Tomato, Ricotta and Lemon Tarts

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I walked home from work tonight. It is about 5 km from my office to my apartment so I frequently walk home to get exercise. I love the feeling of solitude that walking gives me. I have time to sort out my thoughts, to make plans and to work through creative ideas. I also have time to get in touch with nature as I walk through parks.

Tonight, as I walked I could not help but feel the splendor of the summer’s evening. There was a slight breeze blowing and the air smelled so sweet. Even though there was traffic and cyclists and runners passing by, I still felt a calmness in the air. I thought about how long we waited for this summer to come. I wanted to grab hold of that feeling and that moment and not let it go. But we cannot capture those precious moments in time. We can only try to record them in our memories and hope they will come again.

That is one of the reasons that I love photography. Every shot records a moment, a feeling, a person, a place, an event or even a sensation or taste. When I look back at photos of trips or events I remember what that day felt like. I recall what was happening and who was there and what we did. It is like the photo triggers the place in my memory where I stored that moment.

I hope that when we share our photographs with others, they are able to feel some of those moments with us.

I also hope that when we share recipes that we love, others will try them and enjoy the flavours that we enjoyed. I am a huge fan of tomatoes and ricotta cheese so when I saw this recipe in the Donna Hay Magazine, I had to make it. The recipe is quite simple and made a delicious lunch for my daughter and I. The ricotta and lemon filling offer a great balance to the fresh cherry tomatoes. The tarts are great served with a side salad or on their own.

Bowl-of-mixed-tomatoes

Tomato, Ricotta and Lemon Tarts

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

500 g ricotta cheese
1 tbsp. finely grated lemon rind
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp. finely chopped chives
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 eggs, lightly beaten
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
8 sheets filo (phyllo) pastry
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place the ricotta, lemon, parsley, chive, 1/4 cup parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix to combine.

Place 1 sheet of pastry on a board, brush with olive oil and top with a second sheet pf pastry. Repeat with remaining pastry sheets.

Lightly grease an 8 x 11 inch baking dish.

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Cut the stack of filo pastry in half lengthways and into thirds crossways to make 6 squares. Divide the ricotta mixture by spooning 1/6 into each of the pastry squares. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese.

Place the tarts in the baking dish, lifting the edges to fit snugly. Brush the pastry with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Serve each tart with tomatoes and a sprig of parsley.

Recipe from Donna Hay Magazine- Issue 73 Feb/Mar 2014

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Apple Tarts

One of the things that I love about summer is the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. Local farmers’ markets are regularly held throughout the city allowing local farmers and producers to sell their organic and unique products. I try to support the local farmers by going to the markets at least once a week to sample their daily offerings.

For someone who lives in a climate that has 4 distinct seasons, it is a real treat to taste the ripe berries of summer. It is a great summer outing to take the family to a pick your own farm, teaching young children about how food is grown and letting them taste it fresh from the vine. It is also fun to visit a local cheese maker or vineyard to taste the fruits of their labour. We are so lucky that Ontario is rich with amazing food producers and hosts world-class wine regions. I dedicate this post to Ontario’s local farmers, vineyards and food producers.

I came across the Earth to Table cookbook at my local bookstore last winter. It inspired me to want to feature more recipes made with local foods.This recipe for apple tarts is quite simple, yet it creates wonderful french style pastries that are both delicate and delicious.

Apple Tarts

Makes 8 Servings

Ingredients

1 package frozen all-butter puff pastry
½ cup Frangipane, made with almonds
3 large Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples, thinly sliced
½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 tbsp. unsalted butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Using a 4-inch round cookie cutter, cut puff pastry into 8 circles. Place circles on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, score another circle inside each. (Just score the circle-do not cut through the dough.)

Spread 1 tbsp. frangipane in the middle of each circle, filling the score mark. Arrange apple slices on top of frangipane, making circular layers until apples are about 1 ½ inches high.

In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon. Dot the top of each tart with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon-sugar. Bake until crispy and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Frangipane

Makes 1 ½ cups

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup ground hazelnuts, almonds or other flavourful nut
¼ cup icing sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs

Directions

Using an electric mixer, mix butter, hazelnuts, icing sugar, flour and eggs until smooth.

(Frangipane can be made ahead. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 1 month.)

Recipes from Earth to Table by Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann

 

 

Pear and Almond Tart


Every so often I need to take a few moments to remember what I am most grateful for in my life. It is a way of putting things in perspective when things are not so perfect. When life gets crazy and stressful, I like to close my eyes and think of simple pleasures that make me happy.

Here is a list of 10 simple things that make me smile as I think of them:

  1. Great coffee when I wake up on a Sunday morning
  2. Picnics by the beach
  3. Dark chocolate and a glass of port
  4. Strawberries
  5. Sunny days with the sunroof open
  6. Fresh heirloom tomatoes
  7. My 15 month old grandson when he drops everything to do a little dance along with the music on Sesame Street
  8. Fuzzy slippers
  9. Reading a great cookbook
  10. French Pastries

What does your simple pleasure list look like?

I have been a fan of Donna Hay’s magazines and cookbooks for decades, so being able to share this recipe is a pleasure. The cake is dense and full of rich almond flavour which is complimented well by the honey glazed pears. I like to serve it with a dollop of whipped cream.

Pear and Almond Tart

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

6 tbsp. butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
¼ cup sifted all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. finely grated lemon rind
3 small pears, peeled, cored and halved
¼ cup honey, for brushing

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process until just combined.

Add the eggs, vanilla, almond meal, flour, baking powder and lemon rind and process until just combined. Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased 9 inch round loose bottom fluted tart pan. Press the pear halves into the tart mixture, cut side down and bake for 35-40 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Brush the pears with honey and allow tart to cool in the pan. Sprinkle with confectioners sugar.

Serve alone or with whipped cream.

Recipe adapted from Donna Hay Magazine