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
- 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.
- 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.
- In a bowl, mix the ricotta, goat cheese and egg. Season with salt and pepper and 1/2 tsp basil.
- 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.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.
How often do you make recipes from blogs? Although I read a lot of food blogs, I rarely follow recipes I’ve found on them. I read food blogs more to follow the people than the recipes. Every blogger has their own story to tell, and a style they use to tell it. My favourite blogs are the ones that engage me, the ones that give the impression I’m actually getting to know the author. Pretty pictures help too.
That’s not to say I only read blogs for the articles. The recipes inspire me. Sometimes I’ll see a blogger use an ingredient in a way I had never considered, which makes me think of other innovative things to try in the kitchen.
Other times I’m inspired by the simplicity of a recipe. This salad was inspired by a very simple pasta dish by Paula of bell’alimento. Her recipe got me thinking that pasta is the perfect showcase for some of my favourite summer ingredients.
This dish is comes together very quickly, but is still full of flavour, especially if you use fresh summer produce.
- 1 cup orzo
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 plum tomatoes, diced
- 1 green pepper
- 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
- zest of 1 lemon
- chives, chopped
- In a large pot, cook the orzo according to the package instructions.
- While the orzo is cooking, in a large sautee pan heat the olive oil on medium. Add the minced garlic to the oil. Once you can smell the garlic, add the tomatoes, pepper and olives. Sautee for two to three minutes; the peppers should remain crisp.
- Strain the cooked pasta, pour into a serving bowl then add the tomato mixture. Toss with the lemon zest and chives.
In general I would say that February is the worst month of the year. It’s cold, it has no holidays (in Quebec), and it’s vegetables taste like nothing. On top of that it has Valentines Day, which for a chronically single person is unpleasant to say the least. It’s the shortest month of the year but it takes sooo long.
To combat my dislike of February, I’m planning on taking 3 of its 4 Friday’s off of work. Instead of dreading it, I’m now looking forward to my 4 day weeks. Unfortunately this has had a side effect. I now feel that January is the worst month of this year. It’s cold, its holiday is over, and its vegetables taste like nothing.
I think the tomato is the worst culprit when it comes to lacking flavour in winter (yes, I know it’s a fruit). In the summer, tomatoes are juicy and flavourful and fun. In the winter they are grainy and weird.
Thankfully, there are steps that can be taken to fix this. Steps like drizzling them in olive oil and popping them in the oven to roast. Roasting tomatoes gives them a nice rich flavour. If I close my eyes when I take a bite I can almost believe it’s July and they came from my parents garden instead of some farm in Peru. Almost.
The recipe is from Ina Garten’s How Easy Is That. It takes roasting tomatoes one step further by using pesto instead of olive oil. I decided to push it a little further by adding goat cheese to the mix. It’s a simple combination that tastes wonderful.
Have you ever eaten so much junk you feel like you need to eat vegetables all day to clean out your insides? Maybe that’s just me. I ate an awful lot of sugar cookies this weekend, on top of a delicious but probably not so healthy meal at the Dominian Square Tavern (loved the corn fritters and homemade ketchup), so I felt like I needed a healthy veggie based meal.
Enter this Carrot and Lentil Salad. I based it very loosely on a recipe from Food and Wine. When I say based I mean I remembered seeing a salad with carrots, tomatoes and chickpeas. I didn’t have any chickpeas on hand, so I substituted lentils.
Carrot and Lentil Salad
- 1 cup french lentils
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 4-5 carrots, shredded
- 2 tomatoes, diced
- 2 tbsps olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the lentils: In a medium sized pot, sautee the onion until translucent. Add the lentils then cover with two cups of water. Add oregano, bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil then simmer until the lentils are cooked. Drain any excess liquid.
- Toss the lentils with the carrots and tomatoes. Dress with olive oil and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
I’ve been sick for the last couple of days. I think it’s from walking through all those puddles. Everyone knows germs get in through your feet, that’s why moms insist that their kids wear socks.
When I’m sick I crave comfort foods. One of my favourite comfort foods is french fries, but I wasn’t about to start peeling potatoes in my current state. So I started thinking about what else could satisfy my craving for deep-fried goodness. It hit me as I was looking through the vegetables in my fridge: zucchini fritters.
But I didn’t just want fritters. I wanted something cheesy to dip them in. The only cheese I had was goat cheese. Goat cheese dip sounded pretty good to me. Since I’m sick I decided to throw something healthy into the mix, the first cherry tomatoes from my balcony tomato plant.
The fritters and dip were delicious, but to be honest my favourite part of the meal were the tomatoes. There was something so satisfying about eating fresh tomatoes, bursting with flavour, that I grew myself.
I used Martha Stewart’s Zucchini Fritter recipe, and I based my dip on this recipe from Chatelaine.
- 1 medium zucchini, grated
- 1/2 tsp salt
- zest of 1 lemon
- a handful of parsley, chopped
- chives, chopped
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup flour
- oil for frying
- Combine the zucchini, salt, parsley, chives, egg and pepper in a bowl. Mix well.
- Add the flour and mix until there are no lumps of flour.
- Heat the oil in a small pan. Using a tablespoon take a small amount and make a ball with the batter.
- Fry 4 or 5 of the balls for 2-3 minutes a side until golden brown.
- Once cooked place on a paper towel lined plate to drain the oil.
Goat Cheese Dip
- 140 gram package goat cheese
- 1/2 cup yogurt
- 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- chives for garnish
- Mix all ingredients except for the chives in a small bowl until well combined. If the mixture is too thick and more yogurt.
- Top with chopped chives.