Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tomato Tart

I feel so badly that I didn't take a photograph of this gorgeous thing, but I do have to share this's a mix of several recipes, all modified to incorporate the ghosts of tomato tarts past, a bunch of things I learned after taking a baking class at Sur La Table with my pal, Michael Ritterbrown, and a lot of trial and error...

You can make the crust the day before and keep it in an airtight container in the fridge until you have to roll it out...


For The Crust:

1 stick (4oz) cold unsalted better, cut into 1/2" pieces
3-4 T cold water (I use a cup of water with ice in it!)
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 – 3/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Place cut pieces of butter in a bowl or plate and freeze for 20 minutes. Refrigerate water in a small measuring cup until needed.

Mix the Dough: Place the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process about 10 seconds to blend the ingredients. Add the frozen butter pieces and pulse 6-10 times (in 1 second bursts) until the butter and flour mixture looks like oatmeal flakes.

Immediately transfer the butter-flour mixture into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle a tablespoon of the cold water over the mixture and “fluff” it in with a fork, then add another, and another, until 3 Tablespoons have been added. Continue to fluff and stir 10 – 12 times. It will not be a cohesive dough at this point, but a bowl of shaggy crumbs and clumps of dough. Before bringing the dough together, you need to test it for the correct moisture content. Take a handful of the mixture and squeeze firmly. Open your hand. If the clump falls apart and looks dry, remove any large, moist clumps from the bowl and add more water, one teaspoon at a time, sprinkling it over the top of the mixture and immediately fluffing it in. Test again before adding anymore water. Repeat, if needed. The dough is done when it holds together (even if a few small pieces fall off). If the butter feels soft and squishy, refrigerate before continuing. If the butter is still cold and firm, continue to the next step.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and kneed gently 3-6 times. If it won’t come together and looks very dry, return it to the bowl and add another teaspoon or two of ice water (one at a time), mixing it in as above and try again. Flatten the dough into a 6-7” disk, wrap in plastic or parchment paper, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

When dough is cold again, roll it out into a thin circle (enough to fully cover an 9.5” tart pan (I use the fluted ones with removable bottoms), using a floured rolling pin on a floured board. Carefully lift crust and press into the tart pan.

Line the tart shell with parchment or foil, and fill with pie weights (I use dried beans for this!). Make sure the weights reach up the sides to the rim of the pan!

Bake the shell for about 20-30 minutes, in a preheated 375 degree oven, until it starts to look golden. Take shell out of the oven (be sure to hold the pan by the sides and not the bottom!!), and lift out the parchment / foil and weights. Line the bottom of the tart shell with the parmesan shavings, sprinkle with thyme leaves, and return it to the oven for about 10 minutes.

For The Filling:

About 2 lbs mixed heirloom tomatoes, halved lengthwise. I like to use different colors and sizes...everything from grape to plum to big old brandywines.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings plus additional for garnish


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss tomatoes with 2 tablespoons oil, 2 teaspoons thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper in a bowl until well coated. Roast tomatoes, cut sides up and in 1 layer, in foil-lined baking pan in middle of oven, about an 1 hour, or until tomatoes start to brown.

After roasting tomatoes for about 20 minutes, move tomatoes in pan to lower third of oven and put pastry on baking sheet on middle rack. Bake pastry and tomatoes separately (see instructions) until pastry is finished, and edges of tomatoes are slightly browned but still appear juicy.

Top shavings with warm tomatoes, cut sides down and in 1 layer, then sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste, and additional cheese shavings if desired. (Also the olive oil and tomato drippings (yum) left in the roasting pan is great to drizzle on top!)

Let me know how it goes…Happy Cooking!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stuff we're eating

Lunch With Corey, Part One

I was in beautiful Jackson Hole, Wyoming a couple of weeks ago, photographing an amazing wedding. I have never been to that part of the country, and I have to say that I was completely bowled over. It is utterly stunning, and filled with wildlife (we saw herds of buffalo, a moose, a fox, was breathtaking).

I posted a while back about New West KnifeWorks - Corey Milligan, the owner of the company, which is based in Jackson, invited me and my pal Suzi (who helped me shoot the wedding) to lunch at his house. Corey has the most fantastic garden, and I just had to photograph it to show you...

The raised beds are made from recycled horse troughs. In real life, the rebar holds the this version, it functions as trellising...

This is Corey's modernist chicken coop...sad to say, a fox got in about a week before we got more chickens :(

Our Host:

More To Come...our lunch menu with recipes, knife making, and mushroom foraging...
Also, be sure and check out Corey's Blog!

Happy Saturday!


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Favorite Thing #2: Ethel Gloves

From the moment the postman arrives with the package, (and there's no mistaking his arrival every day as Gracie, our German Shepherd's, number-one-self-imposed-job is to greet the mailman by barking at the inside mail slot so loud that it can be heard in Arizona), it's clear that Ethel Gloves are special. They should win design awards for their packaging. Just opening the box is the beginning of a spectacular experience! My favorite part of the packaging (besides the entirety of the packaging), is the little plastic flower shaped nut/bolt that holds the gloves together...I'm keeping that!

But wait, there's more: the gloves themselves are BEAUTIFUL, and again, so cleverly and gorgeously designed to be functional and great looking at the same time. The grippy parts of the gloves on the fingertips are designed to look like vines (LOVE)...the fabric of the gloves is great too, as is the elastic wrist band which grips just enough to not let dirt in, but not too much to be uncomfortable. The materials the gloves are made of protect the hands but allow you to feel what you're doing as well, which I think is really important.

They come in all sorts of fabulous colors too! Also, I LOVE the little buttonholes (see the last photo), so you can hang them on the wall. You can wash 'em too! I don't know if I'll be moving cactuses in them...there's a glove for every job, and you should have a heavy leather pair as well, but for all the everyday things I do, I use this type of glove most of the time, and why not have everything you wear be adorable?

Here's the thing - I always wear garden gloves. I'm not precious about my hands at all - I don't care if they get really dirty, and I cut my nails short and don't wear nail polish. However, I have run into my share of black and brown widow spiders, who nestle into the dark corners of the garden, and inside of watering cans, and everywhere I seem to want to reach but can't see. I have also been scraped, gotten splinters, and all kinds of tiny stickery things in my hands, not to mention grubs. Did I ever tell you that I am completely grossed out by grubs? Digging around in the soil, all of a sudden they'll just pop up into your hand, much like a potato, but far less welcome. UGH. GLOVES, PLEASE.

PS. They make the most perfect gift as well...
PPS. Thank you thank you Mr. Davis for taking the photos of me...