Sunday afternoons will usually find me in the kitchen trying new recipes and taking my time with my cooking. This puts me in mind of the Slow Food Movement. Part of their philosophy is to take your time and savor your food, know where it comes from, and keep it as authentic as possible.
This Sunday I made this beautiful Swiss chard tart from a recipe from Laura Calder, the host of French Food at Home on the new Cooking Channel. I love her show. I love her quiet and serene approach to everything she cooks. The episode in which she made the tart had to do with Grandmothers’ recipes; those tried and true recipes that are handed down through the generations on yellowed and dog-eared pages in old notebooks.
The tart was made in a springform pan instead of a pie pan so it had a very rustic appearance with high crusty sides and a deep filling. It appealed to me on so many levels. I loved the vibrant color of the rainbow chard stems and leaves, the custardy filling and the sprinkling of dried cranberries and almonds.
The one thing Laura Calder did not give on the program was a recipe for a pie crust, so I had to come up with that on my own. I made an all butter pastry and increased the preportions by one half to fill the springform pan. It would have been easier to mix the pastry in the food processor but I don’t always like the results. I think the blade action heats the butter too much and the whole point to making good pastry is to keep the butter cold. So I slowly worked my butter into my flour by cutting it in with a knife. This was a satisfying task for a lazy Sunday afternoon. According to the Slow Food Manifesto, “A firm defense of quiet material pleasure is the only way to oppose the universal folly of Fast Life”. I choose to slow down and enjoy what I am doing, especially when the end results are so satisfying.
SAVORY RAINBOW CHARD TART
For the Pastry:
1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
11 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup ice water (a little more if needed)
Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes. Add to the flour mixture and with a pastry blender or knife, cut the butter into the flour until it is in small crumbs. Add the ice water and stir in with a fork until pastry comes together. If dry, add a little more water. Bring pastry together with your hands and form into a flattened disc. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Flour a work surface, and remove pastry from the plastic and roll it out into a 14″ circle. Put pastry into a 9″ springform pan. Return to refrigerator for at least 1/2 hour to firm up butter. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line pastry with parchment paper and fill the springform pan with dried beans. Put springform pan on a sheet pan and blind bake the pastry for approximately 15 minutes. The butter in the pastry will leak from the springform pan a little so it is a good idea to have it on a sheet pan so as not to drip in your oven. Carefully remove beans and parchment paper and continue to bake pastry shell for 10 more minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside while you make the filling.
1 tablespoon oil
2 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
4 slices thick bacon, cut into small pieces
1 1/2 pounds Swiss Chard, preferably Rainbow Chard
1 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream and sour cream combined
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
Handful of dried cranberries
Handful of toasted almonds or pine nuts
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Heat the oil in a saute pan and fry the shallots until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Remove to a plate. In the same pan, fry the bacon until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp. Remove to the plate with the shallots. Divide the chard leaves from the ribs; chop the ribs quite small and shred the leaves. First, fry the ribs in the bacon fat until tender. (Cook’s Note: You may want to cover the pan for a few minutes to speed up the process.) Add the chard leaves to the pan, cover and wilt, about 3 minutes.
Beat the eggs together with the creme fraiche, and season with salt, and pepper.
In a large bowl, toss the shallots, bacon, chard stems and leaves, cheese, cranberries, and nuts, to combine evenly. Fill the tart shell with the vegetable mixture with a slotted spoon so that any liquid will be left behind. Pour over the cream mixture. Bake tart on a sheet pan until the tart has set, about 30 minutes.
I am linking this post to the Two for Tuesdays blog hop. You will find many blogs there with recipes and thoughts on cooking with authentic ingredients.
Nothing could be finer than a fried green tomato in the summertime. I have picked a few red tomatoes now, but because we are having a very dry summer they have been slow to ripen. That bothers me in the least. There is something about a fried green tomato that evokes the sultry southern days when cooks did what they could with what was available in the garden. Cornmeal and flour were always in the larder and could turn those hard bitter tomatoes into something to be relished. I declare, even spam could be turned into a thing of beauty if you breaded it and fried it. My Mother used to do that and we cheered when she served it. But since this is Two for Tuesdays where we talk about “Real” food, pretend I didn’t mention the Spam. A fried green tomato is real food that is fresh from the garden.
It is made even more authentic if you fry it in a cast iron skillet. There is really no hard and fast recipe for this. You can use what you have on hand. The general idea is to dip your tomato slices in flour, then in an egg mixture which can include milk or buttermilk if you have it and then in cornmeal or a mixture of cornmeal and breadcrumbs. Here is my general recipe.