Summer Tomato Tart

I used the last few sheets of my leftover phyllo for this lovely supper. Jamie Oliver's exact name for this is Late Summer Tart. Well, it's not exactly late summer, but I made it just the same. The heirloom tomatoes give the top of the tart color and be sure to use a nicely sharp cheddar or this dish will be bland. Jamie makes a lot of tart/quiche type dishes.....I posted an asparagus and potato tart not long ago too.

But with this one, take my advice and add some sauteed sliced shallots; such a nice light flavor and it seems to work with this tart well. Phyllo is so much more forgiving than pie crust and I love the way it gives tarts a light rustic look. 

Jamie Oliver's Late Summer Tart


3/4 pound ripe heirloom tomatoes, sliced
sea salt 
freshly ground black pepper 
2 large eggs 
scant 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
generous 2/3 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/8 cup butter, melted
phyllo pastry 
small bunch fresh marjoram or oregano (I used oregano)
olive oil 


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place the sliced tomatoes in a colander and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Adding salt to them will bring out their flavour and also reduce the amount of moisture that seeps into the tart. 

 Beat the eggs in a bowl, then add the cream, grated cheese and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mix and set aside. 

 Take a large tart pan with a removable bottom (either a 10” round tin, or roughly 8” x 11” rectangular tin) and brush it with a little of the melted butter. Cover the tray with a layer of phyllo, overlapping the sheets so there are no gaps. Brush this base layer with more of the butter and repeat 4 or 5 times until you have a sturdy base for the filling. 

 Pour the cream mixture onto the phyllo base and make sure it's evenly spread over it. Lay your tomatoes on top, then season it again. 

Pick the leaves from the herb sprigs and toss them in a little olive oil to lightly coat them. Sprinkle these over the tart, then place it on the bottom shelf of the hot oven for 40 to 45 minutes, until bubbling and golden. Leave to cool for a few minutes then serve with a simple, fresh salad. 


Coffee and Cocoa Granita

Are you making a lot of granitas this summer? There couldn't be a simpler dessert, icy and refreshing and kids love it. I made a fresh strawberry one last week....just added a bit of lemon to the pureed strawberries. It was divine.
But now this granita, unearthed in the new Donna Hay Issue (which contains, interestingly, all black and white recipes) definitely comes down on the dark side. I don't do this very often, but since you've already noticed I ramble on about the photography in Donna Hay, they've outdone themselves on this one, so I've posted it. Their food stylists took such care with this simple dessert. I love that everything is dark except that nifty grey container and aren't the textures marvelous? Those flakes of granita spilled over....every detail results in a feast for the eyes.

                                                                                 (Photo from Donna Hay Magazine, Issue #70)

And then there's mine. Well. What can I say? Bright light and straight forward. I'm NOT going to be hired by Donna Hay anytime soon. But who cares? The granita was fabulous.

Coffee and Cocoa Granita
Donna Hay, Black & White Issue, #70

1/2 cup espresso
1 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup Dutch cocoa
3 cups water

Place all ingredients in a saucepan, whisk until sugar is dissolved and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Place in a high-sided metal container and freeze until mixture is frozen, stirring edges into center every 20 to 30 minutes, about 1 1/2 hours. Using fork, scrape granita into flaky crystals. Serve or cover tightly to freeze for later. 


French Almond Cake with Apricot Cream Cheese Glaze

Lots of recipes out there for French almond cakes and I've made any number, but never found one as simple as this. All mixed in one bowl and done in 35 minutes or so. You can serve it almost immediately. When you read the ingredients you'll think there's a typo....a total of 3 TABLESPOONS almond extract in the recipe? Yep. That's right and a tablespoon of vanilla too. And it works beautifully. This is a fabulous, dense almond cake with a lovely apricot glaze. (Cooks note: You don't need to use a cream cheese glaze, use any glaze you and your family prefer....I saw a rose glaze recently on some cupcakes and was bowled over. I just thought this was more summery.)
Averie referred to this as a "cookie" cake, by which I assume she meant not light and fluffy. It's dense, but not crisp, so I definitely classify this a cake. Frankly, I think it's best served the same day, but because of the cream cheese in this particular glaze, you might want to refrigerate it if you're going to serve it again the next day. Or, alternately, use a glaze without cream cheese. Honestly, I doubt there'll be any left over.

French Almond Cake with Apricot Cream Cheese Glaze

Adapted from Averie Cooks

Ingredients for the cake:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (1 stick + half of 1 stick)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons almond extract
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
about 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

Ingredients for the glaze:
3/4 cup apricot jam 
1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon almond extract

Method for the cake:

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9-inch cake round with floured cooking spray, or grease and flour the pan. (I used a springform and lined it with parchment paper. Suggest you also cover the bottom with foil in case it seeps from the bottom.)
In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 75 seconds. Allow butter to cool momentarily.
Add all remaining cake ingredients (except flour) and whisk until smooth. Stir in the flour until combined. Pour batter into the pan and top with almonds. Turn batter out into prepared pan. Top with optional sliced almonds.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until top is golden and set, and edges will be firmer and pulling away slightly from sides of pan. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Cool for 15 minutes on a rack and then turn the cake out to a plate and cool completely. 

