Monday, 16 March 2015

It's Those Little Things...

Torta Salata di Carciofini, Feta & Ciliegini
Baby Artichoke, Feta Cheese & Cherry Tomato Tart


It's the little things that matter- isn't that what they say? Well, there is some truth in that I suppose- especially when it comes to cooking! Little baby artichokes and sweet cherry tomatoes? They mattered a lot to me when I made this evening's dinner!

A smaller sized vegetable does not mean one that does not have as much flavor- in fact, 9 times out of 10, it is quite the opposite that is the case- which is a good thing! Espec
ially as it means that your meals will be cooked more quickly!

This beautiful and delicious little tart was made in a jiffy, tasted wonderful, looked wonderful yes, it really was pretty wonderful! The reason? It was made from just a few simple ingredients and let their own great flavors come through, without overpowering them with too much of any tomfoolery- just a few herbs, a little salt, pepper and nutmeg and that was it- perfect for a workday night's supper!

And 4 baby artichokes, 1 egg, 1/2 block of Feta cheese, 5-6 cherry tomatoes, 1 onion, fresh oregano and parsley and 1 sheet of puff pastry was all it took to make it!


When the ingredients you use taste good, there is no wizardry involved in making a nice meal out of them- the secret is to simply balance the flavors and let them shine through... which for most of us means learning a little restraint! Remember what I always say- less is more!


When I say "less is more", I am referring to the ingredients and seasonings... not to the size of the servings once your dish is cooked of course! Haha! And before you ask... YES, I DID eat all of this on my own!


Turn on your oven to start it warming up and in the meantime, finely dice the onion, finely slice the cherry tomatoes- and get those baby artichokes ready.

Make sure to pluck off the first layer or two of tougher outer leaves, then top and tail the artichokes and cut them into 8ths. If there is any "choke" at the heart of those little babies, cut it out simply with a little diagonal cut- although, when they are this small, it is actually pretty unlikely. These for example had none... yay!


Pop the artichokes and the diced onion into a frying pan with just enough water to cover the base until the artichoke slices are half covered. Add a good pinch of salt and let them cook until the water has evaporated away, flipping the artichokes over now and then.

When the pan is almost dry, add the same amount again and repeat. The reason I cooked them this way, was that I wanted to have no extra fat in the dish, being as the puff pastry already has plenty.

Cooking them in a frying pan is also a faster method, as there is a larger surface area to transfer the heat. Once the water has evaporated away, set them to one side and allow them to cook. And once the artichokes have cooled, give them a little squeeze with a wooden spoon to press out any excess water.


Crumble the Feta cheese into a bowl, add the egg, the finely chopped parsley and oregano and plenty of pepper and nutmeg- the cheese is already salty enough to add all of the seasoning you need.


Cut your pastry to size and spread out the egg and cheese, leaving plenty of room around the outside for the edges of the pastry to puff-up nicely.


Lay out the artichoke slices and the tomatoes in a nice, even spread and scatter the onion and plenty of oregano leaves on top. Add more salt, pepper and nutmeg, a last sprinkle of cheese and then kiss your little beauty goodbye for 40-45 minutes, onto the middle shelf of your oven at 180°C.


After 40-45 minutes, it should be puffed-up, cooked-through, golden and delicious! And it will be smelling divine!


 And doesn't that just look delicious?


This is pretty much perfection and as simple as can be- not too little and not too much! Practice makes perfect in the kitchen... and being as you get to eat everything you make... all of that practicing is fun!

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