Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Barefoot Contessa & I: Or how Ina can suck it

So the other day I am online and someone tweeted a recipe by Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) for a tomato and goat cheese tart. I was all over that because I am trying to find new ways to use my homegrown tomatoes and also I had some leftover goat cheese from the party. Then I remembered that I had some puff pastry in the freezer that I had bought in hopes that one day I could make something with it. It's always dangerous when there are frozen pie crusts or puff pastry that I can get my hands on because somewhere in the back of my deluded mind, I think I am a pastry chef but I'm not. But I have hope that one day I will be able to make fancy French pastries. A girl can dream, can't she? Anyhow, I click on the link and hot damn the recipe looked fantastic. I decided that I could make that.

Now as you know I am a willy-nilly cook who basically tosses stuff together and hopes it comes out okay. There is a lot of Random Willy-Nillyness (RWN) going on in my kitchen. But most of the time it works out for me. It's not that I don't do recipes but it really is hard for me to follow recipes. It's also hard for me to follow instruction manuals. It's hard for me to follow directions. It's hard for me to follow anything most of time. Tom will attest to that. But I was determined that I was going to make a freaking tomato and goat cheese tart.

I start reading the recipe and all is well as I see that I have all the ingredients except for the fresh thyme. My thyme died after I neglected it. Well, it's not that I neglected it but it was in a planter we had under the tree we took down so it never got any sun. And the planter had no drainage holes so it rained and rained and I think it basically got flooded out and died. Okay, I neglected it, sue me. Anyway, I keep reading the recipe and it's then that I start getting a pain in the back of my head signaling a headache coming on.

Why you ask? Well, old Ina seems to think that I am some freaking Julia Child or something. WTH? Thaw out the puff pastry, unfold the puff pastry, flour the puff pastry, roll out the puff pastry, make sure the puff pastry is rolled out to an 11 by 11 square. I almost cried. But damn if I was going to give up and let the Barefoot Contessa get the best of me. So I continue reading the recipe. I do what is needed to the puff pastry and then Ina is telling me to get a freaking saucer or another round object to cut out 6 inch rounds from the puff pastry. You know what? It ain't gonna happen, Ina. It is not happening because my dough has been rolled out to something that resembles a rectangle with demented stubby legs. It's not pretty folks. It's not like I didn't try. I took that rolling pin and rolled like nobody's business but it still looked like crap. Fine, I figured Ina wouldn't hate me if I didn't make pretty little circles and just tried to salvage the Dali like piece of dough in front of me.

The rest of the recipe called for me to saute up something with something else and then prick the dough and add a teaspoon of something and thinly slice something but I didn't get all that because my head started hurting as I read the complex rules I was supposed to follow. My eyes glazed over and then I started thinking how lovely it would be to have tomato and goat cheese tarts in Paris. In Paris, I would have someone else rolling out the freaking dough, making the tart and serving me. How nice would that be as I sat in a little cafe eating tarts and having a nice glass of wine? Then I remembered that Johnny Depp lives in France and I thought how lovely it would be to be in France with Johnny Depp eating a tomato and goat cheese tart with a glass of wine at a little cafe. And before I could think of things about Johnny Depp that I can't blog about here, I remembered that he has a girlfriend and 2 kids. BuzzKill. But then I remembered that he starred in the Pirates of the Caribbean because he thought it would be a good movie for his kids. What a good movie that was. I loved it and could watch it over and over. God, I used to love going to Disneyland and getting on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Yo, ho ho ho a Pirate's life for me. How fun was that? I love Disneyland but prefer Disney World. Just as I always preferred Goofy to Mickey. I always thought Mickey was overrated. Anyway, by the time I started dreaming about being at Disney World with Johnny Depp eating tarts at the French Restaurant at Epcot, I realized that I had to finish this tart.

I knew that I couldn't go back and try to follow Ina's directions. So I figured if I kept the same flavor profiles that it would come out tasting pretty good. So I chucked Ina's recipe and proceeded to cook RWN style. I finished rolling out the pastry. I decided a rectangle was good enough for me. Then I made it into a little tray by pulling up the sides so I could put the ingredients into the center. I thought I read to brush the puff pastry with olive oil, so I did. Somewhere in the recipe it mentioned white wine and garlic, both of which I had. I took the wine and mixed it with the goat cheese to make it easier to spread.

I know onions were mentioned but I figured that it wouldn't hurt if I didn't add them. Then I sliced some tomatoes. I took the goat cheese and spread it on the dough and then sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on it because I found it in the frig. Then I put some tomatoes on the top. Of course the tomatoes are different sizes and colors but I figured it would look more festive that way. Sure it's not like the Barefoot Contessa would make it but whatever Ina. I tossed it in the oven finally following Ina's directions. Of course, I sort of miscalculated the time by a minute or 5 or 10 or 15 minutes and the puff pastry got a little dark but didn't (totally) burn. It just has a lot of color. But it turned out okay. Sure, it's not something Ina would ever serve to her dogs but it's good enough for me because I am not snobby Hamptons fancy pants chef. The real test was in taste. And yes, it's not on my Nutrisystem program but I had to try it. Plus, I had already cheated on the diet on party night so I expect on Monday when I do my weigh-in, it's not going to be pretty. In any case, the tart was pretty damn good. The goat cheese and Parmesan worked well together. The wine gave it a nice layer of flavor. The tomatoes are just delish and the little piece of basil on top was the perfect topping.

It's not the prettiest tart but the taste is what counts. I went on Ina's site and this is how hers came out. Of course, they are perfectly round and beautiful. What else can you expect from her? She is the Barefoot Contessa after all. What if mine is a little lopsided and weird? It tasted good. So Ina can suck it!

p.s. I actually like Ina ~ hee


  1. you are funny girl!! Yeah, I agree, yours has more character!

  2. I would still eat it. Cause I am a fat fat fatty like that. As long as you talked smack about the Barefoot Contessa while serving it...

  3. Anytime a recipe comes out looking like that just say its "Rustic" and you can get away with it everytime!

  4. Taste is the only thing that matters to me. Glad the outcome was better than the process!!

  5. Ah hell, I think it looks pretty damn good.

    Send some FedEx, my freaking arm is killing me or I'd make it myself with the gross ton of tomatoes coming out of my garden.

    Actually, I attempt tomato salsa very afraid.

  6. I bet this was delicious! I hate complicated recipes especially when they involve pastry. I loved this witty post!

  7. tee hee, love it! hey did you change the blog up?? LOVE LOVE LOVE IT ;)