Meet the Maker

 

Alex and I volunteered to be our membership directors for our neighborhood association. That means that we prepare welcome bags for new neighbors moving into the neighborhood, and we put on three mixers a year for neighbors to get together and meet each other. The neighborhood association hosts the bar, and the neighbors bring the food- potluck style. We get some truly delicious food at these events.

Another director, Sandy, had some extra wine from another event and she offered that we could use the wine at our next mixer, I just had to coordinate with her husband, Ed, to pick it up. So, off Alex and I went to pick up the wine. Sandy and Ed live in an amazing French Chateaux like home. You enter through a manicured garden, pass a hidden courtyard, and then enter through beautiful wooden and glass doors. The entire back wall of their home literally unfolds and overlooks a peaceful pool and garden. Each bedroom has a theme based on their travels… the London room, Asian room, etc. It is the perfect home for entertaining. This is what my home wants to be when it grows up.

We were greeted by Ed who said he had the wine ready for us. But… if we had some time, would we like to meet one of our neighbors, a wine maker? Who could say no to that? So we joined Ed and Charles at the dining room table, surrounded by maps of wine regions of the world, and Charles told us the story of how he began to make his wine. They were tasting a Napa Chardonnay, bright with hints of vanilla. It was delicious. It was so surprising to learn that we had not one, but two, wine makers in our neighborhood (that we know about). Charles then brought a couple more bottles to the next mixer for everyone to try. A mini wine tasting in our own backyard. What a treat!

How to be Neighborly: The best wines are the ones we drink with friends.

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Image from conigliowines.com

 

Cheddar and Apple Tart

IMG_1381 (2)I made this for the mixer/impromptu wine tasting with some apples our neighbors Bev & Erwin had left for us on our front porch. Think of it like a sweet and savory pizza.  Yummy!

  • 1 sheet Puff Pastry, thawed
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 apple, sliced thin (if apples are small you may need 2 or more)
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Cook onions in olive oil in a sauté pan until golden and translucent, about 5 minutes. If you add a pinch of sugar then they will brown better and be a little sweeter. Roll out the puff pastry to make it about ¼ larger, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or silpat. Spread caramelized onions on the pastry sheet, then sliced apples in neat rows on top of the onions. Sprinkle with garlic powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper. Sprinkle apples with cheddar cheese so that you can still see the apples, but you get good coverage with the cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes until puff pastry is golden brown and cheese is bubbling. Using a pizza cutter, cut into little squares.

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Other People’s Houses

One of our neighbors is a pet sitter, and she seems to have stayed in half the homes in this neighborhood.  Lucky gal, right?  Oh, to see all that history.  I’d love that. She takes such good care of the pets when the parents vacation.  She walks them every day, plays with them, and talks to them.  She is a true animal lover.  She stayed at my parents’ house, and I swear they came home to a cleaner, more well behaved dog.  She’s so loved that when certain dogs are out for a walk with their parents and they see her, the dogs run toward her with such excitement, their tails wagging uncontrollably, that they drag their parents behind them.

Toby

Toby “Monster,” my parents’ oversized Aussie.

 

As good as dogs are at keeping us Company, occasionally she wants to talk to another adult.  Plus you can imagine it’s lonely staying in another person’s home without the comfort of your own home around you.  Because 1) we know several of the home owners and have been to their home before, 2) she asks permission of the owners, and 3) dogs are social animals and enjoy the company, occasionally we will visit her while she is pet sitting.   This was one of those days.  Now, this may seem odd to visit other people’s homes while they aren’t there, but for this neighborhood, it’s really not.  I would note that you have to check off criteria 1, 2 and 3 for this to be acceptable, but if you meet them, go for it.  Plus, this wasn’t a college rave, it was a group of adults, chatting over Kale & Onion Tart.  Good company, good food, good dogs… good night.

How to be neighborly: Mi casa, su casa

Here’s the tart we chatted about.

Kale & Onion Tart

 

Filling

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 c kale, chopped, loosely packed
  • 2 tbsp sundried tomatoes
  • 1/3 c ricotta
  • 1 c Comte cheese, grated

Shell

  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp butter, chopped into ½ inch squares
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ c water

 

Make the tart shell by combining flour, salt and butter in a food processor. Pulse until the butter is the size of peas. While the food processor is running, drizzle in olive oil. While the food processor is running, drizzle in water. The dough should start to form in to a ball. If it’s too dry, add a little more water in 1 tablespoon increments. Roll dough into a circle and press into a tart shell. (*) Keep dough in the refrigerator until the filling is ready.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sauté the onion, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in olive oil until slightly translucent but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add Kale to the onion mixture, sauté for one minute, and remove from the heat. The kale should only be lightly wilted. It will cook in the tart.

 

Fill the tart shell with onion and kale mix. Top with tomatoes, drops of ricotta, then grated Comte.

 

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 mins. Serve warm.

 

(*) For easy rolling and clean up, I use two pieces of plastic wrap placed on the counter in a square as a mat for the dough, and then another two pieces on top and roll the dough between the plastic wrap. Keeps the counter and rolling pin clean, and is easy to remove the dough from the wrap.  You could also use a store bought pie crust, but it’s so easy and cheap to make this, why would you???