This was a lemon meringue pie that I painstakingly worked on, only to have it flip over in the car! I had the pie on the back seat and the dome on the floor so the still-warm pie wouldn't steam. When I braked suddenly, the pie flew and hit the seat in front of it, then fell into the dome. It was kind of amazing that it made it into the dome, but I was devastated and furious! Nevertheless, it got eaten at work (it was Pie Night).
And it had been so pretty in its pre-flip state! But truth be told, it was a pain in the ass to make, with the meringue requiring this syrup that crystallized on me, as syrups and caramels so often do. I'll take another crack at lemon meringue, with a simpler recipe. But on to another digression...
My fundraiser with Ming Tsai went really well! We raised a chunk of money, and had a blast watching his cooking demo (he made soba noodle sushi), drinking beer, and eating at his restaurant. He was hilarious, and of course the food was great. I've posted videos from his cooking demo here. But back to that tart...
Spinach & Pine Nut Tart. Some poking around on the Internet made me settle on a tart with roasted vegetables, but I couldn't find a recipe completely to my liking. Some called for tomato sauce or mozzarella, but I didn't want it to be like pizza. Others called for puff pastry, but I didn't want to use storebought or put the time and labor into making any. And a search for ratatouille tarts mostly pulled up recipes where you cooked the vegetables first, but I didn't want to have to wash a skillet.
So I threw together all the ideas I did like and made my own. I used a flaky pie dough sans tart pan, for a rustic look. The vegetables would be sliced thin on a mandoline for even cooking and stacked beautifully. Very high heat would be necessary to avoid a soggy and undercooked crust, and to cook the water out of the vegetables. And watery tomatoes would get the crust soggy, so I used sundried tomatoes. Goat cheese would be mild enough to let the vegetables stand out, and be a good barrier between the crust and watery vegetables. People said it was delicious and beautiful, and I was glad it all worked. Plus, I packed it so carefully I dared it to flip over!
Roasted Vegetable Tart
Flaky Pie Dough, recipe follows
1 yellow squash
1 Asian eggplant or small Italian eggplant
1 red bell pepper
2½ ounces goat cheese
1 tbs cream, plus more for brushing
¼ cup sundried tomatoes
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
Olive oil for drizzling
Make the dough, and roll out a rectangle to a uniform ⅛-inch thickness. Place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cut a narrow strip off all four sides, and then place the strips on the sides to create a reinforced edge for the tart. My rectangle was about 12 inches by 8 inches. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork, not going all the way through, then freeze for half an hour to chill and relax the crust.
Use a mandoline to slice the first four ingredients ⅛-inch thick.
You can use a knife instead, but it'll be difficult to get them all thin and the same size like this.
Stir the cream into the goat cheese to improve spreadability. Spread crust with goat cheese, then cover with vegetables, overlapping them.
I placed two slices of eggplant, followed by a slice of red pepper, then two slices each of yellow squash and zucchini, repeating the pattern.
Brush borders with cream to help brown them. Sprinkle the vegetables with the salt and pepper, and drizzle with some olive oil.
Bake in preheated 425° oven for 30 minutes, until crust is golden and vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with sundried tomatoes, which I discovered will burn if you bake them on the tart. Let cool for 10 minutes, then cut and serve warm.
I had about half of my vegetables left over. Whatcha gonna do?
I could also see swapping the goat cheese for feta for a salty bite. But I would sprinkle it on top just after baking, and reduce the salt to ¼ teaspoon since feta is salty.
Deluxe Flaky Pie Crust
From Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Pie and Pastry Bible
|unsalted butter, cold||8 tbs||4 ounces|
|pastry flour||1⅓ cups + 4 tbs||6.5 ounces|
|baking powder||⅛ tsp||.|
|ice water||3½ tbs||2.3 ounces|
|cider vinegar||1½ tsp||.25 ounces|
Cut the butter into small (about ¾-inch) cubes. Wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it until frozen solid, at least 30 minutes. Place the flour, salt, and baking powder in a reclosable gallon-size freezer bag and freeze it for at least 30 minutes.
Place the flour mixture in a food processor with the metal blade and process for a few seconds to combine. Set the bag aside.
Add the frozen butter and pulse until the butter becomes the size of small lima beans. (Toss with a fork to see it better.) Add the ice water and vinegar and pulse until most of the butter is the size of large peas, with some slightly larger. Spoon the mixture into the plastic bag.
Holding both ends of the bag opening with your fingers, knead the mixture by alternately pressing it, from the outside of the bag, with the knuckles and heels of your hands until the mixture holds together in one piece and feels slightly stretchy when pulled. This dough will be very flaky, but if you adore flakiness, fold the dough in thirds like a business letter between two sheets of plastic wrap or on a pastry cloth with a rolling pine sleeve; chill briefly, well covered, if the dough begin to soften.
Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, flatten it into a disc, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, preferably overnight.
Store refrigerated, up to 2 days; frozen, up to 3 months.