FROM WIN­TER 2009, BY MAR­I­LYN BENTZ-CROW­LEY While vodka may seem un­usual in dough, it re­leases al­co­hol-sol­u­ble flavours and most im­por­tantly, does not toughen cheese dough. Good On­tario ched­dar comes from var­i­ous cheese­mak­ers around the province. Pick your favourite. Star in­gre­di­ents are our lo­cal viner­ipened toma­toes, full of juice and flavour, as well as Pingue Pancetta from Ni­a­gara Food Spe­cial­ties. For a meat­less op­tion, the recipe works well with­out pancetta. We used 2-inch (5-cm) tart tins but you can also use min­imuf­fin tins. They take a lit­tle less time to bake.


¼ cup (60 mL) but­ter, soft­ened 1 tsp (5 mL) Di­jon mus­tard

2 cups (500 mL) grated ched­dar, at room tem­per­a­ture

¾ cup (175 mL) all-pur­pose flour ¼ tsp (1 mL) salt

¼ tsp (1 mL) cayenne

1 to 2 tbsp (15 to 30 mL) vodka


1½ cups (375 mL) seeded and diced ripe toma­toes 1 large green onion, finely sliced

3 to 4 tbsp (45 to 60 mL) finely chopped fresh basil or pars­ley

2 tbsp (30 mL) ex­tra vir­gin olive oil

1 tsp (5 mL) red-wine vine­gar

Salt and freshly ground pep­per to taste

4 oz (115 g) pancetta, cooked and coarsely crum­bled, op­tional

1 Pre­heat oven to 325°F (160°C). Coat tart tins with non­stick spray.

2 With elec­tric beater beat but­ter with mus­tard un­til well com­bined. Beat in cheese only un­til small bits of cheese are still vis­i­ble. Com­bine flour, salt and cayenne; stir into cheese mix­ture. Stir in 1 tbsp (15 mL) vodka un­til dough forms. If too dry, add re­main­ing vodka. (You could also use a food pro­ces­sor to make the dough.)

3 Gather dough into 2 logs, each about 12 inches (30 cm) long. Cut 12 pieces of dough from each length and shape into a cup-like shape. Press into tart tins, press­ing to evenly fill each cup right to the top. Prick the base of each tart with a fork. 4 Bake in oven cen­tre for 20 min­utes or un­til lightly browned. Cool on a rack be­fore turn­ing out. If cheese cups stick, turn pan up­side down over rack and lightly rap bot­tom of each muf­fin cup with back of a spoon un­til re­leased. (Cheese cups can be made ahead and stored air­tight at room tem­per­a­ture for sev­eral days or frozen for a month.)

5 To make rel­ish, toss toma­toes with green onion and basil in a small bowl. Stir in olive oil and vine­gar. Sea­son tomato mix­ture with salt and pep­per. (Mix­ture can sit at room tem­per­a­ture for a cou­ple of hours but loses flavour if re­frig­er­ated.)

6 When ready to serve, re­turn ched­dar cups on a metal tray to pre­heated 325°F (160°C) oven for 5 min­utes to crisp. Cool slightly; then fill each with a spoon­ful of tomato mix­ture. Top with crum­bled pancetta. Serve right away.

Makes 24 nib­bles

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