Sunday, August 07, 2011

Veggie Tart

That's a giraffe. No reason. Just a giraffe.

Anyway. The other day I needed a savory pie for a party. I knew there would be a ton of vegetarians at said party. What to do, what to do?

Here's what I did. Be advised: it's not hard, but it's not exactly easy.

And as an aside, what is it with food blogs and recipes claiming things are easy? The basics of this are pretty...basic. But cooking isn't easy because nothing's ever quite right. Here's an example: I like to make tarts because pie can be kind of thick. It's just too much sometimes, right?

Except that my tart pan exceeds the diameter of store-bought pie crust. Get down off your high horse. I tried for at least ten years to make my own pie crust. I'm convinced that it's like mutant powers - you've got 'em or you don't. I don't. So I buy crust at the grocery and make the filling.

Anyway, the crusts don't fit my pan. They're smaller. So to make this tart I had to layer two crusts, then use my rolling pin (rarely employed, for the obvious reason) to flatten and expand them so I could line the pan. Annoying. This is what I mean: cooking isn't "easy" even when it's easy.

Back to veggie tart. Here's what you do:

  • One box of pie crust (2 crusts)
  • Two large egg yolks
  • One cup of whole milk
  • a head of broccoli about the size of a man's fist
  • 1/4 of a bell pepper, preferably red for color
  • a smallish piece of salty, dry cheese (I used gruyere), grated to make about half a cup or a little more
  • a box of sliced mushrooms
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Preheat to 350 F
  • Lay one crust on top of the other. Roll them out so they fit your pan. What? Your pan is normal and you only need one crust? I resent you. Anyway, line your tart pan with crust, whichever way works for you.
  • Prick the crust with a fork all over the bottom. Put it into the oven and bake (empty) for 15 minutes. Take it out and let it cool off while you mess with the fillings.
  • Sautee the mushrooms until they are very brown. To do this, heat them in a skillet over medium heat with a tablespoon of butter. Keep the heat medium or medium low and stir occasionally. It will take about 20 minutes, but they will become beautifully brown. Take them off the heat and set them aside.
  • Break the broccoli into really tiny pieces. What you want are little florets the size of your fingernail. They have to cook in the tart, so they can't be too big.
  • Chop the bell pepper into 1/4 inch cubes. Think of them as confetti - it's for color and sweetness and they need to be weensy.
  • Ok, now custard. Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it's steaming. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks till they are thoroughly smooth and shiny - no lumpy bits.
  • When the milk is hot, whisk with your dominant hand and add a tiny, tiny amount of the hot milk while whisking constantly. Add a little more, and when you've mixed in about a quarter cup or so your eggs are up to temp. Pour the bowl (eggs plus milk) into the saucepan of hot milk and stir, stir, stir. This is a basic custard but you have to be patient and wait (and stir!) while it thickens. It'll take like 10 minutes, solid. Maybe a little more. You know you're good when you run your finger across the back of the spoon and it leaves a clear trail. Off the heat!
  • Now go get that tart shell you baked. It's still in the pan.
  • Lay the mushrooms on the bottom, spreading them around evenly. Top with the cheese. Then lay the broccoli on the tart. I like to make circles like a French tart. Finally, sprinkle the bell pepper over everything.
  • Now gently pour on your thickened custard. It won't be that thick.
  • Put the tart back into your oven (still 350) and bake for 30-45 minutes. You're just looking for the custard to set, so keep an eye out after half an hour. This depends a little on your tart shell, so the timing is going to vary.
You can salt and pepper this as you like, and add herbs if you wish. I think the gruyere adds enough salt, plus I salt the mushrooms to help them release their water while sautéing. So that's enough for me, but do what you like.

1 comment:

Miriam said...

One *never* needs any excuse to have a photo of a giraffe. Ever.