Monday, August 17, 2009

Test Kitchen: Puff-Pastry Tomato Tarts

I don’t know if any of you also subscribe to Food and Wine magazine, but if you do, do you agree that the recipes are getting kind of boring? I don’t know, but a lot of them are getting too simple that I don’t really feel challenged. I mean, how many salads can we make?

That’s how I felt when flipping through the August edition, trying to pick three recipes to taste test. Put I put three up for voting, and you, my helpful readers, picked the Puff-Pastry Tomato Tart recipe with barely a majority (51%). Still, it’s the perfect recipe to try because this is prime tomato-eating season.

The recipe is from Andreas Viestad, a Norwegian TV chef who has his own show called “Perfect Day.” I’m not sure why Food and Wine magazine decided to feature a celebrity chef that nobody in the States heard of or can even watch his show? But whatchagonnado?

Chef Viestad came up with a variety of tomato recipes, and the photo of the tart looked like a perfect starter for a summer picnic. You can see the complete recipe on the Food and Wine site here. And this is how it went when I made it.

I started out by blanching the tomatoes so that I can remove the skin. I got some beautiful heirloom tomatoes from the Frog Hollow Farms’ stand at the farmers market. I forgot the particular name of the variety, but it had the word Oregon in it. So if you want some beefy tomatoes, these are the ones for you.

No, your computer’s saturation is not on the blink. These tomatoes are just that red. Aren’t they beautiful? And they were so sweet, but I’m getting ahead of myself. After removing the skin, I sprinkled them with brown sugar and salt and set them aside.

The puff pastry part was easy because the recipe says you can just by ready-made all-butter puff pastry, and that’s what I did. I cut one sheet into two round pieces that measured 6-inches in diameter then baked them until they were golden brown.

Then I piled on the ingredients for my tart, which included the tomatoes, grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, and butter. Then I baked them and when they were done, I sprinkled them with thinly sliced fresh basil.

Here’s my finished version. It doesn’t really look like the photo in the magazine above, but it still was pretty to eat. But was it worth it? See below.

My tips and warnings about this recipe: Chef Viestad skips a lot of details, like how it helps if you score the bottom of the tomato before blanching. That’ll help when you want to peel the skin. Also, when baking the puff pastry rounds, puncture it with a fork so that it doesn’t puff up into a big balloon in the oven.

Ease of cooking: Another super easy recipe. I mean how hard is it to prepare the tomatoes and then just plop them onto a baked puff pastry that you bought from the store? You can totally use this concept to make other tarts, like fig and gorgonzola or pears and ham, maybe?

Taste: While super easy to make, these tarts really lacked something. My thought was a nice layer of cheese. The grated parmesan isn’t enough. It needed a more substantive base like ricotta or goat cheese. Then it would have been good with the amazing heirloom tomatoes I had. But instead, it was just this weird puff pastry with wet tomatoes on top. I was not a fan.

Overall Grade: C- (easy but I wouldn’t make it again)

Don’t forget to vote in the poll on the right column on which recipe from the pages of Food and Wine’s September edition that you want me to tackle next!

Previous test kitchen:
Bucatini Carbonara
Mini Corn Cakes with Seared Salmon
Spicy and Sticky Baby Back Ribs


Jeff said...

I definitely have the same feeling about F&W. Heck I was just going to let my subscription run out and not renew but apparently it auto-renewed.

I was thinking about doing this tomato tart too but using a couple varieties and roasting them with balsamic vinegar and then toss with some caramelized onions. Oh yeah definitely using store bought puff pastry because no flipping way I am making that.

foodhoe said...

I used to subscribe years ago, but there are better food mags out there. I have had chef veistad's cookbook Kitchen of Light on my wishlist for a while, but it's pretty low and keeps getting bumped down further... I would be leery of baking big chunky pieces of tomatoes like that, especially right now when they are so full of juice!

Mrs. L said...

Well, it sounded good didn't it? I've already voted for next month!

Hungry Dog said...

Thanks for doing a test run! I saw this recipe and considered it but now I think I'll skip it!

Anonymous said...

YUM!! Looks and sounds delish!
Great site and pics!! :)