Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart by The Fat Foodie

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart by The Fat Foodie

The other night I needed something quick to whip up for dinner, but I wanted to make something that was going to be more exciting than a freezer pizza. After a rummage around the fridge I saw that I had a packet of puff pastry along with some good ripe tomatoes that had to be used up, so I figured a roasted garlic and tomato tart would do nicely.

Apart from having to roast the garlic for half an hour this is a pretty speedy and easy to create dinner, but most importantly, it also tastes out of this world.

I’ve kept my tart fairly simple by going for the roasted garlic and tomato topping, but you could easily make the tart with a topping of thinly sliced courgettes with green olives, pesto and spinach, bacon and cheddar cheese, or roasted peppers with mozzarella. Your options are extensive to say the least.

I served my roasted garlic and tomato tart with a drizzle of sweet balsamic glaze which massively complemented the roasted garlic and tomatoes. It went beautifully with a fresh, green salad that was tossed in a light French salad dressing. This tart is a perfect example of how it’s the simplest things in the culinary world that often bring the most amount of pleasure.

Ingredients:

1 whole garlic bulb

1 tbsp of sunflower oil

500g block of puff pastry

6 ripe tomatoes (each cut into eight wedges)

20 pitted black olives (cut in half lengthways)

1 small onion (thinly sliced)

1 tbsp American mustard

50g Violife Pizza Mozzarella

Fresh basil

Freshly ground black pepper

Balsamic glaze

Method:

Preheat your oven to 200C/180C Fan/400F/Gas mark 6.

Cut the tip off the garlic bulb, drizzle with 1 tbsp of sunflower oil, wrap in tin foil and roast in the oven for half an hour. Remove from the oven and let it cool.

In the meantime, line a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.

Roll out the block of puff pastry so that it just fits your baking tray.

Using a knife, lightly cut a line around the outside of the pastry (about 1 cm away from the edge), but try not to cut all the way through the pastry. Prick the interior all over with a fork.

Rolled Out Puff Pastry in Preparation For the Filling

Rolled Out Puff Pastry in Preparation For the Filling

Once the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic pulp out of the cloves and put it in a bowl.

Add 1 tbsp of American mustard to the garlic puree and mix.

Roasted Garlic Puree

Roasted Garlic Puree

Spread the garlic and mustard puree all over the inside of the puff pastry (avoiding the outer edge) before placing the sliced onions, tomato wedges and black olives on top.

Sprinkle with salt, pepper and the grated vegan mozzarella.

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Raw Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart Ready to be Baked

Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and your toppings are cooked through.

Freshly Baked Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart

Freshly Baked Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart by The Fat Foodie

Serve either as it is or with a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Bellissimo!

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart by The Fat Foodie

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Tart by The Fat Foodie

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Garlic and Parmesan Hasselback Potatoes

Garlic and Parmesan Hasselback Potatoes by The Fat Foodie

Garlic and Parmesan Hasselback Potatoes by The Fat Foodie

In the past few months I’ve discovered a great food blog called Cooking Without Limits which focuses on lovely recipes and gorgeous food photography. She recently put up a blog post on half Hasselback potatoes which inspired me to have a bash at creating my own variation, garlic and parmesan Hasselback potatoes.

Hasselback potatoes are a Swedish baked potato dish which looks really stunning and tastes fantastic, incorporating thinly sliced, crisp, buttery fanned out wedges of potato with whatever you choose to season them with. Although they are delicious with a simple addition of salt, if you add rosemary, minced garlic and parmesan cheese it truly lifts them up to the level of sublime.

Although they look tricky to make, they’re actually surprisingly easy to prepare and you could make garlic and parmesan hasselback potatoes with sweet potatoes if you had a mind to. I made them to accompany a dinner of chicken en croute, but you could serve them with any meal that you would normally serve roast potatoes with. Actually, if you added crispy shards of smoked bacon, chilli flakes and sour cream you’d have the makings of a very satisfying main meal in itself.

I made my hasselback potatoes with a minced garlic rub, a sprinkling of rosemary and a generous topping of parmesan shavings and they were divine, producing forkfuls of butter-toasted soft potato with a well-seasoned garlicky, cheesy crust. Although I made mine with little new potatoes you could easily make them with large baking potatoes too. It’d probably make one of the fanciest, but tastiest baked potatoes you’ve ever eaten!

I’d strongly encourage you to try making these garlic and parmesan hasselback potatoes because once you’ve mastered them they’re a great addition to your repertoire and instantly make any meal look enticing and more polished overall. Imagine your family’s faces when you produce a batch of these golden brown wee tatties to go with their roast chicken on Sunday!

Ingredients:

New potatoes

1 tsp of salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp finely chopped rosemary (dried or fresh, but you might need a bit more if using fresh)

2 minced garlic cloves

3 tbsps. melted butter

75g finely grated parmesan

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas mark 4.

Wash (but don’t peel) all of your potatoes and skewer them horizontally through their middles with a kebab skewer. (You can put more than one potato on each skewer.)

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How To Skewer Your Potatoes

Lay the skewered potatoes on a chopping board and cut through each of them until your knife meets the skewer. Once you’ve done them all, flip the skewer over and repeat on the other side of the potatoes.

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How To Cut The Potatoes

Put the potatoes on a large baking tray. Massage the minced garlic into the cuts on the potatoes and then brush the potatoes generously all over with melted butter, reserving some of the butter to use halfway through their cooking process. But don’t worry if you use up all of the butter before baking them because you can always use more butter, right?

