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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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!
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.
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!
- four people sent me this article this week. if you have any interest in bread and butter you should give it a read.
- these slippers are everything. (h/t @allthatisshe)
- my brother shined in an interview with death & taxes magazine this week.
- vote for kindred restaurant and the town of davidson in southern living’s south’s best awards!! they’ve been nominated and it makes me oh so happy.
until next week! xx
ricotta and tomato tart
makes two tarts
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
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
bag of rice or beans for par-bake
tart pan (like this one) or a 9-inch pie pan
crust (adapted from Kate Lebo’s, Pie School):
- preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!):
- 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.
- wash and slice your tomatoes. you’re looking for a width around 1cm. i also peeled my tomatoes but it’s not mandatory!
- 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!)
- 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