Summer Cooking with Tessa Holmes
Vermont is all about real food — local, organic, slow, farm-to-table, non-GMO. These culinary catch phrases have been tossed in Vermont’s proverbial salad long before they became mainstream and like overdressed microgreens, they’re beginning to wilt. When we first dreamt up our Summer Recipe Series, we wanted to work with a chef who not only makes beautiful dishes and is steeped in the state’s conscious food culture but someone who has perspective, maybe even a sense of humor about it, as well.
Tessa Holmes of Blossom Whole Food Kitchen is one of those chefs — she creates flavorful, healthful dishes inspired by world cuisine with an air of ease and without pretension. “I’m all about whole foods. I use a lot of local ingredients but I’m not going to stop myself from using a tomato if they’re not in season. Sometimes you just want a tomato.”
Holmes is a seventh-generation Vermonter. Blossom, her middle name, comes from her maternal great-grandfather, Blossom Franklin Goodrich.“I think Blossom is such an auspicious word to have as a name.” she reflects, which is why she's chosen to incorporate it into the name of her catering business. It was Holmes' great-great-great-grandfather who had the name first and started the family's dairy farm in Williston, VT. Every generation up until her mother's was raised on that farm.
Though she might find the jargon surrounding today’s food culture somewhat overdone, she holds her family's namesake and history dear. Holmes partners closely with Vermont farms and is passionate about using local, organic ingredients in her cooking. After all, Vermont farm-to-table is in her blood.
Specializing in “vegetarian comfort whole food” Holmes' super fresh, plant-based dishes pack serious flavor. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that she also cooks meat like a boss. Pick up one of her “Meals to Go” every Tuesday and Thursday at Bread and Butter Farms, or attend one of her partnership dinners with Roost Events. But really, there’s no reason to wait. We’ve got a lineup of her summer recipes right here for you to try in your family kitchen. And lucky for us, tomatoes are in season.
CHERRY TOMATO TARTLETS - by Tessa Holmes
4 cups cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
4 tablespoons minced shallots
1/4 cup chopped garlic scapes (or 2 minced cloves of garlic)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup goat cheese
2 tablespoons melted butter
Savory Tart Dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cup butter — cold and cut into pieces
1/3 cup ice water
Make the dough by combining flour, salt, sugar and butter in a food processor and pulse until it forms crumbs. Add ice water until it's fully incorporated. Shape dough into a thick disc, wrap in plastic and put in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Wash tomatoes then toss in a bowl with a little bit of flour until coated. Add all herbs, garlic, shallots, salt and pepper, then mix all together until well combined. Divide the mixture evenly among 6 ramekins (6–8 ounces.). Evenly divide the goat cheese and crumble on top of each and set aside.
Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is 1/4 inch thick. Use a knife or cookie cutter to cut out 6 circles that are at least 1/2 inch wider than the ramekins. Cover each ramekin with one of the dough circles and press the edges around to seal. Use a fork or knife to poke holes in surface to vent.
Place ramekins on sheet tray and bake for 25 minutes or until dough starts to brown. Brush butter on top of each and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Cool for 15–30 minutes before serving.
Photographs by Dylan Griffin.