It’s coming on Christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace
I wish I had a river
I could skate away on…
The Solstice has passed, the days grow longer, and the party season continues in full festive swing.
I am enjoying some treasured afternoons at home, baking and preparing treats for celebrations with family, friends and neighbors.
The tart in the photo was made for a gathering last Saturday night and I am about to make another for an open-house this evening. It is simple yet lovely, it travels well, and is great re-heated the next day--assuming there is any left!
I love the Yeasted Tart Dough recipe from The Fields of Greens cookbook--a classic vegetarian cookbook from the Greens Restaurant in San Francisco… one of my absolute favorites! Over the years I have filled this tart shell with dozens of savory, seasonal fillings, and have yet to be disappointed.
Caramelized Onion, Fennel and Goat Cheese Tart
Yeasted Tart Dough, From Fields of Greens cookbook:
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- Pinch of sugar
- 1/2 cup warm (110 water)
- 1 cup unbleached white flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon minced lemon zest)
- 1 large egg (room temp)
- 3 T soft unsalted butter
- Unbleached white flour for shaping
Turn on some awesome music. Light a few candles. Get your apron.
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water and set it in a warm place while you gather the other ingredients. Combine 1 cup flour, the salt and the minced lemon zest in a bowl and make a well. Break the egg into the middle of it; add the butter and pour in the yeast mixture, which should be foamy with bubbles. Mix with a wooden spoon to form a soft, smooth dough. Dust it with flour and gather into a ball; set it in a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place until it is doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to 1 hour. If you are not ready to shape the dough at this time, knead it down and let it rise again.
Use a 9 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Flatten the dough, place it in the center of the pan and press it out to the edge using either your knuckles or the heel of your hand. Add only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking. If the dough shrinks back while you’re shaping it, cover with a towel and let it relax for 20 mintes before you finish pressing it out. It should be thin on the bottom and thicker at the sides, about 1/4 inch higher than the rim of the pan. It can be filled immediately or refrigerated until needed. Once the tart is filled, bake in the middle of a preheated 375 oven for 35-45 minutes.
- A few tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 small onions or 3 large shallots, peeled and sliced
- 1 bulb fennel (core and stalks removed) thinly sliced
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup chopped oil-cured olives
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups half + half
- 1/2 teaspoon minced lemon zest
- 6 oz good quality organic goat cheese
Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron skillet or sauté pan. When the oil is hot, add the onions (or shallots) and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the fennel and season with salt and pepper. Cook until beginning to brown and caramelize—about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 tablespoon each of the rosemary and thyme and stir. Add olives and remove from heat.
Prepare the custard: In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1/2 + 1/2 with the lemon zest and some some salt and pepper.
Assemble the tart: Crumble goat cheese on the bottom of the prepared tart shell. Add the onion/fennel mixture on top of the goat cheese. Top with the custard and bake for 35-45 minutes at 375. It is done when the custard is golden and set.
Serve warm or at room temp.
Be sure to enjoy the meditative process of preparing the dough... and the delicious aroma while it bakes... but especially, savor the appreciative smiles on the faces of those you serve it to.