Thursday, February 2, 2012

Gourmets 50 Most Influential Women in Food #33 Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer - Tomato Tart

Tomato Tart..made easy because it call for frozen puff pastry!
This week we are celebrating #33 on Gourmets 50 Most Influential Women in Food list. The duo picked was Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hersheimer.  As I was researching these women I found that they live in one of my favorite places in the NJ/PA area. Lambertville is on the NJ side of the Delaware river and New Hope is on the Pa. side, in famous Bucks County. These are such quaint beautiful towns. The artistic community of New York City has long made this a summer destination. New Hope has hosted the illustrious likes of Barbara Stanwyck, James Taylor, Moss Hart, Robert Redford and Dorthy Parker and members of her "Algonquin Round Table" group. Famous writers, critics, and actors. But I'm getting distracted!! I'm supposed to be talking about two very talented women in the food industry. 
Together this pair had more than 30 years experience working for such magazines as Food and Wine, Metropolitan Home, Cook's Illustrated, and Martha Stewart Living. They also worked on cookbooks by Julia Child, Alice Waters, Mario Batali, Jaques Pepin, and Lidia Bastianich. 
Christopher Hersheimer served as food and design editor for Metropolitan Home Magazine and was one of the founders of Saveur Magazine, where she was executive editor. She is a writer and photographer.
Christopher  resides just across the Delaware River in Erwinna, Pa., with her husband Jim, an antiques dealer. The couple has two grown daughters. Hersheimer grew up in San Francisco, one of five children.  She attended college in the San Francisco Bay area during the 60's and 70's. Where she became involved with the local food scene. She has said, "You could say I ended up in the food world by default." Lucky for the food world.
Melissa Hamilton was co-founder of the restaurant Hamilton's Grill Room in Lambertville, NJ., where she served as the executive chef. She also worked for Martha Stewart Magazine, Cook's Illustrated and was food editor at Saveur. Melissa is the daughter of Jim Hamilton of Hamilton's Grill Room. She is the sister of Gabrielle Hamilton, the highly regarded chef/owner of Prune in Manhattan. She and her architect husband, Michael Hagerty, along with their two daughters live in Stockton, NJ. 
In 2007, these two women decided to start their own magazine/cookbook and self-publish it. The magazine would be published three times a year and they would do it from their studio in Lambertville, NJ. When they tried to get it published; everyone told them it would never work. Against all advise they pushed ahead and eventually, in 2009, issued the first volume of Canal House Cooking, a series of seasonal cookbooks that they self-publish three times a year. 
These are two very determined, talented ladies, who have just published number 7 in their Canal House Cooking series. After reading all the reviews of this series...I stopped by Amazon and bought myself the first 3...I am such a sucker for a good cookbook! 

I made a small one tonight for photos...I will be making the full size version tomorrow for company.

Just out of the oven....this was so flaky and wonderful! You could taste the freshness of the tomatoes in every bite.


tomato tart
serves 4–6

We usually make this simple tart with large ripe tomatoes in season, tuck- ing some halved supersweet cherry tomatoes in between the slabs. But we’ve found that using even those hothouse varieties—a little more acidic and certainly less juicy—can be quite delicious, too. Eat this tart warm or at room temperature, but definitely the same day you make it as the crisp, delicate crust becomes limp if left to sit too long.

1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted 
2–3 tomatoes, cored and sliced 
Salt, preferably maldon or other
2–3 branches fresh thyme 
really good extra-virgin olive oil
crunchy sea salt

Preheat the oven to 375°. Lay the sheet of puff pastry out on a parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Using the tip of a paring knife, lightly score a border about 1⁄2 inch from the edge of the pastry. Prick the dough inside the border all over with the tines of a fork to prevent it from puffing up too much during baking.

Arrange the tomatoes on the pastry in a single layer (crowding or overlap- ping the tomatoes will make the puff pastry soggy). Strip the branches of thyme, scattering the leaves over the tomatoes. Drizzle the tart with some olive oil and season with pepper.

Bake the tart until the pastry is crisp and deeply browned on the bottom and around the edges, 30–40 minutes. Season with salt.

These are the other bloggers that are playing along....make sure you stop by and check them out!
MaryOne Perfect Bite
ValMore Than Burnt Toast
JoanneEats Well With Others 
TarynHave Kitchen Will Feed
 SusanThe Spice Garden
Heather- girlichef
 MirandaMangoes and Chutney
JeanetteJeanette's Healthy Living
KathyBakeaway with Me
SueThe View from Great Island
BarbaraMoveable Feasts
LindaThere and Back Again 
MireyaMy Healthy Eating Habits
VeronicaMy Catholic Kitchen
AnnieLovely Things
ClaudiaJourney of an Italian Cook
AlyceMore Time at the Table
Amrita- Beetle's Kitchen Escapades


  1. Thanks for such a well written and informative post! Plus I think this tart looks heavenly!

  2. What a delicate and delicious looking tart. Love the pastry layers!

  3. How easy and delicious does that look! I will definitely give that a try.

  4. What a nice rustic yet elegant recipe to make in honor of these two ladies. I had a lot of fun looking through pictures of their dishes all made with fresh whole ingredients.

  5. That tomato tart looks o perfect for entertaining company. I love reading the background of famous chefs. Thanks for that right up!

  6. With each dish I see, I am loving these ladies more and more. I have this on my list to make VERY SOON. Beautiful.

  7. Love this series, enjoyed reading your contribution and love this tomato tart, so simple and elegant!

  8. I will be trying this - saving it for tomato season. I love a good tomato tart and I love how these women have made the cooking so accessible. And the photos just draw me in.

  9. Your tart looks so delicious, Kathy! Now that I have read your post I want to look for the Canal Book Cooking series. They both sound like remarkable women.

  10. I love the technique here. Your tart reminds me of summer and sun drenched days.

  11. Just beautifully done. Nice read about it all, too!

  12. I love tarts made in rectangular molds. They just look more inviting.