Thursday, December 1, 2011

Twice the Tasty Tarts

Now that December's come around and brought the flurry of parties, open houses and other shindigs along with it, I wanted to share a few of my recent successes when it comes to things yummy and portable. Unfortunately, I've been a pretty big fail the past few days when it comes to taking decent photos of my cooking, and making sure the photos I have taken actually save onto my hard drive - so you'll simply have to picture the goodies yourself!

Tartlets are pretty much a perfect party food, since you can put almost anything in a pastry shell, bake it (if need be) and voila - appetizers or desserts in half an hour. Its hard to pass up two-bite nibblies, and when it comes to the appetizer table tartlets beat out chips and dip hands down - if for no other reason than they are their own dip cup and chip in one! I was trying to figure out a good bring-along treat for an early-season get together with the family and found these phyllo shells at the local grocery store. My mom loves phyllo anything, and originally wanted to buy a premade fig and brie appetizer in the flaky shells, but once I pitched this to her and make them, those storebought pastries were long forgotten.

If you love the creaminess of guacamole and the crispness of a good nacho chip, these are for you. Instead of deep frying a tortilla crust (horrors! Actually, more terror on my end), I just use the pre-baked phyllo shells and scooped the guac in. No muss, no fuss, no oven required! Make these no more than an hour before serving them for the best appearance.

Flaky Guacamole Cups
Makes 15
½ cup cooked cannellini beans (if using canned, use a low-salt variety and rinse well)
1 red onion, finely chopped, divided
½ of a jalapeno, seeded
¼ tsp black pepper
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp Mexican chili powder (or ancho chile powder)
Juice of 1 lime, divided
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp sea salt, divided
1 very ripe avocado, peeled and diced
1 plum tomato, diced
15 pre-baked phyllo pastry “mini shells” (I like The Fillo Factory’s All Natural Mini Shells, which are vegan, preservative and trans-fat free)
  1. In a food processor, puree the beans, half the onion, jalapeno, pepper, cumin, chili powder, half the lime juice, garlic and half the salt until smooth.
  2. Scrape into a bowl and add avocado, tomato, remaining onion and remaining lime juice.
  3. Fold vegetables in well, then taste and add salt if needed.
  4. Place phyllo shells on a tray and fill each with the guacamole mixture.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 46.9
Total Fat: 2.3 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 175.5 mg
Total Carbs: 5.9 g 
Dietary Fiber: 1.4 g
Protein: 1.3 g

Any party is remiss without dessert, especially when I'm around! Tarts fit the bill here too, and for us Canadians the iconic recipe is none other than the classic butter tart. I love those gooey, rich custard-like tartlets, but the conventional formula uses butter (duh) and a glut of eggs, two more or less verboten items at one of the places I was bringing them to. Then I came across a recipe by Claire Gosse in her e-book Vegan Cooking For Carnivores and with a few tweaks I had my nouveau filling.Even though I didn't manage to save a photo of my marvelously finished tarts (after all that!), they looked very similar to this one I saw on Shermans Food Adventures. Raisins and nuts are, as always, optional - if you are doing raisins (I vote strongly for that option!) remember to soak them in hot water at least 1/2 an hour (or in rum - yum! - for 24 hours) before making the filling.

Un-Butter Tarts
Makes 16
1 1/2 cups flour
2 cups spelt flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup vegan shortening (like Spectrum)1 tsp vinegar
2-4 tbsp ice water

Filling:
10 oz low-fat silken firm tofu (like Mori-Nu)
2/3 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup Demerara sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup melted vegan margarine (I prefer Earth Balance here)
3/4 cup dark raisins, soaked in hot water and drained
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix flour and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Cut in the shortening until mixture resembles rolled oats.
  4. Stir in the vinegar and enough ice water to make the dough cling together.
  5. Roll out to about 1/8” thick on a floured surface and cut circles, gently place each circle inside a muffin tin making sure to press up the sides as well.
Filling:
  1. In a food processor, puree the tofu, corn syrup, agave nectar, maple syrup, vanilla, sugar, salt and melted margarine.
  2. Divide the raisins between the bottoms of each pastry cup, then pour enough filling to come 2/3 of the way up the sides of the shells.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and cool in the tins 15 minutes, then de-pan and allow to cool on wire racks.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 328.2
Total Fat: 12.3 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 213.0 mg
Total Carbs: 51.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g
Protein: 4.5 g