Tomato and Courgette Tart

September has what I’d call a split personality. Even though I haven’t been in school for quite awhile it feels like the beginning of a new year, a time for fresh starts and new shoes. It’s full of excitement and possibilities.

At the same time when September rolls in there’s a feeling that something is coming to an end. Night falls a little earlier every day, the temperature starts to drop. That carefree feeling that summer brings starts to slip away. When I feel it going I do whatever I can to hold on to it even tighter.

This summer hasn’t been all that care free for me. We’ve been short staffed for months, which led to long days with no time for breaks and sometimes no time to eat. On top of that a new VP for my division has once again brought a sense of uncertainty to the office. We’ve been “restructuring” for so long I can’t remember what structured felt like. All of this meant I was counting down the days to my vacation. It finally began yesterday. My intention was to sleep in, but my body had other plans so I was up pretty early.

I headed out to the Farmers Market in St-Anne-de-Bellevue and picked up some gorgeous cherry tomatoes.  I just discovered the market recently. It’s in a beautiful spot along a boardwalk. As you choose you vegetables you can look up and see the water. Shopping at a market has completely different feel than going to a grocery store. The vendors are all passionate about their products, the shoppers are all happy to be there. People are relaxed and smiling. It’s much more pleasant than the hustle and bustle of large grocery store on a Saturday morning.

The photo above has a combination of market tomatoes and some from my parents garden. Tomatoes fresh off the vine taste like sunshine (true story). I’ve been eating as many as I can while I can. I’ve been thinking about a tomato tart since the beginning of tomato season; once September rolled around I realized I was running out of time to make it. I stopped myself from eating all of the tomatoes and put this together. The top layer has tomato and yellow zucchini slices. Underneath that you’ll find a layer of caramelized onions and garlic, and finally there’s a layer of goat cheese and ricotta.

I was really happy with the way this tart turned out. The dough has a little corn flour in it, which I think helped it stand up to all the wet ingredients. Even the next day the crust was still crisp. The onion layer added some depth to the flavour and was a great compliment to the tomato and zucchini.  I was going garnish the tart with some fresh basil but completely forgot. It wasn’t necessary but I think it would have added a nice touch.

Although the recipe is not difficult, it does take some time to put together. There are two chilling times for the crust, 30 minutes to blind bake the crust and then another 40 minutes of baking time. To save time, the dough can be made up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated, or frozen for a week or two.

Tomato and Courgette Tart

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup corn flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup  plain yogurt
  • 1/4  ice water
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 200 g ricotta
  • 350 g goat cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 yellow zucchini, sliced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Make the crust: In a large bowl mix the flours, 1/2 tsp salt, sugar, and thyme together. Using a pastry cutter or your finger tips, cut the butter into the flour until it hold together when squeezed and there pea sized pieces of butter. Mix in the yogurt and ice water. The dough should come together, add more water if necessary. Shape the dough into a disk and refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Place in a 9 inch tart pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cover the dough with foil then place dried beans or pie weights on top. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.
  2. While the crust is baking, cook the onions. In a large pan on medium heat some olive oil then add the onion slices. Lower the heat and stir the onions until they start to brown. Add the balsamic vinegar and continue cooking. Once the onions are browned add the minced garlic, salt and pepper. Cook two to three minutes longer.
  3. In a bowl, mix the ricotta, goat cheese and egg. Season with salt and pepper and 1/2 tsp basil.
  4. Once the tart crust is done remove the foil and the weights. Pour the cheese mixture into the crust, cover the cheese with the onion mixture, the layer the tomato and zucchini on the onion. Brush the tomato and zucchini with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and the remaining dried basil.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Enjoy!
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Strawberry Ricotta Streusel Tart

All over the blog world, people are writing about cooking and baking with fresh, local, Spring produce. Here, the grass just turned green about 2 days ago. Fresh produce is still a few weeks away. The posts I’ve been reading from points south of here had me longing for fresh strawberries. The giant California strawberries we get all year here just weren’t going to cut it. Compared to a Quebec strawberry, the California ones are quite bland. I’m sure it has something to do with the shipping. How could a berry travel so far and still taste good?

Instead of patiently waiting, I opened up my last jar of homemade strawberry jam and started to experiment. In the past I haven’t done much inventing, but I have to say this was a lot of fun. I actually put my face right up to the oven window as it baked; I was so excited to try it.

What I decided to make was a strawberry and ricotta tart with a streusel topping. I have to say it turned out pretty darn good. The jam added a great hit of strawberry flavour, the cheese layer was surprisingly light, and the almond meal in the crust added a really nice texture. Next time I might add a little cream cheese to the cheese to give it a little tang.

Strawberry Ricotta Streusel Tart

Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg

Topping:

  • 1 cup strawberry jam (or jam of your choice)
  • 550 g ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  1. Make the crust: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and almond meal together. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut/rub the butter into the flour until the mixture just holds together when squeezed and there are no large chunks of butter. Add the vanilla and the egg, stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture just comes together.
  2. Press half the dough into a greased 9 inch tart pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Wrap the remaining dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  3. Make the cheese filling. Place the ricotta, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and eggs in large bowl. Stir until well combined.
  4. Once the dough crust has chilled, spread the jam over the crust. Top with the cheese mixture. Crumble the remaining dough over the cheese. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F, bake for 40 minutes until golden. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
Enjoy!

Strawberries for Valentine’s Day

I’m generally not a big fan of Valentines Day. The hype that surrounds it makes it very difficult to live up to if you are in a relationship, and very depressing if you are not. Commanding people to feel lovey-dovey on a particular day is really kind of silly.

Instead of ignoring the day as I usually do, this year I’ve decided to treat like we did in elementary school. Everyone gets a Valentine! (Read that with an Oprah delivery, ie “You get a card, you get a card, EVERYONE GETS A CAAARD!!!!”) And you, my dear readers, are getting TWO strawberry recipes today.

You might notice that there is no refined sugar in these treats, that’s because I don’t think they need any. If you feel either of them needs a little more sweetness for your tastes feel free to add some.

The first strawberry treat I have for you is a smoothie. I love these for breakfast when I’m in a rush. Just pour them into a portable cup and drink on your way to work. If you want to up the healthiness factor, you can add flax or chia seeds, or even some protein powder. (Note, I’m not a huge powder fan but protein in the morning is great way to get energy for the day.) If you want to up the indulgent factor, add some cocoa powder and sugar or other sweetener.

The second is something I like to make myself when I’m craving a creamy dessert but feel like doing any work. It’s quick and easy to put together, and the drizzle of maple syrup is a perfect finishing touch.

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

(serves 1)

  • 1 Banana
  • 5-6 strawberries, cleaned and hulled
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt (or vanilla)
  • 1 cup milk (soy or almond also work)
  • mint leaves
  1. Put all ingredients in a blender and puree till smooth. Serve!

Strawberry and Ricotta Cup

  • Ricotta
  • Cinnamon
  • Maple Syrup
  • Strawberries, cleaned and sliced
  1. In a small bowl, mix ricotta, cinnamon, and a couple of tablespoons maple syrup.
  2. Put ricotta mixture in serving bowls, top with strawberries. Drizzle some maple syrup on top.

Enjoy!