I recently did a guest post for a blog called The Historical Cooking Project run by a friend of mine from high school who is based in Montreal. The mission of the blog is to explore recipes from years past and talk a bit about the stories surrounding them. I decided to do a post about the cookies my father used to make.
This hearty dish has been a staple in my cooking for over a year, so I was surprised when a friend asked me for the recipe and I wanted to direct her here, only to realize I hadn’t done a post about it. Like so many of my favorite dishes, this is just a slight variation on a recipe from the Chef’s on the Farm cookbook from Quillisascut Farm School. I do the crust with whole wheat flour because I like the texture and I use greek yogurt instead of sour cream to cut back a bit on the dairy fat. The tart is listed in the summer section of the cookbook, as it should be with its peppers, tomatoes and sweet corn at the peak of freshness in the hottest months. Yet, the comfort food feel of the crunchy crust and cheesy interior lend it just as much to a cool, rainy day. I found the perfect happy medium the other day since Seattle unseasonable rain and highs in the upper fifties. I still had the warm summer produce, but I also had the kind of cozy feeling that makes this tart even more of a treat.
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup corn meal
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sea salt
Fresh corn kernels cut from one ear of corn (about 1 cup)
5 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/2 cup greek yogurt (or sour cream)
Blitz dry ingredients (including corn) in a food processor or mix with a wooden spoon. If using a food processor, add in butter and blitz until incorporated, then add in yogurt and pulse until dough comes together. If not using a food processor, cut in butter by hand and then mix in yogurt. Either way, form dough into a ball and chill in fridge at least 30 mins before using.
5 medium poblano or pasilla peppers
5 medium heirloom tomatoes or 2 cups cherry tomatoes (sungolds work best!)
5 cloves garlic
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
2 Tbs. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Begin by roasting the peppers. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet coated with olive oil and roast at 400 for about an hour, turning over once. You can do this before you make the crust. In the meantime, thinly slice large tomatoes or slice cherry tomatoes in half and let sit in a shallow bowl sprinkled with salt. Once the peppers are done. Take them out and let them cool for about 20 minutes. Then you can slowly remove the skin while running them under water and then open them to remove the seeds and stem. Thinly slice them and place in a bowl. Finely chop garlic and mix peppers with garlic, lemon juice, basil, oregano, oil oil and salt and pepper.
Once fillings and crust are done, preheat oven to 350 and roll crust to 1/8 inch thickness. Drape into an 8-inch round pie pan (crust will be much bigger than pan) and begin by adding a layer of cheese on the bottom. Follow with a layer of the pepper mixture (using half the mixture) and a layer of tomatoes (make sure you drain the salty water from the tomatoes first). Add another layer of cheese, the other half of the peppers and the rest of the tomatoes and, finally, a topping of cheese. Fold the crust that is spreading over the edge of the pie dish over the filling, creating a crostada-like tart with a small opening on top.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until crust is beginning to brown and cheese is bubbly.
This tart has come to be my ultimate summer night dessert. I’ve probably made it every week for the past 2 months for whoever is around and willing to taste it. I just think the contrast between the bright yellow lemon curd and the little circles that form around the berries when the tart is baking is so striking. Plus the crust is so easy and the whole process only takes about 25 minutes of prep time. I originally got the lemon curd recipe online from Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa), but I’ve discovered that I like the texture better with one less egg, the zest of four lemons instead of three, and close to half the sugar. Really the more lemon zest the merrier–the essential oil in the zest give the lemon curd it’s depth of flavor. I’m always looking for ways to cut sugar in recipes and I can’t imagine using the full amount of sugar suggested in the original recipe–how would you taste all the lemon-y goodness?
zest of 4 lemons
scant 1 cup sugar
4 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
juice of 3 lemons
pinch of salt
Zest the lemons using a microplane zester or the finest side of a box grater. Mix the zest with the sugar in a large bowl. Cream the butter and sugar with the back of a wooden spoon, smashing them against the side of the bowl to combine. Once the butter and sugar are well incorporated, beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing with a fork. Next add the lemon juice and pinch of salt. Stir well. Heat mixture in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heat-proof spatula, for about 7-10 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and set aside.
scant 2 cups flour
1 stick butter, chilled
6-7 Tbs. ice water
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Cut butter into flour and salt using a pastry cutter or your hands. When butter resembles small peas, add 4 Tbs. water and begin mixing with your hands. Add the rest of the water, 1 Tbs. at a time, until dough comes together. Chill in plastic wrap or a ziploc bag for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325. Press dough into the bottom of a pie or tart pan. I like to press it instead of rolling it out because then I don’t have to dirty a counter top and a rolling pin. Plus a bit of a thicker, more rustic crust, works well here. Use a fork to press along the edges of the tart to make it a little fancy. Pour in your lemon curd. Finally, arrange blackberries or raspberries in circles or lines in the lemon curd. Bake for 30-35 minutes until crust is slightly golden.
Serve with fresh cream!
I’ve been packing and on the road for the past week and arrived at my new apartment in Seattle this past Wednesday afternoon. On my drive up, I stopped at Sweet Home Ranch, a family friend’s farm in California’s San Joaquin Valley. This special spot is the orchard of my father’s college roommate, Paul Buxman, a farmer and painter whose life revolves around stone fruit and zealous community building. The farm was a childhood second home to me and each time I stop over for a night, it’s as if no time has passed. My stay was all too brief this time around, but we managed to squeeze in two glorious meals full of treats from the garden. My contribution to our dinner was this salad made with stunning tomatoes from their garden and cucumbers from the neighbors. When produce is this fresh, simplicity wins.
8 large, ripe, fresh tomatoes, cut into wedges
3 large english cucumber, cut into half rounds
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
Combine the veggies in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar and herbs, salt and pepper to your liking. Toss gently with the veggies. And that’s it!!
I’ve just moved into a new place in Seattle–my first time living on my own. This means my life has been speeding along as I packed my car, drove from Los Angeles to Seattle and have been frantically running to IKEA and target–setting everything up before I start my summer job on Monday. Thus the recipe post hiatus. But there is plenty of cooking on the horizon for me, and I had to get my new kitchen just right. Having my own space and organization is the ultimate inspiration. Wherever my passion for food leads me in the next year, I feel ready!