Method for the glaze:
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and beat with a mixer until combined. Spread glaze on top of cake (it can still be warm). 


Lemon Cheese Tart

This is an amazingly light dessert....lemony and delicious. Simple to make and not too sweet either. So refreshing for a summer dessert. I made the pastry from scratch, but really, if you're in a big hurry, use packaged. I'm all for shortcuts in the summer. Last thing we want to do is be stuck in the kitchen. You can make this ahead and refrigerate if you like, but it's awfully yummy warm.

Lemon Cheese Tart
From Pastry Studio

Ingredients for the pastry dough:
1 cup flour
2 teaspoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 ounces cold butter
1/4 cup cold water

Ingredients for the lemon cheese filling:
5 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
5 ounces ricotta
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2  teaspoons lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
pinch salt
1 egg, room temperature

1/2 tablespoon butter, melted
sugar for sprinkling

For the pastry:  place the flour, sugar and salt into the bowl of a food processor and blend.  Cut the cold butter into 1/2" pieces and add to the flour mixture.  Pulse until the butter is the size of small peas, about 5 seconds.  Add the cold water and pulse until the dough starts to clump, about 10 seconds.  The dough will look a bit like small curd cottage cheese.  Gather the dough and place on a sheet of plastic wrap.  Form a disc and wrap tightly.  Chill thoroughly.

For the filling: whisk together the cream cheese, ricotta, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest.  Add a pinch of salt, to taste.  Whisk in the egg.  Chill the filling while you roll out the pastry dough.

Unwrap the dough and let it rest on a lightly floured piece of parchment or work surface for just a few minutes.  It needs to stay cool but warm up just enough to handle without a lot of resistance and cracking.

Roll the dough out to about an 11" square and 1/8" thickness, gently lifting and moving the dough after each roll and keeping it lightly floured as needed.  When you have the desired size, trim the edges and brush off any excess flour.  Fold it in half and then again in half.  Center the folded corner of the dough in a 9" square tart pan or baking pan.  Unfold it and work it into the corners, leaving an overhang on all four sides.  Pour the filling into the tart and spread it evenly.  Gently fold the pastry overhang onto the surface of the tart. 

Chill the tart while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Brush the border of the dough with melted butter and dust with a light sprinkle of sugar.  Bake for 25 minutes and then increase oven temperature to 400 degrees.  Bake an additional 10 minutes until the dough is crisp and browned.  Place on a wire rack to cool completely.


Chilled Fennel and Cucumber Soup

I've always loved cold soups in warm weather and have posted several in the past. The thing about this one is the fennel. Are you a fan? As far as I'm concerned, roasted, I love it. Raw, served in a salad, not so much. But this fennel is steamed and puréed along with some raw cucumbers so how cool is that? It's a lovely soup, with some texture (can't help but remind you of a vichyssoise) and quite mild in flavor. The tarragon is a nice touch; it's an herb we don't use nearly enough.

Chilled Fennel and Cucumber Soup

From Fine Cooking Magazine, June/July Issue

3 pounds fennel bulbs (about 2 large or 3 medium)
1 1/4 pounds seedless cucumbers
1 Tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream

Trim, quarter and core the fennel bulbs and cut into 1 inch pieces...about 6 cups. Save some of the frond for garnishing.
Steam the fennel until very tender, about 8 minutes.
Peel the cucumbers, quarter lengthwise and cut into 1 inch chunks.
In a blender, puree until smooth half the cooked fennel with half the cucumber along with salt, pepper and tarragon. Strain over a bowl, forcing the puree with a spatula. Repeat with the remaining fennel and cucumber.
Add the cream and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 2 days. Just before serving, correct the seasoning, add one teaspoon finely chopped tarragon, and garnish with a fennel frond.


Rhubarb Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

It's unusual to see a cookie recipe with rhubarb as an ingredient. Rhubarb turns wet and mushy when cooked and one would think the cookie would fall apart while baking, but not so. The rhubarb is incorporated diced and raw which avoids that wetness. I was truly surprised at how much I liked this recipe as I much prefer a crisp cookie and this is definitely a cake-like cookie. The coconut in them adds an extra element and the rhubarb yielded a tang in every bite. All that brown sugar makes for a caramel flavored cookie and adding some vanilla bean paste to the cream cheese frosting gave it just that little bit extra. They'd be perfect with a cup of tea....you could make them smaller if that's how you plan to serve them.

Rhubarb Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Jill at Dulce Dough

1 cup butter, softened
 1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
 2 eggs
 3 cups all-purpose flour
 1 teaspoon baking soda
 1/2 teaspoon salt
 3/4 cup flaked coconut
 1 1/2 cups fresh rhubarb, diced

Ingredients for Frosting:
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

Method for cookies:
Preheat oven to 350.
Cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy; beat in the eggs.
In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined. The dough will be somewhat stiff.
Add the rhubarb and coconut.
I used an ice cream scoop and placed the cookies two inches apart on parchment paper. 
Bake for 10 - 14 minutes or until lightly browned.
Cool briefly on the cookie sheet and then remove to a wire rack. Cool completely before frosting.

