Tomato Tartelettes

tt4Appetizers are often on the menu when hosting a more formal dinner party. The smaller of the first two courses, yet perhaps the most important one. Guests have just been seated to a beautifully set table. Candles are lit, music drowned by cheerful chatter and laughter. Napkins lifted, airborne for a second before landing on peoples laps. Wine glasses chinking and cutlery clinking.

This is why the appetizer is so important: They are the first culinary experience guests will have and often a prelude to adventures to come.  I like to take the time to observe expressions around me. See how they observe what’s on their plate. Watch them lean slightly forward, better to catch a whiff of aroma.This is when you must impress your guest. If the appetizer is visually appealing and the first  bite a hit, they will know they are in store for a treat the rest of the evening. 

Now, despite what I just said, don’t become a slave to the kitchen just to impress your guests. I used to be that slave and I decided it had to end one dinner party when, just before dessert, one of our guests walked into the kitchen just to see if I was still in the house. She hadn’t seen me most of the evening. From that dinner on, I set limits for myself. Years later I am still sticking to them. When thinking of a potential dish for a dinner party, if much of it can’t be made in advance, then it’s off the list. I like to make sure 75% of my time is spent with my guests and the rest in the kitchen, not the other way around. 

Remember, planning is key. Choose dishes which are easy to make and where part of the dishes can be made in advance. The more that can be done in advance the less stress you will have hosting a multi course dinner. It wont be so daunting. tt3

These tomato tartelettes are a great “prepared in advance” appetizer. All the steps except final assembly and baking can be done before anyone arrives. You only need 5 minutes to assemble them. Then go and hang out with your guests while they are baking. 

The people around the table are your family, friends, or simply someone you want to get to know better. You wouldn’t have invited them otherwise. Relax and enjoy. Make sure you see them. Remember, they are coming to your house to eat good food, sure, but mostly they are coming to your house to see you.

Jens

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Crust:

200 g sifted flour

100 g unsalted, cold butter.

1 egg

pinch of salt

2 tbsp ice water

Filling:

1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded

5-6 sun-dried tomatoes

75g goat cheese, room temperature

2 tomatoes

1/2 cup milk

2 eggs

1/2 tsp salt

pepper

Crust:

Combine the dry ingredients in a food processor. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the dry ingredients. Add the egg. Pulse the food processor and add the tablespoons of ice water one at a time. Keep pulsing until it forms a ball of dough. It shouldn’t take more than 30 to 45 seconds. You may need a third table spoon of ice water.

Remove from the processor and flatten the ball somewhat. Dust with flour, and place in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour to rest. It is important not to over manipulate the dough to ensure flakiness.

 

Preheat oven to 400F.

Roll the dough out as thin as possible, ideally about 1/8”. Cut into 4 equal pieces. Line 4 4” diameter pie shell. Prick the bottom with a fork, fill with dry beans or pie weights and blind bake in the middle of the oven for 10-12 min until cooked. Take out of the oven, remove beans or pie weights and let cool.

In the mean time, finely dice the jalapeno pepper and sundries tomatoes. In a bowl, mix along with the goat cheese. Divide the mixture between the tarts and spread out along the bottom of each pie crust. 

Slice the tomato in 1/4” slices, and place one slice in each tart.

In a bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Add the liquid to the tarts until it just covers the tomato. 

Sprinkle with a little bit of grated gruyere cheese.

Bake in the upper half of the oven for 20-25 min until set and golden brown.tt2 tt5

Swedish Cheese Tart

ct3ct2Pies and tarts are two things I will never grow tired of. The options for the filling are endless. Sweet or savoury, it doesn’t matter. This Swedish inspired Cheese Tart is more delicate than your regular quiche. There’s no ham, so vegetarians can rejoice and enjoy. A great option for a light week night dinner or to be served at a weekend luncheon. Would you feel the need for meat, prosciutto is a great side. I serve it with a dollop of sour cream, arugula lettuce and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar glaze.

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Crust:

200 g sifted flour

100 g unsalted, cold butter.

1 egg

pinch of salt

2 tbsp ice water

 

Filling:

3 Eggs

300g Shredded Cheese, such as Gruyère or other hard, nutty cheese.

3/4 cup whipping cream

3/4 cup milk

1/2 tsp finely chopped tarragon

Pinch of salt (not too much, the cheese will add saltiness as well)

Pepper

 

Preheat oven to 400F.

Crust:

Add the flour to a food processor. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour along with the egg. Pulse a few times and add one tablespoon of ice water at a time. Keep pulsing until it forms a ball of dough. It shouldn’t take more than 30 to 45 seconds. You may need a third table spoon of ice water.

Remove the dough and flatten the ball somewhat. Dust with flour, and place in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour to rest. It is important not to over manipulate the dough to ensure flakiness.

Roll the dough and line a pie shell, prick it with a fork then bake blind for 10-12 min.

Filling:

Whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Pour the mixture into the pie shell, and bake in the lower part of the oven for 30-35 min, or until tart is set and has a nice golden colour. Let it cool slightly before serving. Serves 6-8.

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