June 30, 2014
It has been a couple of months since my last post – not for the lack of desire – but rather a whirlwind of activity, book signings, tastings, demos and traveling, all linked to the release of my new book, SALADE. It has been exciting to finally have the book in hand, exhilarating to see it literally flying off the shelves (fifty percent of the print run has been snapped up in just 3 weeks!) and fun to meet lots of new people at the farmers markets, bookstores, gourmet food shops and wineries where all of these events have taken place.
I have to say a HUGE thank you to all of YOU for coming out to all these events, for all your support and all the lovely things you say about the new book and the feedback about the recipes!
Last weekend I drove to Buttonwood Farm and Winery in the Santa Ynez Valley, about 45 minutes north of Santa Barbara to prepare lunch and do a book signing as part of their farm and vineyard tour. The event took place in a private garden, steps from the tasting room. Tables had been set under trees adorned with produce from their farm in the form of zucchini, large onions and grape vines. A warm breeze drifted across the bucolic setting as guests sampled the wine and tasted the salads. It was a picturesque and enchanting afternoon. I had the added treat of taking home the freshly picked zucchini and onions after the event. As I unpacked the vegetables in the kitchen it occurred to me that I could make an onion tart – always one of my favorite dishes in the summer – but this time with a twist. There were LOTS of zucchini, so what about grilling them and adding that to the tart? I also had some goat cheese and herbs in the fridge which I creamed together to form a thin layer on top of the tart crust. The tart is made in two parts: preparing and cooking the vegetables and preparing and cooking the dough. Here is what ensued.
For the Vegetables:
3 large white onions – peeled, halved and finely sliced
3 torpedo or red onion – peeled, halved and finely sliced
Salt and pepper
6 large zucchini – ends trimmed then cut on a bias in thin slices
1. Pour a little olive oil into a large skillet or saucepan placed over medium heat. Add the onions, a large pinch of salt and 5-6 grinds of black pepper, stir frequently and cook until the onions are completely soft and slightly golden. This will take at least 15 minutes. Be patient with the onions as you do not want them to burn, which they tend to do if you turn the heat up too much. Once cooked you can leave the onions in the pan until you are ready to finish the tart.
2. Place all the zucchini slices in a large bowl. Drizzle some olive oil over the top, add a sprinkling of salt and some pepper. Toss so that the slices are lightly coated.
3. Heat a griddle pan over high heat. Once hot, add the zucchini slices and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side. The zucchini should be just cooked through. Be careful not to burn the slices. You will probably have to do this in 2-3 batches. Place the cooked slices on a platter.
For the pastry:
9 oz unbleached all purpose flour
5 oz slightly softened butter – cut up into small pieces.
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chives – finely chopped
1 large egg
Zest of 1 lemon
Pinch of salt
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Butter an 11 or 12-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
3. Place all the ingredients into a food processor and use repeated pulses until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs, then use longer pulses until the dough forms a ball in the bowl of the food processor.
4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes before rolling out.
5. Place the unwrapped dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough out to a 1/4 inch thickness. Line the tart pan with the dough, trimming any excess from the edges.
6. Prick the dough using the tines of a fork. Cover the dough with parchment paper and place pie wights (or dried beans) on top.
7. Cook the tart shell in the center of the oven for 20 minutes. The crust should be a pale golden color.
8. Remove the tart shell from the oven, leaving the oven on at 400 degrees. Remove the parchment paper and pie weights. Let cool for 8-10 minutes.
For the goat cheese:
5 oz slightly soft goat cheese – I like to use half a goat cheese log
2 tablespoons parsley – finely chopped
1. Using a spoon, cream together the parsley and goat cheese so that it forms a rough paste. Leave it at room temperature. Once the tart shell has cooled (step 8 above), spread the goat cheese mixture all over the bottom of the tart.
2. Spoon the cooked onions onto the goat cheese mixture and spread it out to cover the entire tart shell. Heap all the zucchini slices on top of the onions and then return the tart to the oven and cook for a further 8-10 minutes.
3. Serve while still warm.