Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Once Upon a Tart....

Provençal Tart with Gruyère and Herbes de Provence

This tart is awesome. AWESOME. And it comes from a cookbook that makes me think everything in it might be just as good. This is my first recipe from Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau's Once Upon a Tart... and I guarantee it won't be my last. The Herbes de Provence weren't exactly cheap (~$15/jar), but I think you can avoid the price hike of having them imported from France by buying the individual spices (basil, fennel seed, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, summer savory and thyme) and mixing them yourself. Wow, I'm getting hungry just thinking about how delicious this tart was...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A Tasty Cracker, but a Cracker Nonetheless

Daring Bakers September 2008 Challenge: Lavash Crackers and Vegan Spread

(Lavash Cracker recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart)

I did actually complete September’s challenge in September, but now it is half-way through October and I am only posting about it now. This could be because I prefer cooking to writing, so if I have a free hour it’s more likely that I’ll be making a new recipe than blogging about an old one. It is also possible that is this particular case, there was nothing particularly thrilling to write about. It was a perfectly fine challenge, new to me, relatively quick, tasty, but it was neither a smashing success nor harrowing failure. I mean, it was a cracker.

But on with the story. I made the cracker recipe as described and added dehydrated onion and garlic, sea salt, poppy seeds and sesame seeds. I tried to add them in stripes, but this ended up not being noticeable once I broke up the sheet into individual crackers.

The cracker sheet baked slightly unevenly, and bubbled in one spot, but neiher of those were a deal breaker. I cracked the cooked sheet into pieces and it was done. I was not happy with how much of the seasoning fell off during handling, but enough stayed on to serve the purpose.

The vegan dip is really where the excitement was this month. I decided to make caponata, which is sort of like a concentrated ratatouille. I used vegetables from the farmers market and the following recipe from The Victory Garden Cookbook by Marian Morash (my vegetable bible):

2 lb eggplant


3/4 plus 2 Tb olive oil (but I recommend you use less)

2 cups chopped onions

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes

1/2 cup pitted, halved green olives

1/4 cup rinsed and drained capers

1 Tb pine nuts

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1 Tb sugar

Ground pepper

Peel eggplant and cut into 3/4 inch pieces. Salt and let drain for 30 minutes. Fry eggplant in oil until golden, about 6-10 minutes (this can be done in 2 batches if your frying pan isn't large enough). Transfer to strainer and let drain. Fry onions and celery until just tender, then add tomatoes. Cover pan and cook 4-5 minutes, uncover, and cook 5 minutes longer. Add eggplant, capers, olives, and pine nuts. Heat vinegar in a separate dish, and dissolve in the sugar. Pour over vegetables. Simmer, covered for 5-10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and cool. Serve room temperature or cold.

It was a bit oily but delicious. My tasters raved.

I have to add, I served these crackers and the caponata as an appetizer that I followed with a tomato tart, greens, and roasted fingerling potatoes. See my next post for pics of the tart!