Saturday, March 28, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers - Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts
I'm a little late to post the final March recipe for the Barefoot Bloggers, the chosen recipe was for Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts as chosen by Anne of Anne Strawberry.

And given most everyone else in the BB group has posted their recipes online, that may explain why there was not even one box of puff pastry available in my local grocery store yesterday.

Barefoot Bloggers causes a run on frozen pastry?...I can see the headlines tomorrow...

OK, well, I tried to have a sensational excuse for why I had to resort to puff pastry shells - and the mini-sized ones to boot (!) instead of the pastry sheets called for in the original recipe. So this recipe had two firsts for me - I got to work with puff pastry shells and I got to try herb flavored goat cheese.

  • I used chicken stock instead of wine
  • I added a large pinch of red chilli flakes to the onions as they caramelized to pack some heat, and a little oregano along with the basil
I don't know why I've breezed over goat cheese before, perhaps the word "goat" didn't resonate well with me?They are my least favorite farm animal...
Goat cheese does have a slightly sharp taste, but when melted in layers of flaky pastry accompanied with golden onions and some tomato - it was mmmm...lip-smacking goodness.
I used a brand of goat cheese called
Chavrie - garlic and basil flavored.

And the mini shells - I'll pass on them and go for the real pastry sheets next time - unless I have Lilliputians showing up for a soiree.

Thank you Ina! Thank you Anne!
This recipe is a keeper - I have my cousin's bridal shower coming up soon, and these beauties are definitely going to be making an appearance.

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

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
4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet)
1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

1. Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. 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.
2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
3. 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.
4. Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.
5. Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge.
6. 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.
7. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.
8. 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.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

No Kitchen - No Food!

I'm having kitchen work done, and have no access to my stove and sink - so unless I start doing reviews of microwave dinners - see you (all 2 of you fine selves) next week!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers - March Bonus Recipe - Brownie Pudding

I started this blog, went into hiatus, slapped myself back into action, and the first thing I did was join a group.One with deadlines.
But - we LOVE all things
Ina, and so, I rolled up my sleeves, surveyed the pantry, and realised I could almost pull this one off without a 3 a.m. jaunt to the grocery store.

The recipe in question is
Brownie Pudding selected by Tia of Southern, Eh? for the March Bonus Recipe Challenge from the Barefoot Bloggers.

The original recipe called for 4 eggs, and as luck would have it, I only had 2 left in the fridge.
Knowing full well that any further procrastination would kill this post, I went ahead and halved the original recipe. I also did not have framboise, which is an optional ingredient in the original recipe, so to add some kick, I substituted coffee powder.


  • I halved the original recipe
  • I replaced framboise liqueur with 1 tsp instant coffee powder
  • I used vanilla essence (blasphemy!) because I didn't have vanilla bean on hand
Cook's Notes:
The original recipe was straightforward. I don't own a stand mixer and used a hand-held beater. While I was first puzzled why the pudding had to be baked in a bain-marie, I figure that is what is needed to get the pudding-like consistency.

Brownie Pudding

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the dish

4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup good cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
1 tablespoon framboise liqueur, optional
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter a 2-quart (9 by 12 by 2-inch) oval baking dish. Melt the 1/2 pound of butter and set aside to cool.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed for 5 to 10 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Meanwhile, sift the cocoa powder and flour together and set aside.
3. When the egg and sugar mixture is ready, reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla seeds, framboise, if using, and the cocoa powder and flour mixture. Mix only until combined. With mixer still on low, slowly pour in the cooled butter and mix again just until combined.
4. Pour the brownie mixture into the prepared dish and place it in a larger baking pan. Add enough of the hottest tap water to the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish and bake for exactly 1 hour. A cake tester inserted 2 inches from the side will come out 3/4 clean. The center will appear very under-baked; this dessert is between a brownie and a pudding.
5. Allow to cool and serve with vanilla ice cream.


Since I had halved the recipe, I turned off the oven after 50 minutes, and removed the pudding from the oven 5 minutes later.
Crisp brownie-like topping with a gooey, almost fudge-like intense chocolate pudding below. This recipe is a keeper! I'm glad I tried it, and wish I could have seen the episode on Food Network when it aired just to see what Ina's version looked like.

Warning - it is a sugar-high inducer, I think I might knock down the amount of sugar the next time, after a few spoonfuls, I had a little aftertaste on my palate - which may also have been due to the intense cocoa flavor.
Ina Garten's Brownie Pudding
I prefer to serve this warm, but because of the brownie flavor, I opted to have mine with a glass of milk (slurp!) rather than ice-cream.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How To...Make a Substitute for Buttermilk

Many recipes, especially for lovely baked goods, often call for buttermilk, and I've been caught dashing out to the grocery store to get a pint, whereas the recipe only called for half a cup. Invariably, I'm usually left with a pitiful half bottle of buttermilk in the fridge that just waits to get tossed in the trash.
I recently found a subsitute for buttermilk that can be made with what you probably already have in the kitchen, and this way, I never have to have drag myself out to the store to grab a pint whenever a recipe calls for it.

To make 1 cup of buttermilk:

What you need:
1 cup milk
1 tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice

1. Pour 1 tbsp of white vingear in a bowl.
2. Add the milk to the bowl.
3. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes - you'll then have buttermilk ready to use in your recipe!