Tomato Thyme Bacon Tart

Fresh garden tomatoes and thyme combined with bacon and cheese

Fresh garden tomatoes and thyme combined with bacon and cheese

Nothing screams summer like tomatoes! This tart is quick and easy to make, allowing the tomato to be the star of the show. Today’s tart was made with heirloom tomato – such a big tomato that it only took 3 slices along with a few cherry tomatoes to fill in the gaps.

This works amazingly well as either an appetizer or side dish.

Roll out 1 thawed puff pastry sheet in to 10 x 14 rectangle on lightly floured surface. Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle on 1 1/2 cups cheese (gruyere, gouda and cheddar are good choices). Leave a 2 inch border on the long sides……

Crumble cooked, crumbled bacon over the cheese (4 slices)

Slice tomatoes and layer across bacon/cheese.

Sprinkle with fresh thyme, salt and pepper.

Fold the long sides over to create a border, and fold in the short ends to create a seal.

Using a sharp knife, cut vent holes in the pastry and brush with beaten egg.

Bake at 400 until golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle with fresh basil for serving.

Butternut Squash Soup – with a Mediterranean twist

At this time of year the butternut squash is coming out of the gardens and so fresh that when you cut into it beads of moisture appear – yum yum! Butternut squash soup is a favorite of mine, but this time I felt like a little twist.

Butternut Squash Soup with a Mediterranean twist

Butternut Squash Soup with a Mediterranean twist

You will need:

roasted butternut squash
chicken stock

Seasonings: Ras al Hanout, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper

Garnishes: Grated feta cheese, minced chives, crispy bacon pieces

In a soup pot cook bacon pieces (I like to cut my bacon slices in thin slivers). Remove bacon as soon as it gets crispy. Remove some bacon fat, but leave enough to sauté your cinnamon stick, onions and garlic until soft. Add chicken stock and roasted butternut squash. Remove cinnamon stick as soon as you get a hint of it in the broth, but not overwhelming. Cook until everything is steaming hot – puree with an immersion blender or in batches in a blender (if using a blender take care to leave an opening for the steam to escape – you do not want to end up wearing this hot soup). Season to taste with salt and pepper.

The portions on this will vary greatly on the size of your squash, and the amount of soup you want! For tonight there were only 2 of us so I used 1/2 a squash (about 2 cups) to 4 cups of chicken stock.

Serve once the soup has been pureed – garnish with the chives, bacon bits and grated feta.

For a vegetarian option, leave out the bacon and use vegetable stock.

Either way – a delicious soup!

Classic Caesar Salad

As listed, this salad is a creamy, delicious dressing that will please everybody – don’t even think of leaving out the anchovy paste, it just adds too much flavour to the salad.  (just don’t tell anyone it is in there!)  If you love garlic, go ahead and add an extra clove or two, and if you love spicy salad add more hot pepper sauce.


1/4 cup good mayonnaise

juice of 1 lemon

1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp anchovy paste or 2 anchovies

pinch of sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp hot pepper sauce

1/2 – 3/4 cup oil (I prefer a combo of vegetable and olive oils)

Put everything except the oil in a blender and combine well.  (Or use an immersion blender)  Add oil in a steady stream, slowly.  Taste for salt and pepper, adjusting as necessary


1 large head of romaine lettuce, cleaned and broken into bite size pieces

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup croutons

8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and broken up

Making your own croutons is very easy, and taste so much fresher than any package ones.  Cube day old bread, and toss it in a bag or bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper and minced garlic.  Toast on a cookie sheet, tossing occasionally, at 350 degrees until golden brown and crispy.


Toss dressing with pieces of romaine until coated well.  Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well.  Give salad a squeeze of lemon, and drizzle a bit more dressing over top – serve!

Spaghetti Bolognese ala Kat!

Any Italian would probably take offence if I said this was true bolognese …. so it is ala Kat!  The best part of this recipe is the fact that it is loaded with vegetables, and simmered until the aroma fills your kitchen, and your taste buds can hardly wait for the reward!  We have a vegetarian in our home right now, so this version allows for any vegetarians to get a great, hearty meal as well as those carnivores (like myself …).


2 onions, finely diced

2 medium size leeks, finely sliced

8 garlic cloves (yes, eight)

2 medium size carrots, finely diced

4 celery stalks, finely diced

1/2 each of red, green and yellow peppers, finely diced

olive oil

1 pound / 1/2 kg each of ground beef and pork

1/2 pound / 300 gms  of bacon, finely sliced (depending on how much you like bacon)

1 28 oz / 796 ml can good quality tomatoes

1 24 oz / 680 ml good quality tomato sauce

1 5.5 oz / 156 ml can tomato paste

1/2 cup good red wine (always use wine you would like to drink!)

bay leaves

1 tsp dry oregano

1 tsp dry basil

1 tsp dry parsley

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste

enough pasta to feed your crowd – the above Bolognese will probably feed 6-8

Saute the onions in olive oil until just starting to carmelize, add the rest of the diced vegetables.  When the carrots are fork tender, add the garlic and the tomato sauce.  Simmer just until all the vegetables are tender.  Using either an immersion blender or your food processor (being VERY CAREFUL to allow steam to escape by leaving the lid ajar or center portion removed) whiz vegetables and sauce until a thick paste forms.  ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOU HAVE SPACE FOR STEAM TO RELEASE FROM BLENDER, BURNS CAN BE A DISASTER (and so will the mess).  Return sauce to sauce pan and stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine and seasonings.

If you have fresh herbs, a nutmeg that you can grate, and fresh cinnamon – so much the better!

In a separate fry pan saute the bacon, beef and pork until cooked through.  The biggest reason I use a separate sauce pan is the vegetarian …. This is the point where you can separate the amount of sauce you need for a vegetarian, and then add the rest of the carnivorous goodness to your stock pot.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Personally, I like to take the amount of salt and pepper I would add in total, and with each layer sprinkle a bit of each.  That way all the vegetables end up seasoned, and I think the flavour goes right through.

Cook pasta until just al dente – drain and add just a bit of the bolognese to the pasta to coat the noodles.  Serve with extra sauce over top, then a generous grating of parmigiana.