Welcome to Part 1 of the Dinner Party Series — The Appetizers!
The day before the dinner party, we visited the Lincoln Square Farmers Market. The Fruitaholic and I attended a class at the Old Town School of Folk Music when the morning market opened for the summer and would visit frequently, but once our class ended, we weren’t in the Square as often. The addition of the evening market was a welcome one in our book. We could grab some farm fresh produce for the week, a slice of pizza for dinner and some ice cream for dessert and sit in the Square and dance to some live music before heading home for bed.
This particular evening, we found most of our produce for our menu. There were dozens of tomato varieties, cucumbers, zucchini, watermelon, herbs, grapes, peaches and the first apples of the year. We took a short walk over to Gene’s Sausage Shop to find some more ingredients for our menu as well. If you’re ever in the area, be sure to stop in and check it out.
Earlier in the week, I had picked up a copy of Everyday Food magazine, and the Tomato Tart on the cover just screamed out to me. I immediately flipped to the recipe and found that it looked super easy to make, and with the substitution of feta and oregano for goat cheese and basil, decided it would be a great addition to our dinner party menu.
Tomato Tart with Feta and Oregano – slightly adapted from “Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart,” Every Food magazine, September 2010
- Flour, for rolling
- 1 Sheet Frozen Puff Pastry, thawed
- 1 Tbsp. Sour Cream (we used fat free)
- 1 tsp. Grainy Mustard
- 2 Large Leeks, white and light green parts only
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 3/4 lb. Tomatoes of your choice (we used red and yellow plums), sliced or chopped, or a combination
- 2 Ounces Feta Cheese, crumbled (orginal recipe calls for goat cheese)
- 2 tsp. Fresh Oregano (original recipe calls for fresh thyme or basil)
- salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out puff pastry to a 12-inch square; transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.
In a small bowl, stir together sour cream and mustard and season with salt and pepper. Spread sour cream mixture evenly over pastry. Fold over 1/2 inch border on all sides and press edges to seal. Refrigerate 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, halve leeks lengthwise; rinse thoroughly, pat dry, and slice 1/4 inch thick. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high. Add leeks, season with salt and peeper and cook, stirring frequently until soft, about 3 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently until leeks are very soft, about 5 minutes. Arrange leeks evenly over sour cream mixture on pastry. Top with tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Bake until pastry is golden brown and crisp, about 25 minutes.
Let cool slightly. Top with goat cheese and herbs before cutting into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This was so yummy and fresh. A great summer dish. Even the Little Dude ate it (well, he left the tomatoes and ate the pastry and cheese)!
Also fitting into our Mediterranean theme, I found that I had an unopened package of dates in my pantry. Now there’s only one thing to do with dates… Stuff them with cheese and wrap them in bacon!! I wasn’t able to take a picture since they went so fast. We also pretty much winged the recipe as we went. I’ve made these so many times before that I can’t tell you where I first found the recipe. I’m sure it’s a conglomeration of a bunch of different ones I’ve used though the years.
Honeyed Goat Cheese Stuffed Dates
- 1 Package Pitted Dates
- 1 Log Trader Joe’s Fresh Chevre with Honey (you can use plain goat cheese and mix with a tsp. of honey, or just leave the honey out)
- 1 package Center Cut Bacon
Preheat oven to 400. Halve dates lengthwise, leaving both sides attached. Stuff with goat cheese and close edges. Wrap with 1/2 slice bacon and secure with toothpick. Place dates on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet, seam side down.
Bake for 8 minutes, then flip dates over and bake another 6-8 minutes. Drain on paper towel lined plate. Serve immediately.
These dates are easy and elegant. You can really take a lot of liberty and use any kind of cheese that you’re craving. In the past, I’ve used blue cheese, feta and even cheddar!
Check back tomorrow for Part 2 – Chilled Cucumber Soup!