Friday, June 17, 2005

sugar high friday #9 : tarts

this is the tart i'd make if you asked me to make a tart.
this is a sugar high friday event, but our host jarrett of life in flow has kindly announced a savory tart permissible as long as it's a prelude to a sweet.
i thought i'd make the late great Pierre Franey's vegetable tart from "Pierre Franey Cooks with his Friends." it beckoned to me from the cover of the last compilation of his recipes. the tart is from the chapter with his fellow Burgundian Marc Meneau. it seemed a great new way to get my kids to eat vegetables and at the same time make use of summer's bounty and the herbs from my garden. you may substitute other vegetables or herbs and sprinkle cumin or ground coriander. i omitted the spices to increase the chance of my children having a bite. they loved it, especially the pastry that had absorbed the vegetables' juices.
when they saw it on the table they proclaimed, "hey mom! is that the same idea as a Chinese fried noodle basket?" well, what do you know, they're right.

vegetable tart
1 12-oz. sheet of store-bought fresh or frozen puff pastry
1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. of finely minced garlic
1 cup of sliced carrots
1 cup of sliced zucchini
4 small white onions
8 sprigs of chives cut into 3-inch lengths
1/2 pound asparagus
1/4 pound baby portobella mushrooms
8 sprigs of fresh chervil
1/4 tsp. ground cumin (optional)
1/4 cup water or broth
salt and freshly ground black pepper

preheat the oven to 375F.
place the puff pastry in a lightly buttered 10-inch tart or quiche pan, making sure to line the sides as well.
place a sheet of aluminum foil over the bottom and cover with pie weights or dried beans. bake for about 15 minutes or until sides are lightly browned. remove the beans and aluminum foil and bake for another 5 minutes, until the bottom is brown. remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

trim and cut the carrots, zucchini and asparagus to be about the same size/lengths.
heat the oil and butter in large skillet with a tight-fitting lid. add half the chives and garlic and saute briefly, stirring. add the mushrooms and saute for about 5 minutes. add the carrots, zucchini, asparagus, and onions. add about 1/4 cup water or broth, the cumin if using, half the chervil and salt and pepper. cover tightly, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until crisp-tender.
place in the tart shell and return to the oven for 5 minutes. garnish with the remaining chervil and serve immediately.

the sweet tart is from "chocolate," the What's Cooking Series, recipes by Jacqueline Bellefontaine.
my husband had tasted a brownie topped with pears in syrup served at a graduation party and that gave me the idea of making a tart with chocolate and fruit. not with pears, because my children prefer them fresh and crisp. i used a jar of the sweet-tart dark morello cherries that went well with the chocolate and almond flavors. i'll give the canned pears a chance another time.

chocolate cherry almond tart, with warm chocolate sauce

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup butter, chilled
about 3 tbsps. ice water

2 cups dark morello cherries in syrup, drained well, patted dry
4 tbsps. butter, room temperature
4 tbsps. superfine sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup ground almonds
2 tbsps. unsweetened Dutch cocoa
1/4 tsp. amaretto or a few drops of almond extract

lightly grease an 8-inch quiche or tart pan with butter. sift the flour into a mixing bowl and stir in the almonds. blend in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. add water 1 tbsp. at a time, just enough to mix to a soft dough. flatten to a disk, wrap in cling film/plastic wrap, and chill in the freezer for 10 minutes, then roll out and use to line the pan. prick the base all over with a fork and chill.

for the filling, preheat the oven to 400F. cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. beat in the eggs. fold in the almonds, unsweetened cocoa, and liqueur/extract. spread the chocolate mixture in the pieshell and arrange the cherries on top, pressing down lightly. bake in the center of preheated oven for 30 minutes. on until the filling has risen. cool slightly.

chocolate sauce:
place 4 tbsp. sugar, 3 tbsp. golden syrup, and 1/3 cup water in a pan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar dissolves. boil gently for 1 minute. remove the pan from the heat, add 6 oz. broken-up dark (70% cocoa solids) chocolate, and 2 tbsps. butter and stir until melted. serve with the tart.