Tuesday, September 28, 2010

If at first you don't succeed...


Dear Pastry,
Why do you have to be so difficult??? It’s not nice.

Truly, pastry makes me want to scream, cry, flop on the ground, kick my legs and pound my fists. In that order, and then simultaneously.

I’ve mentioned before how pastry and I aren’t friends. When I made my onion-fig crostata for the first time, the dish only lacked a homemade crust (I had used ready-made). When we had company a few weeks ago, I remade the crostata and even made my own pastry dough with creamy mascarpone cheese in it. It chilled in the fridge overnight and dared me to roll it out every time I opened the door. At the last minute, I balked and used my back-up ready-make crust again. And I’m glad I did.

Yesterday however, I decided to put my worries aside. I wanted to make goat cheese tarts, but without a crust it would be a goat cheese puddle at the bottom of the oven. It was time to conquer my fear.

This can’t be that hard, right? I did copious amounts of research online, only to find that there are crazily varying schools of thought on pastry. Differing amounts of wet to dry ratios left me thinking that I would be lucky if this even formed a ball of dough. After formulating a recipe that included two kinds of cheese, I pulsed it in the food processor, fingers crossed.

I breathed a sigh of relief when I dumped my dough out of the food processor and it looked like dough. I smushed it around a few times, formed it into a disk, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and smiled smugly to myself as I put it in the fridge to chill, thinking that I had beaten pastry.

Fast forward…I roll out the dough into some crazy abstract shape that doesn’t resemble a circle at all (I’ve got to work on that), and realize that it is WAY too soft and mushy. I didn’t over-handle it, it was chilled for more than an hour…it was just too soft. I quickly transferred it to my tart pans and hoped for the best.


After blind-baking for way longer than I expected, and then baking uncovered for way longer than I expected, they somewhat resembled normal tart shells, albeit with what looked like twice the amount of butter. At least it was a start. Maybe I had a chance…

Roasted Garlic and Goat Cheese Tomato Mini Tarts

(Gratuitous tomato shot)

For tart shells:
Well, my attempt at the pastry didn’t quite turn out as well as I’d hoped, so I won’t be including it here. Either use ready-made pie crust or make a standard pastry recipe and add a little parmesan cheese to it. I added parmesan and goat cheese to mine, and the flavor was fantastic, but the overall consistency wasn’t right; not nearly as flaky as it should have been. Whatever way you choose, bake them off first according to the directions of the recipe prior to filling.

For roasted garlic:
1 head of garlic, peeled
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place garlic cloves in a piece of foil and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Seal foil and wrap another piece of foil around that. (It will leak if not double-wrapped.) Bake for 35 minutes, until garlic is soft. (You could also roast the whole head and squeeze out the cloves if you prefer.)


For filling:
4 ounces goat cheese
1 head of roasted garlic
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped basil, plus extra for garnish
pinch of pepper

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
tomatoes (depending on size, you’ll need a handful of small cherry tomatoes per tart, or 1 small tomato per tart if slicing)

(Ignore the incredibly stained baking sheet)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Put goat cheese, roasted garlic, parmesan, basil and pepper in a mini food processor and pulse until combined.

Spread cheese filling among the bottom of 4 mini tart shells. Top with tomatoes. (Note: I used whole cherry tomatoes, but the end result was a bit too tomato-heavy. Next time, I will slice small tomatoes and layer them over the top of the filling instead.)

Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until tomatoes start to soften. (Time will depend on which tomato method you choose; less time for sliced.)

Remove from oven and top with toasted pine nuts and chopped basil.


Serve warm or at room temperature.


All in all, these were a success. My crust, while not perfect, had the yummiest hint of parmesan, which I loved. The creamy goat cheese filling was slightly tangy and the roasted garlic gives the whole thing a huge flavor boost.

I can’t say I’m looking forward to it, but I’m determined to get back into the kitchen and make the perfect pastry. 

Until then: Karen – 0, Pastry – 1

In other news, I recently received my first award (and on the one month anniversary of my blog!)…thanks to Kristy at My Little Space for passing this on to me!  

Cherry+Award_September+2010.jpg

71 comments:

  1. I made a cherry tomato and goat cheese tart recently and it was definitely a mixed result too. I followed a recipe closely but found that there was just too much puff pastry and not enough tomatoes! Tarts are tricky but hopefully we can both master them soon!

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  2. The naughty pastry turned out very pretty. (Pastry and I have a sordid past) And beautiful colors!

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  3. i love goat cheese and this tarts look so cute and tasty..

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  4. These look SO good...and congrats on conquering your fear of pastry! I tried to overcome my reluctance to bake this weekend and ended up splattered with batter! The end result was worth it, but getting there took some effort ;)!

