Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Tarte de Tomate assado, Queijo São Jorge e manjerico com uma casca "pasta frolla"

um sabor autêntico dos Açores com um toque italiano
Given that tomatoes are in season right now, it’s a great time to do something different. To make it easier for yourself this recipe can be done piecemeal over a few days. Its perfect picnic fodder when advance preparation is the order of the day.The onions can be made a day ahead. I’d also say that a little browning doesn´t hurt. (I just adore caramelized onions .) The dough is even better and more workable if made a day ahead. I had initially planned to roast the tomatoes a day ahead and make the tart the following day. But honestly, who can resist the smell of tomatoes slowly roasting for hours and it almost  pushed me over the edge to make the tart a day early. The tantalizing aroma they produce should come with a warning. I was hardly able to resist licking the sticky tomatoey  balsamic syrup off the oven tray, but the health and safety fairy kept hovering like Tinkerbell around the oven accusingly, in a manner that suggested I’d created a special new form of torture.Slow roasting these red summery orbs (or, if using plum tomatoes, oblongs) concentrates the tomatoes sweet depths without masking their inherent acidity. A touch of crème fraîche, and a fine Azorean Cheddar lookie-likie provides a salty contrast. The sweetness of the gently cooked onion reinforces the flavour of the tomatoes without overpowering it, and the herbal kick from the basil brings the whole combination into sharp focus. And when you layer all that on a simple pastry, well, you just have to taste a slice of this tart to truly understand.
This is an absolutely delicious tart and a recipe not to be missed!
As a result I have set myself the task of  making a different tomato tart each week this summer, in an attempt to keep up with the tomatoes ripening in our garden and the mounds of different varieties falling off market stalls at give away prices.
So whats the Italian twist to the recipe I hear you say? -Its the pastry.Since one of the major ingredients here is a rich Azorean Cheese its great contrasted with an Italian pastry dough known as pasta frolla, similar to its French counterpart pâte brisée. It is a buttery shortbread type dough normally used in Italy for fruit or jam crostate, but remove the sugar from the recipe and it´s something else.Nowadays, so many tart/piecrust recipes use a food processor, which can lead to a much less tender crust. This crust is perfectly tender and flaky, which I think is attributed to the good old-fashioned method of mixing of it by hand.

The tart dough is so easy to work with. It comes together quickly and, once chilled, is so easy to roll out and crimp up in a rustic crostata style.
DOP Saõ Jorge orQueijo da Ilha, ( The “Island Cheese”) of the Azorean island of Saint Jorge, depending on its maturity, is a semi-hard/hard cheese reminiscent of Cheddar and similar to Pecorino but with an aroma a lot stinkier..a mix of stinky and nutty! But like most stinky cheeses, once you get past the smell, the cheese is quite flavoursome, sharp, nutty and buttery. It is the largest of the Portuguese cheeses, and the only one made exclusively from whole and raw cow’s milk.Its production requires a minimum of 45% milk fat making it very rich,so go easy on the portions you serve.A little goes a long way. You can cut it up into small pieces and serve it as an appetizer, or serve it with a fresh summer salad for eating alfresco.
Roasted Tomato, Queijo São Jorge and Basil Tart with a pasta frolla crust                                     serves 8
Any tomatoes, whether plum, San Marzano, Roma tomatoes or seductively misshapen specimens from the farmers’ market, will do the trick in this seductive tart.If you can try and get hold of the authentic São Jorge cheese but if not aquality mature cheddar will do.

FOR THE SLOW ROASTED TOMATOES
900g ( 2 lb) plum tomatoes (see above)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
sugar
balsamic vinegar
Flor de sal

FOR THE TART DOUGH
1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons iced water

FOR THE TART
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large spanish onion, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g (1/2 pound ) Queijo são Jorge or mature Cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup of fresh basil cut into long, narrow strips)
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 large egg mixed with 1 tablespoon whole milk 

Preheat the oven to 225°F (107°C). Cut each tomato in half crosswise. (Alternatively, if using large plum tomatoes or any size oblong tomatoes,cut in half lengthwise )with a teaspoon carefully scoop out the seeds and discard.Arrange the sliced tomatoes, cut side up, on a rimmed baking tray. Drizzle the cavities of each tomato half evenly with the olive oil, balsamic,sprinkle with sugar then season with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes until the moisture is completely removed, 2 to 4 hours, depending on the size of your tomatoes. The tomatoes should be dry but still soft to finger pressure.I usually do this in the evening,roasting for 2 hours then turning the oven off and leaving them to continue drying out in the warm oven overnight.in the morning remove from the oven and let the tomatoes cool completely.

TO MAKE THE TART DOUGH In a bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Scatter the butter over the flour mixture and, using your fingers, (as you would making a crumble) gently press the butter and flour together until it resembles a coarse meal. Drizzle the iced water over and, using a fork, gently toss and stir just until the dough comes together in a cohesive clump. Gather the dough into a ball and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Flatten the dough into a thick disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days. 

FOR THE TART Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 375°F (190°C). In a sauté pan, heat the 2 tablespoons oil over low heat and stir in the onion. Cover and sweat over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent. Do not allow the onion to colour. (Alternatively, if you prefer properly caramelized onions, you can uncover and cook the onions until golden brown and intensely flavorful.) Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper, and let cool completely. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a round about 12 inches in diameter. Carefully transfer the round to the parchment. Layer half of the cheese on the dough round, leaving a 1-inch border uncovered around the edge. In a small bowl, combine the cooled onion, the basil, and the crème fraîche and mix well. Spread the onion mixture evenly over the cheese layer. Top with the roasted tomatoes, then cover with the remaining cheese. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Fold the uncovered edge of the tart onto itself,making a rustic free-form tart shell with uniformly spaced pleats every few inches around the perimeter. Brush the overturned edge of dough with the egg wash. Bake the tart for 40 minutes, until the crust is a nice golden brown. Remove the tart from the oven, transfer it to a wire rack, and let it cool until it’s warm or at room temperature. Slice and serve.


One poor leftover piece spent the night in my fridge. I ate it cold the next day for lunch and was more than pleased with its staying power.

Variation on a the theme of tomato tart and pasta frolla
The Thespian came up with the idea that the next tomato tart should involve anchovies,so I have adapted the above recipe to incorporate anchovies and rosemary.

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