Thursday, May 10, 2012

Goat cheese and tomato tarts

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Last weekend, we rented the latest Mission Impossible flick. Not really a movie that'll go down as one of the greats but I don't mind Tom Cruise and I was reminded of the old MI series I liked as a kid... But it brought to mind the fact that I'm on a mission. And this time I'm serious about it. I have a lot of cookbooks; maybe not as many as some collectors, but I have more than 140. And sadly I've only made a couple recipes from most. Some I've never even used. So my mission, should I choose to accept it, is to make at least 5 recipes from each.

Maybe I'll get there, maybe not. But I've enjoyed dusting off a number of them and perusing them again. I have a bunch of the Barefoot Contessa books and I've made only a few recipes from the lot. I scanned "Back to Basics" and there are some great simple ideas in the book. Take these tarts: store-bought puff pastry transformed to a delicious tart filled with goat cheese, sauteed onions, fresh tomatoes and fresh herbs. I made a modified version for my little girl without the onions and goat cheese and she gobbled some of it and then enjoyed ripping apart the puff pastry!

I paired these with a simple marinated flank steak and some sauteed mushrooms. I'll be making them again soon with some veal chops I've got hidden away... They'd also make a great appetizer in a smaller version or an accompaniment to a salad.

We'll see how my mission progresses. At last count, I've only actually made 5 or more recipes from about 25% of my collection. I've got some work to do, but impossible? I think not.

Goat Cheese and Tomato Tarts
adapted from Back to Basics by Ina Garten

1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
Good olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dry white wine
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler
8 ounces plain goat cheese
2 large tomatoes, each cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Cut into 4 equal pieces. Repeat with second pastry sheet. Place them on sheet pans lined with parchment and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 425F.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry square. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each square, staying inside the scored border.

Place 1/8 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.

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