Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tomato Tart

So the inspiration for the tomato tart was two fold: a) I had beautiful tomatoes and b) I love cheese. For this reason, I began scouring the internet a few days ago, trying to find a fairly easy, pretty rustic, tomato tart. I found tarts on epicurious that seemed a little too rustic for me, basically tomato tart tartins, which I just thought wouldn't fit the bill... or include cheese. Then there were tarts that were a little too caprese salad, as in no melted cheese, and basically raw tomato and cheese on a tart shell: basically = soggy. But eventually I found a recipe by the Martha Stewart empire that seemed like it would fit the bill. Fairly easy, keeping it simple, and something that would speak to the tomatoes and some wonderful cheese. Disclosure: I am in no way a Martha Stewart fan. I'm kind of embarrassed that I'm using her recipe, and I was secretly psyched when she went to jail. Sorry, girl, I kind of was. That being said, you've done time now, and have street cred. Long live the Martha. 
So a little confession, I don't make that many tarts. In fact, I'm intimidated to the nines by making a pie crust of any kind. I started with Martha's tart crust recipe. Since I don't have a 10 inch tart pan, I think mine is about 8 inches (that's what he said), I decided to stand by the recipe's instructions, but just realize that I would have a little bit of dough left over. I also added my own tricks, which I find helps the crust stay pretty flaky. Instead of a 1/2 cup of ice water, I combined a 1/4 cup of ice water with a 1/4 cup of ice cold vodka. The vodka evaporates, leaves no flavor, and creates those lovely little air bubbles that make for a terrific  light crust. My other little trick to a pie dough is to make sure that the butter is basically frozen. Cold butter, and not overworking the butter into the dry ingredients is so key. In fact, while she recommends not overworking the butter for more than 30 seconds in the food processor, I actually take care to ensure that the bits of butter are closer to kidney bean size than little cottage cheese curds. Just a few tips. Other than that, despite some success with pie doughs, I remain very very intimidated by sugar, water, flour, and salt in any pastry form.
Now onto the actual tart recipe. I started with a single large brandywine yellow tomato, a garden variety, fully ripe red tomato, and an itty bitty heirloom yellow plum tomato. Instead of using fontina cheese, I went for the slightly gooey-er, more melty and buttery taleggio. 
One of the most pleasurable parts of this entire experience is the roasting the garlic part. I cut a bit of the head of the garlic off, added a tablespoon of good olive oil (Segreto - purchased at Salumeria Italiana in the North End of Boston), and wrapped the whole thing in tin foil. Forty-five minutes in the oven and the kitchen smelled of roasted garlic. I imagine that heaven smells of roasted garlic. When it's finished and cooled, it really is quite easy to squeeze your roasted garlic out of the papery pods. 
After rolling out the dough and placing it into my tart pan, just as she instructs, I spread the roasted garlic paste onto the bottom, layered with bits of the cheese, the sliced tomatoes, another layer of bits of cheese, and about a tablespoon drizzle of olive oil. I also cracked on some pepper, and a dash of kosher salt. And that was that. Bake up, my darling.
Turned out pretty good too. Take a look for yourself. Warm tart, delicious savory roasted tomatoes, gooey, rich melted taleggio cheese, and a flakey, buttery tart shell. I don't know if you can really do much better.

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