Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Market Inspired: Tomato & Cream Cheese Tart

Although it states right up there in the title that this a market-inspired dish, it is actually much more of a Food Hack-inspired dish. These past two weeks have felt like the part of my heart and my head where creativity lies have been hooked up to a defibrillator and have been shocked back into gear. It was only a few short weeks ago that I was crying on my boyfriend Chris' balcony, forlorn over what felt the apparent loss of my creativity and motivation. I was standing at a fork in the road with one direction pointing towards a sensible, steady office job, and the other up in the clouds towards this strange foggy dream that I've been chasing, and I was distraught over the fact that I was just about ready to give up the latter. It's a weird and unexplainable fact of life that Florence Welch so eloquently wrote into one of her hit songs: "It's always darkest before the dawn." No, this past month hasn't been my darkest of times, but it's certainly been confusing as hell, as I've tried with all my might to make sense of combining what I want out of my life (creative stimulation, passion, joy, success, freedom) with what I need out of my life (money and stability). 
Life is like opening that stubborn tight-fitting lid on a jar. Right when you're about to give it all up and quit or ask for help, the lid pops loose! And that's exactly what happened with me. Right when I felt so incredibly lost and unsure of myself, opportunity knocked in the form of a contest that had "this is your dream Danielle!" written all over it! The Kraft Food Hacks competition that I wrote a little bit about in my last entry, would be an absolute dream come true. More than a dream, I can see a reality in it. I can see my future in that role, and that alone was the push I needed to get myself back into gear, and feel that spark that I felt I had been missing as of late. 

On Monday night I participated in Round 2 of the competition, a Twitter party/Interview where finalists and other party guests were asked a series of eight food-hack-related questions to test our originality and creativity, engagement and personal presence, and relevancy of our answers to the questions asked. Although it was my very first Twitter party, and it was at first extremely overwhelming, I feel confident that I put my best face forward and maybe (just maybe!) I could be chosen as one of the three finalists to be judged in Round 3. 
With Food Hacks on the brain last night, I could think of nothing else but creating something hack-worthy and delicious with the leftover Homemade Fresh Garlic & Herb Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese that I made for my Peeling Lots of Garlic Hack that I demonstrated in my video submission. I also had beautiful, colourful tomatoes from the sip & Savour Ontario Farm & Artisan Market leftover, as well as some shallots, basil, and puff pastry that needed to go. A match made in heaven! The tart was quick-as-can-be to prepare and came out looking and tasting restaurant-worthy, thanks to the creamy addition of the flavourful cream cheese and the pop of the sweet juice of the market-fresh tomatoes. This food-hack is a definite winner in my books! 

Note: My puff pastry doesn't look quite as "puffed" as it should because the tart was a very last-minute idea, so I had to do a quickie thaw, which affects the rise of the dough.

1 sheet puff pastry 
125 g Plain Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese (1/2 a package), softened
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp each basil, dill, flat-leaf parsley, green onions, finely chopped
2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
a drizzle of olive oil
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 tbsp dry white wine
4 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade 
salt and white pepper, to season

  1. Stir together the softened cream cheese with the crushed garlic and chopped herbs. Set aside.
  2. Heat a medium-sized pan to medium-low heat. Coat the pan with a drizzle of olive oil. Add the shallots and cook until very soft and translucent. Increase heat to medium and add the white wine. Continue cooking until wine has evaporated. Remove from heat and set aside
  3. Preheat oven to 400ยบ. Roll out the puff pastry to make slightly larger and thinner. Use your discretion.
  4.  Spread the cream cheese over the puff pastry, leaving a 1/2-inch - 3/4-inch border. Season with salt and white pepper. Top evenly with the cooked shallots. Top evenly with the cherry tomatoes and season lightly with salt and white pepper. Bake for 30-minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden. Top with fresh basil and serve immediately. 
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