Third Grade and Rustic Tomato Tart Recipe

Things have been a little hectic in our house lately as both my daughters started school this week.  I’m sure many of you are facing the same brutal reality that summer break is coming to an end.  Hannah and I hit the road Tuesday to move her into her dorm room.  She is happily embarking on year 2 of college and I couldn’t be more proud (and kind of sad because I miss having her around)!  I made the 9 hour drive back home on Wednesday and Carrie started third grade Thursday.  Our school district has different buildings for different grade levels.  Last year, Carrie was in a building that was first and second grades.  This year, she switched to a much larger school for grades 3, 4 and 5.  She was really excited and popped right up out of bed, ate breakfast and we were out the door no problem.  When we got to school and she saw all the other kids, she seemed a little nervous (4th and 5th graders can be intimidating).  Of course, she had a fantastic day, loves her new teachers and saw many of her friends!  My sweet girl is growing up way too fast!

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To help ease the transition from summer break to school days, I thought I’d surprise her with one of her favorite dishes for dinner and really celebrate her first day of third grade.  I’ve made this Rustic Tomato Tart a couple times this summer.  As a matter of fact, this is Carrie’s request for her birthday dinner every July.  I snagged some gorgeous tomatoes from a farm stand in North Carolina on Wednesday and couldn’t wait to top off Carrie’s first day of school with a delicious summertime dinner!

As I started preparing the dough, it dawned on me that I could share this with everyone.  I came across this recipe in Cooking Light several years ago and it has been a dish my family looks forward to every summer.  It’s not fancy but it is so yummy!  The preparation includes several steps but they are not hard and totally worth it; all that’s required is a little patience.

I didn’t capture photos of the dough making because I thought about posting it after I finished that part.  The dough calls for fresh corn kernels (I just cut them right off the cob), a little lemon juice and sour cream.  I toss all that into my little magic bullet to blend then add them to the flour, cornmeal, butter and salt.  I use my hands to make the dough then roll it out between sheets of plastic wrap.  I then put the rolled out piece of dough on a flat cookie sheet and stick it in the freezer until I’m ready to assemble.  Today I made the dough early and left it in the freezer for a few hours.  It works like a charm and makes dinner prep much easier to do this step ahead of time.  My tip on cornmeal is to use coarse grind.  It gives the dough a nice little crunch and I love it so much more than regular cornmeal in this recipe.

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If you are already thinking this recipe sounds too complicated, stick with it!  This tart is scrumptious and, once you try it, you’ll be looking for every reason to make it again.

I sliced the tomatoes then placed them on paper towels and salted them.  The salt draws out some of the moisture.  Then I grated the cheese, grabbed the dough, preheated the oven and started putting the whole thing together.  Those are some good-looking tomatoes, huh?  I like to use a combination but you can use whatever kind you have on hand.

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Once I remove the plastic wrap from one side of the dough (it’s much easier to remove while the dough is frozen), I flip it onto a piece of parchment paper that is covered with the cornmeal.  Next, I remove the other pieces of plastic wrap and start with the first layer of fontina cheese, fresh basil and flour.  The scissors pictured here are amazing!  They are herb scissors and they make life so easy!  The flour gets sifted over the cheese to keep the crust from getting too soggy from those juicy tomatoes.

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Here come the tomatoes!  Just one layer for now and leave a little dough border.  Beautiful!

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One more sprinkle of flour then another layer of tomatoes.

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This part is fun and where the term “rustic” comes in.  Simply fold the dough around the tomatoes.  See the flecks of cornmeal?  You’re going to love the crunch!

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Pop it in the oven for about 30-35 minutes.  It will be golden brown and the tomatoes will be cooked.  I like to sprinkle more cheese (yep) on top and let it melt for a few minutes at the end.  Once I take it out of the oven, I top it with more fresh basil.  It looks pretty and, truth be told, I could eat basil 24/7 when it’s tomato season!  MORE BASIL!

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There you have it!  It’s fresh, healthy and delicious!  Carrie LOVES this dish!  Please don’t be intimidated by the numerous steps.  Once you make it a couple times, you’ll find it’s really simple.  Besides, you can’t mess it up because it’s rustic!  Find something to celebrate this weekend and make this before all the tomatoes are gone.  Let me know how it turns out!

From the heart, Shannon

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Here’s the full recipe from Cooking Light.  Again, I usually make the dough ahead of time.

