Sunday, April 11, 2010

'A Lesson In Patience' Tart

Can I tell you something that might blow your mind? I can't eat garlic. You may have noticed the auspicious absence of it from any of my cooking endeavors, because my stomach will not allow it to be processed gently. I know. Really, I know what stinking hard luck it is, because garlic is in just about everything; it's a flavour powerhouse. And there's really nothing that can compare to it or substitute for it.

That being said, my new favourite things are green onions and leeks. Powerhouses in their own way, I find if I use enough of them, I don't really miss the distinctive layer of garlic. And they're soooo pretty to look at, especially you, cut-up leeks!

I'd kind of made this resolution recently to work my way through my cookbooks one at a time, because I keep buying them and they sit attractively on their display shelf and I use food blog recipes instead, which makes little to no sense. So I took down one of my Martha's ("Fresh Flavour Fast") which Almost Husband sweetly bought for me, and stumbled upon this recipe for a goat cheese and leek tart. How fortuitous! Just the day before, a bunch of leeks had somehow found their way into my grocery basket! I had pretty much everything I needed, so I rolled up my sleeves, put on a radio play I found on the BBC radio 4 website and set to work. I of course used more cheese than was called for. There are things I just can't seem to use in moderation. Cheese is one of them.

The recipe for the Basic Pie Crust looked really promising; Martha made it sound so easy to make. And there were, like, 4 ingredients. But the commandment "Do Not Overmix" sort of frightened me - in my limited experience with dough making, you only ever really find out after the fact that you pounded the bejesus out of it, rendering a pastry as tough as boot leather.

So I kind of went to the opposite extreme, and barely touched it once I'd pulsed the ingredients to the desired consistency. And after I'd been mincing around with it for a while, I started to panic that I was working it too much anyways, while it wasn't actually even coming together in any sort of semblance of a dough. So I bashed it around a bit more and chilled it, only nowhere does it say in the cookbook that you have to let it come to room temperature after chilling, otherwise you can't roll it out. (In hindsight, this is actually pure common sense. But oh well.)

After what felt like hours (but was probably less than one hour total) I finally got the dough thawed and rolled out, spread the cheese mixture over it and covered it in leeks. It looked pretty great. I felt hopeful again. I popped it in Demonic Oven who, as per usual, singed/burnt the tops of the leeks just to stick it to me, but it didn't matter because the tart still looked rustically charming. And tasted amazing.

Go forth and make this.

Goat Cheese-Leek Tart, via Martha Stewart's 'Fresh Flavour Fast':

1 bunch of leeks, white and green parts only, thinly sliced into half-moons, about 2 cups, washed well and dried (trim the root ends and dark leafy tops, halve the leeks lengthwise, then thinly slice crosswise into half-moons. Wash well in several changes of cold water to remove any hidden grit, dry on paper towel)
1 tbsp olive oil
coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
6 ounces of fresh goat cheese, softened
2 ounces of cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp milk
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme (or 1/4 tsp dried - I used 1/2 tsp dried)
1 tbsp water
1 Basic Pie Crust (see below) or store-bought refrigerated dough for 9" pie
All purpose flour for dusting


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In bowl, toss leeks with oil and season with the salt and pepper.

2. Whisk together goat cheese, cream cheese, milk, 2 egg yolks and thyme; season with salt and pepper. In another bowl, lightly beat remaining egg yolk with the water, for egg wash.

3. Roll out dough to a 13" round - about 1/8" thickness, on a lightly floured work surface (or unroll store bought dough) Place on a baking sheet. Spread goat cheese mixture on crust, leaving a 2" border. Sprinkle leeks evenly on top. Fold edge of dough over filling, pinching folds together to seal. Brush dough with egg wash.

4. Bake, rotating sheet halfway through, until crust is golden brown and filling is browned in spots, about 1 hour. (In Demonic Oven, this took me about 45-50 minutes) Let cool completely, then cut into wedges.

Basic Pie Dough:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (whoops, I used salted butter, but just left out the 1/2 tsp salt called for)
2-4 tbsp ice water


1. In a food processor, briefly pulse flour, salt and sugar to combine. Add butter; pulse till mixture resembles coarse meal with a few pea-sized pieces of butter remaining. Add 2 tbsp ice water, pulse till dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 2 tbsp more water) Do not overmix!

2. Turn out dough onto large piece of plastic wrap. Fold plastic wrap over dough and press to shape into a 1" thick disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to 3 days) or freeze for up to 3 months.


  1. I love leeks, and I agree with you--they're so pretty! I think I might try to make this beauty. Pie crust is scary though.

  2. Jess, if you do attempt it, good luck and godspeed with that freaking dough. It's worth it though; it tasted awesome.