Friday, February 25, 2011

Leek and Cheese Tart

It's a cold and rainy weekend, in other words, a perfect weekend for staying in and cooking something delicious. That fat leek in today's box made me think of Leek and Cheese Tart. It's easier than quiche and just as tasty.

There are only 3 basic steps to making a fabulous Leek and Cheese Tart:
1. Make the crust
2. Saute the leeks
3. Grate the cheese.
Then you just assemble and bake.

You'll need a tart pan for this recipe. Don't use a pie pan instead. Pie pans are deeper than the shallower tart pan. If you don't have a tart pan, I suggest using a cookie sheet and making this tart flat, like a pizza.

1. Start by making a pie crust. I use a very simple recipe:

1-1/2 C flour
1 t salt
1 cold stick butter, cut into pieces
ice water

Pre-heat over to 400 degrees. Mix the salt into the flour until well distributed. Cut the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like little pebbles. Add enough ice water until the mixture just barely comes together. Form the dough into a ball. Knead once or twice and roll out on a floured surface.

A few tips on pie crust: Work quickly with cold ingredients. You don't want the butter to melt (until the crust bakes). You can use a food processor to mix up the dough; just be careful not to over mix. I love using a pastry cloth, which is just a piece of canvas, to roll out dough. The dough never sticks (because the cloth is saturated with flour); and it's simple to turn the rolled dough into a pie or tart pan.

Roll the dough out to fill a 10-inch tart pan. Press the dough into the tart pan. Poke a few small "pin-holes" in the crust with the tines of a fork. Bake the empty crust for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven. Set aside. Turn the oven heat down to 375.

2. Prepare the leeks while the crust cooks: Wash the leek(s) and thinly slice the white portion of the leek. You can use some of the lighter green portion, too, but the dark green part is less flavorful and much tougher. Saute the sliced leeks in a little butter, stirring occasionally, until very soft. You can season them with a little salt and pepper, if you'd like, but remember that cheese is pretty salty.

3. While the leeks are cooking, grate the cheese. I particularly like using a good Gruyere for this tart. Sometimes I mix in some Emmenthaler, too. However, you can use any hard, meltable cheese that you'd like. You'll need about 2 C of grated cheese for a 10-inch tart.

Assemble and bake: Mix the sauteed leeks with the grated cheese and spread evenly over the partially baked crust. Return to the oven and bake an additional 35-40 minutes. The crust and cheese should be golden.

If the cheese seems to be burning, you can cover the tart loosely with a piece of foil.

Omnivores might like to add some chopped ham, prosciutto, or cooked and crumbled bacon to the cheese and leek mix. You can change the character of this tart entirely by using a combination of cheddar and jack cheese and stirring in some cooked and crumbled chorizo into the filling. Feel free to get creative.

This tart is delicious hot, room temperature, or cold. Mix up a green salad with today's lovely head of lettuce and microgreens and you have a wonderful meal.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood: celery, sugar snap peas, cauliflower, broccoli, artichokes, leek, lettuce, and cilantro.

Radish, mustard, and arugula micro-greens from Silver Lake Farms.

Satsuma mandarins and Hass avocadoes from Rancho Santa Cecilia.

And thanks to shareholder Anselm for donating Yuzu fruit from his tree.



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