Tomato Basil and Bacon Tart

Tomato Basil and Bacon Tart

Tomato Basil and Bacon Tart


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons cold water
  • 4 Roma tomatoes
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded Italian four cheese blend (or mozzarella) cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup crisp bacon bits (real bacon please!)


  • In a  food processor, add the flour and butter, pulsing 5-6 times until the mixture is crumbly.
  • Gradually add water, pulsing until the dough forms a ball.
  • Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until it can be rolled easily.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll out pastry to fit a 9-in. tart pan with a removable bottom.
  • Place the pastry in the pan and trim the edge.
  • Bake at 350° for 13-15 minutes until lightly browned.


Pastry Baked


While the pastry is baking, thinly slice the tomatoes and place on paper towels, salt them and cover with another layer of paper towel.  This will prevent the dough from getting soggy.


Tomatoes sliced

Tomatoes drying


Sprinkle 2 cups cheese into the crust; top with basil and garlic slices.


Cheese and garlic

Add basil

Add tomatoes


Arrange the tomato slices in a circular pattern around the edge of the tart leaving three for the middle.


Drizzle with oil, salt and pepper

Drizzle with the oil, salt and pepper. 

  • Sprinkle the rest of  the cheese over the tomatoes in the center.
  • Sprinkle the bacon bits around the tart.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until the cheese melts.

Ready to Serve

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Daring Baker’s Challenge:  Maple Mousse in a Maple Syrup and Bacon Candy Bowl

Daring Baker’s Challenge: Maple Mousse in a Maple Syrup and Bacon Candy Bowl

Maple Mousse in Maple Syrup with Bacon Candy Bowl

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at!

My choice for the container was a maple sugar candy.  Growing up in a touristy area in the North, almost to Canada, every once in a while we would see maple sugar candy in the shape of maple leaves which was always a treat, so I decided that, along with a little bacon, would make a great container for the mousse. Making the candy was pretty simple, easier than I expected but making the bowls was a bit of a challenge.  For the mold first I chose a bowl that had a little lip in it which turned out to be not the best as it made it difficult to remove the candy and some of them broke.  Next time I used a nice smooth mold, although the broken pieces certainly tasted just as good were definitely not wasted!

For the candy containers:

Bacon Maple Syrup Candy


1/2 pound bacon (you can use more or less to your taste)

2 cups maple syrup


Bacon sliced and fried

Cut the bacon in to small pieces about 1/4 inch and fry until very crispy.  Drain on a paper towel.

Cooking the maple syrup

Put the maple syrup in a large heavy bottomed saucepan.  It bubbles up a lot so use a bigger one that you would think.  The one I chose barely escaped overflowing.  Over medium high heat bring the syrup to a boil stirring occasionally. Boil until syrup reaches 235 degrees F (110 degrees C) on a candy thermometer.  Remove from heat  and cool to 175 degrees F (80 degrees C) without stirring, about 10 minutes. Stir rapidly with a wooden spoon  for about 5 minutes until the color turns lighter and mixture becomes thick and creamy – being impatient (lazy) I used a mixer which works a lot faster. Stir in the crisp bacon pieces

Pour into molds and set aside to cool.  You do have to work fairly quickly as it will start to harden fast.  I had prepared several sets of two small glass heatproof bowls with a light coating of vegetable spray, one on the inside, one on the outside.  I poured in the candy mixture in the bowls to about 1/2 full, then placed the second bowl on top, basically squashing the filling between the two.  I let that cool, then removed the candy from between the bowls.  After the first batch using the bowls with a little rim, I switched to bowls without rims and it worked out better, as did the ones I made using two silicone muffin pans.  It was ok though, I used the pieces of the ones that broke (that we didn’t just eat) as a little garnish on top of the mousse.

Maple Syrup with Bacon Candy

Once cool, unmold candy. Store in airtight containers up to 1 month.

For the Mousse:

I used the recipe so graciously provided by Evelyne which turned out wonderfully.  I did end up with a double batch because I still had 2 cups of maple syrup on my mind from making the candy so I started with that and realized the mistake half way through.  I worked out fine though – there was mousse for all my friends!

Maple Mousse:

• 1 cup (240 ml/ 8 fluid oz.) pure maple syrup (not maple-flavoured syrup)
• 4 large egg yolks
• 1 package (7g/1 tbsp.) unflavoured gelatine
• 1 1/2 cups (360 ml. g/12 fluid oz) whipping cream (35% fat content)

1. Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.
2. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle).
3. Add warmed egg yolks to hot maple syrup until well mixed.
4. Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.
5. Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.
6. Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.
7. Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour.
8. Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your edible containers.

Apple Slices in Maple Syrup bowl

For presentation, I used a maple syrup candy bowl, some freshly sliced tart apple slices (dipped in lemon juice to prevent browning), filled with maple mousse using a piping bag, with a few sprinkles of the maple syrup bacon candy on top.

