Mini Pecan Tarts

These are one of Tim’s favorite tarts that I make at Christmas.  I really didn’t enjoy making them because it was so time-consuming to shape the tarts by hand in the muffin tin; that is until this year.  I found this tart shaper at Pampered Chef and tried it for the first time.  What a timesaver!!  I was so excited you would have thought I had just won a prize, but really I did because it made tart making a breeze and what cook or baker doesn’t like to save time in the kitchen.

Pecan Nut Tarts 

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 package cream cheese
  • 2 ½ cups sifted flour
  • 2 ½ cups light brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ½ cups chopped pecans
  • 3 eggs 

Dough – Mix together butter, cream cheese and flour as for pie crust.  Line small muffin tins by patting in mixture.  Fill ½ to ¾ full with nut filling.  Nut filling – beat eggs, add sugar gradually.  Add melted butter and vanilla.  Add nuts and mix well.  Bake in moderate oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until light brown.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.

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Pear Gorgonzola Tart

This recipe I found on Food Network really surprised me.  I love fruits and vegetables,but I would have to say that pears are not one of my favorite fruits. I thought I’d give this a try to practice my pastry making skills.  It was love at first bite.  The combination of the tartness of the gorgonzola cheese, the sweetness of the pear and the saltiness of the prosciutto is absolutely divine perfection.  This is one recipe I will be making again and again!  Enjoy!

Pear Gorgonzola Tart

Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

Serves: 4 to 6 servings

 Ingredients

    • 1 store bought pie shell (I used a homemade tart shell)
    • 4 ounces cream cheese
    • 2 ounces Gorgonzola
    • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
    • Pinch salt
    • Pinch freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 3 small pears, cored and sliced
    • 2 ounces prosciutto, cut into thin strips

    Directions

Bake the pie shell in a square or round tart pan according to package instructions. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, combine the cream cheese, Gorgonzola, thyme, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Using a hand blender, whip the cheeses together.

In a large, heavy skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the pears and cook until golden on both sides, about 5 minutes.

When the tart crust has cooled slightly, gently spread the whipped cheese mixture evenly over the bottom of the tart. Place the pear slices in a decorative pattern over the cheese mixture. Sprinkle the thin strips of prosciutto over the pears.

Cut into squares or wedges and serve.

 

 

Chili-Grilled Eggplant and Sweet Roasted Pepper Tartlets in Poppy Seed Shells

I’ve been trying to use seasonal vegetables and now that Fall is in full swing I’ve made quite a few butternut squash recipes. Not to overdo the Butternut Squash recipes, I started looking for eggplant, another great Fall vegetable.  I really enjoy grilled eggplant, however, I decided I needed to diversify and switch it up with some new recipes.  I came across this recipe (Monica has a great food blog – check it out!) that combined my love of grilled eggplant in a tart!  Not only does it consist of grilled eggplant and roasted red peppers (another favorite of mine), but it has ricotta cheese and lemon.  Perfection!  Speaking of lemon, I discovered a microplane that is perfect for zesting!  I wish I had known about this sooner, but I’m reaping the rewards now – what a great kitchen tool!  This recipe is a little labor intensive, but very good!  The lemon flavored ricotta along with the grilled eggplant and roasted red pepper is a perfect flavor medley that will be sure to please your palate.  Enjoy!

One “trick” I didn’t know before involves eggplant and salt!  To remove as much moisture as possible and reduce any bitterness in an eggplant simply peel and slice the eggplant and sprinkle liberally with salt and allow to sit for an hour.  Put the eggplant slices on a cooling rack with a jellyroll sheet underneath to catch the moisture.  You will be amazed at all the moisture that is removed from the eggplant.  Be sure to rinse the eggplant and pat dry to remove all the salt.

Chili-Grilled Eggplant and Sweet Roasted Pepper Tartlets in Poppy Seed Shells

Poppy Seed Tartlets shells
For the tart dough – makes 4

6 tablespoons poppy seeds
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold and cut into ½ – inch cubes
1 egg
2 tablespoon cold water

Preheat oven to 350F.  Put four 4-inch tartlet pans on baking sheet.  Combine the poppy seeds, flour and salt in a food processor and pulse 2-3 times until incorporated.  Add the butter and pulse again until resembles coarse bread crumbs.  Stir in the egg and cold water, pulse again until incorporated, test the dough by pressing with your fingers, it should come together.  Put the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, knead it a couple of times, then form it into a flat disc. (note: you can store the dough at this point, by wrapping it in plastic film. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month).

