24 February 2011

Small Tomato Tarts or one big tart

Figure 1:  Home-made tomato tart

Figure 2:  A close-up of the baked filling of the tomato tart

This is a delicious recipe by Nigella Lawson from her cookery book entitled, "How To Be A Domestic Goddess, Baking And The Art Of Comfort Cooking".

Small Tomato Tarts

for the pastry:

125g plain flour, preferably Italian 00
60g fine cornmeal or polenta
1 tablespoon caster sugar
½ taspoon salt
115g butter
25g Trex or other vegetable shortening
40 - 50ml iced water, or enough to bind

for the filling:
495 - 500g tin of chopped tomatoes
a pinch of sugar
50g pecorino cheese sliced into thin slivers with the potato peeler
15g packet or a small handful of basil, finely shredded
32 (approximately 500g) baby tomatoes, halved around the equator
32 black olives in oil, halved

8 individual tart tins (12cm x 2cm)

First make the pastry:  pulse the dry ingredients in the processor, then add the butter and shortening, diced into small pieces.  Pulse briefly until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs, then add enough iced water to form a dough, pulsing with the gentlest touch to combine.  Form into two discs, wrap with clingfilm and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry disc into a rough square.  Cut into 4 squares (each piece should be big enough to fill the small tart case) and drape into the tins, folding the edges inward.  Repeat with the other disc of pastry and the 4 remaining tins, and put them back in the fridge for 15 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6, putting in a couple of baking sheets as you do so.

Meanwhile, empty the tinned tomatoes into a bowl, and season well with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar.  To arrange the tarts, put a thin layer of tomato mix, then 3 slices of pecorino cheese on top, then a sprinkling of basil, then 8 tomato halves with 8 olive halves in rows, and finally a grind of black pepper.

Cook for 20 minutes on the baking sheets and let the tarts stand a bit, on a rack out of the oven, before you taken them out of their tins.

Makes 8

Over the years, I have made this simple tart many times.  I have had to modify the ingredients a little bit as  I had difficulty finding some of the ingredients Nigella uses here in Tunisia.  Sometimes, instead of making 8 individual tarts, I tend to make one big tart.  I use gruyere cheese and not pecorino and I often use whole tomatoes instead of the small cherry tomatoes which she specifies.  I substitute butter for the Trex or other vegetable shortening thereby increasing the butter in the recipe from 115g to 140g.  Also, I prefer not to use a processor so I make the pastry the traditional way by hand.  
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