June 19, 2013 by caitlinvaclark
One of the best ways to have a successful dinner party is to have some easy snacks ready in advance. That way if you need a few minutes to sneak off to the kitchen and get the rest of your meal in the oven, stir up a sauce, or grill your meat, you know your guests aren’t wondering where the hell you went and when they will be getting some grub.
K-I-S-S: “Keep it simple, stupid.” A quote some may associate with Michael Scott from The Office. Or maybe you just had some tough love from your parents growing up. The acronym actually originates from the design principle of the US Navy in the 1960s. While I may not be undertaking any military engineering, the motto translates to my entertaining style perfectly.
Rather than set out a cheese plate and some antipasti and stuffed mushrooms and shrimp cocktail and… you get the point, I think it is far better to abide by the KISS principle. I like to assemble one or two quick bites and make something like a tart that can sit at room temperature. Easy-peasy. It doesn’t get easier than ripe fresh cantaloupe wrapped with thin sliced prosciutto…
…or bocconcini, mini fresh mozzarella balls, with a good cured salami.
These two bites are so easy to assemble and can be arranged into such a vibrant color-blocked platter for a gorgeous presentation.
And then I love to make a simple seasonal tart. When making this tart there are two important tricks: choosing really good fresh toppings and NOT making your own puff pastry. KISS, remember?? So I tossed some golden and ruby tomatoes with olive oil, flake salt and fresh thyme sprigs, then roasted in the oven until they just started to burst.
Next roll out the STORE BOUGHT puff pastry, transfer to a baking sheet, and create a one-inch border using a fork to prick around the edges and in the center. Par-bake for 12 minutes, until it just starts to turn golden. Then top with 2 ounces of goat cheese, the roasted tomatoes and fresh thyme leaves and bake for an additional 8-10 minutes.
This tart is perfect at room temperature so you can bake it up well in advance and let it sit until your guests arrive.
Then serve the Goat Cheese and Tomato Tart with some simple antipasti bites and you have bought yourself a very relaxed first hour or so of your party!
Golden Tomato and Goat Cheese Tart
1 pint heirloom grape tomatoes
5 sprigs thyme
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 sheet puff pastry
3 oz. goat cheese
Preheat oven to 400˚F.
Toss the tomatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper, and 3 sprigs of thyme. Roast on a baking sheet for 10 minutes.
Roll out the puff pastry and transfer to a baking sheet. Pierce with a fork, leaving a 1-inch border around all four edges. Bake for 12 minutes.
Crumble goat cheese onto the baked puff pastry. Evenly distribute the roasted tomatoes and sprinkle with the leaves of the remaining thyme sprigs. Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes until the cheese has melted and the pastry is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.