Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tomato Cheese Tart

Pie crust for a low-sided 12-inch pizza pan, partially baked and cooled, see recipe below
12 ounces Swiss, Emmenthaler or Gruyere cheese (or other melting cheeses), cut in thin slices
2 or 3 large fresh tomatoes, cut into ½-inch slices
7 medium Oven-Roasted Tomatoes (14 halves)
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
3 tablespoons finely cut fresh basil, see instructions below
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Coarse salt for garnish

1. Sprinkle the fresh tomato slices generously with salt and place them on a cake rack to drain for about 30 minutes. Pat them dry with paper towels.
Drain the roasted tomatoes if they have been sitting in their accumulated liquid.
2. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
3. Arrange the cheese slices, slightly overlapping, in the bottom of the cooled crust and place the drained or roasted tomatoes side by side on top. Sprinkle with a few grindings of black pepper, the dried or 1 tablespoon fresh basil and the grated Parmesan cheese.
4. Bake in the lower third of the oven for 25 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and the top of the tart is lightly browned. If the top isn’t quite brown enough, you can put the tart under the broiler for a minute or two, watching it carefully.
5. Sprinkle with a bit of coarse salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons of basil chiffonade just before serving. Serve hot or warm.

4-5 servings
Adapted from the Time Life Series Food of the World M.F.K. Fisher's The Cooking of Provincial France

How to Shred Basil (Chiffonade)

1. Stack the basil leaves on top of one another.

2. Roll them tightly lengthwise.

3. Cut the roll crosswise into tiny shreds.
 4. The end result should be a pleasing tangle of basil-y goodness.

  Pie Crust

For a 12-inch pizza pan with low sides:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut roughly into ½-inch pieces
7 tablespoons ice water or more if necessary

1. Combine the flour and salt in the container of a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the butter and flour are blended and the mixture looks like cornmeal, about 10 seconds.
2. Add the ice water to the mixture. Pulse until you see the mixture coming together. If it doesn’t after a couple of additional pulses, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does.
3. Dump the contents of the container onto a sheet of plastic wrap and mold it into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disk; bring the plastic up around the dough to cover it completely. Either freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for 30 minutes. (You can also refrigerate the dough for a day or two or freeze it almost indefinitely.)
4. Sprinkle a smooth countertop or a large board with flour. Unwrap the dough and place it on the work surface; sprinkle the top with a little flour. If the dough is hard, let it rest a few minutes to warm up just a little.
5. Roll with light pressure, from the center out. Continue to roll, adding a small amount of flour as necessary, rotating the dough occasionally, and turning it over once or twice during the process. When the dough is about 1/8-inch thick, place your pan upside down over it to check the size. You want your circle of dough to be about 2-3 inches bigger than the pan it will go into.
6. If the size is correct, move the dough into the pan by folding the dough in half and placing the fold in the middle of the pan. Carefully unfold the dough and press it gently into the outer edge of the pan.
7. Trim the extra dough about 1 inch above the rim. Fold the dough above the rim in half (to ½ inch) and crimp with your fingers to make a decorative edge. With the scraps, you can fill in any part of the circle that’s missing.
8. Place the pan in the freezer for 10 minutes or the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Partially Baked Pie Crust

1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
2. Prick the dough all over with a fork to help prevent the crust from poufing. (You’ll see what I mean when it happens.)
3. Tear off two pieces of aluminum foil. Press the sheets crossed over each other to conform to the dough, especially on the sides. Weight the foil with a pile of dried beans or rice, pie weights, the bottom of a 12-inch spring-form pan or a tight-fitting skillet or saucepan—anything that will sit flat on the surface and hold the dough in place. Sometimes I just do the foil and don’t weight it with anything and it’s just fine. The pouf goes down.
4. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven; remove the weights and foil. Prick the bottom, once again, with a fork.
5. Bake for another 4-5 minutes or so until the crust is just starting to turn a light brown and the bottom looks set.
6. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food, Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking and M.F.K. Fisher’s The Cooking of Provincial France.

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