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  5. Those look super delicious and beautiful too!

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  6. These are gorgeous! I love the color contrast. I made mini goat cheese/tomato tarts but haven't gotten around to posting it yet.

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  7. The Pastry is very difficult. Me captive your difficulty and accuracy.
    These mini tart have been perfect.

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  8. They look fantastic and totally delicious!

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  9. You had me at goat cheese and roasted garlic. Oh my! Now I need to get me some tart pans!

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  10. Your pastry came out good. These are such cute little tarts. I LOVE goat cheese, and the pine nuts over the top are a nice added touch!

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  11. whew, this looks incredible. i'm in love with all of these mini things you've made recently!:)

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  12. I have the same feelings when it comes to pastry crust. That is why I avoid it, maybe I'll get the courage like you. Don't give up they really do look delicious and it doesn't really sound like you have to change much. Lovely mix of ingredients.

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  13. LOVE THESE! They look so fresh and summery and delicious, the sort of thing I'd like to tuck into for an al-fresco lunch on a lazy long weekend like we have coming up :)

    PS. I struggle with pastry too. I want to have it mastered by the end of the year, but I suspect that is an unrealistic goal!

    x Amy

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  14. Yum! These look great! I love the addition of the roasted garlic to the goat cheese.

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  15. These look gorgeous! I absolutely love all the ingredients in these ... will definitely be making them.

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  16. Pastry and I don't get along too well either. It's the one reason I stop myself from baking a lot of desserts! I need to be like you and just do it!! The tart looks wonderful. I love goat cheese...and mixed with garlic and parmesan and basil...YUM!

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  17. Those look delicious! I love the petite size too, it makes them look that much more appealing :) I bet these would be great to serve at a party.

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  18. I have 2 links for you. I have made this tomato tart several times and it is awesome.
    http://www.foodbuzz.com/blogs/2498310-rustic-cherry-tomato-ricotta-tart

    But I blogged about pie crust so I use this recipe for crust. Works perfectly every time.
    http://www.foodbuzz.com/blogs/2405019-how-to-make-a-perfect-pie-crust

    Your goat cheese garlic filling sounds awesome, for sure gonna try it.

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  19. Your blog is so, so good. The recipes/photogs are super.

    diane

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  20. I love the idea of adding some Parmesan to the crust! You deserve some major kudos for sticking with it, too. Pastry crusts are the worst! Mine hardly ever work out the way I want them to.

    All that work aside, your tarts look delicious!

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  21. Your tarts just look absolutely gorgeous! I love them. I can eat 2 easily :D Thanks very much for sharing! Well done!

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  22. I can totally sympathize with you regarding the dough. I used to be and still am quite hesitant when it comes to dough of any kind. Nevertheless, I found a recipe for tart dough that is very punctual and I use it all the time with confidence. I guess the secret is to find the right recipe. I don't know about the crust but your tarts look colorful and absolutely delicious.

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  23. These are beautiful, you could frame them! Pastry, goat cheese and baby tom's were meant to go together! Another great party food!

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  24. These look delicious despite the trials you had. I am new here, but I plan to return often. I love the food and recipes you feature here. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

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  25. These are gorgeous little tarts for sure! I love the idea of Parmesan in the crust!

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  26. These look fanastic. I think your solution of putting the too-soft pastry into your tart shells was brilliant.

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  27. I have to make these now; the only veggie I grew in my garden was cherry tomatoes, and they make a fine match with goat cheese. Thanks for the recipe!

    For anyone intimidated with pie dough, try starting with this one (for a double crust): In a medium bowl, mix 2c flour with 1 or 1.5 t salt (your preference; I use 1.5). Make a well in the center of the flour. In a glass measuring cup, measure 1/2c oil. Add 1/4 c milk to the oil. Pour wet into dry and stir with a fork until just combined. Roll 2/3 dough out between two sheets of waxed paper. Peel off top paper and use bottom sheet to flip the dough into the pie plate. Pinch and patch anything that tears. After you fill your pie, roll remaining dough for top crust. Fold together top and bottom crust edges to make the decorative ridge. Bake, covering partway through with foil if edges brown too quickly. Ta-da! P.S.: Any extra dough--if you don't use the top crust, for example--is good spread with softened butter and cinnamon sugar and baked until done.

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  28. i haven't made friends with pastry either, but these look wonderful!

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  29. These are beautiful!! I have to make these soon..I LOVE goat cheese! Yummy! :)

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  30. beautiful and delicious!i'm happy for your good relationship with"dear pastry"!