Method for frosting: 
Beat cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy; beat in the confectioners sugar and vanilla bean paste.
Frost cookies and serve.


Vegetable Strudel

If I remember correctly, I first saw this on Pinterest and saved it. Marie's idea of using leftover vegetables rolled up in phyllo made for quite a flavorful dish. I used what I had: cauliflower, red pepper, red onion, garlic, eggplant and carrots, roasted them all together first and then filled phyllo with them. The phyllo was in my freezer, 1/2 package left from another recipe. Topped with cheese and then baked, wow! Yummy supper and pretty darn elegant too, considering this was all leftovers. 
I did things a little differently than Marie. She was a good girl. I wasn't. She sprayed each phyllo layer with olive oil and sprinkled with Romano cheese. Ditto on the top. I went with butter and bread crumbs, making this a richer dish. Your choice. Marie had some marinara sauce leftover and used that on the side. I loved it just the way it came out of the oven. No sauce. I could barely keep my hands off the roasted vegetables, the flavors were so spectacular, let alone add sauce when it was baked. But again, your choice.
When it was all rolled up, I brushed on some more butter and sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on top.
Unfortunately, this was not an actual recipe, but I'll do the best I can. Hopefully, everyone knows how to work with phyllo; Marie went into more detail and no doubt you can find additional information online. This was an awesome idea for leftover veggies. 

Vegetable Strudel
Idea from Marie at Proud Italian Cook

I used: leftover eggplant, red pepper, red onion, carrots, cauliflower, garlic
8 phyllo sheets, thawed overnight in the fridge if frozen

various cheeses; I used mozzarella, Parmesan, fontina and gruyere
Unsalted butter, melted
plain bread crumbs
olive oil
salt and pepper


Make certain your vegetables are cut in similar sizes. If you use cauliflower, it should be cut into very small florets. Combine the vegetables and place in a sheet pan. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a 425 oven until browned, about 30-35  minutes. Allow to cool.
Unfold your phyllo sheets onto a damp tea towel. Also have one available to place on top so the sheets don't dry out. Reduce oven to 400.
I used 8 layers of phyllo, buttering each layer and then sprinkling with bread crumbs.

Add your roasted and cooled vegetables in the center, spreading out, but leaving a border all around the edges of the phyllo. Sprinkle with the cheeses, I used all those listed except the Parmesan, which I sprinkled on top. Roll it up into a log, brush some butter on top and sprinkle with Parmesan or Romano.
Bake in a 400 oven until cooked through and brown, about 30-40 minutes. Mine took a bit longer because my roll was fat and stuffed with lots of vegetables and it took about 45 minutes for the cheese inside to melt completely.


Ina First Fridays: Meringues Chantilly with Roasted Berries

Welcome once again to Ina First Fridays! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend.
This Ina Friday selection is a dessert....Ina does
the best desserts, don't you agree? This particular recipe is a great summer treat....I made it last summer (!), but never posted it. You have two choices for serving: you can use freshly whipped cream with a touch of sugar, vanilla and orange liqueur, or vanilla ice cream. I've served it both ways, but ice cream is simpler as you don't have the extra step of whipping the cream. On the other hand, whipped cream kind of offsets the sweetness of the meringue; it's pictured it here with whipped cream.

Meringues Chantilly with Roasted Berries
From Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa, 2008

Ingredients for meringues:
4 extra - large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

(Recipe for roasted berries follows)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a small glass and a pencil, draw 4 (3 1/2-inch) circles on each piece of paper. Turn the paper face down on the baking sheets.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed until frothy. Add 2/3 cup of the sugar and continue beating on high speed until the egg whites form very stiff peaks. Whisk in the vanilla. Carefully fold the remaining 1/3 cup sugar into the meringue. With a large star - shaped pastry tip, pipe a disk of meringue inside each circle. Pipe another layer around the edge to form the sides of the shells.
Bake for 2 hours, or until the meringues are dry and crisp but not browned. Turn off the heat and allow the meringues to sit in the oven for 4 hours or overnight.
Makes 8 meringues.
For serving, place each meringue on a separate plate, top with whipped cream or ice cream and add the berries.

Roasted Berries

1 pint fresh strawberries
2 half-pints fresh raspberries
2 half-pints fresh blueberries
2 half-pints fresh blackberries
(I added some black cherries I had left over)
1/4 cup sugar
Vanilla bean, split and seeds removed


Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Place the strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries on a sheet pan and toss with the sugar and vanilla bean seeds. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. 
Cool to room temperature before serving.

Whipped Cream with Orange Liqueur

2 cups cold whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier

Whip the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar, vanilla and orange liqueur and continue to whip until the cream forms fairly stiff peaks. (Don't overbeat!)


Ina Fridays participants:

Nancy from mypicadillo.com  
Veronica from mycatholickitchen.com
Ansh from spiceroots.com  


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