Two Years

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It must be serendipity: last year, I posted a tomato tart recipe to celebrate the one-year anniversary of my blog, and this year, without even planning to do so, I have another tomato tart recipe!

…Or maybe September is tomato season, and I’m deeply unoriginal.

Well, it’s a certainly at least a little comforting that despite the difficulties of the past year, there are parts of me that remain unchanged. I still love tomatoes, I still adore pastries and butter and learning to cook, and I am still writing about it all.

It’s been two years of discovering that my love for food extends beyond desserts and sweets, and that I may not be as useless in the kitchen as I first thought. Two years of learning family recipes from my dad, exploring new cuisines, gaining confidence with each success, and learning from failures.

Well this is a horribly cliché post, but honestly, I (and everyone else I know) never thought Kitchen Whimsies would make it past its first year. In ancient times, if a baby lived past two years old, parents could begin to believe that their child might actually make it to adulthood, or at least adolescence. I don’t know how to measure the lifespan of a blog – in dog years? In blog years? – but hey, what matters is that somehow, we’re still alive.

I think this year’s tomato tart turned out a little better than last year’s, and I certainly had fun trying out a totally new and totally easy way to make tart crust. Enjoy :)

Tarte aux Tomates – (inspired by David Leibovitz) – makes one 9-inch tart

To make the tart dough:

3 oz (6 tbsp) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp water
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
150g flour

Preheat oven to 410F.

In a medium-sized ovenproof bowl, combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt. Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes, until butter is bubbling and has started to brown at the edges.

When done, remove the bowl from the oven (the mixture may splatter a bit), dump in the flour and stir it in quickly, until it comes together and forms a ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to a 9-in tart mold with a removable bottom and spread it a bit with a spatula. Press it into the shell with your hands. Reserve a small piece of dough (~the size of a raspberry), for patching any cracks. Prick the dough lightly with a fork about 10 times, then bake for 15 minutes, until dough is golden brown. (I used baking beans for 10, then removed the beans for the last 5 minutes, but Leibovitz says filling the crust with weights isn’t necessary.)

Remove from the oven and patch any sizable cracks with reserved dough. Let shell cool before filling.

To make the tarte:

2 tbsp chives
1 1/2 tsp thyme (I used tarragon)
2 oz ricotta
1/4 cup mascarpone (or crème fraîche)
2 tbsp heavy cream
~1/2 beaten egg
Salt and pepper
Dijon mustard
2 large ripe tomatoes
Olive oil
Emmantaler or Gruyère cheese
Optional: 1 1/2 tbsp flavorful honey

Slice the tomatoes and set them aside to drain in a colander.

In a small bowl, whisk together the chives, thyme/tarragon, ricotta, mascarpone, heavy cream, and egg. Season with salt and pepper, then set aside.

Spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard along the base of the cooled tart shell. Let sit for a few minutes to dry out.

Arrange the uglier tomato slices over the mustard in a single, even layer. Rub a little olive oil onto them. Pour the chive-ricotta mixture on top. Arrange the prettier tomato slices on top, alternating with thin slices of Emmantaler cheese. Drizzle with some honey, if using.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the tomatoes and cheese have started to brown and the chive-ricotta mixture has set.

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