Divide the dough into 2 pieces.  Roll one piece of dough out with a rolling pin to about ¼ inch thick.  Cut the dough to fit 2 of the tartlet pans.  Gently press the dough into each pan and trim the pastry flush with the pans to crate a neat appearance.  Roll the other half of the dough and line the remaining tartlet pans.  Place the baking sheet into the oven and bake until light brown, 12 to 15 minutes.  Put the tartlets on a cooling rack and let cool before removing the baked crust from each pan.

Put each tartlet shell on an individual serving plate.  Spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of the ricotta filling into the center of each shell.  Top with 1/3 cup of chili-grilled Eggplant and Sweet Roasted Peppers, mounding it slightly.  Garnish with the balsamic Julienne roasted peppers.  Serve the tartlets at room temperature or, if desired, carefully place them on a baking sheet for warming.  Heat in a 350F oven for 10 minutes.

Cool Ricotta Filling:

½ cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped red bell pepper
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
½ tablespoon whole milk
Salt (to taste)

Put all the ingredients into a small bowl and stir to combine well.

Chili-Grilled Eggplant and Sweet Roasted Pepper Filling

1 pound eggplant (about 2 medium)
¼ cup chili oil (found in most Asian markets)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¼ to ½ teaspoon ground cumin
Salt (to taste)
1 medium red bell pepper*
1 medium yellow bell pepper*
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat the grill to medium.  Slide the eggplant into ¼ – inch-thick slices and put the slices on a baking sheet.  Stir the chili oil and the ¼ cup olive oil together into a small bowl.  Lighting brush both sides of the eggplant slices with the oil mixture and dust with a little ground cumin and salt.

Heat the grill.  Place the eggplant and peppers on the grill.  Roast the eggplant until soft and well marked by the grill, about 2 minutes on each side.  Remove from the grill to cool.  Roast the peppers until black on all sides, 10 to 12 minutes.  Remove from the grill and let cool.  Peel the black skin off the peppers and the stem, and take out the seeds.  Put the eggplant slices, the remaining 2 tablespoon olive oil, half of each of the roasted peppers, garlic, and a little salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until chunky, about 5 to 10 seconds. Remove from the bowl and season with more salt, if needed.

Cut the remaining roasted peppers into Julienne strips and toss with the balsamic vinegar.  Garnish the eggplant mixture with the Julienne balsamic peppers.

*Purchased jarred or canned roasted red and yellow peppers can be used to save time.

Roasted Butternut Tart with Sage and Gorgonzola

In my search for Butternut Squash recipes I came across this recipe at Lisa McDonnell’s site.  Take a look, not only does she have wonderful recipes, but her photos are amazing as well.

This recipe blew me away, it is simply delicious!  I think even if you didn’t like Butternut Squash you would love this tart.  Thank you Lisa for this taste sensation!

 Roasted Butternut Tart with Sage and Gorgonzola

  •  1 small butternut squash
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil 
  • 2 cups of heavy cream (split into 1 cup servings)
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 ounces gorgonzola cheese  – crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage – plus 6 whole leaves
  • 1 recipe pâte brisée – basic pastry dough – pre-baked – recipe here

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.  Cut the butternut squash in half and place on a foil lined baking sheet.

Brush with some olive oil and sprinkle with some salt and pepper.   Roast for 1 hour or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork.  Let cool slightly.  Remove the flesh of the squash with a spoon.

Place into a bowl and mix with 1 cup of  the heavy cream, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  

In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, and the remaining cup of heavy cream.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spread the squash mixture in the bottom of the 10″ pre-baked tart shell. Carefully pour the egg mixture on top watching not to overflow. Sprinkle the gorgonzola on top followed by the chopped sage.

Gently arrange the 6 whole sage leaves on the top so that each slice will have one.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the tart is set and lightly browned.

I also made 6 individual mini tarts.

And … one full size tart.  One bite and you will want another and another and another!  Enjoy!