Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Blog Post In Which I Reveal My Amazing Tomato Tart Recipe, And How I Killed Michael Pollan

Tomatoes are in full swing at our house. This has been a far better year than last. Even though it's been foggy most days, we've had just enough sun to have an amazing crop of tomatoes. I think this is largely due to Fred's Worm Tea, which I suspect has been one of the main reasons that we've been relatively pest free this summer (a far cry from last year when I was so disappointed that I almost threw in the towel on the whole garden).

And yes, albeit successful, we have still had our tragedies. Dork that I am, when I found a little bunch of seedlings at Tomatomania called Michael Pollan, there was NO WAY that I was leaving without one. I have collected some data on his untimely death that revealed traits which may or may not be attributable to Michael Pollan (human)...

1. Michael Pollan (tomato) does not like to be squashed among other tomatoes and ESPECIALLY not near a big giant mass of snap peas.

2. Michael Pollan (tomato) does not like to be neglected because someone planted him in a spot where they couldn't see him very well each day, and therefore kind of forgot all about him.

3. Michael Pollan (tomato) was not impressed when I all of a sudden remembered him and tried to make up to him with lots of worm tea and extra pining and begging. He, in fact, decided to give me the ultimate finger and commit suicide.

Nevertheless, here are the tomatoes we're eating right now...there are more coming from plants as un-yet tasted. Details to follow!

1. Black Krim - yum yum so good
2. Black Etheopian - really good unless compared to the Black Krim (no contest)
3. Some kind of cherry tomato that is missing it's tag - really good!
4. San Marzano - these were grown for canning - details to follow!

What to do with all your tomatoes? Well, if you're me, you would do this:

Yvette's Tomato Tart!
(this is a combo of a couple recipes, so bear with me! BTW I cook in handfuls and pinches, etc., so I'd suggest winging it with the proportions of the tomato filling to taste!)

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 antoher 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, using a floured rolling pin on a floured board (enough to fully cover an 9.5” tart pan - I use the fluted ones with removable bottoms). 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, 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 until cheese is melted and a little browned. Be sure to cover the entire bottom of the tart shell with parmesan, as it creates a barrier between itself and the yummy tomato gooeyness so that the crust doesn't get gummy (yuck).

For The Filling:

About 2 lbs mixed heirloom tomatoes, halved lengthwise
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


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.

Arrange warm tomatoes in cooked pie crust, 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) that is left in the roasting pan is great to drizzle on top!) I usually put the whole thing back in the hot oven for a few minutes so it melts all together…

Let me know how it goes…nom nom!