Yesterday I hosted an event at my house to benefit SSDN. It was a simple backyard cocktail party with about 40 people (and 5 dogs), very generous people who brought reams of paper, boxes and boxes of crayons and other great stuff. And, of course, for me it was a great day because I was able to spend the day cooking. Apologies for the photos, things were busy, and I just grabbed a few shots with my phone.
Among the appetizers I made were a few winners.
First, a stuffed tomato. This was a riff on something I had a few weeks ago, Roma tomatoes with hummus.
Italian Stuffed Tomatoes
- Cherry tomatoes
- White bean spread (I doctored with a little sun-dried tomato)
- Pine nuts, lightly toasted
- Fresh basil
Slice the tomatoes in half and remove seeds. Let them drain upside down on a cutting board for a few minutes. Spoon the white bean spread into each tomato, sprinkle with pine nuts. Just before serving sprinkle with fresh basil.
Note: these can be made in advance, I made them in the morning and served around 6 pm. When I cleaned up, close to midnight, there were two tomatoes left andthey still tasted good.
Goat Cheese Pancetta Tartlets
This is an oldie, but a goodie.
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 ounces chilled cream cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 -3 cups chopped leeks (white and pale green parts – about 4)
- Olive oil
- 4 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped (I buy the pre-chopped containers at Trader Joes)
- 2/3 cup half and half
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
Blend flour, butter and cream cheese in food processor. Using on/off turns, blend until moist clumps form. Gather dough; shape into 6-inch-long log. Wrap and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Cut log into 24 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Press 1 round into each cup of 2 nonstick 12-cup mini muffin pans; freeze 30 minutes.
Note: This crust can be used for lots of other appetizers and I have made the log up to 3 days in advance. Don’t skip the freezer step, I don’t notice a difference in taste, but it makes it much hard to get out of the pan.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter or olive in large skillet over medium heat. Saute pancetta, cook for a few minutes, and then add leeks and sauté 10 minutes; cool. Whisk half and half, egg yolks, pepper and goat cheese together, then add to the leeks and pancetta. I often mix it in the same pan I cooked the leeks in (to keep the dirty dishes to a minimum, but make sure the pan has cooled first so the egg does not cook).
Spray the mini muffin tin (before adding the crusts) with Pam or other spray. Spoon filling into shells. Bake until filling is set and crust edges are golden, about 30 minutes. Cool in pans 5 minutes.
Note: I have made the filling a few hours in advance so things come together quickly.