Más tomates!

I do love tomatoes. In Panama, my sister and I used to eat them like fruit. I remember how flavorful they are when picked just right. Slightly tart and sweet, always juicy. YUM! I love the different varieties: cherry, grape, here recently I’ve been introduced to raisin tomatoes. Tiny little things, filled with flavor. I haven’t tried the infamous heirloom tomatoes yet, what can you tell me about them?

Moving on. My previous post was for a tart¬†I saw Chuck Hughes prepare, today¬†I’m bringing you a variation on that tart. As much as I liked the original, I kept thinking of other ways to enjoy it. I happened to have some avocados ready to go, and they were the primary source of inspiration. This time the flavors come a bit further South of the border. I also switched to puff pastry instead of phyllo sheets.

Tomato & Avocado Tart

1 puff pastry sheet, thawed
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cp queso fresco, shredded
3/4 cp queso Oaxaca or Monterrey Jack, shredded
1 avocado, peeled & thinly sliced
4-5 Roma tomatoes (or whatever you have around)
Cilantro leaves, torn
Sea salt & black pepper

Preheat oven to 400¬į. Use a rolling pin¬†to stretch out the pastry, just enough to make sure it covers the bottom of the pan you will bake it in. I used a tart pan, but a baking sheet would also work. Place the pastry sheet on the bottom of the pan, pulling some of the dough up the sides to create an edge.

Brush on the mustard, then top evenly with the cheese, make sure you cover th entire surface. Next lay the avocado slices across the bottom.

Slice the tomatoes to about 1/4-inch thick and top the avocado with the tomato slices. You can overlap them, if you’d like. Tear a few cilantro leaves and spread them around. Season with coarse salt and freshly ground¬†pepper.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until the puff pastry is nicely golden brown. Allow it to cool for just a few minutes before serving.

Oh yeah, baby.

Cookingly yours,


I heart Cooking channel!

I do. I really, really do. It’s like meeting new friends and catching up with old ones. I know it is still part of the Food Network, but I like the variety of chefs on the lineup. I hope you’re watching it too, there’s some really good stuff there.

I already shared a post based on a dish from French Food at Home. This post follows a dish from another of my new favorite chefs, Chuck Hughes. His show is called Chuck’s Day Off and the camera follows him around his restaurant kitchen as he dishes out some simply delicious food for friends and family on his day off.

One of the recent episodes showed him cooking for his family, he recreated the dishes his mom & aunts cooked as he was growing up. This tart caught my eye and heart immediately. It was pretty. It looked fancy. AND it was a breeze to make. And let me tell you, it tasted fantabulous!

Chuck’s Tomato & Cheese Tart
from Chuck’s Day Off

7 phyllo sheets, thawed
1/4 cp melted butter
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1-1/4 cps grated cheese (he recommends Emmenthal)
3 large ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
12  fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Preheat oven to 400¬į. Phyllo dough is paper thin and will dry and crack quickly. Once you have removed it from the packaging, place the sheets you will use between lightly damp towels.

On a tart pan or baking sheet, place 1 sheet phyllo and brush with melted butter, repeat, stacking them on top of each other as you build your pie crust. You may want to stagger the sheets a little bit to ensure that the baking sheet is well covered allowing extra pastry to create an edge.

On the top layer, brush on the mustard. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the pastry to ensure even coverage. Lay the tomato slices generously, all over, overlapping, as needed. Season with coarse salt and ground black pepper. Sprinkle the thyme leaves on top.

Bake in the oven until the pastry is crisped and browned at the edges, about 25 minutes.

Add another sprinkling of coarse salt and garnish with fresh basil leaves. You can serve it hot, warm, or at room temperature.

Cookingly yours,

Potato & Chive Tart-ish thing

You know what’s funny? Calling something by the wrong name. It’s not like I don’t have the whole world just a few fingertips away. Nonetheless, for the 24, 24, 24¬†meal I called this a Potato & Chive¬†Galette. Turns out, galettes are supposed to have a crust, which this definitely doesn’t. I don’t know what it is, because a tart should probably have a crust too.

What I do know, is that this was off the chains good! It allowed me to use my mandolin, and you know how much I love that. Layering the paper thin¬†slices of potato and then¬†pan frying them to make a crust, turned out something simply delicious. I wish you could’ve tasted them. Oh wait, you can! This was served with Vodka Roasted Beef Filets…oh my!

Potato & Chive Tart-thing
Serves 8

6-8 medium potatoes, peeled, preferably Yukon Gold
1/2 cp chives, cut to 1/2 inch pieces
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
Melted butter, about 1-1/2 sticks

Preheat oven to 375¬į. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish by generously covering the bottom and sides with softened butter.

Using a mandolin on the thinnest setting, slice the potatoes into paper-thin slices. I sliced about 2 at a time, this allowed me to layer them before they turned color. Under different circumstances, I would suggest slicing all them and putting them in cool water until ready to use. But for this I wanted to keep as much moisture out as possible. So working in batches was a better method.

Place the first layer of potatoes on the bottom of the baking dish making sure to cover the entire surface and overlap them slightly. Next, using a brush, dab with melted butter. Now sprinkle some chives, salt & pepper. Begin a new layer.

I layered potatoes 3 or 4 times, repeating the steps above every time except for the top layer. Do not sprinkle chives on the top, just finish with butter, then salt & pepper. Once you have layered all the potatoes, put it in the oven until the potatoes soften, about 40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender when pierced.

Now. You have 2 options here. You can stop at this point, just slice the tart-thing and serve. Or, if you like the balance of crisp and soft like I do, you can crisp it up a bit. uh huh.

