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The holidays are fast approaching. You need Christmas steam oven recipes. I’m your girl.
For as long as I’ve been creating steam oven recipes and teaching people about their appliances, mid-November has brought with it a flurry of emails and phone calls from panicked owners about how to convert their favourite holiday recipes for the steam oven.
Some recipes are a pretty easy conversion (Christmas pudding in the steam oven? So much easier than in a pot), others take some effort or just don’t work that well (erm, no, you probably shouldn’t bake your shortbread in the steam oven). But the constant refrain I hear from people is that they bought a steam oven and now all their friends and family expect to be impressed by their amazing new cooking skills – never more so than during the festive season. Often the person with the steam oven has a whole new kitchen or even a new house, and at some point past excitedly offered up their house for a party, ready to show off the new place. No pressure then.
With the above in mind, over the next few weeks I’m going to pull together some simple fixes here for steam oven holiday entertaining recipes. I’ll try to give pointers for the more traditional dishes too, but mostly I’d like to arm you with some easy things you can prepare and whip out for parties big and small. Sort of a low-effort-high-impact arsenal of Christmas steam oven recipes. I know Thanksgiving is also coming up in the USA – it’s not something we celebrate in Australia but perhaps some of these recipes will be useful for your Thanksgiving events too.
First up? These utterly delicious combi steam cherry tomato tarts.
I love making little puff pastry tarts in the steam oven – they’re easy to put together, can be done totally in advance and cooked when guests arrive, and they always get a positive reaction which far outweighs the time taken to make them. Regular store bought puff pastry is literally elevated to new heights using combi steam (sorry, couldn’t help myself) and comes out of the oven incredibly flaky with a deeply golden exterior and tender interior. This version is especially festive with a red, white and green theme thanks to the cherry tomatoes, ricotta cheese and basil pesto. Plus they’re inexpensive to make and vegetarian, which makes them a bit of an all around winner.
These tarts only take 12 minutes to cook in the steam oven so if you’re cooking for a crowd you could run a few batches through fairly quickly while everyone chats over drinks. I have a house full of people big and small this weekend, including a dedicated vegetarian, so I’ll be making some to feed my guests even though it’s not actually Christmas yet!
Happy steam oven cooking, see you here again soon (next week, a sweet festive recipe for the steam oven which makes for excellent gifts – I can’t wait to share it).
Combi Steam Christmas Cherry Tomato Tarts
Makes 8 canape-sized tarts.
You can scale this up as needed and just cook the tarts in batches as you want them.
If you’re wanting to prep ahead, I have gone as far as to freeze the completely assembled raw tarts the day before and just bake from frozen – they don’t take any longer to cook and people think you’re fantastic for all your kitchen slaving when in fact your just pulled the baking tray straight from the freezer! If freezer space is at a premium, you could cut out your pastry, halve your tomatoes and just keep all the bits in the fridge until you want to assemble and bake.
About baking trays and pastry in the steam oven: I have found that when I bake any filled or topped pastry in the steam oven, a dark coloured baking tray makes a huge difference to the browning on the base of my finished pastries. Silver coloured/stainless steel trays frequently cause me problems with soggy pastry, especially when my fillings are quite moist or the tart/pastry larger than canape size. My trays are just cheap non-stick cookie/slice trays, so definitely no fancy cookware required here as long as it’s dark coloured. You can still line the tray with baking paper as well – it’s the colour underneath which makes the difference.
1 sheet store-bought puff pastry, thawed (the ones we get in Australia are roughly 30cm/12” square)
150g firm ricotta cheese (if your ricotta is quite wet drain it in a fine sieve for a couple of hours before use)
50g basil pesto (store bought is just fine here)
12 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Preheat your oven to 200⁰C (combination steam setting). If your oven has variable steam settings, use 50-60% here. Lightly grease a dark coloured baking tray or line with silicone paper.
Cut the pastry square in half, then cut each half into 4 rectangles. Lay the rectangles on the tray with a little space between each one, then lightly score a 5mm (1/4”) border around the edges of each piece with a sharp knife, taking care not to cut all the way through the pastry.
Divide the ricotta between the rectangles of pastry, spreading it up to the borders you’ve cut. Top each piece with three small dots of pesto, then put a halved cherry tomato, cut side up, onto the pesto.
Cook the tarts for 12 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened and the pastry is golden brown. Serve hot or warm.
But I don’t have a steam/combi-steam oven! You can cook these in a 220⁰C conventional/fan forced oven for about 15-18 minutes instead. The pastry will be a little drier but they’re still great.
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