Thursday, 6 September 2007
An Autumnal Walk
I had the pleasant surprise of an evening off yesterday, and so Todd and I decided to take advantage of the dry weather and the added bonus of a few extra hours together. We took ourselves off on a long, brisk walk through the orchards with Jess. Although it wasn't really sunny, it was dry, and the temperatures were a lot warmer than they have been these past few days. It was really quite pleasant.
All around us, the fruit trees were just drooping under the weight of the apples and pears and the pickers have started picking them. There was a crisp autumnal feeling about and the air was full of the heady scent of ripening apples. I love this time of year.
The gardens are definitely looking tired now, with all the plants going to seed and getting ready for the cold sleep that lies ahead, but here and there are small pockets of life that is still going on, mushrooms sprouting, berries and nuts ripening in the hedgerows. There are ever such a lot of red berries in the brush this year. Todd says that his mother always said when there is an abundance of berries in the hedgerows it means a long hard winter ahead. We shall see.
When we returned home I felt in the mood for something quick and yet satisfying. I had a large punnet of plum tomatoes that really needed to be used, and a packet of puff pastry . . . so I came up with this rich and satisfying tart. I had bought a lovely little jar of tomato vinegar at the shops a week or two agoand thought it would go wonderfully just drizzled over the top of the warm tart along with some torn basil. The apples we picked up on the ground along the way will have to be saved for another day, and perhaps baked in a crumble or a pie . . .
*Crisp Autumn Tomato Tart*
I had some tomatoes that needed to be used as well as some puff pastry. They just spoke tart to me and so I knocked this delicious one up. It's pretty wonderful what you can do with just a few ingredients.
1 (375g) packet of ready rolled puff pastry
4 ripe plum tomatoes, trimmed and very thinly sliced
1/4 cup homemade garlic mayonnaise
1 cup freshly grated strong cheddar cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese for dusting
Tomato vinegar for drizzling
a few basil leaves
Pre-heat the oven to 205*C/425*F. Line a baking sheet with some parchment paper and lay the puff pastry out on top of it. Taking a sharp knife run it along about 1/2 inch from the edges all the way around the sheet of pastry, being very careful not to cut through all the way to the bottom. This will be the rim of your tart. Take a fork and prick it all over inside the edge. Place into the heated oven and bake for approximately 10 minutes, or until slightly puffed. Remove from the oven and tamp down the centre area, leaving the edges puffed.
Spread the centre area with the garlic mayonnaise, covering it right up to the raised edges of the tart. Sprinkle with the Cheddar cheese. Lay the tomato slices over top of the cheddar cheese and sprinkle with a healthy dusting of sea salt and black pepper. Dust the top with some freshly grated parmesan cheese. Place back into the hot oven an bake for another 20 minutes until nicely browned and crisp on the bottom.
Remove from the oven and let sit for a few minutes. Drizzle some tomato vinegar over the top and sprinkle with some torn basil leaves before serving. Delicious!