Cherry Tomato Tart

It's interesting how certain recipes and photos just seem to speak your name. The photo of this tart is the reason why I subscribed to Ricardo Magazine a year ago. Ok, this is not the only reason, but it's one of them. I already wrote how I used to love that magazine a few years ago and then it was cancelled. Last year when I found out that the magazine is back, I hesitated - now that everything is online, was there even a point in subscribing to a print magazine? Will it be used? Will I like it? Then I saw that they offered an early subscription bonus, an extra issue. There was a photo of this bonus magazine and I fell in love with the picture on the cover. I knew I had to  subscribe just to get my hands on it. 

That recipe just stuck in my mind. So fast forward a year, I went outside a month ago to check my garden and saw that the tomato plants that we planted weren't just regular tomato, they were cherry tomato with tiny clusters of little round fruit starting to grow. I knew right there and then that I'll finally be making this tart. Over the course of last week I kept patiently (or not so much) checking the plants to see if all of the tomatoes on the vine were finally ripe. 

Cherry Tomato Tart - beautiful and impressive appetizer or main course if served with salad

This is a beautiful and easy tart to make. It looks super impressive and festive and tastes fresh and delicious. There's no need to use only tomatoes on the vine, individual tomatoes will look just as pretty. I made the tart with blue cheese, but I can imagine it with goat cheese too and the original feta as well. I have to be honest, I had trouble with the pastry, but it's something that I personally have to work on. Whenever I make tarts/pies with cold butter, flour, tiny bit of liquid combination, the dough never works as well as it should. Required liquid is never enough, so I always add more and in turn pastry gets soggy - delicious, but not crunchy. 

Cherry Tomato Tart

adapted from Ricardo Cuisine magazine

Flour - 1 cup
Cold butter - 6 tablespoons (~90 g)
Cold milk - 3 tablespoons (See note)

Milk - 1/2 cup
Cornstarch - 1 tablespoon
Eggs - 3 extra-large
Fresh dill, chopped - 1/2 cup
Salt, pepper to taste
Blue cheese, crumbled - 60 g
Cherry tomatoes - 180 g (about 18-20 tomatoes on the vine)  
  • In a food processor, pulse flour butter until resembles coarse sand.
  • Add milk and pulse until the dough begins to form a bowl.
  • Wrap dough in a plastic wrap and place in the fridge to cool for 30 min.
  • On a floured surface, roll the dough and place in a 14x4-inch tart pan, trim the edges. 
  • Place the tart pan in the freezer for 15 min.
  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together milk and cornstarch.
  • Add eggs, dill and whisk well. Add seasoning if using.
  • Pour the filling into the crust, sprinkle blue cheese on top.
  • Carefully place tomato vines on the filling.
  • Bake for 30 min or until filling is firm.
Cherry Tomato Tart - beautiful and impressive appetizer or main course if served with salad

Comments

- I had to use just over 6 tablespoons of milk for the pastry as opposed to required 3 tablespoons. For some reason, I have never been able to make this kind of pastry, consisting of flour, butter and a tiny bit of liquid with the required proportions. Dough just never comes together with this little moisture for me, so I always end up adding more. The problem is that the pastry shell also gets soggy when I bake it with the filling. Every. Single. Time... Ugh... I still keep making these tarts and pies as I love them, but with all my expertise in baking, I have never been able to master this. 

- Original recipe called for feta and chives with basil. I think that this tart could be made different with various cheeses, I can just imagine the taste of goat cheese with some parsley and black pepper as another combination. Yum!

- When you trim the pastry in the tart pan, don't throw out the left overs. Bake them along side the tart, they'll become super tasty, crunchy, buttery, flakey crackers - absolutely delicious!

Note: this post is not sponsored by Ricardo Cuisine, I just really like their magazine and website.

Posted on July 30, 2015 and filed under Recipe.

Cauliflower Fritters

I love cauliflower. I think it has a very beautiful and light flavour. My favourite way of eating it is just boiled until quite soft and then dipped into plain yogurt. I can eat almost a whole head of cauliflower like this. But I don't buy this vegetable too often. For once, A. doesn't like it much, and also it's... white... It seems like I should be eating more colourful vegetables, so I tend to get tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and pass this beautiful white humble veg in the produce aisle most of the time. This time, however, it called my name. I wasn't sure what I'm going to make with it, but I knew that I really wanted to eat it in some way or another.

So, this weekend I opened my fridge and decided that I'm going back to my childhood, to the recipe that I used to love. We called them Cauliflower Pancakes, but I figured that Fritters sound fancier and tastier. They are yummy, healthy and very easy to cook. I've been trying to make these for a couple of years now and although all my attempts tasted good, they weren't like the ones my mom made when I was little. I couldn't really understand what I was doing wrong until it got to me. I was cooking cauliflower al-dente, whereas my mom cooked it until it was soft. Once I realized that this was the key, these little gems turned out exactly like I remembered. 

The flavour of these fritters is very simple, they just taste of delicious cauliflower and this is how I like them, but I imagine that they'd be great with addition of some cheese and herbs like dill or parsley. They can be made into smaller coin-like rounds and served with smoked salmon or prosciutto. The possibilities are endless, but I like eating these plain with just a dollop of greek yogurt or sour cream. 

