Tomato Tart

While it's not tomato season yet in Michigan, the farmers market is starting to have some very nice greenhouse tomatoes that are actually pretty good. I've picked up a few over the last couple weeks and have been quite happy with them, on sandwiches or salads. Over the winter I've forgotten how much I love having fresh tomatoes around, they are so useful and so delicious. They may not be fresh from the garden, still warm from the sun tomatoes, but I am happy with them for now, and they worked perfectly in this tomato tart.

This tart is basically just a pizza in a different form, and it was delicious. Spreading an entire head of roasted garlic on the crust is a brilliant start. Since I had mozzarella in the freezer, I used that instead of the Fontina which was called for. I would have loved to use Fontina, but the mozzarella was still very good. Fresh basil on top was the perfect finishing touch. I thought this tart was just wonderful, and I can't wait to make it again with my very own tomatoes, fresh from the garden.

Tomato Tart

From Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

Ingredients

  • 1 head garlic
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • All purpose flour for dusting
  • 1/2 recipe Pate Brissee (recipe follows)
  • 3/4 cup grated Fontina or mozzarella (about 3 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ripe but firm tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • course salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 12 fresh basil leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the garlic on a piece of foil; drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Fold the foil up around the garlic, sealing the edges, and place on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven until golden brown and the tip of a sharp knife easily pierces the flesh, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees. When garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the clovees out of their skins and into a small bowl, mash with fork and set aside.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 13 inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. Fit the dough into a 10 inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom, pressing into the edges. Using a rolling pin or a sharp paring knife, trim dough flush with the top edge of the tart pan; chill tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes.

Spread roasted garlic evenly on the bottom of the chilled shell. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese. Arrange the tomato slices in an overlapping circular pattern on top of the cheese, working from the out edge toward the center. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese, and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons oil.

Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees. Bake tart until crust is golden and tomatoes are soft but still retain their shape, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Thinly slice basil leaves lengthwise. Sprinkle tart with basil, and serve warm.

Pate Brisee

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed

Directions

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour and salt; pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with some larger pieces remaining, about 10 seconds. (To mix by hand, combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry blender or two fork.)

With the machine running, add the ice water through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until the dough holds together with out being wet or sticky. Do not process more than 30 seconds. Test by squeezing a small amount of the dough together; if it is still to crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic  wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or overnight. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Cream Cheese Macaroni and Cheese

Cheese is one of my favorite things, any kind, it doesn't matter. Macaroni and cheese is therefore a no brainer for me. Pasta and cheese has got to be one of the best combinations ever. I've been wanting to make homemade macaroni and cheese for some time now, but I would just never get around to it. Either I didn't have the cheese, or the right noodles, or I wanted to eat something lighter for dinner, etc., I always seemed to have an excuse. A few weeks ago though I put my foot down and told myself I was just going to do it. I think the hardest part is picking a recipe. There are a million out there to choose from and they all sound delicious, how is one to choose? In the end I picked this recipe because I happened to have a block of cream cheese in the back of my fridge that I didn't know what to do with, and since I think cream cheese makes just about everything better I knew this had to be good. I was beyond right.

This mac and cheese turned out super cheesy and gooey and absolutely delicious. I chose three cheeses at random to go with the cream cheese and I think I picked the winning combination, it was so delicious. First I went with cheddar because I always have it in the fridge, and it just seems like the right thing to put in mac and cheese. Next I went with fontina because I love it, it is so creamy and flavorful, and it melts wonderfully. Finally I wanted something with a more unique flavor so I decided that something smoked sounded good. I ended up buying smoked mozzarella which I think was perfect. It added a hint of smokiness to the final dish without overpowering it. The smoky undertones from the mozzarella, the sharp bite of the cheddar and the creamy finish of the fontina made this a meal to remember for a long time.

The original recipe did not have a crunchy topping with it, but I love crunchy, cheesy breadcrumbs on top of my baked mac and cheese so I threw together my own version of a breadcrumb topping. It turned out quite delicious if I do say so myself. The butter, cheesy breadcrumbs are the perfect balance to the rich creamy pasta, don't skip it. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

I actually halved the recipe as written and made it in a 9-inch square pan, but it would be just as easy to make the full batch and throw it into a 9x13. Even though I only made half I did have enough cheese for a second go at this dish. I just stuck it in the freezer, waiting for the perfect time to try again. Guess what I'm having for dinner this weekend?!

The star of the recipe, the cheese

Grate it up

Make sure you have some noodles, I like shells

Toast up your breadcrumbs

Add cheese and spices to make

a the delicious topping

Boil up the noodles, but don't cook them all the way

through, they'll finished cooking in the oven

Then you can start making the sauce,

start by melting the butter

Add in the flour

Stir it around and let it cook for a few minutes to 

cook away the raw flour taste

Then add in the milk and cream cheese, dijon, salt and pepper

Stir it all around until the cream cheese melts and the

sauce gets nice and thick and creamy, yum!

Throw in the partially cooked noodles

And the cheese of course!

Mix it all up until everything is covered in 

the gooey cheese sauce

Pour it into a greased pan

Admire all the cheesy goodness

Then cover with crunchy topping

And bake!

Dish it up next to something healthy, 

to make yourself feel better :)

Dig in!

Cream Cheese Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Tasty Kitchen
Ingredients

  • 1 pound Macaroni Noodles
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • ½ teaspoons Black Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard (heaping)
  • 3/4 cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 3/4 cup Fontina
  • 3/4 cup Smoked Mozzarella

Topping

  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons each of the three cheeses used in the mac and cheese

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Start by making the topping. Place the breadcrumbs in an even layer on a baking sheet and toast for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes. When cool, add the remaining ingredients and set aside. 

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until al dente; drain.

In a saucepan melt butter and stir in flour. Cook for about 1 minute, until smooth and bubbly; stirring occasionally. Mix in milk, cream cheese, salt, pepper, and Dijon mustard. Continue cooking until sauce is thickened. Add cooked macaroni and the 3/4 cups of each cheese.

Pour into a 2-quart casserole dish and sprinkle the topping mixture on top. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until heated through and topping is brown and crunchy. Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes before digging in.