Archives for posts with tag: thyme

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Do you know what a tarte tatin is? You may have eaten one without realizing what it was. It’s essentially fruit that’s caramelized in butter and sugar, baked with pastry on top, and then flipped over and served upside down with the fruit showing.

I was up in Woodstock this week and came upon this slide show in the Times for tomato recipes—garlicky tomato gazpacho, Sicilian stuffed tomatoes, and so on—but the one that really caught my eye was the tarte tatin, made with a variety of cherry tomatoes, chopped olives, and thyme. I vowed to make it as soon as I returned to the city this weekend. And so I did.

This being high tomato season and all, I can’t help myself when I’m at the coop or the farmer’s market and I walk by those little green pint baskets filled with Sun Golds or Elettros, Brown Berries, and Red Pear Heirlooms. They are, after all, only good this time of year—one month, maybe two if I’m lucky, so I get them while the getting’s good.

The Times recipe was pretty good but I added red chile pepper flakes for some heat (which I add to almost everything—ice cream?), and halved the cherry tomatoes because some of mine were quite large. Do not make this mistake—don’t halve your cherry tomatoes! They end up leaking a lot of their liquid into the tart and the pastry became a little soggy. Live and learn. It still tastes scrumptious.

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Caramelized Tomato Tart Tatin
Yields 4 to 6 servings

1 14-ounce package of puff pastry
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 red onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup plus a pinch of sugar
1/2 teaspoon sherry or white vinegar
1/4 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1 1/2 pints (about 1 pound) cherry or grape tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. If frozen, slightly thaw your puff pastry, about 20 minutes before you will handle it. The colder it is the easier it is to work with but it shouldn’t be frozen. Gently unfold the pastry and cut into an approx. 10-inch circle. Set aside in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of sugar and cook, stirring, until onions are golden and caramelized, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add 2 tbsp water to deglaze the pan, scraping brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat and set aside.

3. In a separate, ovenproof 9-inch skillet (I used a cast-iron), combine 1/4 cup sugar and 3 tbsp water. Cook over medium heat, swirling the pan gently (don’t stir) until the sugar melts and turns amber, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and swirl gently.

4. Sprinkle olives over caramel. Scatter tomatoes over olives, then the onions. Season with the thyme, salt, and pepper. Top with the puff pastry round, tucking the edges into the sides of the skillet. Cut several long vents into the top of the pastry.

5. Bake tart until crust is puffed and golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then loosen the edges with a butter knife. Carefully flip the tart out onto a serving dish. Cut into wedges and serve.

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“Good-bye to…food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths…and sleeping and waking up. Oh, earth, you’re too wonderful for anybody to realize you…Do human beings ever realize life while they live it? — Every, every minute?”

Oh Thorton Wilder. I know you’re relegated to the dustbin of high school English classes but this quote from Our Town gets me every time. I haven’t read Wilder in years but this weekend, in between working a new job, visiting the Whitney Biennial and the Francesca Woodman show at the Gugg*, and generally avoiding people in green, I read multiple applications for the Board I’m on, students eager to get into an academic summer program.

Someone’s application made a reference to Our Town and my mind wandered to this passage. Food and coffee and freshly ironed dresses, hot baths, sleeping, and waking up…In the words of Rodgers and Hammerstein, these are a few of my favorite things.

Wilder in mind, I set out for this weekend’s simple cooking pleasure. With the weather warming up, but the farmer’s markets not yet stocked with the first produce of the season, an in-between, intermediary meal was in order. Something to welcome the spring and sun and longer days, and gently bid farewell to the unfriendliest of seasons (although kind of friendly this past year).

My hand reached for Plenty on the shelf. That’s the cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi I wrote about here two weeks ago. It would have to be the caramelized garlic tart. The perfect early spring food: the lusciousness of cream, the lightness of pastry, the fragrance of rosemary and thyme. It’s letting go of winter and greeting spring simultaneously. It’s warm and cool, light and dark, sweet and savory, like March itself.

The Ball jar above is filled with cream, crème fraîche, eggs, salt, and pepper. Its final destination: the all-butter puff pastry, to be filled with caramelized garlic, two types of goat cheeses, rosemary and thyme. In the words of a friend, “I do.”

Caramelized Garlic Tart
From Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

Serves 8

1 sheet all-butter puff pastry (approx. 375 g)
3 medium heads of garlic, cloves peeled and separated
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
scant 1 c water (220 ml)
3/4 tbsp sugar
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp chopped thyme, plus a few twigs to finish
1/4 lb (120 g) soft, creamy goat’s cheese (I used Caprichio from Spain)
1/4 lb (120 g) hard, mature goat’s cheese (I used smoked goat cheddar from Redwood Hill, CA)
2 eggs
1/3 c (100 ml) heavy cream
1/3 c (100 ml) crème fraîche
salt and black pepper

Have ready a shallow, loose-bottomed, 9-in. (28 cm) fluted tart tin. Thaw the puff pastry if frozen for at least 40 minutes before handling, then line the bottom and sides of the tin. Place a large circle of wax paper on the bottom and fill with dried beans. Let rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Place the tart in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, with the beans. Remove the beans and wax paper, then bake for another 5-10 minutes, until the pastry is golden. Set aside, leave the oven on.

While the tart is baking fend off vampires by preparing the garlic. (A trick by the way to peeling all that garlic is putting the cloves in a jar, like a Mason or Ball jar, and shaking hard for about one minute. At least half the skins will fall off that way.) Place the cloves in a small saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring to a simmer and blanch for 3 minutes, then drain well. Dry the saucepan, return the cloves to it, and add the olive oil. Fry the garlic cloves on high heat for 2 minutes. Add the balsamic and water and bring to a boil, then simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, rosemary, chopped thyme, and 1/4 tsp salt. Continue simmering on medium for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the garlic cloves are coated in a dark caramel syrup. Breath in deep. Set aside.

To assemble the tart, break up both types of goat’s cheeses into pieces and scatter in the pastry. Spoon the garlic cloves and syrup evenly over the cheese. In a jug or bowl whisk together the eggs, creams, 1/2 tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour this over the tart filling to fill the gaps, but make sure you can still see the garlic over the surface.

Reduce the oven temp to 325 F (160 C) and place the tart inside. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the tart filling has set and the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool a little. Remove from tin, lay a few sprigs of thyme on top and serve warm with a crisp green salad.

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*If you live in NYC I highly encourage you to visit the Whitney Biennale, up until May 27th. Head straight to the second floor for Latoya Ruby Frazier’s black and white photographs—these are worth the visit alone; then check out Werner Herzog’s film, an ode to c17 Dutch painter Hercules Segers set to the music of Ernst Reijseger, also on the second floor. And then check out the little room toward the back of the second floor gallery with the Forrest Bess (by Robert Gober) installation: chilling. Then head up to the fourth floor rehearsal space of Michael Clark, British dancer and choreographer, who, with the dancers in his company, have taken over the entire floor. You get to stand around and watch them rehearse through April 8th.

Finally…worth a trip to the Guggenheim to see Francesca Woodman through June 13th. Woodman was a prolific photographer with a very short career, basically 1975 to 1981. I loved the Providence photos in particular.

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