I made my own quick puff pastry for this. Impressed? Well, it´s really easy since it uses the processor. Similar to making a pie dough or scones, the difference, of course, is that it needs to be religiously folded like an envelope between four and six times. Otherwise you´ll have a pie dough or a scone. Ha.
The recipe for our FFWD group is Tomato Cheese Tartlets, very Mediterranean, very Italian meets south of France flavor. Tomatoes, pesto or tapenade, mozzarella, puff pastry.
Clearly something to be eating while soaking up the sun in the Amalfi Coast or in Cannes while trying to enjoy a few days of vacation. You get the idea right? Do I need to tell you once again what a bleak winter day it is today? I know you´re getting tired of my endless whining, but it´s only for a few more months. Then we can switch places.
Since it´s all about the attitude, let´s go into the kitchen and make use of our lovely tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. I made neither a pesto nor a tapenade in the traditional way, I just threw sun dried tomatoes, arugula, basil, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper in the food processor.
The pastry came out really good. I processed flour, salt and butter not too much, leaving pieces of butter the size of peas and bigger. Then I added some ice water, a few more blitzes and dumped it onto the counter. Four turns and 1 hour in the refrigerator. Two more turns and the puff pastry is ready to use.
I cut it, pricked it and then froze it for half an hour (like our friend Kathy suggested in the Q&A) before baking it. There´s definitely something glorious watching puff pastry come out of the oven, golden, puffed and smelling like melted butter.
The topping is made up of all those Mediterranean flavors I simply am mad about: olives, sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, balsamic. I already made my point with the ciabatta sandwich.
I baked the puff pastry with cherry tomatoes, thyme, salt, pepper and olive oil. They roasted a bit and were soft and had started to release their juice when I took the tart out of the oven. I immediately put the room tº fresh mozzarella on top, a few Tbs pesto/tapenade paste, olives, drizzle of olive oil. By the time I ended taking some pictures and took the first bite, the cheese had started to melt a bit. It was simply delectable, finger-licking good.
I have to say that I believe the puff pastry is a must for the result to be so good, wether store bought or homemade, it should be all butter and fresh.
This is a perfect appetizer, who wouldn´t want such an amuse-bouche? Who wouldn´t be happy eating tiny, fresh and flavorful little tarts like these while waiting for the rest of the guests to arrive?
And for the host it´s a snap to prepare, since most ingredients can be made in advance.
An absolute winner in my book of recipes. And for the record, I´m writing this having used winter tomatoes, wait till I get my hand on sun kissed ones.
Check out this page to see what the other Doristas made for today.
QUICK PUFF PASTRY
from Flour, by Joanne Chang
The ingredients are exactly according to the recipe. I changed the preparation instructions a bit since I used the food processor instead of the stand mixer.
2 1/3 cup (330g) all purpose flour
½ cup (60g) cake flour
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 pound (454g) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
½ cup ice water
For ice water, fill half a glass with ice cubes and add cold water. Reserve.
Put flours and salt in the bowl of the food processor fitter with the steel blade. Pulse a few times to mix. Scatter butter on top of flour, and using on/off button, pulse until butte is the size of lima beans, no smaller than peas. Add almost all of the ice water and process, in the lowest setting, for 5 seconds. If it´s too dry add the rest of the water and process for about 10 more seconds, until the dough comes together in a shaggy, rough-looking dough. Don´t over process.
Dump out the dough onto a generously floured work surface and pat it into about an 8-inch (20cm) square. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a rectangle, about 15 to
Flour the dough and rolling pin as needed to prevent sticking, but brush the
excess flour from the dough when making the turns.
Make the first turn: with the aid of a dough scraper, lift one third of the dough from the top, and flip it down onto the middle third. Do the same starting from the bottom with the remaining third of dough. Turn the dough clockwise, so that the short side is parallel to the working surface and the long side with the opening is on your right side. Repeat the rolling into a rectangle, the folding in three and turn to the right another three times. A total of four times.
Refrigerate for 1 hour and no more than 2.
Repeat two times the rolling the dough, folding it in 3 like a business letter and turning it to your right. The total will be six turns.
Now your dough is finished but needs to be refrigerated for at least 1 hour before using it.You can refrigerate it, wrapped in film for 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
To make tartlet bases:
On a floured surface roll the dough about ¼ inch thick. Cut into squares using a long, sharp knife and making a clean cut, no seesaw motion. Transfer the squares to a baking tray, prick the dough well and freeze for half hour.
Preheat the oven to 350º F / 180º C and transfer directly from the freezer to the oven.
If you choose to bake with an ingredient on top, arrange it directly on the frozen dough.
Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until puffed and golden.