A couple of weeks ago I had to provide some finger food for a fundraising movie night. I wasn't working that week so had the time to actually cook something rather than buying pre-prepared stuff from the supermarket as many others had to do. I decided to make little bite size tartlets with homemade pastry; reckoning they'd look elegant and impressive on a big white platter, but not cause me too much trouble to make.
My savoury offering was a recreation of the tarts I made as an appetiser for our Christmas day lunch. I used to be the type of person who would never consider making her own pastry for tarts or pies. To a certain extent I am still that person; it is just so much quicker and easier to use a sheet of frozen. But there are times when you want to spend a little extra time creating something where you know exactly what the ingredients are, and that you know will taste a million times better. This is what I've discovered with this pate brisee recipe I discovered on Clothilde's site. This pastry is fabuously easy to make; it's all done in the food processor, and the taste is sublime. Seriously, I cannot express to you how good this pastry tastes and how it makes my frozen pastry sheets taste like cardboard in comparison. Who knew butter and flour could combine to create something so marvellous?
Anyway, I added my usual 1/2 teaspoon of thyme to the pastry, which gives a nice subtle flavour and filled the tarts with spoonfuls of mascarpone cheese thinned with a little milk (it's just too thick otherwise). On top of that I dabbed a very small dollop of black olive tapenade. The tapenade is very salty, so I made the dabs very small and paired it with a very creamy mild mascarpone. The combination was delicious, and I noticed the tarts walked off the platter. They were particularly popular with people looking for something not sweet, of which there are few options at these sort of events (huge bricks of cheese and crackers are about it for non sweet eaters).
My sweet offering was one suggested by my mother and it was a really excellent idea. She reminded me of a recipe given to me by my cousin about 15 years ago (in fact, on the same sheet as the caramel slice recipe I used recently!) of a pineapple mixture piled into little shortbready type pastry cases and topped with cream. Yes, they're a little bit daggy and 1970s Country Womens' Association looking, but they're still popular! It's a combination that cannot fail to please - the pastry is tender and sweet, the pineapple is a little tangy with distinct biteable pieces and the whipped cream binds the whole thing together. I actually added a little coconut essence and lime juice to the pineapple mixture and combined the whipped cream with some coconut cream to give a little bit of a tropical pina colada flavour. Hey, if you're going to get wet you may as well go swimming!!
I love these little tarts, and it appears that everybody else loved these little tarts too! They were the first thing in the room to disappear (no doubt in part to my friends who had 3 each!) and as I walked around the room I overheard a few people talking about how good they were! Overhearing praise like that is the most wonderful thing when you've spent time and effort creating something you hope people will enjoy.
I do warn you though - I think 3 is enough for one person. A. asked me as we were going home if the recipe had come from a Womens' Weekly cookbook. 'Probably' I replied 'I can't remember. Why?'
'Weeell.....after 3 of them, they started to taste a leeetle bit like something from a 70s Women's Weekly Cookbook. They just needed one of those fake cherries on top!'
Hey! You've no-one to blame but yourself for eating 3 in a row!! :-)
Makes approx. 2 dozen
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 pound (125g) butter
2 cups self-raising flour
Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and then flour. Roll pastry out and cut into cup shape shells. Place into gem or fairycake tray. Cook on medium oven until golden brown. When cooked, let cool.
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 tablespoon custard powder
1/2 cup sugar (I reduced this to 1/4 cup. 1/2 cup sounded far too much)
1 small tin (400g) crushed pineapple in syrup
A few squeezes lime juice (optional, but adds a nice tang)
Beat egg and sugar. Stir in custard powder and cornflour. Add pineapple then stir over warm flame until it thickens.
Put into shells after cooling and top with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.