Cherry Tomatoes-Gouda Tarts
It’s raining and cool today. There must have been a rain storm here last night. We woke up to find several cushions and a beautiful, heavy table cloth that were left out overnight scattered all over the patio this morning, soaking wet. The one time I don’t put everything away and there is an overnight storm. The tall grass in the planters surrounding the patio is bent over, burdened with rain water and wind. One of the three red umbrellas is laying on it’s side, quietly waiting to be picked up. I must say we never heard a thing. So this morning we woke up to this chaos, went outside to gather everything and set the cushions and table cloth aside to hopefully dry. As soon as order was restored I headed into the kitchen. I love it here, rain or shine. Because it’s a cool day I thought something warm would be nice for lunch. A few days ago I made a savoury tart dough that I kept in the fridge and this is an opportunity to use it. A quick look around the kitchen and the simple lunch menu was set: cherry tomatoes tarts with Gouda cheese and a little crisp salad on the side. We’ll have to eat inside.
Savoury tart dough:
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces, very cold (or use vegetables shortening)
4 tablespoons ice water (about)
Place flour and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to blend. Add cold butter and mix with a few pulses until butter is coated with the flour and the mixture is crumbly. Do not over mix.
Add the water, a tablespoon at a time and run the processor until mixture begins to clump together but does not form a ball quite yet (see image below).
Empty the dough onto a board or your clean counter and bring it together with your hands. You can sprinkle the work surface with a light dusting of flour to prevent the buttery dough from sticking. Work fairly quickly because you do not want your warm hands to melt the butter in the pastry. As soon as you have a ball of pastry smooth it to bring it together and then wrap in plastic and refrigerate until cold, at least 30 minutes or overnight. You can also prepare this a few days in advance.
When ready to proceed remove dough from the fridge and let it warm up on the counter for a while, only until it is pliable enough to roll. You will be working with a cold dough, don’t bring it to room temperature. You want a cold dough but the butter has to be pliable enough to roll smoothly. I usually beat the ball of dough a few times with the roller to soften the butter and flatten it into a disk, I think it warms up faster that way.
On a lightly floured surface roll the dough into a circle or square about 1/8 inch thick, dusting with flour as needed to prevent it from sticking. To fit the dough into the tart pans you have a couple of options: either cut it into circles large enough to fit into the pans and press them into place individually. Or do it all at once: set the tart pans close together on the counter, roll the dough sheet onto the rolling pin and unroll it over the tart pans. Gently press the dough into the tart shells and then roll the rolling pin over . This will cut the dough into each individual tart pan. Re-roll and repeat for remaining tart pans. When you re-roll the dough by the way don’t just lump the pieces together. Rather, lay the pieces on top of each other and then roll. It’s a cumbersome explanation but simple to execute. Next time I’ll take pictures.
When all the tart pans are nicely lined with the dough refrigerate them until needed. You can prepare this a couple of days in advance and keep them covered in the fridge. I served them on an antique pizza board I bought at the gorgeous Mission Hill Winery store the other day. Very earthy look. See image below.
To fill the tarts:
1 1/2 cups shredded Gouda
1 cup cream
Leaves from a couple of thyme sprigs
2 cups cherry tomatoes, haleved
Combine eggs and cream and whisk together.
Remove tart shells from the fridge and place on a baking sheet.
Spoon some grated gouda into each tart shell, a tablespoon or so.
Sprinkle a few thyme leaves over the cheese.
Place cherry tomato halves in each shell.
Pour the egg and cream mixture into the shell and over the tomatoes just so it fill up to the edges, try not to spill it over the edge.
Spoon additional cheese over top of the tomatoes.
Place in a preheated 400F oven and bake until tarts are puffed and begin to turn golden on top, about 25 minutes or so.
Remove from oven and let cool a little before serving. You can cook these in advance and reheat in 350 oven for a few minutes before serving.
Serve with a small salad on the side.