Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Savoury Leek Tart

For a long time I have been very heavily invested in Italian cooking.  I love the simple approach to food that the Italians take allowing good quality ingredients to shine though without a lot of fuss.  When I thought of French cooking, I thought it would be the opposite.  I imagined it to be fussy, difficult and full of foods I don't really like.  Where I got this idea from, I'm not really sure. Maybe it was from reading about aspics courtesy of Julia Child.  Then one day I watched a show called "French Food at Home"  Laura Calder is a laid back host and what she was creating on her show was not fussy and not difficult and looked like I could eat it right through the screen.  So I promptly took her book with the same title as the show, out of the library and made this, Leek Tart.  Now, I have had a long dysfunctional relationsip to pastry and was very leery of making this.  The sweet surprise was that it was a fool proof recipe, easy to make and with the leeks, cheese and eggs piled into it, well it became an instant hit.  I made it last night for supper and my eldest child asked if I could please make it every week.  I'm not that is going to happen, however, I love it too and could easily eat it more often.  Served with a hearty salad (kale is in season right now and is delicious mixed in with lettuce), this makes a balanced, yummy meal that will have you wanting seconds.  And if you are wondering if the 5 year old ate it also...every last bite, even the kale.

Savoury Leek Tart
Adapted from Laura Calder's French Food at Home

For the Pastry

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons of chilled unsalted butter cut into cubes
About 4 Tablespoons ice cold water, more if needed

Measure your flour and salt into a large bowl. Add your butter and coat with the flour.  Now, with either your fingers or a pastry blender, cut the butter in until you get a fine mixture that is crumbly, something that resembles very small peas.  Next, make a well in your mixture and add the water.  Blend quickly with your fingers until you can form a ball.  This shouldn't be dry, nor should it be sticky.  Once you have it in a ball, press it down to make a disk. Lastly, roll your pastry out on a floured surface and lay down in your 9 or 10 inch tart pan.

For the Filling

4 large leeks
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large onions
1 1/2 cups grated Gruyère cheese (I think you could also get away with Aged white Cheddar)
3 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and Pepper
Pinch of nutmeg

Preheat your oven to 425℉. Wash and trim your leeks leaving no more than 1 inch of the green ends.  Make sure to split them and wash in between the layers, dirt can hide in there sometimes.  Now slice your onions.  Heat up a large pan and melt the butter.  Add the leeks and onions and cook slowly for 10 minutes.  Give it a stir and put a lid on the pan and cook for another 15 minutes or so or until your leeks and onions are nice and soft and you can smell the sugars coming out.  Turn the heat off and transfer the leek/onion mixture to the tart shell.  Sprinkle your cheese over top.  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and then add the cream, season with salt and pepper and add the pinch of nutmeg. Pour this overtop of the tart and bake for 30 minutes.  I encourage you to let this stand for 10 minutes or so if you can wait.  It tastes good cold and even better the next day.  I think this would be great also for a weekend brunch or even for a picnic.  Bon Appetit!

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