Delicious Cauliflower Fritters - easy and healthy vegetarian appetizer or main dish

Cauliflower Fritters

makes 10 large

Cauliflower -1 head (about 600g)
Eggs - 2 extra-large
Flour - 1/2 cup
Seasoning to taste
Oil for pan frying
  • Separate cauliflower into florets and cook in salted water until it's very soft, about 20 min, maybe more depending on your oven and pot you use.
  • Drain cauliflower and let cool to room temperature.
  • Dice cauliflower into small pieces. Since it's so soft, it can be done right in a large bowl. Just drag the knife a few times over the florets to dice them.
  • Add eggs and mix well.
  • Add flour and mix well.
  • Brush a large frying pan with oil and heat on medium.
  • Place large heaping spoonfuls of cauliflower mixture onto the pan and flatten. 
  • Cook on each side about 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Serve with sour cream or greek yogurt.
Delicious Cauliflower Fritters - easy and healthy vegetarian appetizer or main dish
Posted on July 27, 2015 and filed under Recipe.

How to Store Herbs

Wow, that's a long break between my regular posts. Life has been hectic. I was so tired after the past few weeks that on weekend when I started to write this post about my favourite How-To, it just did not work. I decided to wait for a little bit, but then life got in the way. On Monday I had a family birthday dinner, on Tuesday I stole someone's cat, on Wednesday I had to work late. Wait, what? Stole someone's cat?

Ok, let me explain. It's not as sinister as it sounds, I promise. I volunteer with the Forgotten Ones Cat Rescue non-profit organization and when I say volunteer, I mean I help them with their social media, work on redesigning their website and once a week I go to the adoption centre to clean after the kitties, feed them and play with them. I don't really rescue cats.

My co-worker, who knew about this, called and said that there's a stray/lost cat that has been coming to his backyard for almost a week. It kept meowing and staying there. Having never rescued a cat before, I sprang into action. I arranged for a veterinary visit. Started the process of finding foster home for the cat. Was prepared to foster it for a few days bringing the total of cats living in my household to three. Changed our usual routine by going out of the way to work and parking closer to colleague's house. I got a water bowl, cold water, treats, can of tuna, can opener for the said can, a cage, blankets, pair of shoes to change. Armed with all that I went to my co-worker's house at the end of the day, terribly worrying about the cat and it being dehydrated, hurt and scared after the heatwave and the storm that we had over the weekend.

The moment I saw the cat I knew it was a misunderstanding. It was someone's cat that for some reason decided to hang out in my colleague's backyard for a week. The cat looked clean, healthy, well-fed, well-kept and not scared at all. He went right into my arms and I made a decision to still take him to the vet just to make sure. The clinic confirmed what I suspected - he was healthy and clearly someone's cat. No signs of malnutrition, dehydration, stress, abuse or anything like that. 

It was an emotional experience, with tears and worries and in the end I decided to bring the cat back to where I found him since he obviously had a home near by.

So, that's the story of me "catnapping" a cat.

Now, let me tell you this mind-blowing trick about how to store Herbs! It's absolutely amazing! I've tried different methods before: keeping herbs in water on the counter, washing and drying and keeping in airtight container in the fridge, not washing them and keeping wrapped in paper towel - nothing worked. I mean yes, all these are good options if you finish a bunch of herbs in a week. However, unless I'm making some kind of pesto, I usually use a couple of sprigs or a few tablespoons of herbs at a time and in a week I still have a lot left.

Fresh dill

Then one day, a few years ago I was at my mom's when she was making a salad and I saw this weirdly shaped bag in her fridge. This is when she told me about how someone taught her to store herbs. And it's unbelievable. Herbs now last for at about four weeks in my fridge. Mind you, after two weeks they are not as lively as in the beginning and I wouldn't use them in fresh garden salads just because of their visual appeal, but they are perfectly fine and tasty to use in soups or other cooked dishes. 

Fresh Dill on Paper Towel

How to store Herbs

So, this is what you need:

Herbs (obviously)
Paper towel
Plastic bag that you put the herbs in when you purchased them
  • First step is optional, I rarely do it because I'm lazy, but it'll save you time in the future. Wash the herbs and dry them thoroughly!
  • If the first step is omitted, then just let them dry a little bit from the moisture that they had at the store.
  • Now, get two layers of paper towel and put herbs on it (just like in a picture above).
  • And here's the mind-blowing part. Place the herbs and paper towel into a dry plastic bag, blow into it and tie the bag like a balloon. The key is to fill the bag with CO2 by exhaling/blowing into it. (You see what I did there? Mind-blowing... blow in the bag... Ok, it's not that funny... moving on...)
  • Keep this "balloon" in the fridge.
  • Every 3-4 days, you'll notice that there's condensation inside the bag and the paper towel is damp, place new dry paper towel and turn the bag inside out, so that it's dry inside. Make the "balloon" and repeat again in a few days.
  • This method takes a lot of space in the fridge, but it's amazing how long I can store the herbs this way. They don't rot, they don't go bad, they are still green and flavourful (although limp) in 4 weeks.
Fresh Dill in a Bag
Posted on July 23, 2015 and filed under Personal.