Rustic Tomato Tart

1 1/2 pounds medium yellow tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 1/2 pounds medium red tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2-3 ears)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal (Bob’s Red Mill coarse grind is really good!)
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided
3/4 cup shredded fontina cheese
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Preparation

Arrange tomato slices in a single layer on several layers of paper towels; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand 20 minutes; blot dry with paper towels.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Place corn, juice, and sour cream in a food processor or blender; process until smooth. Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/4 cup cornmeal, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add corn mixture; stir until a soft dough forms. Knead gently 3 or 4 times.
Slightly overlap 2 (16-inch) sheets of plastic wrap (or parchment paper or wax paper) on a slightly damp surface. Place dough on plastic wrap; press into a 6-inch circle. Cover with 2 additional (16-inch) sheets of overlapping plastic wrap. Roll dough, still covered, into a 14-inch circle; place on a large baking sheet in freezer 10 minutes or until plastic wrap can be easily removed. Line baking sheet with parchment paper; sprinkle paper with 1 tablespoon cornmeal. Remove 2 sheets of plastic wrap from dough. Place dough, plastic wrap side up, on baking sheet. Remove top sheets of plastic wrap.
Combine 2 tablespoons flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Arrange half the cheese on dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Top with basil. Using a sifter or sieve, sift 1 tablespoon flour mixture over cheese mixture. Arrange half of tomatoes over cheese mixture. Sift remaining flour mixture over tomatoes; top with remaining tomatoes. Fold edges of dough toward center; press to seal (dough will only partially cover tomatoes). Bake at 400° for 35 minutes or until crust is brown; let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with fresh basil and pepper.

Blueberry Bliss and a Recipe

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Happy end of July friends!  WOW!  I can’t believe it is almost August!  July is one of my favorite months.  Most importantly, it’s the month we celebrate Carrie’s birthday (she just turned 8)!  It’s usually the month when summer feels like summer.  Flowers are everywhere, pools are full of adults and kids splashing, local veggies are delicious and evenings are full of fireflies, games and s’mores.  This summer has been a little cooler than I hoped but that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying most of  the things summer has to offer.

Remember the farm we stumbled upon to pick strawberries?  I never stopped thinking about what the farmer said about the blueberry picking in July.  As a matter of fact, I started calling the last week of June to check the readiness of the berries.  I know…

My mother-in-law came for a visit and I thought it would be fun to take her blueberry picking.  She and my father-in-law have a beautiful cabin in Minnesota where they pick wild blueberries every July.  As a matter of fact, there is a Blueberry Fest held each year in nearby Ely, MN.

I couldn’t wait to get to the farm!  The blueberry bushes did not disappoint and before we knew it, we had tons of blueberries!  Carrie was just as excited to pick blueberries as she was strawberries (maybe a little more since Granny was there) and we had a great afternoon!

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We ate lots of them while we picked and all I could think about was making one of our family favorites, Blueberry Cake.  The recipe is from The Chopping Block located in Chicago.  My sister-in-law took me for a cooking class just before my wedding in 2004.  It was there I first had this cake and it has been a staple in my recipe book ever since!  I’ve made this many times and it always turns out perfectly.  This time I used only blueberries but have prepared it with both blueberries and fresh peaches, a super yummy combo!  Add fresh peaches to anything and I’m there!  Here’s how to make this simple, not too sweet, delightful little cake.  I’m including the recipe at the end so please let me know if you try it and how you like it.

It all starts with dry ingredients:  flour, dark brown sugar, white sugar, cinnamon and salt; cut in butter.

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Next, you divide the mixture and add the following to about 2/3 of the mixture:  baking soda, buttermilk, egg

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Then you simply place half of the wet mixture in a baking pan or pie dish and sprinkle the berries on top

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Top the berry layer with the remaining wet batter then sprinkle the remaining dry crumbs on top and bake…EASY!

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I have served this cake many times with cinnamon ice cream along side.  I know, right?  I didn’t have any on hand so I made fresh whipped cream and added cinnamon.  Oh, the sacrifices I make.  Ummmmmm, y’all know about my love affair with whipped cream!  The cinnamon made it extra special and, well, you have to try it!  This cake is a scrumptious dessert and would be out of this world spectacular served for breakfast or brunch.  After all, it’s loaded with healthy, antioxidant rich blueberries.  It would be a tasty treat on a picnic.  The possibilities are endless.  It’s not fancy and that’s what makes it so delicious!  Bake this cake…you won’t be sorry!

From the heart, Shannon

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Here’s the complete recipe:

Blueberry Cake

1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 1/2 cups blueberries (more if you wish-fresh, frozen, store bought; also, you can add peaches, raspberries, any berry)

Preheat oven to 325; butter and flour or spray a pan or pie dish (8-9” wide)

Stir together the flour, sugars, cinnamon and salt and cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until crumbly. Set aside about 1/3 of these crumbs in a separate bowl. Add the baking soda, buttermilk and egg to the other crumbs and combine well. Place half of this batter into your baking dish. Sprinkle the berries on top of the batter then top with the rest of the batter and top with the reserved dry crumbs.

Bake until firm and golden, about 35-45 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream.