Tomatoes and Basil Oh My!
As I mention in the video (with a link down below – this is my first bigger effort to do a better video, a first step) I am first and foremost a flower and tree lover, but having grown up in a farming community in the midwest the vegetable garden represents something special to me. I have always felt grounded by the land… it represents safety and ultimate survival in my mind. I do not know if this in my “emotional DNA” from observing my grandmother canning vegetables for the winter, or watching that wonderful series about the Victory Garden on T.V., or perhaps hearing tales, as one did when one grew up as a young child of the fifties; of our grandparents and the struggles of life during the great depression, or lastly always remembering the scene in Gone With the Wind as Scarlet desperately claws the earth for a radish and says, “As God is my witness I shall never go hungry again.” Whatever, it has left an indelible impact upon me. I need to grow something to eat! But beyond the edible, I have for quite some time appreciated the beauty of things from the garden as decorative elements. So when it is high season for tomatoes and basil, all is fare game.
I love the form and beauty of heirloom tomatoes from my garden
Vegetables and herbs are not only the highlight of so many recipes in the kitchen – they are equally wonderful for their beauty and therefore are a natural for decoration as well!
Individual Jalapeno and Tomato Tarts
8 unbaked 4-inch pie shells, chilled (see basic tart dough recipe below)
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 x 4oz cans chopped mild green chilies
Pinch of salt
2 cups grated smoked Gruyere cheese
1 medium yellow (and/or red) tomato, sliced ¼ inch thick
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat oven to 375°. Place tart shells on flat baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, then set aside to cool. Reset oven to 400°.
- In a small sauté pan, heat olive oil and sauté jalapeño and garlic over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add salt, green chilies and sauté for 3 more minutes. Remove from heat.
- Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of cheese in bottom of each tart shell. Top with 2 tablespoons chili mixture, then layer with remaining cheese. Arrange tomato slice on top of tarts and sprinkle with parsley and cilantro.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the cheese melts. Serve either hot or at room temperature.
The dough recipe is one I use for both savory and sweet things. I think (as my memory fades – it was so many years ago) I got the recipe from the talented Lee Baily. All I know for sure is that it works and it is an easy and tender pastry – just do not over process the dough in the food processor!
Basic Tart Dough Recipe
(Makes Eight 4-inch tarts or one 8-10- inch Tart)
1¼ cup flour
1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small dice
Pinch of salt
2 or 3 tablespoons of ice water
Put flour and salt into bowl of food processor and pulse 3 times to blend. Add butter, lightly toss with your fingers to coat pieces with flour. Pulse processor about 8 times to cut in butter. Dough should resemble coarse corn meal and butter pieces should be no larger than small peas.
- Add ice water gradually by tablespoon through feed tube while pulsing machine. Dough will begin to pull together into a ball.
- Remove dough from processor, shape into a disk, sprinkle lightly with flour, and wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate until ready to roll out for tarts and pies.
Have fun, luxuriate in the bounty of summer and hope you like the video!