I am a recovering entertainer. Which is actually misleading as it suggests that I am trying to curb the habit and have sought help and/or advice for excessive entertaining. I haven't and every month my husband tsks at the food bills and the array of people that come over for a meal or tea or lunch (not breakfast though, that's too early). I can't help myself. When someone emails me to ask if they can pop by I get all excited and start planning food. It's a compulsion. A sickness. And no I don't need any help thankyou very much.
I can trace back this determination to entertain and plan parties to very old dredged up memories from childhood when, at my 7th birthday party, I would have a tantrum at my Mother yelling "You're serving things all wrong!". Imagine the sight of a small child with an Anna Wintour haircut screaming directions-not so cute, more scary. Or think of Franck Eggelhoffer, the Wedding Organiser from Father of the Bride in a pint sized and less charming form. And only_ I _was allowed to put together the lolly bags as I knew exactly which lollies each child would like. And I've a sneaking suspicion that "control freak child from hell" has a picture of me next to it in the dictionary.
I like to think that I've relaxed somewhat, knowing that a stressed and tantrum throwing host is not a good thing and now force myself to relax. These tiny little tarts are ideal cocktail party nibbly food or food for a morning or afternoon tea. They are best when warm from the oven, as I always think there's something magical about hot pastry but cool pastry loses it mojo. As for the tomato on the top, I was torn, about whether I should top the tarts with the tomato before or after they were put in the oven. Once they're baked they collapse a little, like a semi dried tomato so I've shown both, one with the baked tomato top and one with the fresh tomato half. You can choose whichever the inner Franck in your prefers.
I do concede that some habits haven't died though and I maintain that Franck Eggelhoffer is the real hero of Father of the Bride and that entertainer extraordinaire Colin Cowie is a demi god in my books.
Ricotta, Chive & Tomato mini tarts
An original recipe by Not Quite Nigella
Makes 18-20 tarts
1 sheet of bought shortcrust pastry (or 1.5 sheets if you can't be bothered re-rolling the scraps)
125g of ricotta
50g of tasty or cheddar cheese
1 tablespoon freshly cut chives plus longer pieces to decorate, 40x roughly 1 inch pieces
10 dainty cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 mini cupcakes/tart baking tray with holes lightly greased with butter
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 210c. Using a round cutter, cut out rounds of slightly defrosted shortcrust pastry and place in lightly greased baking tray holes. You may have to re-roll the ends a couple of times if you're only using 1 sheet of pastry.
Step 2 - Mix together the two cheeses, egg and chives in a bowl. Top with tomato half if desired (or put the tomato on after its had its time in the oven). Spoon 1/2 teaspoon full into each case. Bake for 10-15 minutes until pastry and cheese is golden.
Step 3 - Decorate with chive pieces. I did them in a "crossed sword" pattern.