Tomato Onion Tarts

 Tomato Onion Tarts

I pretty much love Michael Smith.

Originally, I was a wee bit thrown off by his infamous, sideways, pan-in pan-out relationship with the camera, but he has, ultimately, won me over.

The 6’7″ Food Network chef from P.E.I. is now one of my favs, and I have even learned to not only embrace, but to love, his awkward camera maneuvers.

He cooks simple, delicious, and unintimidating dishes that appeal to a variety of tastes; several of which I have both tried and really enjoyed.

My only qualm when it comes to Michael Smith is that I feel as though he has been somewhat deceptive when it comes to his Chef at Home series; for a long period of time, I genuinely (and, perhaps, naively) believed that he was cooking in his own home kitchen, whipping up delights for Rachel and Gabe. Little did I know that I was being duped. The beautiful “home” by the water is, in fact, not his own, but, rather, a rental property; rented to film his series.

 Tomato Onion Tarts

My feelings of disappointment and broken trust began to heal, however, when I found out that Chef Michael Smith’s P.E.I. “home” is available for summer rentals, and that my colleague stayed on that very property last summer. Imagine that! Needless to say, next summer, Anthony and I will undoubtedly be renting and enjoying our week-long stay in Michael’s “home”; filming our very own Chef at Home TV series in the kitchen with which we have become so well acquainted. Ohhh, it’s going to be good.

Michael, we’re cool: you’re forgiven for having deceived me.

 Tomato Onion Tarts

To commemorate our healed relationship, a while back, I cooked up his tomato onion tarts, and they were, not only a cinch, but also delish.

 Tomato Onion Tarts

Tomato Onion Tarts

Adapted from Michael Smith

Ingredients
Crust
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup water
Filling
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced thinly
3 plum tomatoes, cut into quarters
Grated parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Directions

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, Parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper. Add the oil and water and stir until combined. Pat into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for half an hour.

3. Meanwhile, sauté the onions in the olive oil until they are golden brown and caramelized. Start over a medium high heat, but gradually turn the heat down as they begin to brown.

4. Lightly flour your hands, the crust, the rolling pin and your work surface. Divide the dough into four, roll out the crusts, and press them into four individual tart pans.

 Tomato Onion Tarts

5. Spread onions into bottom of shell.

 Tomato Onion Tarts

6. Fan the tomatoes on top of the onions.

 Tomato Onion Tarts

7. Sprinkle with grated cheese.

 Tomato Onion Tarts

8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until pastry is golden and crisp and tomatoes are soft.

 Tomato Onion Tarts

*If you don’t have tart pans at your disposal, fret not. You can merely form your pastry into individual galettes! Roll out your crust, top with onions, tomatoes, and cheese (leaving an inch-wide border) and fold up the edges.

 Tomato Onion Tarts

Vanilla Sugar

 Vanilla Sugar

This summer is literally bursting at the seams with weddings!

It’s a little bit bizarre, because I think that I have been to a total of three weddings in my adult life. Uhhh, maybe two. It could be that our biological clocks that are ‘a-tickin’, but weddings are definitely trending this year.

Our wedding is the fourth of four that we will be attending, or part of, during a 3-month period of time, taking place at the end of the summer.

First up are our lovely couple-friends who are getting married in the middle of May; I’m incredibly excited about this one. A few weeks ago, I attended the beautiful bride’s shower. The gift theme was useful houseware baskets. Never being one to fully conform, I strapped on my loud, fuchsia, glasses, and packed my basket full of homemade treats: chocolate chip granola, 3-ingredient peanut butter cookies, homemade oreo cookies, cinnamon-roasted almonds, cinnamon raisin bread, and homemade vanilla sugar. Ok, they’re not housewares, per se, but they were packaged up in useful, cute, little jars. Mildly conformist, but still marching to the beat of my own drum, my glasses and I set off to the bridal shower where we had a delightful afternoon.

This vanilla sugar is so tasty, it smells incredible, is so easy to make, and is kinda fancy-pants.

It’s delicious in hot bevvies, sprinkled on fresh fruit or oatmeal, or even used in desserts.

 Vanilla Sugar

Vanilla Sugar

Ingredients
1 fresh vanilla bean
1 cup granulated sugar

Directions
1. Split the bean in half lengthwise and run the edge of your knife along its belly to scrape out its innards.
2. Place the granulated sugar and the vanilla bean’s insides into a food processor and pulse several times until they are well combined. Make sure that there are no residual vanilla-bean-clumps inside your delicious vanilla sugar.
3. Transfer your beautiful, fancy, sugar to a pretty, airtight, container and place the vanilla bean pod inside to help perfume your sugar.
4. …that’s all. Oh, that was easy…

 Vanilla Sugar

Layered Frozen Yogurt Cake

 Layered Frozen Yogurt Cake

As I write this post, my heart is broken.

This cake:

 Layered Frozen Yogurt Cake

This, absolutely delicious, frozen yogurt cake that I made for my fabulous younger brother’s birthday dinner on Saturday, is gone.

Alas, there are no more, highly-piled, bursting-at-the-seams-with-yummy-add-ins, slices of frozen yogurt cake patiently waiting in the freezer for me to finish my days and to return home for our special moment(s) together.

 Layered Frozen Yogurt Cake

…what a shame.

Though our time together was short-lived, the frozen yogurt cake and I developed a wonderful, loving, relationship that I will treasure always.

Yup: that good.

 Layered Frozen Yogurt Cake

Layered Frozen Yogurt Cake

**Feel free to customize the flavours and add-ins to suit your taste(s)!

Ingredients
Two 350g packages of (reduced fat) Oreo cookies
1/4 cup butter, melted
Two 2-L containers of frozen yogurt (I used one chocolate and one vanilla)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a food processor, process one 350g package of Oreo cookies until they are crushed into crumbs. Pour the crumbs into the bottom of a non-stick 9″ springform pan. Pour the melted butter atop the crumbs and stir with a wooden spoon until all of the crumbs are moistened. Using your hands, firmly press the crumbs down into the bottom of the springform pan to form a crust.
3. Bake the crust in the 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, until set. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
4. Remove your containers of frozen yogurt from the freezer and let them sit on the counter for 10 minutes, until they can be easily transferred into two large mixing bowls. Place each flavour in a separate mixing bowl.
5. Process 20 cookies (2 rows) from the second package of Oreo cookies in the food processor until they reach your desired texture. Feel free to leave a few larger chunks this time.
6. Using a wooden spoon, mix the cookie crumbs into the vanilla frozen yogurt.
7. Mix the chocolate chips into the chocolate frozen yogurt.
8. Spoon half of the chocolate-chocolate chip yogurt onto the cooled Oreo crust and spread evenly. Carefully, spoon half of the vanilla-Oreo frozen yogurt on top of the first chocolate layer and smooth it out. Repeat the layers and smooth out the top.
9. With the one remaining row of Oreo cookies (10-ish cookies), stand them up around the edge of the cake, pressing them halfway in.
10. Cover with plastic wrap (don’t let it touch the surface of the cake) and return the cake to the freezer. Allow the cake to refreeze overnight.

 Layered Frozen Yogurt Cake

If you like to experience complete decadence, like I do, serve slices of this cake with homemade hot fudge sauce. Oh my.