When thinking about what starter to serve as part of a Christmas/Festive meal, I always get stuck for ideas. I want to serve something special which will impress my guests but I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. I also like starters to pack quite a lot of flavour and depth without being too heavy or rich.
I have always been a fan of serving a tarty-type thing as a starter. In my book I have a recipe for Caramelised onion & Goat’s cheese tarts and even though these would be just perfect as a starter (or, if made smaller a Canapé), I wanted something a bit more complex. Even though I really don’t like putting too much effort into food (especially around Christmas when anxiety can quickly take over), I don’t mind taking a little more time to ensure flavours are spot on and I also don’t mind spending a little more on quality ingredients.
When I decided to make these Tomato Tarte Tatins, I knew I would like to serve them with a salty accessory so there’s something to balance the intense sweetness of the tomatoes. Parmesan shavings could work and I even thought of making a Parmesan “ice cream” by mixing lots of Parmesan & white pepper into Crème fraîche and freezing until just set. After thinking it over, I decided to do something similar but instead of freezing the mixture I would serve it simply chilled and instead of Parmesan I decided to use a soft Goat’s Cheese. I settled on Chevin as it is distinctly “goaty” without being overpowering and it’s soft enough to mix easily into Crème fraîche. This Crème, served cold on the warm tarte tatin melts as you eat so it works itself into all the nooks and crannies of the tarte and leaves a little pool of salty-sweet cream on the plate, perfect to mop up with a few bitter leaves or a chunk of baguette.
You can either make these tarte tatin’s in a muffin tray, in which case you will probably get 12 tarte tatin’s with this recipe. I use small frying pans (usually used for frying eggs/blinis) which have oven-proof handles. You could also use a large, oven-proof frying pan and serve the tarte tatin in slices.
- 3 tablespoons butter
- olive oil
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons thyme leaves
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 600g cherry tomatoes
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 roll ready-made puff pastry cut into 6 rounds
- 100g chevin
- 250ml crème fraîche/sour cream
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°c.
- Fry the garlic in the butter and olive oil until soft.
- Add the sugar and allow the garlic to brown slightly before adding the whole tomatoes, salt & pepper.
- Allow the tomatoes to fry for a few minutes before removing from the heat.
- Distribute the tomatoes between the muffin holes/frying pans and cover with a disc of pastry big enough to cover all the tomatoes.
- Place the tarte tatins in the oven and allow to bake until the pastry is golden brown and puffed (approximately 12-15 minutes).
- Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 2 minutes before turning out.
- To make the goat's cheese crème, combine the sour cream and the goat's cheese and serve on top of the warm tarte tatins.