Colorful, Summer Tarts

27 Jun

assembling the tarts

I love quiche. I love how simple it is and how amazing the result is. I love pre-made pie crust and spending an hour total to complete the dish. I love my simple, french quiche recipe (it’s in grams!) so much that I give it away whenever possible, but this weekend, I decided to kick it up a notch.

Having read Gourmet‘s most recent issue (July 2009), I fell in love with the photos of the three different savory summer tarts.  The start to finish time states 2-1/2 hours.  I worked quickly and switched tasks whenever possible to keep the time condensed, and I have to report that it took an additional two hours, for a total of 4-1/2 hours – the very large majority of which was spent making the homemade pastry dough.  The pastry dough was excellent, I have to admit. And it was highly received. But if you attempt it, just be willing to commit to a few extra hours of time.  Consider doing it a day ahead, or opt for a pre-made crust.

detail of golden brown twice-baked crust

There were a few other “holes” in this recipe. Notably, the holes in the pastry dough…  The recipe recommends that you use “flan rings” instead of tart pans. A flan ring, when googled, looks like a boring, round cookie cutter. The ladies in the specialty kitchen store here in Kansas City didn’t even know what they were (thank you iPhone!) Overall, this “flan ring” method worked well 3/8 of the time (5 of the 8 baked, quiche molds had some minor holes, creating a stream of custard out the sides and bottoms, finishing with a scrambled-egg-ocean effect around the quiches, which we quickly spooned back up into the quiches once baked).  I’ve made some notes below to help this go a little more seamlessly for you (literally).

scrambled custard, tomatoes + green beans

Savory Summer Tarts

Gourmet | July 2009

yield: Makes 12 (4-inch) tarts (I only bought 8 flan rings, with the intention of making 4 more quiche molds in a second round, but it just took too much time, so we ended up with 8 and some extra pie dough.)

active time: 45 min

total time: 2 1/2 hr (includes making pastry)

These colorful tartlets are quite simple to put together. One easy custard recipe is the basis for a trio of very different fillings (the ingredients can be doubled or tripled if one is a real favorite).

Ingredients

For pastry dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 to 8 tablespoons ice water

For goat cheese and tomato filling:

  • 8 haricots verts, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 8 grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 4 (1/4-inch-thick) rounds soft mild goat cheese (from a small log)
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped chives

For crab and tarragon filling:

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup (1/2-inch) bread cubes (I used whole wheat bread, yummy!)
  • 1/2 cup jumbo lump crabmeat (2 oz), picked over (I used crab claw, since that’s what I had, worked great!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped tarragon (I used 3/4 tsp dried tarragon instead of fresh, to cut down on costs)
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 pinches cayenne

For pea, scallion, and pancetta filling:

  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup thawed frozen baby peas
  • 4 thin slices pancetta (I used 4 pieces of bacon)

For custard:

  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 whole large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • Equipment: 12 (4-inch) flan rings; pie weights or dried beans (I would recommend buying mini, disposable aluminum tart pans if you can find them. If you prefer to try the 4-inch flan rings – or cookie cutters – I would create your own aluminum tart pans and line the bottom and sides of the rings with aluminum.  Pie weights and dried beans were not on hand, and the aluminum lining held the crust in shape just fine, so don’t panic!)
    crab, croutons + shallots

Preparation

Make pastry dough:
Blend together flour, butter, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) (I used the food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Drizzle 5 tablespoons ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated. Squeeze a small handful of dough: If dough doesn’t hold together, add more ice water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring until incorporated. (I stopped at 5 tablespoons, as it seemed to hold together just fine.) Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.

Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all of dough together, with a pastry scraper if you have one, and form into 2 (5-inch) squares. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

pea, scallion, + bacon

(At this point, see the section below that says Assemble goat cheese and tomato tarts, Assemble crab and tarragon tarts, and Assemble pea, scallion and pancetta tarts. Get all of your ingredients ready at this point. You can prepare your assembly line, but the tarts won’t be ready to assemble for a while. It won’t take the whole hour allotted to chill the dough to prepare the ingredients. You can also whisk together the custard at any point to have it ready for assembly.)

mini quiche tarts' ingredients

Make tart shells:

Arrange flan rings (lined with aluminum foil to create a bottom and sides) on 2 parchment-paper-lined baking sheets. Roll out 1 portion of dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 16- by 10-inch rectangle. Cut into 6 rough squares. Gently fit each square into a ring (do not stretch dough). (This part is hard. It’s not intuitive to put a square shape into a round hole… I didn’t stretch the dough, but it came apart in pieces, and I pressed it back together to form an even dough crust. The second portion of dough was easier to roll and fit, but I still don’t think I was very successful, as can be proven by the holes in my finished product!) Trim excess dough flush with rim. Lightly prick each shell several times with a fork and chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough and rings.

Preheat oven to 375°F with racks in upper and lower thirds.

Line shells with foil (not heavy-duty) (on the top of the crust) and fill with pie weights (lining with foil will suffice without pie weights). Bake until sides are set, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove weights and foil and bake shells until golden-brown all over, 5 to 8 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheets on racks, then remove flan rings (don’t remove the rings or the aluminum base yet, so you can keep the custard from flowing out of any holes and avoid the scrambled-egg-ocean effect).

pre-baked tarts

Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Assemble goat cheese and tomato tarts:
Cook haricots verts in salted boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain and divide among 4 tart shells along with tomatoes, then top with a round of cheese.

crunchy green beans + halved tomatoes

Assemble crab and tarragon tarts:
Cook shallot in 1/2 tablespoon oil in a small skillet over medium heat until softened, about 1 minute. Transfer to a small bowl. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in skillet over medium heat, then cook bread, stirring, until golden. Toss croutons with shallot and divide among 4 tart shells. Toss crab with tarragon, zest, and cayenne and add to same shells.

homemade whole wheat croutons + sauteed shallots

Assemble pea, scallion, and pancetta (/bacon) tarts:

Cook scallions in oil in cleaned small skillet over medium heat until softened, about 1 minute. Stir in peas and warm through, then divide mixture among remaining 4 tart shells. Add pancetta to skillet and cook, turning once, until just crisp. Reserve pancetta.

warm peas + sauteed scallions

Make custard and bake tarts:

Whisk together custard ingredients with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Divide among shells. Sprinkle chives over goat cheese tarts and top pea tarts with pancetta (or in this case, bacon!).

whisked custard mixture

Bake tarts on baking sheets until custard is just set, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly.

Cooks’ notes:
•Tart shells can be baked 1 day ahead and kept on trays at room temperature, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
•Filled baked tarts can be kept at cool room temperature 2 hours.
•To make 1 large (11-inch) tart, prepare a half recipe of dough and, when fitting it into the tart pan, cut off excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, and fold overhang inward. Press dough against side of pan, pushing dough 1/4 inch above rim. Choose 1 filling and triple the ingredient quantities for the filling (for a large pea tart, you’ll need only 5 slices pancetta); use the entire custard recipe. Bake shell as above. Bake filled tart 30 to 35 minutes.

They turned out very well, even despite the scrambled-egg topping. They really were very good. If I were to make them again, I might split up the pastry dough and the quiche baking into two different days, or buy pre-made crust like I usually do. And of course, do whatever it takes to keep the custard IN the pies!

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One Response to “Colorful, Summer Tarts”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Simply Paris: Quiche Lorraine « Constantly Cathy - July 13, 2009

    […] diced 1/2 tablespoon butter 3 pieces of bacon Pre-made pie crust (this is key if you’ve read my recent attempt at pie crust) Nutmeg Salt […]

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