Chef Dina

Now available for Bay Area full service catering in conjunction with "A Fork Full of Earth" organic catering, intimate dinner parties and weekly meal preparation.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Leek and Gruyere Tarts +
petite salad with tarragon vinaigrette

This is an old standby for a nice first course.   If you plan on doing a multi-course, small plate style dinner, it is always nice to have a little salad, and the tart alongside makes it a more substantial course. You can prepare this as one dish and cut it into segments, or make individual tarts. The quantities in this recipe are not exact for doing it any one way.  The recipe below gives you enough for one 9" pie pan, and the eggs enough for a quiche. I say 6 leeks, and you may have some left over depending on how you spin it or how full of leeks you want your tart.  I personally like more leeks and less egg...unless I am serving this breakfast-quiche style.  There are many components to this dish, but they are all very versatile and its nice to have extras of everything on hand.  

You can also use puff pastry (which I often do when I am in a hurry) instead of making pastry dough and omit the egg filling altogether.  Just cut the puff pastry sheets (sold in the freezer section) into squares, brush with a beaten egg, sprinkle with cheese, then layer leeks and more cheese and bake until puffed and golden.

courtesy of Julia Child
5 parts flour: 4 parts butter (3 parts butter:1 part shortening)
(double the recipe as long as you are going to the effort, and divide in two rounds and throw one  in the freezer)

1 C flour (5oz)
3 oz cold butter
1 oz cold vegetable shortening (I like soy margrine as opposed to Crisco)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4-1/3 c ice water

Either do it by hand or with a food processor, I prefer the results using my hands, so I will describe that process.

Cut butter into very small pieces.  mix it into the dry ingredients and very, very quickly, rub it in with your finger tips until it is broken down into oatmeal flake size pieces. Try not to hold any one piece of butter too long so as not to melt it. The colder the butter stays the flakier the crust. Don't overdo this because the fat and flour will be blended more thoroughly in the fraisage (final blending).

Add water slowly and blend quickly with one hand,  as you rapidly gather dough together in a mass.  sprinkle a little more water over any dry droplets and press dough firmly into a roughly shaped ball.  It should be just held together but not sticky.  

Place the dough on a floured surface and with the cool heel of your hand rapidly press the pastry down (in 2 spoonful bits) on the board and away from you in a firm quick smear of about 6 inches. With a bench scraper or spatula, gather dough into a mass and knead it very briefly into a fairly smooth round ball.  Sprinkle with flour, wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Roll out the dough as quickly as possible and form it into whatever vessel(s) you desire.  Refrigerate (or pop it in the freezer) while the over heats up to reduce shrinkage.

I  love leeks this way and they are awesome when you top a scoop of goat cheese with 'em and warm it in the oven.  Serve with crackers and bread. YUM
6 large leeks, cut in half length wise and rinsed clean chopped in 1" pieces
1/2 stick butter
2 T olive oil
1/2 c white wine
salt, pepper, and a pinch of nutmeg

Melt butter and olive oil over medium heat, add leeks and toss to coat. once they start going, add the wine and reduce to med-low. let cook until "melted" and liquid has evaporated.

2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1 1/4 c half and half
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper


I love this dressing, and always keep a bottle in the fridge and we dress all our lunch time salads with it,  toss it with roasted veggies (beets and tarragon are an especially good combo) or marinate chicken in it.
1 bunch tarragon
1 small shallot
1 small clove garlic
1 T dijon mustard 
2 T red wine or champagne vinegar
juice from 1/2 a lemon
pinch of sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a blender and puree.  Gradually add 1 CUP BLENDED OIL until emulsified. I use a combination of olive oil, canola, and grape seed.   It is up to your taste buds.  I tend to find using all olive oil overpowers. One thing about dressings....adjusting to taste is almost always necessary. It's hard to have a hard and fast recipe. depends on the size of your garlic and shallot, the strength of your tarragon, your oil, etc...

Par bake pastry crust at 350 (10-20 min)  it should be firm but not golden. Make sure to poke holes/use pie beans.  If weighting crust with dry beans, remember to take them out 3/4 of the way through par baking and let it finish with out them otherwise it doesn't really cook very well.

Sprinkle a good cave aged gruyere that you have shredded on the bottom of the crust, fill with leeks, top with a little more cheese and fill very slowly with egg mixture.  Bake until puffed and golden.

Get a nice bowl of fresh spring greens (baby mizuna, wild arugula, baby spinach, radicchio) and toss them with a little salt, a sprinkle of good olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, fresh cracked pepper and some of the dressing.  Place tart on salad and a sprinkling more of grated cheese.

** Comte or the Point Reyes Toma (a bit more subtle flavor) cheeses also work well. I also like to grate some of the dry and delicious "Capricous" cheese (I get at the Marin farmer's market) that you can leave sitting on your counter top in a tupper ware for up to 6 months, nice sharp flavor, over the finished product.   


1 comment:

  1. We loved the tart during our stay. I also got some of your granola. Tell me Dina, how can I get more of the granola shipped to my house?