Blend with a fork until smooth. Spread the mixture onto the interior of the baked pastry rectangle. Return the pastry to the oven and cook for 4 minutes.
Shut off the oven and turn on your broiler.
Remove the pastry from the oven. Spread the mushroom, fennel and leek mixture atop the pastry rectangle. Crumble the remaining goat cheese over the veggies.
Broil the tart under low heat for 2 minutes. Remove from the oven. Garnish with the fennel fronds and serve.
Yup, pretty involved, but not really. You're using store bought puff pastry and you're cutting up and sauting some veg. The toughest part is getting the pastry the right shape, but if you don't mind a little free form look you can even go easy on that step.
It's a light lunch and if you're really hungry, you could always saute up some pancetta and drop that on top just before the broiling. But don't go too crazy, New Year's Eve will be here before you know it. As always, remember, if your stomach still allows you to reach the countertops, you can do it, you can cook.