Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tomato and Basil Tart

Seasonal Recipe of the Week
Years ago when I was starting my restaurant in New York, my parents took me out to eat at a little, noisy, hopping restaurant in a townhouse in Manhattan called JoJo’s. It was run by this French chef named Jean George Vongerichten, I believe he is Alsatian and the food he served blew me away. It was French food with hints of an Asian influence with sauce made of vegetable broths, infused oils and almost no dairy. It was visually stunning and rich in flavor. Needless to say, Jean George now runs an empire of restaurants all over the world. My father told the waiter I was opening a restaurant and the chef came out to meet me and wish me luck, autographed a copy of his cookbook and let us see the kitchen. It was very cool. I have loved him ever since. This recipe is from Simple Cuisine, of one of his many cookbooks. And it is!

4 sheets Phyllo dough cut into 10-inch rounds (use an upside down plate to trace circles)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 medium tomatoes (heirloom)
1/2 teaspoon diced red Chile
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon chiffonade of fresh basil
1 tablespoon fresh grated Montegrappa or hard aged goat cheese or Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stack phyllo rounds and brush to top with EVOO. Place on a non stick-baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Turn it over and bake the other side for 3 minutes more. Set aside. Blanch tomatoes in boiling salted water. Then remove skin and seeds and squeeze out excess liquid. Now dice the remaining pulp. In an ovenproof pan combine the tomatoes, chili pepper, garlic thyme, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar. Bake stirring occasionally until the tomatoes begin to turn brown and caramelize about 20 minutes and then set aside. Spread the tomatoes over the phyllo dough top with basil cheese and remaining olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes and serve warm.