I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus as of late. And no, this wasn’t the kick-up-your-heels, toes-in-the-sand, relaxy-taxi kind of hiatus. Rather, it was the holy-moly-I-have-so-much-to-do-my-brain-will-surely-explode-if-I-add-one-more-thing-to-my-to-do-list kind of hiatus. You know the kind, right? It’s when you go to bed around midnight and say to yourself, “That’s all I can do today. I’ll finish the rest in the morning.” Then you wake up the next morning, quietly whimpering at the sound of the alarm clock, and grumble something along the lines of, “Why didn’t I finish that yesterday? Argh. Ooph. Argh.” That’s the funny thing about a too busy schedule. Once you start the cycle of too-busyness, it’s a terrible beast to kick. You just keep going in circles of early mornings and too-late nights until your poor little brain can’t tell night from day. Well, enough is enough, I say. I’m tired of trying to kick that busy beast. In fact, I’ve decided instead to turn around and give that beast a gigantic squeeze. Beasts — even busy beasts — need hugs, too. And with that, my hiatus is complete. ’Tis the power of positive thinking.
Now rest assured, despite our wild schedules, we have been eating some fun chow up in these parts lately. Enter the tomato and basil tart. Isn’t it a pretty little thing? I’m not sure if it’s the vibrant color or what, but tomatoes are one of my absolute favorite food items to photograph, and these little grape guys didn’t disappoint. Perhaps red is just one of those magic colors. Santa Claus. The Cardinals. Carmen SanDiego. Those folks know their business.
I was really intrigued by this recipe the first time I saw it because of its sheer simplicity. You mix the whole thing up in a single ovenproof skillet, top it with puff pastry and bake. Easy as pie. Easier then pie, actually. The taste is lovely and complex, too, especially considering how few ingredients it calls for. My only qualm came in the baking of the puff pastry. I’m not sure if my tomatoes were too watery or I didn’t bake it long enough (though my pastry was getting mighty brown, so I suppose I could lower the temp and cook for longer instead), but my puff pastry wasn’t as crisp and puffed as I would have preferred. The flavor was fantastic though, so it’s certainly worth another try.
Tomato and Basil Tart
Adapted slightly from Lorraine Pascale, Baking Made Easy
• 1 pound puff pastry
• 40 vine-ripened cherry tomatoes (or 45 to 50 grape tomatoes)
• 2 tbsp vegetable oil
• ½ teaspoon kosher salt
• freshly ground black pepper
• 2 teaspoons honey
• 2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 1/8 to ¼ cup fresh basil
• 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the tomatoes, vegetable oil, salt, pepper and honey in an ovenproof skillet, and mix together. Arrange tomatoes as tightly as possible, and sprinkle with the breadcrumbs.
On a well-floured work surface, roll out a circle of puff pastry the same size as the top of the frying pan. Place the puff pastry over the tomatoes, and tuck it around them so the tomatoes are encased.
Brush the top of the pastry with the lightly beaten egg. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the puff pastry is well puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes, then tip away the excess liquid and put a large plate upside down on top of the pan. Using oven mitts, press the plate down hard and quickly flip it so the skillet is upside down and the plate is on the bottom.
Remove the skillet. Once the tart is cool, rip up or chop the basil leaves, sprinkle them on the tart and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
I have an especially fond attachment to this recipe for one very big reason: Jared and I were watching Lorraine Pascale make this on the Cooking Channel the day I went into labor with the Bean. Aww, shucks. It took us three months to finally give it a try ourselves, but baking this tart instantly brought back memories of how crazy excited we were for our little lady to arrive. And now she’s here! And so is our tomato tart! Oh, happy day!
So what’s the haps in your kitchen these days? Any fun new recipes going on? And does anyone have a trick for getting puff pastry to bake up just right? I’d like to give this tart another try, but I need to solve the pesky pastry dilemma first.