Wednesday, August 13, 2014

roasted cherry tomato tart

I've lived in five places in the past five years - college in western Massachusetts at the step of the Berkshires, a semester abroad in London, a couple years spent in Washington DC as a federal government employee, a year as a graduate student in Paris, and now a year as a graduate student in New York City. I'm a lucky punk, I know. 

But moving around a lot has downsides. Saying goodbye to friends always sucks. Learning new city transit systems always means making a few mistakes in the beginning (seriously, how many times will I enter the uptown entrance when I actually mean to go downtown?). Long distance relationships are the worst. Becoming a regular at a bar or cafĂ© always takes at least a couple months. 

New cities also mean making new friends. And making friends doesn't come super easily to me, so I always have a game plan every time I move somewhere new. Mostly that involves bribing people into being my friends by cooking for them.

they come for the food but stay for the katherine

Example: When I was pick-pocketed early on into my semester in London, there was a nice group of dudes who helped me out by letting me borrow money until my bank could replace my credit cards, and I repaid them with a steak and mashed potato dinner. Boom! Instant friends.

Example: When I worked in DC, my desk was isolated from most of the other staffers. I used to bring in baked goods of all kinds to force people to come by my desk and hang out with me for a few minutes.

You can bet I'll be using food to make friends with people in New York too. I've been practicing some new recipes to make for unsuspecting future friends, and I'm pretty excited about this one: juicy, broiled tomatoes smothered in three different herbs atop a layer of gooey parmesan cheese that coats a warm golden pastry crust. Who doesn't want to be friends with that?

makes 2 main servings or 4 side servings

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed (approx. 9" x 9")
1/2 cup any kind of uncooked beans or rice for blind baking
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1.5 lb cherry tomatoes
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped finely
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped finely
2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped finely

Preheat oven to 375°F. Place puff pastry into a 8x8 baking pan, pressing it along the sides and bottom of the pan. Lightly prick the puff pastry all over with a fork. Lay parchment paper or tin foil over the puff pastry and pour your beans or rice into the pan, leaving some space around the edges to allow the crust to puff up. Bake 20-25 minutes, until the edges are golden. 

Remove beans/rice and parchment/tin foil. Sprinkle parmesan cheese all over the pastry, then return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes. Set aside.

Insert an oven rack 4" from the oven ceiling and turn oven to broil.

Mix olive oil with tomatoes, salt and pepper in a large bowl until tomatoes are well coated. Pour mixture into a separate baking pan and broil for about 12 minutes, until the tomatoes blister. 

Turn oven back to bake at 425°F.

Pour tomato mixture into the pastry shell. We're not making pizza, I swear. Liberally sprinkle basil, oregano, and chives over the tomatoes. Bake for another 15 minutes.

Let the tart cool off slightly before eating. Tart is best eaten within a couple hours of making.

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