Invert the tart-thing and slice into even squares. Heat a skillet, add some olive oil and butter and brown the squares on both sides. Drain on paper towels and serve. That night we browned them in the same skillet we cooked the filets, it had bacon fat. HELLO!

Cookingly yours,

Tart, tart, limey tart

There I was, mid-Saturday morning and I was watching Ina Garten on the Food Network. She was making desserts. She was making me hungry. As luck would have it, I was scheduled to attend a little get-together that evening and I don’t like showing up empty-handed. The perfect excuse to make that yummy looking lime tart. Yeah, because I needed an excuse.

I think I was drawn to it because it reminded me of a lemon pie my sis would make when we were growing up. Much like Ina’s, my sister’s pie was topped¬†with meringue. I still don’t love meringue. I don’t enjoy the consistency of it. Or the fact that the sugar starts sweating syrupy beads after you put it in the fridge.

The other similarity was a pie crust, except Ina used a sweet pastry. I saw her mix and knead and refrigerate and roll the dough. It wasn’t happening. More work than I wanted to do on a lazy¬†Saturday mid-morning. So, I tweaked and it was a hit. Instead of Ina’s involved pastry, I used the recipe for my favorite sweet crust. I suggest making the filling first, that will allow it to cool before filling the tart shell.

Lime Tart

1 stick butter
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup flour

If your butter is soft enough, you can mix this by hand, I ended up putting all of it in the mixer. Combine the butter with confectioners’ sugar, then add flour; mix well. Pat out on tart pan, it may be kind of thin, but don’t worry, it will work out.

Once you’ve spread the dough all the way¬†up the sides of the pan, cut out a piece of foil paper and rub with butter or a bit of oil. Press the greased foil onto¬†the crust, then fill it with baking beads or beans. This is called blind baking; it will prevent the crust from bubbling up because¬†there isn’t filling in it. ¬†Bake at 350¬į for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove the foil, prick with a fork a few times and return to the oven for another 5-8 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.

Lime filling:
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs
3 extra-large egg yolks
2 tbsp finely grated lime zest (4-6 limes)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp cornstarch

In your mixer, cream the butter and sugar until it binds together–about 3-4 minutes (I used the egg beater of my Kitchen Aid). Slowly add the eggs and yolks, 1 at a time, and then add the lime zest, lime juice, salt, almond extract and cornstarch. Don’t worry, if it looks curdled, but make sure you’re using a spatula to release any bits that are not picked up by the mixer’s beater.

Pour the mixture into a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until thick, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. When it begins to thicken, switch to a wire whisk and cook over low heat for a minute or two, whisking constantly. Don’t allow it to boil!¬† Pour into a bowl, place plastic wrap directly over the filling¬†and cool to room temperature.

Yield: 3 cups

Once the shell and filling have cooled, pour the filling into the tart shell. Top with whipped cream and strawberry coulis, if desired.

For whipped cream: Add 3/4 cp of chilled¬†heavy whipping cream, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract to your mixer’s bowl. Whip at medium high speed and slowly add 3 tbsp white sugar. Beat until soft peaks form. Spread this whipped cream over the top of the filling.

After I covered it with cream, poured about 3/4 cp of strawberry coulis into a baggie, snipped the tip and piped it over the cream in a circular pattern.

Then I used a toothpick to drag the coulis through the cream. I realized I should’ve stayed closer to the surface, I seem to have pushed the toothpick a bit too deep.

It was still pretty. See?

Puff the magic pastry

Sooo… The Pepperidge Farms contest allows you to enter 3 items: an appetizer, main dish and a dessert. I had already submitted an appetizer, and a breakfast entree, all I needed now was dessert. So here it is!

Pineapple Upside Up Tart

For the tart:
Pineapple slices, thinly sliced and quartered
1/3 cp juice from the pineapple
1/2 cp pecans, chopped
2 Pepperidge Farms puff pastry sheets
1 cp Caramel Topping
1 1/2 cp Pastry Cream

For the Pastry Creme (adapted from Let’s Cook French recipe)
Ingredients (for 6 people):
1 cp milk
1/3 of a vanilla pod
2 egg yolks
2.5 ozs sugar
1/8 cp flour
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tbsp bourbon (or your favorite liqueur)
Bring the milk to a boil with the vanilla. Using your mixer, whip the egg yolks with the sugar until it stretches like ribbon when you raise it with the spoon, then add the flour. Bring the mixer’s speed to low and slowly pour the boiling milk on the mixture, being careful not to drop the vanilla pod.

Once you have incorporated all of the milk, put the mixture back into the pot you used to heat the milk and cook over medium low heat, stirring continuously. Remove from burner when thickened. Set aside to cool.

For the Caramel Topping:
1/4 cp butter
1/2 cp brown sugar
1/3 cp juice from pineapple
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp heavy cream
In a small saucepan, melt the butter with sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and juice (you may need to add a little water to measure 1/3 cp). Bring this to a boil and allow to cook until the sugar melts and it begins to thicken. Add the cream, stir and remove from the heat.

To assemble the tart:
Preheat oven to 400¬į. You will bake both pastry sheets.

First layer: On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, unfold one sheet and bake as directed. Remove from oven and with a flat spatula, press the down on the puff pastry to collapse the layers. Set aside and allow it to cool.

Second layer: On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, unfold one sheet and bend the edges upward to create a little dam. Add the caramel topping. Then spread the pecan pieces and top with the pineapple pieces. I used about 5 slices from a fresh pineapple, which I then quartered. You can use canned fruit. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.

Place the first layer on your serving dish, top it with the chilled pastry cream. Then carefully place the second layer on top. Allow it to cool for about an hour before serving.


Cookingly yours,