Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Culinary THROW DOWN: Don't That Just Beet All
Beets are one of my favorite root vegetables – I love their sweet earthiness – and for this challenge, I thought it would be fun to spin off the classic Alsace onion tart, which also happened to be one of my mother's specialties. It was a regular feature in my lunch box for years. I used a combination of her recipe and the one I found on the Leite's Culinaria Web site.
I made it for dinner last night and although S.B. was game for a bite, he politely declined eating more than that before moving on to polish off Sunday's left over pot roast.
Oh well. More for Moi.
Here's how I did it:
Goat Cheese, Onion, and Beet Tart
For the Pastry:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes and well chilled.
5 tablespoons ice water
In a mixing bowl, combine flour and salt, then quickly cut in the cubed butter using your fingers or a pastry blender, reducing the butter to the size of very small peas. Dump the mixture out onto a clean work surface, make a well in the center, and pour the ice water into the center of the well. Using your fingers and working from the outside in, incorporate the flour and water together into a rough dough. Work the dough into a log shape about 10 inches long. Using the heel of your hand, start at the top edge of the dough and push and smear about an inch of dough at a time down and away from you. Gather dough together into a log and repeat. When finished, gather dough into a ball, flatten into about a 7" diameter round, wrap in plastic or parchment, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to two days (you can also freeze the dough, very well wrapped, for up to six months – defrost overnight in the fridge before using).
When ready to make the pastry, roll dough out on a lightly floured surface until about 11 to 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8" thick. Fold into quarters and place one quarter at the bottom right side of a 10" tart pan with removable bottom. Unfold and carefully pat dough down into the pan. Fold the excess overhanging dough down to reinforce the sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 375º F. Line tart pan with foil and then fill with baking weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove beans and foil and bake for another 10-15 minutes until pastry just turns golden. Fill as per below.
For the filling:
2 15 ounce cans whole beets (or three to four large fresh beets, roasted, cooled, and peeled)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
One large yellow union, cut into thin rings
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons sherry or Marsala wine
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cream
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 ounces goat cheese
Heat butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onions, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add sherry or Marsala wine and cook until alcohol has evaporated and onions are tender, another 1-2 minutes. Slice cooked or canned beets into 1/8" slices. If using canned beets, dry well with paper towels before slicing. Mix beets and onions together.
Preheat oven to 350º F.
Pour the onion/beet mixture into the tart shell and spread evenly to cover. Whisk together the three eggs, sour cream, cream, and grated nutmeg. Pour mixture over beets and onions making sure the egg/cream mixture seeps evenly throughout the tart. Sprinkle with goat cheese and bake until mixture looks sets and the cheese begins to brown just slightly, about 30-35 minutes.
Let tart rest about 5 minutes before slicing and serve with a mixed greens salad.
So, how does it taste? First of all, I have to say, this is the best tart dough recipe ever. It comes out light and flaky, with a texture very similar to puff pastry, and a delicate, buttery flavor. And while goat cheese and beets are always a great pairing, I'm not so sure they do their best work together in an onion/cheese tart. Don't get me wrong, the dish is perfectly tasty, and would make for a nice lunch or brunch dish, but I think the beets get a little lost. Next time, onion and cheese tart, with the beets as a side dish.