I’ve been pushing myself to get to the gym more often lately. I’m in my pre-Florida break mode…not because I’ll be wearing a bikini, not in this lifetime, anyway, but I do plan to do some heavy duty eating while I’m there and I figure the more calories I can burn off beforehand, the better. But yesterday I forgot my headphones, and the only available elliptical machine was the one that didn’t have closed captioning on the tv.
Normally, this would throw me for a loop. I get reaaaallly bored exercising without the tv. Music doesn’t do it for me, neither does a magazine. Luckily Ina was on the food network making these little puff pastry tarts. I know her so well I could read her lips.
I watched her take a sheet of thawed puff pastry and cut it into rounds using a small plate as a guide.
I saw her score around the circles of dough with the tip of a knife and then prick all over the center with a fork.
She thinly sliced onions and caramelized them,
and topped the tarts with crumbled goat cheese, sliced tomato and fresh thyme.
I got so absorbed in watching Ina cook with her calm, gentle manner in that gorgeous kitchen of hers, and trying to figure out exactly what she was doing and saying without sound, that I’m pretty sure I burned twice as many calories as usual.
I left the gym feeling refreshed, relaxed…and ravenous. I decided to challenge myself to make these tarts at home without looking up her recipe. Just from having watched her.
We’ve been buying the most amazing cheese at our local cheese store: chevre doux, or soft goat cheese. It’s fluffy and mild, and we just love it. It doesn’t have the sharp tang that some of the firmer logs of goat cheese have and it has a lighter texture than any other food I know of. (This brand comes the closest to what we get at our cheese store) We had some leftover from our last cheese plate, and I just happened to have bought frozen puff pastry a few days ago.
Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tarts ~~~ as lip read from Ina Garten
2 individual tarts
oven to 425
1 thawed sheet of puff pastry
1 large onion of your choice, halved and thinly sliced
salt and fresh pepper
1 tomato, sliced
- Unfold the puff pastry on a floured surface and roll it out just a little bit, maybe an inch or two in each direction.
- Use a small plate, about 6″ round, as a template and cut out two circles of dough using a sharp knife. Transfer them to a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet.
- With the point of the knife, trace around the inside edge of the circle of dough, just about 1/2 inch in from the edge. This will give you a nice crust on your tart when it bakes. Prick the inside of the inner circle all over with a fork. Put the baking sheet in the fridge while you get the rest ready.
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan and saute the onions on medium, letting them slowly wilt and cook for about 30 to 40 minutes. If you like them caramelized, go for the full time, but you can stop at any point. I usually get impatient, and I like them to have a little texture, so I usually don’t go for a full caramelization.
- At the end of their cooking, hit the pan with a splash of white wine or Marsala, some salt and pepper and fresh thyme leaves. Let the moisture cook down and set aside.
- Take the pastry rounds out of the fridge and sprinkle the inner circle area with grated Parmesan cheese.
- Then spread a layer of the onions to cover the inner circle. You want to keep the outer ring free so it will puff up during cooking.
- Crumble goat cheese over the onions, and top with a slice of tomato.
- Sprinkle salt, pepper, more thyme and a drizzle of olive oil over the top. Grate more Parmesan on top if you want.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until the pastry is lightly browned and crisp.
Notes: Not much to note except to say make these! The only possible thing I can suggest is to cut the dough into squares, instead of circles, to avoid any waste of the puff pastry. I’ve already got plans for that other sheet of pastry. Maybe I’ll make them bite sized. What the photos can’t show you is how light and flaky these are. They’d be perfect for appetizers and entertaining. And it seems to me that you could assemble them in advance and keep them the refrigerator until you’re ready to bake.
Puff pastry is my new BFF. Sorry Ina.