In the unfortunate timing section of this saga, The Laurel Oak Restaurant has a prominent place. Opening in the Magnolia Hotel mere months before the lockdown, this place had a lot of promise. Chef Wesley Rabalais is from Houma, so he knows how to cook the things we like. Laurel Oak is temporarily closed, so Wes had time to chat with us on the Ask The Chef segment of the new radio show. (airs weekdays live 2-4pm WGSO AM 990 --podcast on nomenu.com).
We ask all the chefs what they have been cooking in lockdown, and he has been more creative than most. With some time on his hands he has gone out fishing and caught a lot of trout, which he has prepared into a smoked trout dip, and more trout he steamed with lemongrass and coconut curry and served with Israeli couscous. But mostly he has been experimenting with smoking in general. It was interesting to hear him mention trepidation with a brisket, something that is a regular here, though a steamed fish with lemongrass sounds terrifying.
Like all the other chefs, he had something to say about oils, and a pantry in general. And he left us with a recipe for this delicious vegetable tart, made from vegetables that can pile up when you buy vegetable boxes, as he has been.
From Chef Wesley Rabalais:
Vegetable and Cheese Tart
This was a great recipe that my girlfriend Nicole and I made during our quarantine. It’s a super delicious recipe you can use to sort of use up a lot of vegetables or cheese that you have had tucked into a drawer wondering what else you can use it on.
4 cups of ricotta, drained
2ea garlic cloves
1.5 cups of any variety of cheese you have in your fridge.
4 cups of mixed vegetables (again whatever you have in your fridge
1 cup of assorted Fresh herbs (if you have some)
1 ea Lemon
1box Phyllo Dough
Olive oil or melted butter
Pre-roast all veggies except tomatoes and if using peas, frozen and defrosted is fine. Any jarred or pickled vegetables should be drained of all liquid.
In a bowl whip the cheese, garlic and eggs into the ricotta until well incorporated.
Layer each sheet of phyllo one by one into your olive oil greased tart pan fitting it in around the bottom and sides and spraying or brushing each sheet with olive oil as you go, if it rips don't worry it will look fine in the end.
When finished layering each sheet spread the ricotta mixture all over.
Press your veggies all around into the ricotta.
Drizzle the top of the tart and sides of dough with olive oil and bake.
Bake in a 400 F. oven, keep checking after 15 minutes, make sure the crust is deep golden and ricotta is set.
Let it cool down before you cut into it. (Super important to let this cool before cutting. If you do not allow to cool it will be a hot mess trying to get a slice out of the pan.)