Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

If I understand every bit of instruction in a recipe the very first time I read it, chances are I’m going to have little or no interest in making it.

This week, I stuck my baby toe into the puff pastry pool and learned two new terms: scoring and docking.  As usual, I assumed because these two tasks have been assigned terms all their own, they were going to be much too hard for me to manage, and as usual, I was wrong.

And of course, because I still get kitchen jitters, I bought double the ingredients necessary so that I could first make “rehearsal pastries,”  which turned out alright, but not as good as the pictures you see here, which feature Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts V2.0.  The rehearsal pastries came out flakey, tangy, buttery and all-over delicious, but I didn’t like the ratio of pastry to filling dictated by the recipe, so I adjusted it in V2.0

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts from Barefoot Contessa

  • 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese
  • 1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
  • 3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

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First up, thinly slice your two yellow onions and your garlic cloves

Pull your puff pastry out of the freezer and wrap in a clean kitchen towel, which will soak up any moisture as the pastry thaws and loosens.  The pastry brand I bought came rolled up, so every fifteen minutes or so, I’d unfold it a little more, being careful not to crack it, until it was finally thawed through.

Always work with puff pastry dough it in a cool area, less than 80 degrees F°.  Treat it with care, and handle it with your hands as little as possible.  My kitchen was pretty warm because I was cooking chili and cornbread at the same time I tackled this recipe, so just to be safe, I actually took the defrosting pastry, cutting board and all, into the bedroom and let it thaw there.  So, that may make me odd.  I’m sure you’ll let me know.

Once you’re able to unfold a sheet of puff pastry entirely, set it on a lightly floured surface and roll it out to an 11 by 11-inch square. Using a 4 to 6 inch wide saucer or other round object (I used a metal lid, and many on-line recommend a simple blank cd) as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of pastry.  I went with the 6 inch lid for the “rehearsal pastries” and thought the pastry side of it was too much, so in version 2.0, I went with 4 inch and had a much happier balance.  Once, cut, gently lift out and place the pastry circles on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F°.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Sauté for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet.

Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.

Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Scoring means to make a slight indentation into the crust.  This allows steam to escape during baking (if you’ve ever seen slits in the top crust of a pie, you have witnessed a score). Next comes docking – prick the pastry inside the score lines with the tines of a fork.  With both of these techniques, you don’t want to penetrate all the way through.  Do it gently.  Next, sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border.

Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper.  In my “rehearsal pastries,” the basil went in at the top of the bake, but came out overly-cooked and blackened.  With V2.0, I added them in, along with another quick coating of olive oil, when there was about seven minutes left to cook.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Serve hot or warm.

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