This week I noticed the primary promise of tomato season. A number of brightly coloured cherry specimens had been introduced residence from the native market, in addition to the extra commonplace varieties. I used to be down in Gascony visiting my good friend Kate Hill, and her photographer good friend Tim Clinch was there making ready to guide a pictures workshop. Searching for one thing tempting and colourful, tomatoes appeared the plain option to be prepared topics for footage, and for dinner.
Along with the profusion of flowers plucked from the luxurious backyard by the canal du Midi, the tomatoes had their second in entrance of the digicam. However as soon as the members stopped clicking, we grabbed them and put them the place they rightfully belong: Within the kitchen.
In France, tarts will not be thought of “special day” fare, and when you’re invited to somebody’s home for a meal, even probably the most inept residence cook dinner will make a quiche or tarte salée, which is able to shock you after they current a surprising tart à desk, trying nearly pretty much as good as something whipped up from the native bakery.
True, some cooks right here cheat a bit and use pre-purchased pâte brisée, which you should buy within the grocery store fridge case the place it’s offered rolled up and boxed like plastic wrap. Nonetheless I’ll concede that it does make fast work of constructing a savory tart and on a couple of event I’ve been duped by somebody, whose tart I’ve complimented, which prompted what I name “The Rubbish Can Confessional”: when somebody has to fess up and extract an empty field from the poubelle, often from Picard, France’s common frozen meals chain.
I’ve not purchased or used the pre-made stuff, nevertheless tempting it may be (!) however this dough is as straightforward as pie to make and roll out. And by the point it takes to go to the shop and purchase the dough, you may make this. I haven’t tried it with the French tart dough recipe however Kate assured me it could work with both an unbaked or pre-baked tart shell.
Not like different savory tarts, such because the Herbed Ricotta Tart, this one has no custard or cream added; it’s simply sliced tomatoes, recent herbs, and sliced rounds of soppy goat cheese, which get browned on high. And not using a wealthy custard, the style and texture of the tomatoes doesn’t get misplaced. However the recent goat cheese is great, particularly when it will get all crusty-brown on high, and heat and creamy-soft inside. You would swap out one other cheese that you simply like, akin to comté, haloumi, or fontina, or one other favourite fromage that melts properly.
Ditto with the recent herbs. A number of steps exterior of her always-buzzing kitchen are huge bunches of herbs rising in verdant, leafy profusion. Thyme, variegated two-color sage, lovage, and savory are well-represented, however I used to be particularly happy to search out recent oregano, which for some purpose is elusive in Paris.
So when she wasn’t trying, I clipped a couple of sprigs (okay, various sprigs), which I squirreled away in my suitcase. Together with the do-it-yourself pink wine vinegar and foie gras that she did give me. Plus I had some bitter chestnut honey that I picked up on the market in Cahors. (And, after all, a visit to the native vintage market yielded me a couple of classic wine glasses and Kate scored three attractive previous French jam jars for simply €5 a pop.)
I’m not a fan of sweet-savory cooking—with a couple of exceptions, most notably glazed Korean chicken wings, however after I noticed the sticky jar of brusque miel de ronce (wild blackberry honey) on her counter, I instructed drizzling a bit over the tart simply earlier than baking. We had a little bit of dough leftover, so it bought rolled out and we made a mini-tart to present it a strive. And it was an enormous hit.
However the actual stroke of genius, I believe, is the layer of mustard you unfold on the tart, which supplies a spicy back-bite to the baked tomato slices. You may go as straightforward or as beneficiant as you need. The French love their Dijon mustard so don’t be shy: a layer that’s a thick as what you’d unfold on a sandwich is nearly proper.
Good scorching from the oven, or mighty good at room temperature as properly, that is good summertime fare. You would pair it with the proverbial leafy inexperienced salad or go complete hog and serve it on a buffet with PLTs (Pig, Lettuce, and Tomato sandwiches). However in my thoughts, the perfect accompaniment are glasses of rosé over ice. And from the variety of bottles we went by means of that afternoon, nobody appeared to disagree.
French Tomato Tart
- One unbaked tart dough, (see recipe beneath)
- Dijon or whole-grain mustard
- 2-3 giant ripe tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and freshly floor pepper
- two beneficiant tablespoons chopped recent herbs, akin to thyme, chives, chervil, or tarragon
- 8 ounces (250g) recent or barely aged goat cheese, sliced into rounds
- Optionally available: 1 1/2 tablespoons flavorful honey
- 1 1/2 cups (210g) flour
- 4 1/2 ounces (125g) unsalted butter, chilled, minimize into cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 giant egg
- 2-3 tablespoons chilly water
Make the dough by mixing the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and use your arms, or a pastry blender, to interrupt within the butter till the combination has a crumbly, cornmeal-like texture.
Combine the egg with 2 tablespoons of the water. Make a properly within the middle of the dry elements and add the overwhelmed egg combination, stirring the combination till the dough holds collectively. If it’s not coming collectively simply, add the extra tablespoon of ice water.
Collect the dough right into a ball and roll the dough on a calmly floured floor, including further flour solely as essential to preserve the dough from sticking to the counter.
As soon as the dough is giant sufficient so that it’s going to cowl the underside of the pan and go up the edges, roll the dough across the rolling pin then unroll it over the tart pan. “Dock” the underside of the pastry firmly along with your fingertips a couple of occasions, urgent in to make indentations. If making a freestyle tart, merely switch the dough to a ready baking sheet (see headnote); no have to make indentations along with your fingers.
Preheat the oven to 425ºF (218ºC). See observe.
Unfold a fair layer of mustard over the underside of the tart dough and let it sit a couple of minutes to dry out.
Slice the tomatoes and prepare them over the mustard in a single, even layer. Drizzle the olive oil excessive.
Sprinkle with some chopped recent herbs, then prepare the slices of goat cheese on high. Add some extra recent herbs, then drizzle with some honey, if utilizing. (If baking a free-form tart, collect the sides if you’re carried out, to envelope the filling.)
Bake the tart for half-hour or so, till the dough is cooked, the tomatoes are tender, and the cheese on high is properly browned. Relying on the warmth of your oven, if the cheese doesn’t brown as a lot as you’d prefer it, you may need to go it underneath the broiler till it’s excellent.
Word: Kate certainly does cook dinner her tart in a extremely popular oven. You may want to examine the tart halfway by means of baking and switch it down a bit in case the highest is getting too darkish, earlier than the crust and tomatoes look like cooked.
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