14 April 2008

Crowd Pleasers

I used to keep a kitchen diary, a little book where I would take down recipes that I've tried and that worked. I'd start one, then start hunting high and low for it, with only a handful of recipes into the book. I've been through journals of all shapes, sizes and colours before I decided that I'd stop wasting my time with this truly vicious cycle.

If I still kept one of my kitchen diaries, this recipe for tomato tart would definitely be penned into the book. Although it wouldn't be much of a recipe as much as it would be a quick jotting down of 'Slow-roasted tomatoes, Caramelised onions, Char-grilled peppers and Puff Pastry/Table Water crackers/Anything nice and crunchy'.

It started out simply with just a fascination for this recipe that turned juicy, and mildly tart tomatoes into intensely sweet nibbles. So I started adding them to burgers, soups, canapes, and salads. Wherever I thought it wouldn't look out of place, it was always there to lend a hand.

Over time, I developed a similarly strong liking for slowly caramelised onions. Leaving onions to sweat in its own juices, waiting for it to turn a slight shade of brown and melt into utterly sweet tenderness is always a painful test of patience.

And then came char-grilled peppers. The first time I encountered these gems was, and I feel my face flush even as I'm typing this, through one of Jamie Oliver's cooking shows. I'm a not-so-secret fan of his, and am a sob-show when watching his TV series - school dinners. In his usual 'bim-bam-slam' style, he threw a couple of peppers onto an open fire on the stove and watched it turn totally black. He then left them to sweat in brown paper bags, then peeled off their skins, leaving behind soft, juicy, peppery flesh.

I was intrigued by the process, and didn't wait long to try it on my own, only to realise that I had been missing out on something so great for all 20 over years of my life. My love story with peppers started then.

And so the Mother-of-all-tarts was born. For convenience, it was named a tomato tart. It wouldn't have been as much a mouthful as a slow-roasted-tomato-and-caramelised-onions-and-char-grilled-peppers-tart. Even Tomato, Onion and Peppers Tart sounded too complicated for my mind to wrap around.

Something crunchy or flaky, like puff pastry, rolled out and punched out with cookie cutters then baked blind, provides much needed texture to the combination of all three ingredients above. And they never fail to be crowd pleasers. Even my brother who, like me, never fancied onions or peppers, would make exceptions for these bite-sized canapes.

The making of each of these components (tomatoes, onions, peppers) requires a lot of eye-balling. With just a little practice and perhaps some luck for good measure, you'll master it really quickly!

Links for recipes:
Slow-roasted tomatoes
Caramelised onions (I'd sometimes add white wine and/or sugar)
Char-grilled peppers


yixian said...

Tomato, Onion and Peppers Tart ?


JY said...

Oh manz I love caramelised onions :D

Btw I was reading your post on Ratatouille... Do you have a foolproof recipe for making Ratatouille? Hope it's relatively simple for a cooking dummy like me... Thanks!

Anonymous said...

erhm ..

isn't it too toxic to leave them so near the gas stove???

Anonymous said...

yix> Omg, fantastic name! Top Tart indeed. =)

Jy> Hi! Sorry I don't have a recipe for ratatouille, and according to Nicolas, it's really something homecooks in France just wing based on experience?

Anon> Toxic? Not really, well it does char and leave messy charred bits around your stove. The preferred method is to put it under a hot grill, but I usually just do it over the stove. =)

JY said...

Oops its ok! Yeah I saw Brewerkz's new outlet, it's really near my place! What dishes & desserts do you recommend, besides the salad?

Anonymous said...

I thought their lamb shank was not bad. Their desserts were decent but not anything to scream about. Understandable since they are afterall, a pub. =)

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Mark said...

charring the crap out of stuff on an open fire is just the best idea ever. my favourite is the toast!