farmer’s market

post48 // ricotta and tomato tart

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hello friends and happy friday!! despite the arrival of pumpkin season and my month to ideate halloween costumes, tomato season is not yet over! and from what i hear about the weather back stateside, it sure doesn’t feel like fall there either.

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last week my french host mom brought home a bevy of bright green tomatoes after visiting a friend’s farm in bourges, a city south of paris. yes, she casually spent her day picking tomatoes, foraging for mushrooms, and drinking wine. #frenchlifestyle like wut?? anyhow, i wanted to put these tomatoes to use! in my pastry courses at le cordon bleu, we’ve been baking many tarts that have me reminiscent of my homemade pies and their ever-buttery pie crusts. i decided to try out my pie crust recipe from the states in a french kitchen and turn it into the base for a tomato tart.

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learnings:

  1. my american recipe for a double pie crust didn’t even fit (!!) in my french mixing bowl. (see all that spilled flour?) this isn’t the first time i’ve noticed how my reference point for portions is far bigger than france’s.
  2. as a twist on the recipe, i used some of my french host mom’s leftover chestnut flour that she had in the pantry! the chestnut flour gave the pie crust a nutty and slightly sweet flavor that i’d highly recommend! i’m not sure where you can find chestnut flour in the states, likely at a whole foods or specialty foods shop. but if you can’t find it, don’t fret! the recipe is superb with regular ap flour.
  3. i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, weighing ingredients is far superior to the endless cup and spoon measurements we make back home! i learned this while working at bread furst this summer and i’m never turning back. but don’t fear, i *do* include them for you below. i know this is how a lot of home cooks bake!

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the perk of this recipe is that you can make your tart base and use the baking time to prep your toppings. instead of making a completely green, wicked-themed tart, i went to the farmer’s market and picked up a couple more tomatoes in different colors for a rainbow effect. i chose ricotta cheese as the bed for these tomatoes, drizzled with honey, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. i used to make a bowl of ricotta just like this for meetings back at food52! throw same basil on top and voilà!

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you can see that one of my tart crusts is a bit browner than the other. i used a higher ratio of chestnut flour in the dough for this tart and that’s why it browned easier. what are your favorite alternative flours to use? i’d like to do more testing with them.

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if you’re looking to hold onto summer as long as you can, this recipe is a surefire way.

and in this week’s other stuff, i have lots of goodies!

until next week! xx


ricotta and tomato tart

makes two tarts

fixings

crust:

2½ cups ap flour // 320 grams (*i used 160 grams ap and 160 grams chestnut flour)

1 teaspoon salt // 6 grams

1 cup (2 sticks) well-chilled unsalted butter // 225 grams

1/2 cup finely grated parmesan // 64 grams

extra butter or oil to prep pan

toppings:

6 beefsteak tomatoes, in various colors

16oz ricotta cheese // 500 grams

8-10 basil leaves

lemon, honey, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper for seasoning

tools

bag of rice or beans for par-bake

tin foil

tart pan (like this one) or a 9-inch pie pan

instructions

crust (adapted from Kate Lebo’s, Pie School):

  1. preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. fill a spouted liquid measuring cup with about 3/4 cups of water, plop in some ice cubes, and place it in the freezer while you prep the following steps.
  3. in a large bowl, mix the flour, parmesan and salt. drop 1-tablespoon pieces of butter into the flour and toss the fat with the flour to evenly distribute it.
  4. place your palms up and curl your fingers back to scoop up the flour and fat. rub, rub, rub it between your thumb and fingers, letting it fall back into the bowl after rubbing. make sure you reach into the bottom and around the sides of the bowl to incorporate all the flour into the fat, until the mixture is slightly yellow, slightly damp. it should be chunky—mostly cherry-size pieces, the smaller bits resembling coarse cornmeal.
  5. take the water out of the freezer. pour it (slowly!) in a steady thin stream around the bowl for about 5 seconds. toss to distribute the moisture. as you add a bit more water and toss, the dough will become a bit shaggy and slightly tacky to the touch. press a small bit of the mixture together and toss it gently in the air. if it breaks apart when you catch it, add more water, toss to distribute the moisture, and test again. if the dough ball keeps its shape, it’s done.
  6. split the dough into 2 and form each ball into a thick disk using your palms and thumbs. wrap both disks in plastic wrap. refrigerate for 30 minutes to 3 days before rolling.
  7. once rested, take the crust out of the fridge and roll to fit your tart or pie pan. before transferring to the pan, make sure you’ve buttered or oiled the pan. fit to the mold.
  8. layer a sheet of tin foil on the crust. pour the beans or rice onto the tin foil to prep the crust for par-baking.
  9. bake the crust for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then lower the heat to 375 degrees and bake for 15 more minutes.

