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Tarte à la Tomate

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    Posted: 05 September 2018 at 08:53
Tarte à la Tomate

From Time/Life’s Foods of the World - The Cooking of Provincial France, 1968:

Quote Even for Parisians, the authentic France is still to be found in the countryside. There the days are calmer, the pleasures simpler, the food straightforward, colorful and full of flavors of the garden.... The taste of country dishes as much from the freshness of the ingredients as from the preparation, In provincial cooking especially, the French technique is to let the ingredients speak for themselves.

For me, one enduring symbol of the rural, backyard garden is the tomato; while there are hundreds of ways to enjoy this gift from the land, I can't think of one that would be better than Tomato-Cheese Pie. This is a French recipe adapted to American kitchens; it goes without saying that if you have access to equivalent French ingredients (cheeses etc.), you should use them.

Quote Tarte à la Tomate
Tomato-Cheese Pie

To make an 8-to 9-inch pie:

1 pâte brisée pasty shell (below)
1 pound Gruyère cheese
2 or 3 large tomatoes, but into 1/2-inch slices
Freshly-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil, or 1 tablespoon finely-cut fresh basil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons melted butter

Following the instructions below, bake the pastry shell and let it cool. Sprinkle the tomato slices generously with salt, and place them on a cake rack to drain for about 1/2 hour.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Arrange the cheese slices, slightly overlapping, in the bottom of the pastry shell, and place the drained tomato slices side by side on top. Sprinkle with a few grindings of black pepper, the basil and the grated Parmesan cheese. Dribble the melted butter over the tomatoes and bake in the upper third of the oven for 25 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the top of the pie is slightly browned.

Serve hot or warm.

NOTE: an 8-inch square baking dish may be used. If you wish to make a larger pie, double all ingredients and use an 11-inch-square baking dish or a 12-inch false-bottomed quiche or cake pan.

For the pâte brisée:

6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut in 1/4-inch bits
2 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 to 5 tablespoons ice water

In a large, chilled mixing bowl, combine butter, vegetable shortening, flour and salt. Working quickly, use your fingertips to rub the flour and fat together until they blend and look like flakes of coarse meal. Pour 3 tablespoons of ice water over the mixture all at once, toss together lightly and gather the dough into a ball. If the dough seems crumbly, add up to 2 tablespoons more ice water by drops. Dust the pastry with a little flour and wrap it in wax paper or a plastic bag. Refrigerate it for at least 3 hours or until it is firm.

Remove the pastry from the refrigerator 5 minutes before rolling it. If it seems resistant and hard, tap it all over with a rolling pin. Place the ball on a floured board or table and, with the heel of one hand, press it into a flat circle about 1 inch thick. Dust a little flour over and under it and roll it out-from the center to within an inch of the far edge. Lift the dough and turn it clockwise, about the space of two hours on a clock; roll again from the center to the far edge. Repeat - lifting, turning, rolling - until the circle is about 1/8 inch thick and 11 or 12 inches across. If the pastry sticks to the board or table, lift it gently with a metal spatula and sprinkle a little flour under it.

Butter the bottom and sides of an 8- to 9-inch false-bottomed quiche or cake pan no more than 1.25 inches deep. Roll the pastry over the pin and unroll it over the pan, or drape the pastry over the rolling pin, lift it up and unfold it over the pan. Gently press the pastry into the bottom and around the sides of the pan, being careful not to stretch it. Roll the pin over the rim of the pan, pressing down hard to trim off the excess pastry. With a fork, prick the bottom of the pastry all over, trying not to pierce all the way through. Chill for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. To keep the bottom of the pastry from puffing up, spread a sheet of buttered aluminum foil across the pan and press it gently into the edges to support the sides of the pastry as it bakes. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 10 minutes, then remove the foil. Prick the pastry again, then return it to the oven for 3 minutes or until it starts to shrink from the sides of the pan and begins to brown. Remove it from the oven and set it on a wire cake rack to cool.
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