Monday, June 20, 2011

Tomato And Goat Cheese Tarts From Ina

 These would be good for an UPSCALE Superbowl party if the people at your place wanted a little more than chicken wings and nachos. Enjoy!

One day while on the couch, sitting on my lazy ass channel surfing, a tomato jumped out from the screen and got my attention. The Barefoot Contessa was on and Ina was making these tarts. After I wiped the drool off of my chin, I decided I was gonna make them tarts (with a couple of my own changes).

As you all know, I'm a big tomato fan, so if there's any way to eat a tomato, I'll find it and try it. This one seems so easy and I never thought of doing it because I never bake. Baking is a science and cooking is an art. I'm an artist, not a scientist so I think I may be holding myself back a little bit.

Tomatoes and goat cheese go very well together, so adding a few other ingredients only makes the two more interesting. The caramelized onions add a great base flavor and the puff pastry is a fine canvas for your work. It's quick and easy to make, so let's get started shall we? This is a long one, so please bear with me.


- 1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted.
- 4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
- 3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp dry white wine
- 2 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
- 4 tbsp grated Parmesan. You will also need a vegetable peeler to shave a little over top of the tarts
- 4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese
- 1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices (I used smaller ones this time, it's all I had)
- 3 large basil leaves, torn by hand or julienned (cut into ribbons), if you want your tarts to look all pretty
- EVOO, the good stuff


1) Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. 
2) Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
3) Heat 3 tablespoons of EVOO 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. Pay close attention as you don't want them to burn.
4) 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.

5) Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border. Pricking holes in the center will ensure the pastry will stay flat and only the outside will puff up. Pretty cool actually.

6) Place 1/4 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 your good EVOO and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, throw 4 or 5 shavings of Parmesan on each tart.

7) 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.
Yield: Makes 4 tarts

As you can see, I served it with my Cauliflower Gratin with some chives sprinkled over top. I was running out of time to cook things before they went bad, and the cauliflower was one of them. I hate throwing away food. You could say it was our Meatless Monday meal as well. I'm watching my portions and this was pretty big, so I couldn't eat all of it. 1/2 of the tart is for lunch tomorrow.

These tarts are easy to make. There seems to be a lot of instructions, but don't be misled. There are a few little things, like pricking the center of the pastry so it won't puff up, which has to be done and it's easy to do, but it has to be explained properly. The hardest part of the whole recipe is cooking the onions. Also,  you may know by now if you read a lot of my posts I'm not a big fan of measurements. Some things yes because you will screw up the recipe, especially in baking, but on the whole, no. I don't measure liquids or oils normally, I just put in what I think is right and/or what I think will work. So, if you want to measure tablespoons or 1/2 teaspoons, go right ahead. It won't change anything for the most part. You will however, take more time to prepare your meal.

We all know how good tomatoes are for us with all their vitamins, minerals and lycopene, but let's not forget about the onions and the garlic. Both should be eaten almost everyday if you can manage it. Do it right and people won't try to avoid you all of the time because you stink. Besides, even if you do stink like onions and garlic, big deal. It just means you are healthier than everybody who is avoiding you and you won't catch any of their germs as no one will be within five feet of you.

Little O's Menu

The ladies in her daycare says she's a picky eater. This is becoming a little bit of a problem, but I think it's just one of those phases she's going through. At first, I thought "Yeah right. She just won't eat the crap you feed the kids." But, I saw what they eat and it's not too bad actually. The worst thing I saw on the menu was fish sticks, but I think they're the good, healthier kind and they're baked not fried. They push fruit and vegetables on the kids as well. I'm glad to see they are sending the kids on the right dietary path, even if the parents aren't. O still eats a lot of yogurt with fruit, fresh or already in the cup. The ladies just laughed and asked if we ate like her. I just looked at my gut and said "What do you think?", and laughed. She has been going to the daycare two days a week now, and it's tough to see her go, but it's for the best. She will get more interaction with other kids her age, but I miss our little peanut very much. Her little shoes are too big to fill with anything else.

Restaurant (resort actually) Review

This past weekend, we went to spend the weekend at The Fairmont Chateau Lake louise, about an hour and a half west of here in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. It was Bonnie's idea to go out there and spend a family weekend away to celebrate our 3rd anniversary as well as Father's Day. Nice idea, especially as I have never experienced the place. We pulled in to this majestic location on Friday afternoon. Right away the guys were all over us (in a good way) and ready to help us out in any way we needed. Bonnie went in with Little O, and the fellow and I took care of the luggage. She came walking back out about 5 minutes later and informed me she had upgraded us to the Fairmont Gold floor as it was our anniversary. It only cost us an extra $100 per night, so why not? It's not cheap, but it's a special occasion. Who am I to argue....

On Saturday evening, we booked a babysitter (who was actually one of the Gold Floor concierges) for Little O and off to dinner we went. The Fairview Dining Room had a wine pairing dinner (2,3 or 4 course), so we both decided the 3 course would be more than enough. She started with the Yukon Gold Potato Wrapped Crispy Wild Prawns and paired it with the Jackson Triggs Dry Reisling. I had the Salt & Beet Cured Organic King Salmon paired with Pascal Jolivet Attitude Sauvignon Blanc. I don't like taking pictures in restaurants (especially ones as nice as this), but I completely forgot about it as I was hungry and excited to dig in. The main courses were Trio of Lamb Sirloin - Lamb Shank - Lamb Popsicle for her with a glass of Concha Y Toro Terrunyo Carmenère Block 27,

and I had the AAA Alberta Beef Tenderloin & Veal Sweet Breads and paired it with the Trivento Malbec Golden Reserve.

For dessert, she chose the Deconstructed Apple Pie, paired with a glass of Bonterra Muscat.

I had the Warm liquid Centered Chocolate Cake paired with a glass of Taylor Fladgate LBV Port.

Sorry about the quality of the Blackberry pics, but it's as good as it's going to get without pissing everyone off around us. Nice little congrats cookie for us as well. Very nice dinner, great service and a fantastic view made for a perfect little evening. The wife was pretty corked, but me being a seasoned vet in the imbibing department, ended up fine in the end. I actually went out for a beer later (to let Bonnie settle down Olivia as she doesn't when we're both there together, for some reason) to the Glacier Saloon and met a nice couple from North Carolina. Good way to end the night. We did eat at two of the other places in the resort (The Lakeview Lounge

and the Chateau Deli) as well. They were a great place to grab a bite, but I can only talk about the whole place so much without losing your interest. Just go and check the place out yourself. You will enjoy every bit of it just as much as we did. It's a very grand place with lots of history surrounding it.

Here's a pic of the lake as we took a 2 hour hike to the other side of it. Beautiful.

Quote Of The Day:

"There's lots of people in this world who spend so much time watching their health that they haven't the time to enjoy it."
~ Josh Billings (1818-1885) Pen name of American humorist Henry Wheeler Shaw

Until next time, good eating everyone.


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