When you call something “rustic” it’s often done with connotations. Well, it’s not Madison Avenue but, … It’s delightful, despite …
Rarely does “rustic” come across as a 110% compliment.
But there are times when it should. Flo Braker, a true national treasure of baking, has created this tart that can only be described as rustic. The thick crust must be roughly draped over the tart contents. Oh, those contents. Onion and onions and crème fraiche and goat cheese. You bite through a very thick curst, itself distinctive because of corn meal and buttermilk, and then enter the treasure of all those internal flavors.
This tart is fine cold, but really, truly, you want to sample it hot out of the oven. Gooey, flowing, a fireworks of textures and flavors.
This can be a perfect appetizer, a side dish, or — combined with an equally rustic salad — a complete meal.
With its suggested mixture of onion types, you are clearly free to mix and match to your pleasure. Each new combination will generate a distinctive, but surely delicious flavor.
Three Onion and Leek Tart with Goat Cheese and Crème Fraiche
Yield: enough for 6 persons as a side dish
For the Crust:
- 3 tablespoons buttermilk
- ⅓ cup ice water
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ cup corn meal
- 1 teaspoons sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, chunked
For the Onion Topping:
- 1 leek, white and light green parts sliced thin and rinsed thoroughly
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large Vidalia onion, sliced thin
- 1 large red onion, sliced thin
- 1 large shallot, sliced
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
For the Cream:
- ¼ cup crème fraiche
- ¼ cup goat cheese
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
To Make the Crust:
Mix the buttermilk with the ice water in a small measuring cup and keep cold. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and cornmeal, then “pinch in” the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles a coarse meal of uneven sized crumbs. Using a tablespoon, sprinkle a bit of the buttermilk-water mixture over the meal a bit at a time and mix lightly with a fork until it begins to hold together. Only add as much liquid as needed to form a soft but not sticky dough.
Gather the dough into a ball and flatten it, wrap well in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. If you’d like to make two or more smaller tarts, divide the dough accordingly, flatten and refrigerate.
To Make the Cream:
Combine the crème fraiche, goat cheese, thyme and seasoning in a small bowl and stir until well blended. Leave at room temperature until ready to use.
To Make the Filling:
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add all the vegetables at once, stirring to coat with the oil. Cook slowly, and stirring occasionally until the vegetables are soft and very fragrant, but not browned, about 15 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
To Assemble and Bake the Tart:
Remove the dough from the fridge and between two sheets of plastic, roll into one or more disks about 1/8″ in thickness. Place on a parchment lined baking pan and spread a light layer of the crème over the surface, leaving at least a 1-inch boarder.
Mound the softened onion filling over the crème, and then fold the edge of the dough up over the filling pleating it as needed.
Lightly salt and pepper and place in a preheated 400°F oven for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool briefly on the baking sheet and either serve immediately, or cool completely at room temperature on a baking rack.
Source: Flo Braker
When Brian and I had our class two weeks ago at Stone Turtle in Maine, one of the students was an active writer. Kathy Gunst is a fabulous cookbook author, with books of her own and co-authorship of the Stonewall Kitchen cookbooks. She appears on NPR on the Here and Now show from WBUR in Boston and heard on 65 stations across the county. And her website, www.kathygunst.com, is strikingly beautiful and filled with resources and ideas.
Kathy’s next book, Notes from a Maine Kitchen, will be published in September. If you can’t wait, and if you have spring ramps to enjoy, then here is the perfect preview. This tart will make you proud. Ordinarily , a tart should serve 6-8, but Kathy says 4-6. One taste will explain the difference.
Ramp and Mushroom Tart by Kathy Gunst
If you can find wild spring morels this French-style tart bursts with the flavors of the spring woods. Or use crimini mushrooms or your favorite variety of wild mushroom. Serve with a salad of spring greens and a lightly sparkling white wine.
For the Pastry:
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- a pinch salt
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into small pieces
- 1/3 cup ice cold water
For the tart:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 1/2 ounces ramps, ends trimmed, and skin removed from the white bulb, with the bulb
- and greens chopped
- 7 ounces morels or crimini mushrooms, or wild local spring mushrooms, ends trimmed
- and thickly sliced
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
In the container of a food processor whirl the flour and salt. Add the butter and pulse about 15 times, or until the butter is the size of coarse cornmeal. With the motor running add enough cold water until the dough just begins to come together and pull away from the sides of the machine. Remove the dough and place in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.
Make the filling in a large skillet. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil over low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the ramps and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the remaining oil and the mushrooms and cook another 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from the heat and let cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, with a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk in the cream and then stir in the two cheeses.
Remove the pastry from the refrigerator. Working on a well floured surface roll out the dough to fit an 11 X 8 inch rectangular tart pan or 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim the excess pastry off the edges and discard. Poke a few holes in the bottom and sides of the pastry with the tines of a fork. Chill.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the crust in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees.
Pour the cooled ramp mixture into the egg mixture, stirring well. Place the filling in the prepared pastry and bake on the middle shelf for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees and continue baking for another 20 minutes, or until the filling turns a light golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry. Let cool for a few minutes and then cut into serving pieces. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Excerpted from Notes from a Maine Kitchen by Kathy Gunst, to be published in September 2011 (Down East Books).