Tasty Tarts and a Snow outing!!

I was so inspired after the magazine article that I cooked and cooked and then…cooked some more. I took beautiful pictures too, but for the life of me, I could not get myself to sit at the computer and post some of the recipes.
We also had a fantastic weekend with friends and family and that in itself is a good enough excuse for not spending time at the computer. Last week the Western Cape region had quite a few snowstorms and when the clouds and rain finally disappeared, we could see all the surrounding mountains covered with snow.

We live here in Cape Town near the sea so on Saturday we had to take a trip out to Ceres ( 1 1/2 hours drive) so that my children could have some fun in the snow…and what fun we had.

On Thursday however, I went to the market and was so inspired by all the fresh veggies and fruit around me. First I found all these beautiful little tomatoes – red, yellow,green…….too beautiful. Next I saw some egg plants all purple and shiny and I could not resist the peppers. While I was there, a truck brought some leeks and fresh carrots straight from the market. I wanted to make something, where the vegetables feature – not the sauces or the meat etc. In my mind I saw these tarts: Tomato, cheese and basil, Roasted vegetables and Roasted leeks in a simple shortcrust pastry. As I was driving back from the market, all these ideas just took on shape and by the time I got home, there was no stopping me.

I made a simple Shortcrust Pastry

450gr flour
pinch of salt
350gr butter
2 egg yolks
30ml cold water

Sift the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and cut into flour using a round bladed knife. Once the butter is cut into the flour, use fingertips and rub butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Mix egg yolks and water and mix into flour until it becomes a soft and pliable dough. Knead slightly until smooth. Cover and let it rest in fridge for 15 minutes. Roll out and line a loose bottom flan ring. I bake the party cases blind for about 7 minutes before adding the fillings.

For the fillings I’m afraid, I cannot give you any recipes, but here is what I did.

Tomato, Onion, Basil and Mozzarella Tart.

500gr baby tomatoes – try and use different colors, shapes and sizes
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
a little sugar
1 Tbsp olive oil.
salt and pepper to taste
fresh thyme
1/2 onion – sliced thinly
pieces of Mozzarella cheese – I used about 10 balls
torn basil leaves

Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add tomatoes. Work fast – add all other ingredients. Adjust seasoning to your liking. The idea is to just let the tomatoes burst open, then the filling is ready.
Pour tomatoes into pastry case, add onions and cheese and bake until pastry and tomatoes are cooked and the cheese is melted. Sprinkle with torn basil leaves and freshly ground black pepper.

 Roasted pepper and Brinjal 

1 medium Brinjal, sliced
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 red pepper – slices thinly
1 yellow pepper – sliced thinly
1 onion – thinly sliced
fresh thyme
12 Mozzarella balls or pieces
a few cocktail tomatoes

Fry slices of brinjal in olive oil, until golden in color. Keep aside.
Now quickly fry peppers and onion until just soft.

Place brinjal slices in bottom of pastry case. Top with the roasted peppers, onion, tomatoes and cheese and bake in moderate oven(180 C) until cooked.

Roasted Leek

1 bunch leeks – clean properly and slice (use a little of the green leaves too)
125ml cream cheese
125ml sour cream
4 eggs
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
125ml grated parmesan cheese

Fry leeks until soft. Mix cream cheese, sour cream and eggs properly. Place leeks on dry baked pastry case. Pour egg and cream mixture over the top and bake until the filling is firm to the touch – do not over-bake. I made a Rocket and Walnut Pesto with the Tomato Tart and it was HEAVENLY.