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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Intro to French

With a brand new tart pan sitting on the counter and ever fragile figs that had a short life ahead, a couple days ago my thoughts shifted to making a savory tart. I am not too familiar with French cooking at this point in my cooking repertoire, but am striving to become more familiar and this seemed like a poignant starter course.

 Scanning through recipes for guidelines, I came across a recipe for a tart crust by David Lebovitz which was extremely simple to construct and ended up tasting delicious other than the texture being a bit too crumbly. On second opportunity I would bake the crust longer before adding the filling.

I settled on hot Italian sausage to go with the figs to create a spicy/sweet contrast as undoubtedly unethical as it is to combine Italian sausage with a French tart. The fusion turned out nice with the creaminess of the potatoes and balsamic vinegar and lemon juice for an acidic zing.

Dawn and I are trying our best to work with only the ingredients we have in the freezer/fridge/cabinet other than fresh vegetables before our trips coming up in December. We are flying to Los Angeles to sail to Ensenada, Mexico, the second week of December, back home to Florida for a week, a week back in Columbus, and then off to England for about nine days. So, any suggestions for eating, whether dishes or restaurants, in L.A. or England would be awesome.

French Pastry Dough
One 9 (23 cm) tart shell
Adapted from a recipe by
Paule Caillat of Promenades Gourmandes

90 g (3 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I used canola)
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
150 g (5oz, or 1 slightly-rounded cup) flour

Preheat the oven to 410º F (210º C).
1. In a medium-sized ovenproof bowl, such as a Pyrex bowl, combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt.
2. Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges.
3. When done, remove the bowl from oven (and be careful, since the bowl will be hot and the mixture might sputter a bit), dump in the flour and stir it in quickly, until it comes together and forms a ball which pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
4. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch (23 cm) tart mold with a removable bottom and spread it a bit with a spatula.
5. Once the dough is cool enough to handle, pat it into the shell with the heel of your and, and use your fingers to press it up the sides of the tart mold. Reserve a small piece of dough, about the size of a raspberry, for patching any cracks.
(Paule takes a fork and reinforces the dough to the sides, which I didn't find necessary.)
6. Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork about ten times, then bake the tart shell in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.
7. Remove from the oven and if there are any sizable cracks, use the bits of reserved dough to fill in and patch them.
I find it best to pinch off a small amount of the reserved dough, roll it gently between your fingers to soften it, then wedge it into the cracks, smoothing it gently with your pinky.
8. Let the shell cool before filling.

Spicy Fig Tart
5 black mission or brown turkey figs peeled mashed
¾ # hot Italian sausage
3 chopped cloves of garlic
2 small baking potatoes thinly sliced
½ yellow onion finely chopped
3 chopped fresh basil leaves
2 T. balsamic vinegar
1 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice
¼ C. grated gruyere cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Start by sautéing onion, garlic, and potatoes then transfer to a plate. Brown sausage then add onion, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice, and figs. Add the initial ingredients back in and cook on medium heat for about five minutes until cohesive. Add chopped basil and incorporate just before adding to tart crust for baking. Sprinkle gruyere over filling and bake for nine minutes or until gruyere begins to turn golden brown. Slice and enjoy.



Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

Soooo brave trying that pastry recipe. Pastry terrifies me - I can do it but it's quite stressful! Love the tart!

Anonymous said...

A gorgeous delicious tart! Love it!

CaptnRachel aka Tha Pizza Cutta said...

I have been so interesting in tart making since its been popping up on all kids of blogs. Your flavor combo is incredible and makes this dish appropriate for any meal. Cheers!

Sari said...

In London, Jamie Oliver's 15, downstairs in the Trattoria, is an amazing food experience not to be missed. Book reservations well in advance. I'm sure the upper dining room is great, too, but I wasn't able to get a table during the time I was in London.

For LA, Marino Ristorante, 6001 Melrose Ave. in Hollywood is a family owned Italian restaurant that has been around for decades.

And now, I must print out this marvelous fig tart recipe...

Fresh Local and Best said...

Wow! This fig tart looks amazing! I've not had very much success with pastry, I'll have to try this recipe.

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