One of my favourite hors d'oeuvres to serve my friends and family is my version of a goat cheese, tomato and basil tart. Most often I prepare one large tart using puff pastry as seen here . When I am looking for something more on the lines of a finger food I turn to the mini filo tart shells from the Athens company of Cleveland, Ohio. I still get all the wonderful basil, goat cheese and tomato flavours in one small mouthful!! For a crispier tart shell I bake the shells for a few moments in the oven and then for the final stage broil the filling for another few moments. These seem to disappear quite quickly so they can't be all bad!!
If you haven't come across these mini filo shells in your local markets try and seek them out. They also make wonderful mini quiches as well. They are limited only by your imagination!!!
Austin Powers would get his mojo back eating these tarts...I'm sure of it!!
**Goat Cheese & Tomato Tarts**
1 large bunch fresh basil, or 2 small
125 ml peanut or grapeseed oil, or enough to cover leaves (see method
½ cup olive oil
1 package mini filo tart shells
5 each ripe tomatoes (the tiniest you can find)
350 g soft goat cheese
6 fresh basil leaves, cut chiffonade
Sugar for sprinkling
Olive oil for brushing
BASIL OIL: Pluck the basil leaves from the stems. Place the stems and leaves in a small saucepan. Add enough peanut or grapeseed oil to cover. Heat the oil and basil slowly over low heat, then remove and let stand for 10 minutes.
Transfer the contents of the pan into a beaker and puree until smooth with a stick or immersion blender. Pour the puree through affine sieve placed over a bowl, then transfer to clean bottle; let cool completely and then add olive oil.
If desired (for extra crispiness) Preheat oven to 350F. Place filo shells on baking sheet. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes. Allow shells to cool before filling.
TART FILLING: Slice the tomatoes 1/3-inch thick, sprinkle lightly with sugar on one side and pan fry on the sugared side in a heated nonstick pan for a moment, then remove quickly. Carefully transfer to parchment paper to cool. Thinly slice the cheese and set aside. ( a soft cheese knife makes the cutting of the soft cheese so simple!!)
Preheat the broiler. Add a teaspoon of goat cheese to each tart. Place a tomato slice on top. Distribute the basil chiffonade evenly among the tarts. Brush each tart lightly with oil.
Slip the baking sheet under the broiler 5 –inches from the heat source and grill until glazed and warm. Transfer the tart to the centre of a warmed plate. Drizzle a line of basil oil around the tarts and serve immediately.