Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A sweet and salty marriage

As my post yesterday briefly mentions, I was in a bit of a culinary craze Saturday night. I couldn't quite get enough of the kitchen, which, as I think about it now, is hilarious given the fact that come Monday through Friday, when I'm working nearly 12 hours a day on my feet (or schlepping about the steamy Manhattan streets), I don't even want to set FOOT in a kitchen come 7:30pm and a hot shower. Glass of wine, and a comfy chair, now that is more my style.

Anyways, back to my escapades Saturday. I had already whipped up an amazing gazpacho. I had been busy in the kitchen at work on Thursday, making a vegetarian chili that I shared with my parents for lunch Friday as they were unpacking their new apartment in Greenwich Village. I had also swiped a half pint of a caramelized onion mixture, more of a compote or jam, with the intentions of something along the lines of a pissaladiere, but with a tart dough (um, kind of craving it. Which is pathetically sad, given it is essentially butter and flour. Only me). A quick brainstorm, and I pulled out Alice Water's The Art of Simple Food. She's ingenious, and when I'm looking for a simple yet foolproof and tasty recipe, I always consult this book. Sure enough, she's hit the nail on the head as usual this time and I found a perfect savory tart dough recipe that would suit the ideas flowing around my head.

So, my thoughts: a savory tart dough, speckled with a healthy scattering of herbes de provence. Spread on top a thick layer of caramelized onion (and I later learned some finely chopped olives) jammy compote, and a scattering of nicoise olives (sadly, my local market's were uber salty...). Folded crostata style, very impromtu and simple. A quick dusting of freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano. And voila! Served warm, this little bugger is a perfect complement to a hearty green salad for a light lunch for four (or for a lunch for two, if you've got the appetite I've had today).

Without further ado, more tasty images and of course, the recipe:

Caramelized Onion and Olive Tart

1/4 c ice cold water
1 c flour
6 tbsp salted butter (I am obsessed with Organic Valley's Pasture Butter)
Healthy bit of Herbes de Provence (I used about 2-3 tbsp)
Onion jam
Herbed nicoise olives, pitted

Make a well in the flour in a small mixing bowl. Add the butter, diced in 1/2" chunks, and use your fingers to mix the flour into the butter, creating pea sized pieces. Add a tablespoon of water, and mix (I didn't need much water to bring the mixture into a flakey ball). Once you can kind of bring the butter/flour/water mixture to a ball formation, turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured marble surface (use a pastry cloth if you don't have a suitable kneading surface, and have some bench flour nearby). Knead dough until it comes together into a ball. You can let it rest for 30 minutes, but I was in such a rush I quickly rolled the dough out into roughly a 13" diameter circle. I spread my jam mixture in a 10" circle, and folded over the bare edges of the dough, crostata style, for the tart edges. Scattered the olives on top and popped it into a 375 degree oven for approximately 45 minutes, but watching for when the edges got golden. As soon as it came out, I let it cool for 10-15 minutes, and grated some fresh parmigiano on top. Et voila! Bon appetit!

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