assembly (while your crust is baking!):

  1. finely chop the basil leaves. add half of the chopped leaves to the ricotta cheese and reserve the rest for decoration. add a hefty drizzle of lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and honey to the ricotta. season with salt and pepper.
  2. wash and slice your tomatoes. you’re looking for a width around 1cm. i also peeled my tomatoes but it’s not mandatory!
  3. once crust comes out of the oven, let cool completely. to speed things up, you can put it into the fridge or a quick dip in the freezer for cooling. (but don’t freeze it!)
  4. once cool, spoon a thick layer of ricotta on the crust. then layer the tomatoes on top. season to finish!

 

all photography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs

post47 // paris market tour

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hiya friends!! bienvenue à mon tour aux marché parisien. (welcome to my paris market tour). last week our chefs at le cordon bleu took us on a three-hour walk through the saint-charles market, which happens to be right around the corner from school! this market is open on tuesdays and fridays from 7am to 2:30pm. if you come to paris you’ll find that many of the markets are open on specific days of the week, so you have to plan your market tours accordingly! thankfully chef was watching out for us and already had some cheesemongers and farmers awaiting our arrival.

*i’ll be referring to chef throughout the post! if you want a visual, here’s chef kerdranvat! he’s one of my cuisine chefs and we get along great due to our shared irish heritage. he comes from brittany in the north of france and was thrilled with all the produce from brittany on our tour!

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we began the market tour with fruits and vegetables! don’t they look so tasty? all the produce here that i’ve eaten has been exceptionally fresh and i think (along with other reasons) it’s because markets like these are so popular! at school, our ingredients come fresh from farms and at home, my host mom shops reguarly at this very market. a local food movement in the flesh! but that truly is paris. just 20 miles outside the city you’ll find real farms that make me feel like i’m in the middle of america.

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chef k was very excited to show off the mushrooms as they are in peak season this very second! you can see the regular white buttons in the photo above, along with the chanterelle mushrooms. should i go mushroom foraging this weekend??

next stop: cheese!! ohhhh the cheese. a tent we came across offered such cool variations on their cheeses like nut fillings and herb coloring. i learned that now is the best time to eat fromage de chevre (goat cheese) and this has helped me finish two packs of goat cheese this week! all for seasonality purposes, of course.

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our group befriended a cheesemonger and she had some fun showing off her crème fraîche. her cheese comes from normandy which is famous for this cream so chef k was very, very excited. when in normandy, make sure you eat crème fraîche.

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next came the butcher. these days i’ve been feeling like a butcher myself as i’ve been chopping off chicken heads, trimming veal fat, and taking out pork bones all day long! i have a very long way to go in this department so it was awesome to see a true butcher at work. what was interesting about this stand at the market was that there wasn’t a speck of food waste. every part of the meat was on display. gizzards? yes. heads? yup. tongues? oh yeah! blood? wrapped in a sausage casing — that’s what blood sausage is!

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after a nice tasting of brain cheese and blood sausage (i’m not kidding!! it was good), we moved onto oysters and fish! this tent at the market was extremely busy so we had a feeling the seafood was fresh. chef k tested the waters and cracked open an oyster. very fresh indeed!

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just before the market, our class made two recipes with fish, one being a sole fillet braised in fish stock and white wine and the other a breaded whiting fish with tartar sauce. if you’re on the lookout for some fish recipes, remind me to share these with you!

after a great walking tour, chef k treated us to an 11am cheese and meat plate, wine, and a dessert plate with espresso. i felt like a queen! c’est la vie français.

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i hope you enjoyed my virtual paris market tour! i’ve had some recipes bubbling that i’ll be cooking up for next week’s post. stay tuned!


this week’s other stuff!


all photography by catherine o’donnell/foodstuffs