Maple Mousse in Maple Syrup Bacon Candy Bowl

Four-Cheese Risotto with fresh Roasted Tomatoes

Four-Cheese Risotto with fresh Roasted Tomatoes

Garlic-herb Roasted Tomatoes

I’m far from vegetarian, but even for me there is nothing like roasted vegetables, especially tomatoes.  What better to go with them than a great risotto?  This recipe is very simple and takes less than an hour, although it does require some serious stirring.  It makes a filling meal or great side dish and the garlic-herb roasted tomatoes add a lot of flavor to the creamy cheesy risotto.  It is also very flexible, I used a prepackaged four cheese blend but sometimes use whatever cheeses I have on hand, a mixture of  fontina, mozzarella, Asiago, parmesan and/or Gruyère.


6-8 Roma tomatoes sliced in half

2-4 cloves of garlic sliced very thinly

1 sprig of rosemary

Several tablespoons of olive oil



Few leaves of Basil for garnish

one half onion chopped finely

1 cup arborio rice

5 cups chicken stock (or one cup white wine and 4 cups chicken stock)

2 cups four cheese blend or mix of shredded cheeses

1/2 cup cream


1.  Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly oil a large sheet pan either with olive oil or vegetable spray.

Place the tomatoes flat side up, add a few slices of garlic and a few bits of rosemary to each.  Place in the oven and roast for approximately 10-15 minutes, until they are soft and the garlic is slightly browned.

For the risotto:

Heat the broth to a simmer (I do it in the microwave but traditionally it is done in a separate saucepan).

Saute the onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil until soft but not browned.

Rice in olive oil

Rice and onion saute

Add the rice and stir until all the grains are coated with oil.

First addition of broth

Add the wine first if using, then the remaining broth one cup at a time, stirring constantly and waiting for it to be absorbed before adding the next cup.

Keep Stirring

Keep stirring and adding until all the broth has been added, is absorbed and the rice is tender.  I find sometimes it takes a little more broth, sometimes a little less.  Be patient, it will take 20-30 minutes but it’s worth it!

Adding cheese

Add the cheese, stirring gently to melt.


Then add the cream to the consistency that you like.

Four Cheese Risotto with Roasted Garlic Herb Tomatoes

Serve with the roasted tomatoes and a little fresh basil.

The Daring Cook’s Challenge Edible Containers:  Stuffed Meatballs in a Parmesan Crisp Bowl

The Daring Cook’s Challenge Edible Containers: Stuffed Meatballs in a Parmesan Crisp Bowl

Stuffed Meatballs in Parmesan Crisp Bowl

Stuffed Meatball with spaghetti in Parmesan Crust cup

This month there was another great challenge to create something to serve in an edible container.

Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers! Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 17th to May 16th at!

I chose to make a simple Parmesan Crisp bowl and fill it with stuffed meatballs.  I made two versions, one for an appetizer and one with spaghetti that could be served as a meal.  I thought both turned out well and would be great for parties as you could make the bowls and meatballs ahead then just reheat and assemble.

First I made the crisps which are really simple.

Shredded Parmesan spread on cookie sheet

Place about 2-3 tablespoons of shredded Parmesan, depending on the size you prefer, spread into a circle.

Melted Cheese

Bake at 400 degrees for about 3-5 minutes until the cheese melts.

Making the bowl shape

Remove from the oven and quickly (but carefully as it will be hot) place in small heat proof bowls molding to the shape of the bowl.  You can do this either inside or with the bowl upside down, I chose to do it on the inside.  I would only do a couple at a time because you have to work quickly the cheese hardens fast.

Parmesan Cheese Crisp Bowl

Let cool and pop them out (or lift them off) and set aside.

Next the stuffed meatballs:


1/2 pound Italian sausage, casings removed (hot or mild as you prefer)

1/2 pound ground beef

1 cup bread crumbs (I used some really good but stale ciabatta rolls)

1 small onion chopped very finely

4 cloves garlic chopped very finely

3 tablespoons mixed fresh Italian herbs ( oregano, parsley, basil)

1 egg

1 cup milk

1 cup Pizza sauce (homemade or purchased)  You could also use spaghetti sauce but it might be a little thin.

1 cup shredded mozzarella


Mix all ingredients except the pizza sauce and cheese in a large bowl.  Mix thoroughly, but don’t handle more than necessary.

Make the balls:

Make a disk

Start by making a flattened round disk.

Add some sauce

Add a small amount of pizza sauce.

Add cheese

Sprinkle with some cheese.

Cover the filling

Make a second flattened disk and cover the filling.  Make sure and seal the edges well, then pick it up and roll (very) gently between your hands to round it out and make sure all the edges are sealed.

Ready to bake

Place in a baking pan and bake at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes depending on how big you’ve made them.  I made two versions, one small for appetizers and one of large ones for the main dish.

To serve the appetizer size, just add 2-3 small meatballs to each bowl and sprinkle with some shredded Parmesan.  For a meal, serve a large meatball with a portion of your favorite spaghetti mixed with sauce in the bowl and sprinkle with some shredded Parmesan.

Ready to serve