27 February 2012

Tomato and Brie Tart - perfect for lunch, supper or picnics!

I have discovered that I really like making tarts.

Doesn't matter if it's a "slab of puff pastry" tart, or a "in a tart case" or a quiche - the end result is usually double-yummy and there's something immensely satisfying about pulling a gorgeous looking pastry confection out of the oven.

It's a different kind of satisfaction to making a pie, I find, as that "reveal" moment of cutting into a pie is always fraught with anxiety as to whether the filling is cooked, too thin, too thick or has just disappeared in the process.

When you've created a tart, the "reveal" moment is all to do with the flavour and if you've paired your filling ingredients up wisely, then you're almost guaranteed to succeed.

Wise pairing of ingredients is what it's all about with this Tomato & Brie Tart that I cropped from an old copy of Delicious! magazine.  The oven-baked cherry tomatoes are like small flavour bombs that are hidden within the subtly cheesey, creamy, eggy goodness of the tart's filling.  From the high pitched explosions of tomato flavour, to the supporting cast of the chives that give the tart filling another dimension, the delicate creaminess of the Brie is there, giving good honest earthiness and a hint of expensive exclusivity.

Mind you, this tart very nearly didn't happen - and for more than one reason.

Firstly, we had a great deal of deliberation in the supermarket over which cherry tomato to buy.  Needless to say, 300g of cherry tomatoes isn't all that easy to find when packs contain 250g and there aren't any loose versions around.  Then there was the price - from £1.20 through to £1.75, I wasn't keen on spending nearly £4 simply on tomatoes!

Eventually we settled on two punnets of baby plum tomatoes, only to find - once I opened the packs at home - that at least two in each punnet were literally furry with mould.  Gross!  Not to mention the waste of money.  Odd, too, that the furry ones were directly under the label and so couldn't be seen from the outside.

The next setback was the pastry.  I'd bought pre-rolled, ready made chilled pastry - but hadn't realised that what I had was a rectangular piece.  My flan dish (as are most flan dishes) is round - not rectangular.  So, having sat and contemplated my options, I did some surgery on the rectangle and after a bit of judicious sticking down, managed to create a tart case.  I was just crossing my fingers that I hadn't left any gaps anywhere for the egg mixture to escape, or I'd have no chance of getting the tart out of the dish!

The next catastrophe was the cream.  I'd had a large container of cream in the fridge for a few days - and so bought another smaller container, just in case.  Stupidly, I cracked the eggs into the bowl and then added the cream without remembering to taste it first and check that it was still good.  The "flop" as the cream cheese lump disappeared beneath the eggy waves, alerted me to the fact that the cream was a long way from good.

So those three eggs had to go down the plughole - with the rotten cream - and I had to start again.  The waste of three eggs hurt, let me tell you.

They say that bad things happen in threes - and that was my three things over with, thank goodness.

We ate the tart with an accompanying salad of salad leaves, more cherry tomatoes, celery and marinated small beetroot (honey & rosemary).  Delicious!

I had the leftovers for lunch the following day and can confirm that the tart was as good then as it had been warm.  The brie flavour had taken something of a back seat, being cold, but it was still very much there.  From which I deduce that the tart would be perfect picnic ammunition - and with the summer hoving into view through the mist-laden Dorset hills, I'll have to remember this one!

TOMATO & BRIE TART  (serves 4-5 and is suitable for vegetarians)

Ingredients :

Ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
300g cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
100ml double cream
100ml milk
2 free range eggs, plus 1 yolk
4 tbsp snipped fresh chives
200g Brie cheese, diced small
a small handful of Cheddar cheese, grated, for sprinkling.

Method :

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 200degC (fan 180degC)/400degF/Gas 6.

2.  Line your tart tin or flan dish with the pastry and trim to size.  Scrumple up a piece of greaseproof or baking parchment, then open it out and place on top of the pastry.  You'll find it will fit more easily, having been scrumpled!  Pour baking beans or rice - or whatever you prefer to use - in on top and blind bake for 15 minutes.

3.  Remove the baking beans and leave to cool.

4.  While the pastry was cooking you can have been preparing the tomatoes by halving them and putting onto a baking tray.  Drizzle with olive oil and season.

5.  Then, once the pastry is done, place the tomatoes into the oven for 15 minutes.

6.  When the tomatoes are done, remove and allow to cool a little while you mix up the egg mixture.

7.  In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, cream, milk, chives and seasoning, until combined.

8.  Place the tomatoes neatly into the pastry case, making sure they are evenly spread across it.

9.  Pour over the egg mixture and scatter over the brie cubes, then the handful of grated cheddar.

10.  Place into the oven for 25-30 minutes or until slightly risen, set and golden.

11.  Cool slightly before serving.


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