S’Mores Tarts

IMG_6051 (1)

I’m not really what you would call an outdoorsy kinda gal. Camping has never been my thing. When I was in sixth grade, my class spent a week at Camp Fitch, a local youth camp. While my peers were hiking, riding and archery-ing (?), I was getting stuck in the middle of a pond in a canoe. For real. They had to send one of the counselors out to get me. I was also picked last in gym class, in case that isn’t clear.

My point is that I do not have significant camping experience, nor do I have many memories of making s’mores ’round the campfire. At beach bonfires, yes. In the living room fireplace, of course. In the microwave… let’s not talk about it. However, being an indoor girl can have some perks. Take, for example, these s’mores tarts. You couldn’t make these babies at a camp site.  Flaky, buttery puff pastry and sweet, smooth cookie spread act like a little blush and mascara to elevate the yummy, but predictable, s’more into something spectacular. These are s’mores all dolled up.

Store-bought puff pastry is cut into squares, scored around the edges and baked. Spread Biscoff or a similar cookie spread on pastry, then top with chocolate. Pop the tarts back into the oven for a couple of minutes to melt the chocolate, then top with marshmallows and stick under the broiler until sufficiently charred. The resulting tarts are just as gooey, sweet and delicious (and messy) as their campfire counterpart, but feel a bit more special and sophisticated. They’re fancy enough to serve at a dinner party but simple enough to make on a weeknight. Inside.

IMG_6063

 

S’Mores Tarts

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed (half of one package)
  • 4 full size Hershey bars
  • 1/4 cup Biscoff spread (or similar cookie spread)
  • 20 marshmallows

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat, or spray with cooking spray.

Cut puff pastry into 4 even squares and place on baking sheet. With a paring knife, score each square about 1/2 inch from edge. Do not cut all the way through, just about half. With the tines of a fork, prick the inner square of the pastry. Do not prick outer edge. Bake pastry squares for about 10 minutes, until lightly brown. Remove from oven.

Spread about 1/2 tablespoon Biscoff on interior square of each piece of pastry, pressing down the center if it is overly puffy. Top Biscoff with 1/2 a Hershey bar. Place pastry squares back into the oven 1-2 minutes, until chocolate is softened. Remove from oven.

Turn on broiler. Place 5 marshmallows on top of each square. Once broiler is heated, place tarts back in oven and broil until the marshmallows are charred, about 2-4 minutes, depending on the strength and proximity of your broiler. Watch closely, as the marshmallows can burn quickly. Remove from oven when marshmallows are sufficiently charred. Allow to cool until tarts can be handled, then serve warm.

Makes 8 tarts. Recipe can easily be doubled.

Olive Bar Pasta Salad

IMG_6121 (1)

My grandpa was a quiet man of simple tastes with a heart of gold. He was content to let my grandma, our family’s social butterfly and current queen bee at her assisted living home, do all the talking. During family gatherings, he would sit in the midst of the chaos created by his large family and calmly observe, the eye at the center of the Pisani storm. He noticed things about us that we didn’t realize. We would later hear from my grandma what he thought of a new haircut or boyfriend. He loved to be the center of attention, though he would never seek the spotlight. When he turned 90, all five of his sons gathered from across the country to celebrate. I remember as we sat at his 90th birthday dinner, how the happiness and pride he felt at being celebrated by his family shone through his smile. As was his way, he didn’t need to put it into words.

When it came to food and drink, Grandpa knew what he liked. Peanut brittle, red meat and his daily chili dog and beer from his club. The free lollipops from the bank that I’m pretty sure were meant for little kids. Like any true Italian, he loved his wine. At family dinners, a wine bottle somehow always came to rest near his spot. If my grandma caught him lifting the bottle to go in for a refill, he would defend himself by saying “I’m just reading the label!” Sure…me too, Grandpa, me too. He also loved olives from the olive bar at the grocery store. Any time we went to visit, my dad would bring a container of olives for Grandpa to enjoy. I’m pretty sure this Olive Bar Pasta Salad recipe would be a hit with him.

This pasta salad is a perfect summer potluck dish. You can pick up everything you need from the olive bar at the grocery store, meaning it comes together in a flash. Briny olives, creamy mozzarella and whatever other goodies you choose. I added artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, marinated mushrooms and roasted red peppers. I also added in a diced cucumber for its’ crisp texture and freshness.The dressing is an update on the typical mayo-heavy pasta salad dressing, brightened up with white balsamic vinegar. And the end result? Divine. I’ve been sneaking bites of it every time I go into the fridge.

I’ll enjoy my next helping with a glass of wine to toast my grandpa.Then I’ll “read the label” and go back for more.IMG_6124 (1)

Olive Bar Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb dried pasta (I used Girelle– Farfalle, Orchiette or Rotini would also work well)
  • 3.5-4 cups assorted olives, tomatoes, artichokes, peppers, etc. from grocery store olive bar
  • 8 oz. mini fresh mozzarella balls (you can also use the mozzarella in the olive bar)
  • 1 large cucumber, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 c. chopped basil leaves
  • White Balsamic Pasta Salad Dressing:
    • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
    • 2 Tbsp mayonaise (I used light)
    • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
    • 4 roasted garlic cloves- from olive bar
    • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
    • 1/4 tsp oregano
    • 2 tsp honey
    • black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

Cook pasta in boiling water, 1-2 minutes longer than package directions. Pasta should not be al dente. Drain pasta and rinse under cold running water until cool.

While pasta is cooking, chop olive bar ingredients. If mozzarella balls are on the large side, cut them in half. Place olive bar ingredients, cheese and chopped cucumber in large bowl.

In small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients together until smooth.

When pasta is cool, add to large bowl with olive bar ingredients, cheese and cucumber. Toss with dressing until well incorporated. Add chopped basil. Chill at least 2-3 hours before serving.

Serves 8-10 as a side.

To serve as a main course, you could add chickpeas, grilled chicken or grilled shrimp.

Diane and Grandpa

Love you, Grandpa.