Sunday, August 02, 2009

The Rat-tat-tat of a Ratatouille Tart

So we've made this tart three times... this week... so I guess we like it.

Since I didn't grow up in the South of France, I don't have that nostalgic relationship with ratatouille -- mainly it seems like a bunch of vegetables to me, and vegetables are not my favorite thing, as my friends will attest. But maybe if all the veggies of my childhood had tasted like this I'd feel differently.

Strictly speaking this isn't a real ratatouille at all -- no eggplant, no tomatoes -- but my Omnivore and I have taken to calling it the Ratatart. I haven't got any clever mnemonics for it like Melissa d'Arabian's EZ POT (Eggplant, Zucchini, Peppers, Onions and Tomatoes) but it's not hard to put together. Incidentally was anyone else relieved that Melissa won out in the Next Food Network Star? I need food tips and she looks like she has them.

Anyhoo, the recipe is based off of one from Cuisine, and although it requires one to make and blind-bake a pastry crust it's pretty straightforward. I suspect you could even get a frozen tart shell or a nice sheet of puff pastry and get similarly yummy results.

The Ratatart

Pastry Crust:
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1 stick of butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
4-6 Tbsp of water

5-8 oz goat cheese
handful of basil, chiffonnaded
1/2 zucchini, sliced thinly
1/2 yellow squash, sliced thinly
1 medium shallot sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper, trimmed, seeded and sliced thinly

1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375F.

For the crust, mix together the flour, salt and pepper, then cut in the butter with a pastry blender (or two knives used scissor fashion) until the butter is reduced to gravel sized pieces. Stirr in ice water a few tablespoons at a time, stirring the dough until it clumps together in a slightly crumbly ball (better dry than too wet). Wrap it in plastic wrap and flatten it down into a disc then refrigerate for 10-15 minutes. Roll out the dough to fit a 9-inch tart pan and press the crust into the pan.

Blind bake the crust for 25 minutes, then remove and allow to cool.

Spread the goat cheese around the bottom of the crust. I like to snip off a corner of the Laura Chenel package and squeeze it out like Cheez Wiz around the bottom of the tart. Makes me feel declasse. Then spread the basil around the bottom of the tart.

About those thinly sliced veggies, I used a Joyce Chen vegetable slicer since I don't have a working mandoline, but knife-cut squash and zucchini would work fine too. We sliced things so thin that two zucchini and two squash have lasted through three tarts and we still have enought for one more.

So start laying the veggies neatly around the outside of the tart: two slices of squash, two slices of zucchini, a slice of shallot and a slice of bell pepper. Continue all the way around the circle and then fill in the center. Salt and pepper the top and then drizzle with olive oil and bake for 25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

I was highly disturbed this week by Michael Pollan's article on America's obsession with cooking... on TV. I mean, I spend no mean amount of time with the TV tuned to the Food Network and Top Chef. Nothing pleases me more than to have a Top Chef marathon on Bravo for the whole day. And today I wasted the whole day catching up on The Next Food Network Star. And on any given day I can't really work until I've settled the order of what I'm watching (Good Eats, usually two back-to-back episodes, Cooking with Lidia, Gordon Ramsay's F Word, and if I must settle, then Emeril Live).

Pollan notes that these days the average American spends 27 meager minutes a day on food prep, which generates a self-doubting course of questioning: Am I not cooking enough? I take more time than that, don't I?

"Umm," says my long-suffering Omnivore, who's been forced to sample four different types of homemade sauerkraut, three kinds of homemade pickle, two kinds of homemade mustard and homemade cornichons in the last couple of weeks, "You make our bread from scratch, make our butter from scratch. We make our own potstickers, our own pastry crusts, smoke our own burgers, churn our own ice cream-- we are DEFINITELY spending more than 27 minutes a day on preparing food."

I sank back into the couch, still pursing my lips slightly and took in the finale of The Next Food Network Star.

"When does Melissa's first show air?"

By the way, here's my helpful tip of the day: When making lots of different kinds of experimental pickles and sauerkrauts and such, write the recipe you used for a particular batch of whatnot on an index card and tape it to the jar, so you can remember how you made it. Let me tell you, it can all become a blur after a while.

1 comment:

your grateful omnivore said...

it may be a blur... but it's a tasty one!