October 10, 2010 § Leave a comment
Almonds have the greatest ability to be delicious in so many forms. Toasted almonds add the greatest nutty crunch to salads and soups. Whereas raw almonds are milky and smooth. The creamy texture of raw almonds has forced me to dream of making my own almond milk, and from what I gather, the process is not all that daunting. Before any other almond fantasies could come true, I assembled a peppercorn poached pear and almond tart with an almond crust. Unfortunately, my favorite part was the subtly spiced perfectly tender Bartlette Pears from Barnards Orchards.
And by no means is it an unfortunate thing to have discovered my new adoration and curiosity of pear poaching, though the tart itself was just not worth the hours of effort. But my tummy is telling me that there is still hope, and that the next variation will be magnificent. In any case, it was a gorgeous little experiment, and I am already planning my future pear poaching and almond pasting. No more canned almond paste. From now on I will listen to my gut and make the almond paste with butter and sugar, only the best for my tarts. For the pears I am envisioning the use of honey, ginger, cinnamon sticks, and maybe even some savory pears with thyme poached in a smoked sugar from Northbrook Marketplace. Only the future can tell.
4 cups water
1 1/4 cups Demerara Sugar
4 Bartlette Pears (Boscs were not ready yet, but are preferable) peeled, seeded, quartered
20 peppercorns (give or take)
1 Vanilla bean
Heat the water and sugar together in a large sauce pan until the sugar dissolves. Check on it every couple minutes and stir frequently. Once the sugar has dissolved add the peppercorns and vanilla or any flavorings suited to your taste buds. Add the pears in a layer. Keep the water boiling very lightly and try to be sure that they stay mostly submerged by pushing them down with the back of a wooden spoon every so often, or construct a pear poaching parchment paper tool found here. They will take about 20 minutes to become soft. Once they have become nice and delicate like butter they are poached. Remove them from the heat and allow them too cool until they are needed.
October 9, 2010 § Leave a comment
This is a mix of much research and many recipes which resulted in something crumbly, jamey, tart, and sweet. I discovered the crust here and am now hooked. It is a nice herbed and nutty crust, which is perfect for any sort of savory tart. Next, I am thinking a butternut squash and caramelized onion combo. A word of warning: the crust may not hold up well with overly juicy fillings, and tomatoes surely fall into the category of juicy so plan accordingly. Which is what led me to spread a healthy layer of dijon mustard on the bottom of the crust before baking (thanks to David Lebovitz’s suggestion in his French Tomato Tart recipe). The tomatoes I used are a beautiful variety called Green Zebras which I grew and have been eating raw all summer. They are firm and vibrant up until the second when they become wilted and muted. They have a tangy crisp taste and are perfect to soften and sweeten under a blanket of crumbled goat cheese.
Green Tomato Tart with Herbed Olive Oil Crust
Crust adapted from the Chocolate and Zucchini Easy Olive Oil Tart Crust:
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon herbs de provence (or any herbs which suit your recipe)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup ice water
Mix the flour, salt, and herbs in a bowl. Add the olive oil and stir with a spoon until combined. Slowly add the water and continue stirring with the fork until everything starts to come together and forms into a ball. Now lightly knead the dough for a minute.
The fun part is rolling out the dough. Take the ball and lay it on a floured surface, get your rolling pin and begin quickly and evenly flattening the dough while simultaneously rotating the disc and dusting flour underneath to prevent any sticking. Try to be as quick and light handed as possible. When the dough will fit into the tart pan ( I usually need to visually double check by holding the pan over the rolled out dough) wrap the dough around the rolling pin and unravel it onto the pan, or just delicately pick it up and transfer with a gentle touch. Pat the dough into the pan and use the rolling pin to roll over the rim and even everything out. Take any excess dough, gather it into a ball and flatten into a disk. Cover the tart crust with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Start making the filling.
10 small Green Zebra Tomatoes, sliced 1/2 inch thick (or an equivalent amount to fill a tart with one layer)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/2 tablespoon herbs de provence
Olive oil to drizzle
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lay the tomatoes in a single layer on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Cover with another layer of towels to absorb some of their juices. Let them sit until the tart crust has rested. Once 30 minutes has passed, take the dough and spread a nice layer of mustard on the bottom, this will help keep things from getting soggy and messy during consumption. Allow the mustard dry for a minute or so. Nestle the tomatoes into their cozy, mustardy bed, sprinkle them the herbs and cheese, drizzle some olive oil and tuck them into a nice hot oven. It will take about 20 minutes for the cheese to melt, the crust to bake, and the tomatoes to ooze.
With the left over crust I made a single serving galette using the same technique but only one single slice of tomato. The dough thicker, the mustard thiner, the presentation adorable, and the taste magnificent.