leave your inhibitions at the door
It’s the end of summer so you know what that means, right? School. Leaves turning color. Sweater weather. The crisp air. Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Shitty holiday music 24/7 on radio stations you probably didn’t listen to anyway.
Put it all together and you get – leaves falling so you have to go out in the crisp cold-ass weather wearing an itchy sweater while the radio plays “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer” and you can’t get the kids to help you because they have a ton of homework and all you want is a coffee, pumpkin spice optional. That’s my story.
But on the bright side, I’m swimming in fresh produce from the garden. I made a couple more raised garden beds this year and that extra space resulted in a truckload of cucumbers, eggplant, beets, herbs, three types of peppers – shishito, jalapeno, cayenne – and, of course tomatoes. I was a little bummed that more than half of my tomatoes had to be pitched because they got eaten by bugs. But I threw the bad ones in an open field on the other side of our fence in the hopes there’s going to be a lot of “wild” tomatoes growing there in the future.
Did I mention I had a lot of cucumbers?
Possible captions for the above photo –
A – This only represented 1/4 of what I grew.
B – The cats are going to have nightmares after this https://youtu.be/JsysNml153M
C – So many men, so little time
Anyway, there’s only so many sliced tomatoes and caprese salads you can eat before you start getting really sick of them. I came across this recipe for a tomato tart from David Lebovitz and had to try it. He explained that it in France, “if you’re invited to someone’s house for a meal, even the most inept home cook will make a quiche or tarte salee…”
Well hell, if an inept Frenchman can make it, so can a lazy Filipino food blogger in Michigan.
French Tomato Tart
A couple notes:
– The honey is optional. Although my tomatoes were super sweet to the point where a friend thought they were peaches, the honey really tasted delicious.
– The crust was really easy and came out perfect. He says to use a 9-10 inch tart pan or make it free-form. I went with the free-form crust because I wanted to maximize the crust to get more tomatoes cooked.
– I’ve started measuring flour for baking by weight when I can and it’s really made a difference with the crust. Proving I can’t handle measuring cups.
– As Lebovitz mentions, any combination of fresh herbs work. I used a mixture of thyme, tarragon, and rosemary. I had some basil picked, but completely forgot to put it in. He suggests two tablespoons, but I doubled that.
– One unbaked tart dough (see recipe below)
– Dijon or whole-grain mustard
– 2-3 large ripe tomatoes
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– salt and freshly ground pepper
– two generous tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, chives, chervil, or tarragon
– 8 ounces (250g) fresh or slightly aged goat cheese, sliced into rounds
– Optional: 1 1/2 tablespoons flavorful honey
– 1 1/2 cups (210g) flour
– 4 1/2 ounces (125g) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1 large egg
– 2-3 tablespoons cold water
1. Make the dough by mixing the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and use your hands, or a pastry blender, to break in the butter until the mixture has a crumbly, cornmeal-like texture.
2. Mix the egg with 2 tablespoons of the water. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the beaten egg mixture, stirring the mixture until the dough holds together. If it’s not coming together easily, add the additional tablespoon of ice water.
3. Gather the dough into a ball and roll the dough on a lightly floured surface, adding additional flour only as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the counter.
4. Once the dough is large enough so that it will cover the bottom of the pan and go up the sides, roll the dough around the rolling pin then unroll it over the tart pan. “Dock” the bottom of the pastry firmly with your fingertips a few times, pressing in to make indentations.
If making a freestyle tart, simply transfer the dough to a prepared baking sheet (see headnote); no need to make indentations with your fingers.
5. Preheat the oven to 425ºF (218ºC). See note.
6. Spread an even layer of mustard over the bottom of the tart dough and let it sit a few minutes to dry out.7. Slice the tomatoes and arrange them over the mustard in a single, even layer. Drizzle the olive oil over the top.
8. Sprinkle with some chopped fresh herbs, then arrange the slices of goat cheese on top. Add some more fresh herbs, then drizzle with some honey, if using.
(If baking a free-form tart, gather the edges when you’re done, to envelope the filling.)
9. Bake the tart for 30 minutes or so, until the dough is cooked, the tomatoes are tender, and the cheese on top is nicely browned. Depending on the heat of your oven, if the cheese doesn’t brown as much as you’d like it, you might want to pass it under the broiler until it’s just right.
I loved the perfect mix of salt and butter in the crust and the tomatoes really did taste like peaches. The goat cheese had this wonderful crisp/gooey texture and the honey and herbs added just enough accent to the dish.
Seriously, make this. It’s so damn good.
Did you garden this year? Any interesting recipes I need to try?