This week, I revisited Ina Garten's newest cookbook, "Back to Basics" looking for inspiration for a new tradition I've started-- Friday Antipasto, or Friday "Puu-Puu's" or Friday "Tapas". Whatever you choose to call it, I looking forward to unwinding from a long week at the office with my own Happy Hour! My son will turn 21 in 3 months, so I don't mind letting him partake in our Friday cocktails and finger foods, by allowing him to pour himself a glass of beer or wine-- as long as he's not driving anywhere, of course.
That morning, I stopped on Page 92 and thought "Perfect"! Tomato & Goat Cheese Tarts. As Ina often says, "How good is that"?
The timing was perfect, because I had just spotted our first ripe tomato, outside my kitchen window. What a beauty!
Fortunately, I have recently overcome my unfounded fear of puff pastry. Of course, my only remaining fear is that it's loaded with butter-- and it could find a permanent home on my derriere... but, the flakey pastry is what makes this pastry such a versatile vehicle for sweet or savory treats. I have read how to make your own puff pastry. I think I'll pass on all the work involved!
I decided to modify the recipe, a bit. I had leftover brie, from the skewered figs, brie and prosciutto tapas I had made the day before. I have goat cheese, but I decided that the brie would do nicely. For extra color, I decided I wanted to add a little bit of bell pepper. I had a lovely yellow bell pepper, so I got to work.
www.puffpastry.com to watch videos and find all kinds of recipes. I've watched Ina use it dozens of times, so I feel confident. Just remove it from the freezer, cover it with a wet paper towel and wait about 30 minutes.
In the meantime--
Get your onions going, by slicing the onions thinly. You can use a mandoline, but I've had enough practice with my chef's knife to do this. Use about 3 tablespoons olive oil. I like to start cooking the onions a bit, before adding in fresh garlic--I don't want burned garlic! It takes about 15-20 minutes for the onions to become tender so you have time to move on to the next step...
NOTE: I only made "half" the recipe, and it was a perfect amount for us.
Generously flour your surface, and the rolling pin. I just wanted to even out the puff pastry sheet and make it a tad bit thinner. Here's where I diverted from Ina's instructions-- I'm a spend thrift, at times. Why would I want to cut out round pastry and throw away the rest? Instead, I decided to make one large square tart and then cut it. I am using a cake lifter, made by Wilton (I bought mine at "Michael's) for less than $10.00. It's designed to help move layer cakes, without breaking them. I found it works perfectly for transferring puff pastry. You'll definitely want to use parchment paper. I think it works better than my Silpat Mat-- giving the puff pastry a better "brown".
You'll want to score the edge of the pastry. If you've not worked with puff pastry before-- the purpose of doing this is so that the edge will puff up higher than the tart. Does that make sense? Good!
With a fork, I poked holes on the puff pastry, except for the edge. For the rest of my prep work, I cut up the remaining brie, shaved some Parmesan cheese (I never buy that stuff in the green can...never!) and then I found some Feta Cheese in the back of the fridge.
The onions were ready for the next step-- 3 Tablespoons of white wine and chopped fresh thyme, a little kosher salt & pepper. Mmmm....
I decided to give the yellow bell pepper a quick saute in some olive oil-- just to tenderize them a little bit (this step is not in Ina's recipe...it's mine... all mine!)
Now, let's assemble it:
Once the onions were ready, I preheated the oven to 425F. I layered the brie and then evenly layered the caramelized onions.
Next, I layered the sliced tomato (which was so sweet tasting) and brushed them will a little olive and seasoned with a little kosher salt & fresh cracked pepper. I added the bell pepper. Last, I added some feta cheese and the parmesan cheese.
Into the oven, the tart goes, for about 20 minutes-- until golden brown.
Wow! This turned out beautifully and smelled so good. That's exactly when Craig came home from his "after work hike"-- he enjoys doing that on Fridays, when summer daylight hours allow that. That gives me time to get dinner ready. If you're an Ina Garten fan, you'll know what I mean when I say that my husband is Ina's "Jeffrey". Not that they look alike! I just enjoy surprising him with something homemade and new to try-- and he appreciates it.
There's one more twist that I added to this recipe. My son works at a Mom & Pop Grocery store. They carry a great selection of gourmet items with better customer service. I spotted this product from Modena, Italy. It's a Balsamic Glaze!
Craig changed into his comfortable clothes, and then he popped the bottle of chilled Prosecco while I cutting fresh basil from the garden, julienned it and garnished the tart-- and then quickly shot photos to show all of you. My son wasn't home, so it was just the two of us. Me? I was grieving/celebrating my last day of summer vacation.
Happy Hour Begins with a cold glass of bubbly...
This is delicious! It takes about 30 minutes of inactive time and about 20 minutes of hands on time to make this happen. It's so worth it! Served with a salad, this would make a complete light meal-- or cut the tart into smaller sizes. This would make perfect h'ors doevres. I served it "warm".
I think Ina would approve of my efforts to make her recipe. This looks so impressive, and it's a versatile and easy recipe to make. I hope you try this for your own Happy Hour. We all deserve one, don't we?