Wednesday, June 20, 2012

recipe: Relish Cooking Studio’s Tomato & Goat Cheese Tart

Back in the fall, I taught a cooking class at the newly-opened “Relish Cooking Studio” on Regina Street.  Co-owners Donna-Marie Pye and Maria Burjoski are dsg customers-turned-friends and they know how much I admire Ina Garten, a.k.a. the “Barefoot Contessa”, the specialty food shop owner turned celebrity chef, tv personality and cookbook author.

They asked me if I would be interested in teaching a class called “barefoot in the kitchen” featuring my favourite recipes from her seven amazing cookbooks.  Her original book “The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook”, published in 2000, is still my favourite.  The spine is broken in several places but I can’t bear to replace it.

Anyway, two nights before my class, I decided to join in on one that Donna-Marie was teaching.  I thought it might be a good idea to witness a class “in action” before teaching one of my own.  The class was called “More Pye Please” and it focused on both sweet & savoury pies, tarts and pastry techniques.  My favourites of the evening were the blueberry hand-held pies and the tomato and goat cheese tart with cornmeal crust.

These tarts are packed with flavor and can be served at room temperature or hot out of the oven.  They can be served with a side salad for lunch (or a light dinner), or can be the wonderful first course at your next sit-down dinner party.

Relish Cooking Studio’s Tomato & Goat Cheese Tart

ingredients:  cornmeal dough

·         ¼ (one-quarter) cup sour cream
·         ¼ (one-quarter) cup ice-cold water
·         1 (one) cup all-purpose flour
·         1/3 (one-third) cup cornmeal
·         ½ (one-half) tsp salt
·         ½ (one-half) cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

ingredients:  topping

·         6 (six) plum tomatoes, roasted (see instructions below)
·         1 (one) large package (10 oz. / 300 g) goat cheese, crumbled
·         1 (one) bunch basil, roughly chopped
·         ½ (one-half) cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
·         1 (one) tsp freshly ground black pepper


1.       In a bowl, combine sour cream and ice water; set aside and keep cool.

2.   In another bowl whisk together flour, cornmeal and salt.  Add the butter cubes and work into flour mixture with a pastry blender or with your fingers, until mixture is crumbly.

3.    Add the sour cream mixture all at once to the dry ingredients with a fork.  The dough will form a loose ball and will probably seem too moist, but just mix together gently and separate it into two even disks.  Use some flour on your fingers to keep it from sticking.  Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours.

4.    In a bowl combine crumbled goats cheese and basil. 

5.    Line 2 baking pans with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Roll out each disk of dough on a well-floured board to about 11-inches.  Place each piece of dough onto a cornmeal-sprinkled pan.

6.   Scatter the goat’s cheese and basil onto the pastry, leaving about a 1-inch border.  Arrange the roasted tomatoes on top of the cheese.  Sprinkle with Parmesan and freshly ground black pepper.

7.   Fold the edges of the tarts up to form small folds along the edge of the dough.  Gently press down with your fingers.  (Don’t worry about being so perfect with this... it is supposed to be very rustic.)

8.   Bake in a 375 F oven for about 30 minutes until they are crisp and golden brown.  Rotate pans once in oven if necessary.  Slide tarts out onto a cooling rack and let rest 5 minutes before cutting like a pizza.

Makes 2 tarts (each tart serves 4 as an appetizer)

method:  roasted tomatoes

1.  Cut 6 plum tomatoes in half lengthwise and place on a rimmed baking sheet, cut side up. 

2.   Drizzle with about 2 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or ½ tsp dried), salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

3.   Roast in a 325 F oven for 1½ to 2 hours or until tomatoes begin to collapse, brushing occasionally with pan juices. (Tomatoes can be packed into freezer bag and frozen for up to 6 months.)

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