If you’ve been following along for a while, you know my grandmother has gotten a lot of ink on these cyberpages. To me she was Oma, but to those not swimming in her gene pool, she was Betty, or more likely Tante Betty.
Tante Betty fully believed in giving back to the community. As long as the community understood that Tante Betty was in charge. Meaning that if in the course of her volunteerism she felt something wasn’t being run well, she would run it. Think of her as a female version of the Desert Fox –her kids did. The organization she was most intimately involved with was an assisted living facility we called the ‘Altenheim’ (or Old Folks Home). Actually, both my grandparents were involved with the Altenheim. My grandfather sat on its Board of Directors, and Tante Betty sat at one time or another on pretty much every other committee there was. When it came to any major holiday party, celebration, or whatever, her potato salad was likely on the buffet, and she was there organizing and telling people what to do, whether they wanted her to or not.
The most consistent group she “managed” was the resident’s weekly hobby-hour, or as her German accent pronounced it, “Hoppy Hour”. The purpose of Hoppy Hour was not as you might assume, time set aside to fine tune your favorite hobby-esque activity. This hour of leisure craft had a very specific purpose –to create something wonderful that could be sold at the annual fundraising “Bat-Zaar” (think bazaar, but with teutonic accent.) Residents would gather Friday afternoons and Betty would set them to whatever task was scheduled that week. Countless crocheted potholders, a plethora of plastic mesh embroidered bookmarks, and baskets of felt holiday ornaments were churned out in the form of weekly hoppy hour product. It was Tante Betty’s benevolent factory. And if you didn’t do it correctly? Well, she would make sure you did, or redo it herself. All in the name of hoppy hour happiness. Martha Stewart had nothing on Tante Betty!
Why exactly am I relating all of this? It seems I have become my grandmother. Or to be precise, I have become Hoppy Hour. Once a month in the upstairs kitchen/party room of a lovely assisted living facility in my town, Tante’ Betty’s granddaughter teaches cooking class for an hour or so. A subset of residents, all Tantes in their own right, are my most enthusiastic students, and everyone (especially me) has a pretty great time. The only difference is, instead of adding valuable merchandise to the annual bat-zaar bin, we eat our projects at the end of class. I have a feeling Tante Betty would be just fine with that too.
This past week my lovely students at Hawk’s Ridge were treated to a dish that took advantage of the wealth of tomatoes and basil available at the end of the summer. To say this Roasted Cherry Tomato Tart is easy is understating it. Thaw out some store-bought puff pastry, grate some cheese, and toss halved cherry tomatoes in your favorite vinaigrette and you are pretty much there. A little thyme before it goes in the oven, a little basil after it comes out. That’s all there is to it, except for a glass of chilled white and a plate. Now that’s my kind of Hoppy!
Makes 1 10″ round or 11″x8″ rectangle
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1-1/2 to 2 pints small cherry tomatoes
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 3-4 leaves fresh basil
- 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper, plus more for sprinkling on tart
- 1/2 tsp honey
- 2-3 TBSP balsamic vinaigrette (homemade or your favorite brand)
- 1/2 cup grated fontina cheese
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan, romano, asiago, or a combination
Preheat oven to 400F. Unfold the thawed puff pastry and roll out a little so it fits into your tart pan with a little overlap up the sides. Trim the overlap, and with a fork, dock or poke just the bottom of the dough all over. This will prevent the bottom from puffing. Chill in refrigerator until you are ready.
Halve the cherry tomatoes and toss in a medium bowl with salt, pepper, and vinaigrette. Take the crust out of the fridge and sprinkle over the cheese evenly over the bottom. Lay the cherry tomatoes, cut side up, over the tart in rows. Sprinkle over the leaves from two sprigs of thyme. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper over tart, and drizzle the honey.
Bake for 30 – 40 minutes or until edges are golden brown and the tomatoes have wilted and are bubbling, rotating tart halfway through baking time. Let cool 5 minutes. Stack the basil leaves, roll together and cut in thin slices. Sprinkle over tart. Serve warm.
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