I’m so busy with tomatoes right now. I eat them fresh in salad, grill or bake them for breakfast, poach them in curries, stir-fry them with meat, vegetables and noodles like in Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Noodles), and make soup with them. I wouldn’t be surprised if I found some on my pillow in the morning because I would just assume that they came out of my ears while I was sleeping. I also preserve, jam, glaze, soak them in syrup, and make sauce with them too. Are you enjoying tomatoes as much as me during summertime?
I have many recipes that I love to cook with tomatoes. The recipe I’m giving you today is one of the top five. It’s my easy tomato tart or, if you want to call it a Caprese tart, it probably wouldn’t be too far off.
Last year, I gave you a recipe for my “Wholesome Pomodoro Sauce” that uses almost all parts of the tomato to make sauce that you can store for the rest of the year. The tomato season has come along again and I still have a few jars of it left. Normally I would either make ketchup with last year’s sauce or make Caprese tarts.
If we’re talking about tarts, then we have to talk about the tart shell. I usually make my tart shell the same way I make pie crust. You know the traditional way of putting cold butter in flour and using a fork to cut the cold butter to mix with the flour, or using a food processor to pulse the mixture, then adding cold water to make it a dough, right?
I had been making pie crust that way for years but then t I remembered how my mom’s friend, Auntie Mary, made all kind of pies and tarts for us and I didn’t remember her rolling any pie crust, ever! Her pie crust was always flaky and delicious, too.
I was so young back then and wasn’t paying much attention, but I remember that when she was baking the crust by itself in the oven she weighed down the bottom of the crust with giant red beans or kidney beans. I didn’t realize the purpose behind it. She also stood in front of the stove for a while too! Stove shouldn’t have anything to do with a pie crust, isn’t it. All of these made no sense to me while she was doing it.
I recently had a chance to communicate to her again via email (since she now lives in Germany) and asked for her pie crust recipe, and to my surprise, boy, it’s so different from mine. If I didn’t see her do it time and time again or didn’t eat her pie many, many times, I wouldn’t believe that this was her pie crust recipe. It sounded like a choux pastry shell recipe without eggs!
Anyhow, I have a very strong belief in her, so I followed her recipe and the result was a pie and tart crust that is foolproof and guaranteed successful. She said she chose to use this recipe all the time while she was living in Bangkok because of the climate.
With an average temperature between 85-90 degrees there, and 90% humidity, she didn’t want to be bothered with the “other” pie crust recipe because she had no way to keep the butter cold unless she turned the AC on while she was making pie. A German lady born and bred, she couldn’t waste precious energy just to make a pie for her kid, so she used this recipe.
Ingredients for the pie crust
Butter 1/2 – 1/3 cup (75-90g)
Vegetable oil 1 tablespoon (10g)
Sugar 1 tablespoon (12g)
Water 3 tablespoons (45g)
Salt 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon
All-purpose flour 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups (175 – 200g)
Method for the amazing pie crust
1) Put EVERYTHING EXCEPT THE FLOUR in a pot, set it on the stove at medium high heat until the content bubbles and the butter is all melted.
2) Turn off the heat and add the flour, stirring vigorously until the dough comes off the edge of the pan.
3) Let it sit until it is cool to the touch, then press it in the tart or pie plate.
4) Poke holes in the tart shell and put “pie weights” on top of the flat part of the crust, if you have them (like a string of metal beads, or uncooked kidney beans, for example.) If you don’t, it’s okay. The crust might curve up off the pie plate a little but you can push it back. Set aside a ball of pie dough about a size of your thumb to help fill in the cracks.
5) Bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes then let it cool before filling. (For some pies and tarts, like apple or cherry, you would par-bake this crust for half the time.)
Amazingly easy, isn’t it? Try it, and you won’t believe the result.
Once you have the tart shell, next you have to fill it. I use my “Wholesome Pomodoro Sauce” to make the base. I cook it again separately until it’s pretty dry before I use it. If you don’t have any, use tomato paste mixed with a can of tomatoes—that should be good.
Ingredients for the tart filling
Fresh tomatoes, sliced about a cup
Mozzarella cheese, shredded about a cup
Basil leaves about a cup
Pomodoro sauce or tomato paste mixture (see Note #1)
Method for the tart
1) Line the tart shell with 2/3 of the basil leaves. The leaves should be dry so the shell doesn’t get soggy.
2) The 2nd layer is mozzarella cheese to cover the basil leaves.
3) Put tomato sauce base on top of the cheese
4) Arrange the sliced tomatoes on top of the paste, alternating with basil leaves
5) Top with more mozzarella cheese
6) Baked at 350F for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling
7) Let it cool, unless you want to scald your tongue and the roof of your mouth like I do. It’s tastes so great hot I can’t resist!
1) Cook chopped garlic in olive oil, then add a can of crushed tomatoes (or whole) and mix in a can of tomato paste, and cook the water out. Season with salt and a dash of balsamic vinegar or you can go through all the trouble and make your own Wholesome Pomodoro sauce with the recipe here.
To everyone who nominated me for an award or awards, I’m so honored. Thank you so much for your kind consideration and nomination. After this summer when all these fruits and vegetables and the weddings are over, I will try to find some time to post the awards posts. I’m barely keeping up with my regular blogging right now. So sorry. Even though I didn’t put the award page up right away, I was not shunning them at all. I just wish for 28 hours in a day, just 4 hours more, please.
I know part of it is poor time management on my part, as my husbanditor would have say (husbanditor is the special breed of husband cross-bred with an editor. Result: tough, sweet, brutally bossy but obedient to the household requests). But how can you resist the beautiful figs, kumquats, peaches, nectarines, pluots, berries and tomatoes? How can you not want to cook, eat or preserve them? Oh, maybe because I have to pack to go to another wedding!