02 March 2010

Yeasted Tart Shell

I found a copy of Fields of Greens at a used bookstore almost a year ago and it wasn't until the other night that I got around to making anything from it. I was in a tart mood, as in, a savory tart mood, so I chose one with leeks, garlic, and olives, all cradled inside a yeasted tart shell. Though I've made many a tart in my life I'd never encountered a yeasted tart shell before—I thought the pie-crust variety (flour, butter/shortening, salt, and cold water) was the only way to go. This is something more like a delicate Sicilian pizza: the crust is pillowey and soft, and the yeast gives it as much heft as flavor. Annie Somerville, author of Field of Greens, has taken famed English cookery pioneer Elizabeth David's recipe verbatim, and rather than type it up and make any claims that I did anything original to it, I'll just give you the link.

But for fillings: you might drive yourself mad considering the options. With all tarts and quiches, it's a good idea to put a layer of cheese on the bottom, which seals up any holes. So keep that in mind if you're going to go rogue and use just tomatoes, basil, salt & pepper, or saute chopped cauliflower or broccoli with shallots and garlic and a bit of nutmeg and then pour a light custard over the top, or simply, say, ratatouille and chopped cooked spinach and goat cheese. If you want to copy what I had, follow this modification of Somerville's recipe.

Leek & Olive Tart: Saute 3 thinly sliced leeks in a bit of oil. Add 2 cloves minced garlic, a big pinch of salt, a few grinds of pepper, and cover and steam until softened, then cook uncovered for 1 or 2 minutes until any remaining liquid cooks off. It a crust forms on the bottom of the pan, deglaze it with a bit of wine, stock, or water. Mix this up with a handful of chopped olives and a handful of chopped fresh parsley. After you've dusted the 9-inch tart shell with grated Parmesean (or any other cheese you like), make an even layer of the leek mixture. Whisk together 2 eggs and 1 cup half-and-half (or 1/2 cup cream + 1/2 cup milk), and then pour this over the leeks, and up to the rim of the shell (you may not need to use all the custard). Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25-35 minutes, until fully set.

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