Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sweet and Savory Tarts, and Some Bolognese Too!


My sister's birthday was a week ago, and her only request was for me to make her Bolognese.  I, of course, didn't stop just at Bolognese.  I made her a three course meal!  I was inspired by the fruit strips we made in class last week, so I decided to use puff pastry to make both sweet and savory tarts, serve one as an appetizer, and one for dessert.  The Bolognese sauce I made was the same I've made before for lasagna, but this time I served it tossed with fettuccine.  Here's the full menu:

First Course
Goat Cheese and Sun-dried Tomato Tart with Fresh Basil, Tomatoes, and Basil-Walnut Pesto

Second Course

Third Course
Puff Pastry Fruit Strip with Pastry Cream, Strawberries, Kiwi, Blackberries, and a Blackberry Coulis

I was really pleased at how everything came out.  Although I docked the puff pastry (dotted with fork prongs all over), I feel like I could have docked it more to keep it from puffing as much as it did.  Next time I will officially go overboard with the docking :)

Goat Cheese and Sun-dried Tomato Tart with Fresh Basil, Tomatoes, and Basil-Walnut Pesto
Serves 6

1/2 a package (17.65 oz) puff pastry, thawed (1 sheet)
10.5 oz goat cheese, softened
10 sun-dried tomatoes
8 fresh basil leaves
2 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 T. water)

Basil-Walnut Pesto:
1/4 cup walnuts
1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 T. grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Unfold the puff pastry sheet and dock (dot with holes) using a fork, covering as much of the puff pastry as you can.  Slice the dough into thirds, using the lines of where it was folded.  Cut one third into four long strips.  Brush the two large strips lightly with egg wash, and lay the thin strips on either edge to make a border down the length.  Brush the whole thing with more egg wash and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Bake for about 30 minutes until completely dried out and dark golden.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, add the softened goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes to a food processor and puree until smooth.  Using a spoon or a piping bag, cover the baked puff pastry with the goat cheese mixture, staying in between the borders along the length.  You may have leftover goat cheese mixture, but this can later be used to top crostini or for snacking.  Arrange basil leaves and sliced tomatoes along the length of the tart.  Slice either straight across or on the bias for serving, along with a dollop of pesto.

For the pesto, add the walnuts, basil, and garlic to a food processor and blend until smooth.  Pour the olive oil through the spout with the motor running until the mixture comes together.  Turn off the food processor, taste, season with salt and pepper, and mix in the Parmesan by hand.





Cooking the vegetable puree for the Bolognese

Browning the meat

After adding the tomatoes, milk, and wine

Nice and thick!  Ready to serve


Puff Pastry Fruit Strip with Pastry Cream, Strawberries, Kiwi, Blackberries, and a Blackberry Coulis
Serves 6

1/2 a package (17.65 oz) puff pastry, thawed (1 sheet)
Pastry cream (recipe follows)
4 strawberries, sliced
1 kiwi, halved and sliced
1/2 pint blackberries (12 blackberries, halved, the rest pureed in a food processor or blender and then strained for the coulis)
2 T. apricot jam

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Unfold the puff pastry sheet and dock (dot with holes) using a fork, covering as much of the puff pastry as you can.  Slice the dough into thirds, using the lines of where it was folded.  Cut one third into four long strips.  Brush the two large strips lightly with egg wash, and lay the thin strips on either edge to make a border down the length.  Brush the whole thing with more egg wash and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Bake for about 30 minutes until completely dried out and dark golden.  Remove from the oven and let cool.

Pipe the pastry cream onto the puff pastry staying in between the borders along the length (you may have extra pastry cream, but you can reserve it for another use).  Top with sliced strawberries, kiwi, and blackberry halves until the pastry cream is covered.  Heat up the apricot jam until it melts, strain out any chunks of fruit, and using a pastry brush, lightly brush the tops of the fruit with the liquefied apricot jam.  Slice either straight across or on the bias for serving, along with some of the blackberry coulis.

Pastry Cream
Makes 2 1/2 cups

2 cups milk (I use low-fat milk and it always turns out great)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
4 T. cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 T. unsalted butter

Pour the milk, vanilla extract, and salt into a heavy saucepan and heat over medium-high, bringing the milk just to under a boil, stirring occasionally so the milk doens't burn to the bottom of the pan.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and cornstarch.

When the milk is ready, slowly ladle about one-third into the eggs, whisking constantly. Pour the egg mixture back into the hot milk and continue whisking over medium heat until the custard is noticeably thicker, about 2 minutes.

To check the correct thickness of the cream, dip a wooden spoon into the custard, remove it and run your finger across it. It should leave a line where your finger crossed. When the custard is thick enough, remove it from the heat and strain it into a clean bowl.

Let cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cut the butter into 1 T. pieces and whisk the butter into the cream, one piece at a time. To cool the cream, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and press the wrap directly onto the top of the cream. Once the cream is a little cooler, put it into the fridge to finish cooling. Pastry cream will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days.





3 comments :

Frances said...

It looks like your dinner was a success!!

Victoria K. said...

It was! I ended up doing a pesto instead of the basil oil idea for the first tart and it was really great! I will sooooo make it again :)

Julia @ DimpleArts said...

These are GORGEOUS tarts!!!

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