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Garlic and Parmesan Hasselback Potatoes Ready For The Oven

Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle on the rosemary and then put them in the oven for about 25 mins.

After this initial 25 minutes of cooking the potato slices will have started to fan out, so take the potatoes out of the oven and give them another brushing with melted butter. Put them back in the oven for another 20-30 mins.

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Baked Garlic and Parmesan Hasselback Potatoes by The Fat Foodie

Once the potatoes are cooked and have soft interiors and golden brown skins, take them out, sprinkle the parmesan cheese over them and put them back in the oven for a few minutes to let the cheese melt and go crispy.

Carefully remove the skewers (they’re roasting hot!) and serve.

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Dinner by The Fat Foodie!

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Steak Fajitas with a Side Helping of Science and Guacamole (serves 4)

Steak Fajitas by The Fat Foodie

Steak Fajitas by The Fat Foodie

Some time ago a friend of mine asked me if I’d consider doing a blog post on fajitas, but every time I made chicken fajitas I never felt as though they were interesting enough to feature on my website. However, I came to realise that this was down to two reasons. One, I’m utterly bored to death with eating chicken in fajitas when there are much more interesting options out there instead. And two, I needed to know more about how Mexicans created authentic fajitas (i.e. what meat did they tend to use? How did they marinate it? And what herbs and spices did they use?). This realisation led me into an investigative journey into the chemistry that creates a fantastic fajita.

WARNING! SCIENCE AHEAD! READ ON AT YOUR PERIL!

(But it’s quite interesting so I’d keep reading if I were you…)

The perfect fajita is made up of a number of components which come together to produce a wonderful medley of Mexican flavours: a warmed soft flour tortilla; juicy, slightly seared around the edges meat which is encrusted in paprika, cumin and chilli; and soft, buttery guacamole that’s sharp, but aromatic, with freshly squeezed lime juice. Bliss.

Although, there’s more to it than just serving the right combination of ingredients for people to cram into a tortilla, the meat’s got to be treated right in the first place in order for it to give its all to the diner’s palate. That’s where the chemistry comes in. Upon investigation, I’ve discovered that the best meat to serve when making fajitas is beef. To be precise, good quality lean skirt steak (also known as flank).

The unique structural fibres of steak enable it to absorb the oils, acids and salts of a marinade much better than chicken or pork ever could and allow it to retain the flavours of the herbs and spices we choose to add, but it’s the important chemical effect of the marinade that leads to the production of a beautifully soft and juicy piece of cooked beef.

The best steak fajita marinade will always contain three elements: oil; acid; and salt. The oil works on three levels: it emulsifies the marinade and allows it to coat the beef efficiently; it dissolves the oil-soluble flavour compounds within the garlic and spices, enabling them to be absorbed into the meat; and it also provides a protective layer around the meat when you cook it over a high heat, hopefully helping it to retain its natural moisture. The acid, in the form of fresh lime juice, tenderises the meat and breaks down the connective tissue, leading to a softer and easier to chew mouthful of beef. And lastly, the marinade’s salt content dissolves myosin (a muscle protein) which gives the beef a slacker texture and helps retain its moisture. Also, by using soy sauce instead of plain old salt it introduces glutamate and protease (found naturally in soy sauce) into the marinade which add umami flavours and tenderise the meat further.

I did warn you there’d be science.

In an ideal world I’d marinade the steak fajita strips overnight to really let the flavours be absorbed by the meat, but if you take the notion to make these I think you can get away with an hour’s marinating (that’s what I did, to be honest). And in terms of cooking the meat, cook it fast over a really high heat and try to cook the steak medium to enable the natural juices of the steak to remain.

Serve the steak fajitas with a plethora of delicious accompaniments so that the people at your dining table can build the perfect fajita to suit themselves. Sombreros and stick on handlebar moustaches are optional.

Ingredients for the marinade:

500g of skirt steak (cut into strips)

1 heaped tsp paprika

1 heaped tsp smoked paprika

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp celery salt

½ tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp ground chilli

¼ tsp ground black pepper

2 tbsps. soy sauce

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

The juice of 1 lime

Additional ingredients:

A large onion (thinly sliced)

A large yellow pepper (cut into thin slices)

To make a basic guacamole:

1 ½ avocados

1 clove of garlic (minced)

The juice of ½ a lime

8 cherry tomatoes (quartered)

¼ tsp fine salt

Method:

Put the steak strips in a large bowl and add all the ingredients into the bowl with it (apart from your guacamole ingredients, obviously). Stir it all thoroughly and leave to marinade.

When you’re happy that your meat’s marinated enough put a griddle pan or a large frying pan over a high heat.

Drain and discard the liquid from the steak marinade before putting the steak and the slices of onion and pepper into the hot pan.

Cook the steak to your preferred liking. Once cooked, put the steak in a serving bowl and cover with foil and let it rest for 5 mins while you make the guacamole.

To make the guacamole:

Half your avocados and remove the stone. Use a spoon to scoop out the avocado flesh and mash it in a bowl before adding the rest of the guacamole ingredients. Mix them all together and place in a serving bowl.

Serve your steak fajitas with warm, soft tortilla wraps, the guacamole, chopped fresh coriander, salsa, crème fraiche or sour cream, re-fried beans, grated cheese, and slices of fresh chilli.

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