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  31. Wonderful pastry and wonderful tarts!!

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  32. These look great! The crust really looks amazing! Can't wait to try these out!

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  33. the colors are amazing! this is a delicious looking treat!

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  34. Congrats your beautiful little tarts made it on today's Foodbuzz top 9, they are #1 !!

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  35. This is a great recipe. Thanks for an eggless filling!!! I can't wait to try this.

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  36. This looks absolutely DIVINE! Great work!! Beautiful!

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  37. Oh, my! Your tart is a thing of beauty. Have not attempted pastry in a looong while. Here's in the inspiration. Well done!

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  38. Yum, they look so fresh and tasty!

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  39. I have the same tumultuous relationship with pastry. Practice Practice Practice, right? Great job looks great and this is a recipe that definitely peaked my interest! Thanks for sharing.

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  40. I have my share of pastry mishaps too! Congrats on making Foodbuzz top 9! Great blog!

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  41. Now I see why it made the top 9! Very tasty, congrats!

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  42. Karen, these look fantastic! Your photos and recipes are always must-sees must-reads, and my mouth always waters when I'm reading your blog!

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  43. I just realized the yummy and beautiful mini tomato tarts on today's Top 9, is YOU!
    CONGRATULATIONS! Well earned, and to think that it was on the 1 month of your Foodbuzz anniversary. Time to get out the "bubbly"...CHEERS!

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  44. Not only does this look so tasty, but you take beautiful photos that are truly enjoyable to look at!! :) Congratulations on the Top 9!!!

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  45. Congrats on making Foodbuzz's Top 9 today! Woo hoo!!!

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  46. These look wonderful! Thank you for your visit and I'm your newest follower!

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  47. Congrats on getting the #1 in the top 9! These look fabulous! I love everything you put in them... now adding it to my "To Make" list! Great post!!

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  48. You just had to put a gratuitous shot of tomatoes didn't you? LOL. I love, love, love maters but the fiance doesn't. I don't like onions or garlic so I guess it's an even tradeoff. Har har.

    Glad to see you succeeded with the pastry! I avoid them simply because I don't have the patience to fight with them...or the attention span.

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  49. I am also pastry challenged, but hope to conquer it someday! Congrats on Top 9!

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  50. Hello Karen! I am a roasted garlic and cheese LOVER... your tarts looks so delicious!!!

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  51. WOW These are picture perfect! Congratulations!
    Rita

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  52. The cute little pastries look awesome, Karen.

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  53. What beautiful tomato tartlets!! They absolutely scream to be eaten..!
    Beautiful photography too and yes, pastry making...mmm...not always the most enjoyable part of a recipe, but afterward well worth the trouble.
    Ronelle

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  54. oh they are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO pretty!!!!!!!!!!!!! And look delicious!

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  55. You had me with this: "Dear Pastry, Why do you have to be so difficult??? It’s not nice." Boy, do I feel your pain there. Your tarts did end up gorgeous and I'm sure were delicious. I'll have to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing it.

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  56. I have similar issues with pastry. And, it's funny to see how many different ways to make a crust and everyone is claiming theirs is the right way.

    Every time I've ever made a crust from a recipe I've ended up having to bake it for up to twice as long to get it to look just right. I'm pretty sure it's not the oven either because I've moved 4 times over the past 7 years and I've used a different oven every time.

    It's good to see that these turned out so nice. They look delici-oso!

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  57. I see that you talked to your naughty pastry, too! Glad to know that I am not the only one! Beautiful result, though! Thanks for dropping by!

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  58. I love tarts, whether sweet or savoury, and your filling sounds divine. Very inspired.

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  59. Tart looks fabulous!!Do drop by
    http://padhuskitchen.blogspot.com when u find time

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  60. Thanks a lot for visiting my space and leaving a comment..You have such a beautiful blog here..Love your li'l tarts..Happy to follow you !!

    Best Regards
    Sulagna
    http://e-senseofspicenfragrance-sulagna.blogspot.com/

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  61. I think these look wonderful! But I've never attempted homemade pastry, so you're far more brave. I have a seemingly endless amount of cherry tomatoes in my backyard, and I've been looking for fun new things to do with them. This looks delicious :)

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  62. Congrats on the pastry! Keep playing around with it, and you'll have it licked in no time. I love the whole idea of your blog. You GO, Girl!

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  63. Thanks for visiting my blog - especially since now I found yours! These look amazing :)

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  64. OMG these tarts look delicious! I'm so going to try them... with ready made pastry of course! :)

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  65. Those look beautiful! Perfect for a dinner party :)!

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  66. These are incredible. I am making them again this weekend.

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