Roasted Tomato and Scarmoza Cheese Tart

This Roasted Tomato and Scarmoza Cheese Tart is a flavor bomb of umami. Roasting adds depth to tomatoes, even if they are not quite at the height of season. Scarmoza is a semi-soft cow’s milk cheese that melts better than mozzarella and has a slightly stronger flavor. I use the smoky variety called scamorza affumicata, although I often find this style simply labelled as scarmoza. You can use a free hand sprinkling the cheese over the tart before baking, but taste the cheese first to get an idea of how strong it is. Even though cheese is always delicious, you don’t want to overwhelm the tomato with the smokiness of the cheese. The base is buttery puff pastry. I like to make these as 5″ individual tarts.

Makes 6

Ingredients:

24 Roma Tomatoes
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
½  lb/ 250 g Puff Pastry
6 Thyme Sprigs, chopped
4 oz/ 115 g Scarmoza Cheese, grated

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Cheese and Leek Rolls

These popular rolls are based on glamorgan sausages. Instead of being incased in bread crumbs and fried, they are baked in puff pastry.  Also they are a good stand in for sausage rolls if you want a change.  I’ve given proportions to shape a full sized 5″ roll, but you can also cut these smaller for appetizers and snacks.  You can freeze whatever you don’t need unbaked.  They can be baked from frozen; just increase cooking times.

The leeks are sautéed in more butter than you might think is needed so that it will bind the mixture.

To thoroughly clean the leeks cut of the dark green portion.  Slice down the middle, leaving the root intact. Run cold water over leek, opening middle to rinse out all sand. Shake off excess water and slice.

You can make your own puff pastry or purchase it. If it’s store bought try to get all butter pastry if possible.

This recipe yields 12-15 rolls.

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Fergus Henderson’s Welsh Rarebit

Welsh Rarebit – posh for cheese on toast. This recipe takes a small amount of time, and a bit of effort, but if you make enough, you can use it over several days.

Ingredients:
A knob of butter
A tablespoon of flour
1 teaspoon English Mustard powder
1/2 a teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper (or two teaspoons!)
200 ml Guinness. Yep. Beer. Makes everything better.
Copious amounts of Worcestershire Sauce
450 grammes of mature strong Cheddar – grated
Toast. The above goop will cover about 4-6 pieces.

Melt the butter and stir in the flour – this makes a roux. Don’t brown it though, just let it cook until it starts to smell a bit like biscuits – or cookies if you are from the colonies.

Add the mustard powder and the cayenne. stir well, then add the Guinness and the Worcestershire Sauce. Keep stirring and slowly add the cheese, allowing it to melt each time you add more.Once its all melted, and the mixture is all the same consistency, pour it into a container and allow it to cool. It will set nicely.

Spread the goop onto toast, about 1 cm thick, and put it under the grill. Wait until it is bubbling all over and turns a golden brown.

It’s blooming delicious and goes well at the end of a meal, with port, or just as a snack.

Fix me a sammich

I do enjoy a good sandwich. It has to be made with excellent bread and fresh ingredients mind you, which is why most pre-packaged triangular “sandwiches” so rarely come up to snuff. Making your own is more satisfying on many levels – you make it yourself, and you make it exactly the way you want it;  can’t be bad.

While adding condiments can be the way to go, think mustard on ham, or horseradish on roast-beef, there is one sandwich that requires no condiments at all, just great ingredients and a bit of seasoning. As a kid, growing up in Holland, I used to regularly head to De Bruine Boon in Leiden, and order a koffie-verkeerd (Basically a coffee made “wrongly”, lots of milk) and a broodje-brie. The Bruine-Boon is still there today, but seems to have been renovated, so to me, has lost some of its charm. Of course, it may be exactly the same, and I have become jaded, who knows? If you are in Leiden, I recommend it for a spot of lunch (or brunch with a hangover – I seem to remember doing a lot of those at the Boon).

So for a broodje-brie, or Brie sandwich, take a fresh, crusty, French Baguette ( I believe they’re called Freedom Baguettes over here), some Brie (the most delicious is invariably a triple-cream, but for the sake of your weight or your heart, any will do), and a fresh, ripe tomato.

Slice about 6 inches diagonally from the baguette, and split it down it’s length. Cut slices, about 5 mm thick of the Brie and cover the bottom slice of bread with it. Then thinly (or however you want) slice the tomatoes and lay them on the Brie. Season with salt and freshly ground black-pepper. That’s it!

This sandwich really hits the spot at lunchtime, and goes well with a crisp, dry white-wine like a Sancerre, or a New-Zealand Cabernet-Sauvignon. Or a nice dry cider, or a beer, or a glass of water, or a koffie-verkeerd. You get the picture.

Tartiwhat?

Tartiwhat? Tartiflette I say…. I first had this dish in a small motel while training a school recently. The motel to be honest is not the most up market affair but that is easily made up for the by lady who pretty much runs everything. She always seems absolutely upbeat and is happy to kindly rib her guests- she just seems to be a glass half full person. One night I got in a little late and asked what the special was. Tartiflette I was informed and after a brief description was none the wiser. However on arrival it proved to be superb comfort food. A little research seems to indicate this simple dish is not as well known as many other French dishes but seems to be gaining popularity. It’s simple to make and here is my take….
Ingredients:
Potatoes – any that don’t fall apart on boiling and are a good size.
Reblochon Cheese – make the effort to find it!
Onion- one good size
Cream-small tub
Garlic Clove
400g Bacon (mmmmmmmmm bacon!)
Salt and pepper

Peel about 750 grams of potatoes and slice-not too thin and not too thick (how’s that for specific? OK try 1/4inch). Please no comments on mixing units! Put on the boil in salted water for 10 to 15 minutes. Basically cook them quite well through but not so they fall apart and have a bit of firmness. At the same time dice a good sized onion and sweat in some butter and a dash of olive oil. Do not brown the onions. Add 200g to 400g of bacon lardons and fry off gently with the onions with a glove of chopped garlic. As ever avoid pinching all the bacon here. 400g is for those who love bacon and have a weak will. Take a shallowish non metallic baking dish and butter it. Layer potatoes on the base and place some of the onion and bacon mix on top. Take half a reblochon cheese and dice it up roughly- rind and all. Put some of the cheese on top to the potatoes, onions and bacon. Season lightly. Repeat the layers. Drizzle some cream over the dish – a small tub should do as it does not want to be too “liquidy“. Pop in a preheated oven for 20mins or so at 200 degC. Top should crisp up nicely as should the top potatoes if you got the liquid right.
Enjoy! Simple and superb….