The secret of life is...
February 13th, 2006

…butter! With this line, the movie had already made up for a few over-the-top stereotypical peculiarities. The flick “Last Holiday” (silly title, who was the genius?) we got to see at sneak last Friday was made for a foodie. Starting with a scene showing Georgia Byrd (Queen Latifah) in the kitchen cooking while watching Emeril, suddenly, out of the blue pulling out a camera and shooting her dish. That was so not expected, making us, including our friends who know about our passion, laugh out loud! The movie is not all about food, but it’s certainly part of its metaphoric image representing the joys in life. Other lines that cracked me up included the highly awarded Chef Didier (Gerard Depardieu) being asked to prepare the entire menu from top to bottom for a new guest and Didier happy to be cooking for a “worthy” guest, enthusiastically bursts out: “I like that woman! It was a woman!?

Tomato Tartlet

It’s a typical Hollywood flick, don’t expect a masterpiece. On the same note, however, it’s very entertaining (and it rarely happens, that the audience at “our” cinema applauds afterwards…) and Gerard Depardieu can be seen in a role that suits him spot-on. In the event you didn’t know, Depardieu himself is an avid cook, restaurant-owner and even wrote his own cookbook.

So what’s the connection between the tartlets and the movie? Well, there is none. Except to say, that those yummy tomato tarts we consciously enjoyed remembering the bottom line of the movie (life is short. live it up. in so many words).

Tomato Tartlet

Fry the chopped bacon in a flat pan until crisp, then drain. Add fried bacon, lightly toasted pine nuts, garlic clove, grated parmesan, pepper and olive oil into your kitchen blender and run it for a few seconds. The amount of olive oil can vary, just add enough to get a pesto-like texture.

Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Roll out the (defrosted) puff pastry and cut/stamp into individual circles or rectangles. Our circles had about 10cm (4inch) in diameter. Add a teaspoon of the bacon mixture on to each tart base, leaving a good-size edge. Halve cherry tomatoes, arrange on top, drizzle some olive oil and fresh thyme leaves over tarts, add a few pine nuts and place on parchment paper.

Note: The book suggest to prepare a basil leaves and olive oil mix to be poured over the tarts before and after the baking. Innocent until proven guilty, I followed the books suggestion, just to find my suspicion verified: nearly black basil leaves – contrary to the mouthwatering photo in the book. Yeah, right! For the second batch I applied common sense and only added the basil leaves/olive oil mix afterwards.
On another Note: In the spirit of my experimenting mood, I have -in vain- attempted to create the perfect edge (see the photo above) with a separate layer of puff pastry. Didn’t work. The tart turned into a huge tower, tossing the tomatoes all over the baking sheet. So what’s the secret to those perfectly even edges?

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the tart crust turns golden brown. Remove from oven and drizzle with the mix of basil leaves and olive oil. Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste, if desired. They’re delicious served both warm and cold.

Tomato Tartlet

Tomato Tartlets with Bacon Pesto

Recipe source: The Art of the Tart, Tamasin Day-Lewis, p.22, adapted

Prep time: 20min., baking: 15-20min.

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Ingredients (yields 6 mini-tartlets):

6 rectangular sheets of (frozen) puff pastry

6 slices bacon, chopped

1 clove garlic

2-3 tbsp grated parmesan

2 tbsp lightly toasted pine nuts

freshly ground black pepper

3-4 tbsp olive oil

6-12 cherry tomatoes (depending on their size)

additional pine nuts for decoration

fresh thyme

fresh basil and olive oil to drizzle over

coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

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