EXERCISE YOUR COOKING MUSCLE Try a Savory Brie, Asparagus & Prosciutto Tart

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by Jordan Danz & Clare Jacky

I’m beginning to think that that cooking is like a muscle. Now I know that sounds weird, but hear me out. When you exercise you are working your muscles and the more you do so, the more toned they become. Cooking is the same way: the more you do it the more “toned” your skills become. I try to cook as much as I can, experiment with new ingredients, try new cooking methods and especially read other people’s cook books or food blogs to get ideas. I know that might sound like stealing, but lets be honest here... all art forms, and yes I believe cooking is an art form, involve people taking other people’ ideas and making them their own. It is really the only way true innovation can come about.

You might be wondering where all of this existential banter about innovation in cooking is coming from. I’ll tell you, I sat here for an hour trying to figure out what to write about for this issue and I got to thinking about my recent vacation to Key West. (I often find my mind drifting to Key West when I least expect it... and the vacation was delightful by the way, thank you for asking.) While in Key West we visited the Ernest Hemingway Museum, which is housed in his old house on the island. All I knew about the man is that he wrote very literal and understated novels, had several wives and was an alcoholic. While at the museum I was struck by the fact that he was an incredibly disciplined writer. He would spend five hours every morning in his studio writing. He even built a bridge from his bedroom to his writing studio, which was in a separate building behind the house so he could access it much easier.

The idea of such discipline really resonated with me. This need to set aside time in order to further your craft, whatever that might be, is extremely important for growth. This work of mine is not without failure. I have made my fair share of bad recipes, which I either wouldn’t serve to people, or if I did, I felt truly awful and probably offered to pay for the takeout that inevitably followed. It is in these failures, however, that you learn the most. I have learned cooking temperatures and flavor combinations the hard way... but rest assured, I will never make those mistakes again. The main takeaway from this pragmatic rant and my trip to the Hemingway Museum is how important it is to just do. Yes you heard me correctly, I said “Do!” Don’t talk or think about doing it, just get in the kitchen and do it.

What I did for my recipe this issue is something light and fresh that can be an entree, a side dish or hors d’oeuvre at a gathering.

Savory Brie, Asparagus and Prosciutto Tart

1 sheet of puff pastry cut into 4 squares

1 wedge of Brie cheese

1 bunch of asparagus

7–10 fingerling potatoes cut into 1/2 inch disks

8 slices prosciutto

1 egg beaten in a small bowl

1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place fingerling potato disks into a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until just soft. Drain potatoes and set aside.

Heat a small sauté pan with the butter to medium high heat. Cut off the woody ends of the asparagus. Then cut the stalks in half length-wise and then in half cross wise. Sauté them in the pan for 30 seconds to a minute, with a little salt just to begin the cooking process. Turn off heat and set aside.

Cut the Brie into 1/4 inch thick pieces and set aside.

Lay the 4 squares of puff pastry on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the squares with the egg. Top the squares with the Brie, then potatoes and asparagus evenly distributed on all four pieces. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes or until just golden brown (the pastry will puff up and the cheese will melt off the sides and caramelize). While this is baking, tear the prosciutto into smaller pieces.

Once cooked, remove from sheet pan and top with prosciutto. Cut pieces diagonally into triangles and serve warm or at room temperature.

Jordan Danz and Clare Jacky are the co-editors of the food blog OurQueerDinner.wordpress.com, a collection of recipes and stories centered on their chosen family of friends in Minneapolis. They share a common love for food, family dinners and Saturday morning PBS cooking shows.