Sunday, October 18, 2009

Emergency appetizer: Goat cheese tarts

Ugh. So I've had the virus that has taken root in my sinuses, moved down to my lungs, and just when I think I'm on the mend works its way back up to my sinuses. Seriously, this is not like me. When I don't have cancer or pneumonia, I am the healthiest person on earth. I am also the world's worst patient. It takes major surgery to take me down. Although I enjoy a brief power nap, I am in general not a rester. The busier, the better.

But, still. When faced with Sunday dinner for the MIL, I was in need of a quick appetizer that required minimal effort. This recipe always reminds me of those articles that talk about needing appetizers for "unexpected guests." Who in the hell might those be? If you show up at my house expecting an appetizer, you had better have called in advance. But still, I cannot argue with an appetizer that can be thrown together using ingredients on hand.

These tarts use one of my favorite cheater ingredients,

phyllo dough shells. Not that making these shells using prepared phyllo dough (seriously fun stuff), butter, and a small cupcake pan requires much effort or skill, but when your sinuses feel like mine or you're hosting Thanksgiving dinner and have nine million other things to do, it's good to have a fall-back recipe like this.

There are certain items I almost always have in my freezer: these shells and this brand of prosciutto from Trader Joe's. The latter is certainly not the best of its kind, but it is serviceable in a pinch (there are a lot of pinches in our household).

Aside from goat cheese, almost all the other ingredients in these tarts can vary according to what you have on hand.

This version included chopped fresh mint. I've also used basil and tarragon. It also included lemon zest, although I've used orange zest if that's what I have.

Mixed together, spooned into the shells, topped with a few pinenuts ( or chopped toasted walnuts or almonds or no nuts), and toasted in the oven for just a few minutes (just enough to melt the cheese, since the shells are prebaked), and you've got an appetizer to impress and hold people over until the turkey (or in my case the roast chicken) comes out of the oven.

If you need the appetizer before the bird is done, take out the bird, tell people you are basting it, and slip in the tarts. They'll think it's all part of your master plan.


1 package phyllo tart shells
4 oz. goat cheese, room temperature
zest of one lemon, chopped
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons fresh herbs (mint, basil, tarragon, or thyme)
two slice prosciutto, diced
half and half to thin
fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine cheese, lemon zest and juice, herbs, and prosciutto. Mash with fork, adding half and half to thin to consistency to combine until smooth. Add pepper to taste. Spoon mixture into shells and top with pine nuts. Place shells on baking sheet and heat in oven until mixture has melted.


ms. mindless said...

so, basically i don't need to buy cookbooks. all i need to do is check your blog. thanks again for another fun looking recipe!

Marla said...

that sounds so much tastier than my standby goat cheese tart..phyllo cups with apricot jam, goat cheese & pistachios.

gandr said...

Ya, but how are the kittens?

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness- this looks delicious! See- I have found many wonderful blogs through my ridiculous involvement in this crazy tirade!

I'm harmless- just having a little fun!


Anonymous said...

I used those tartlets for the first time last year - amazing!

Since then, I always keep a box in the freezer. I tried to make my own little thingies using won ton skins, and it was a lot of work, many did not turn out right. These phyllo things are simply the best!

Hobo Mama said...

Mmmm...must try. I like the idea of snowing people into thinking you're all prepared and together. I usually just look frantic.

Oh, and get well soon. I'm hearing you on that. Something persnickety's being passed around my family and driving me up the wall (or into bed, as the case may be).

jilly said...

Seriously num num num. Don't you just love having those go to ingredients on hand? I am adding this to my list of easy have on hand when people just drop by apps. Another one that I like to do, is caramelized onion and pear, goes in fillo shells, top with gorganzola, oven, done.

I Love Your Whole Face said...

uhhh talk dirty to me. They sound soooooo good. I am drooling on my laptop.

Jackie said...

I was that sick last month and I definitely didn't produce any appetizers!
These look really tasty and worth a try.

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