A few days ago, a neighbor came over to perform minor surgery on Portia. I had just gotten back from school and, other than some commercial cookies, I didn’t have much to offer. Enter some frozen chocolate chip cookie dough that, in 20 minutes, yielded freshly baked cookies.
Similarly, the week before, a friend stopped by: I sliced a log of frozen olive cookie dough and, again, in 15 minutes, I had a lovelier and tastier nibble than chips and nuts.
The freezer is my friend. If I make a cake, or a tart, or any kind of pastry, I tend to make a bit more and stick the surplus in the freezer. It never goes to waste. Especially if I make pate brisee for a savory tart or a pie, I make sure to double the recipe for when I need to make something in a hurry.
I love making vegetable tarts because they can be made ahead, reheated and, with a salad, they become a meal. They are also easy to carry for a potluck or picnic. But a few nights ago I didn’t seem to have enough pate brisee in the freezer for an entire tart so I improvised smaller versions using a muffin tin. I used bell peppers and zucchini but any vegetable will lend itself for a filling.
Then I cubed 3 zucchini and cooked them in a pan with some olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper until very tender, with a few brown edges here and there.
In a bowl, I mixed about half a cup of ricotta, one egg, a couple of tablespoons of grated Parmesan, the cooked vegetables, salt and pepper. I rolled my dough and cut it into 4″x4″ squares. I sprayed the muffin pan and pressed the squares into the rounds, leaving the edges dangling.
I filled the tarts and folded the edges over the filling, brushed them with some egg wash and baked them at 400F/200C for about half an hour, or until golden.
The end results were really pretty – not to mention tasty – and I can see repeating the experiment when a crowd comes over or when I am in need of an easy portable lunch.
Here is a reliable pate brisee recipe (or else buy pie dough from the market)