21 June 2010

a tale of two tarts

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ... "

This is the tale of two tarts. Both have delicious potential, crowd-pleasing attributes, and flavor profiles that would elate any purveyor of tart-shaped-baked goods.

But in this tale, unfortunately only one dish will prevail. The other - the savory in this story - will need some future tweaking for me to like it. It was almost there ... but still quite a ways from a homerun, I'm afraid.

And so began my foray into well, using my beautiful tart pan more (it helps me justify the purchase way after the fact if I at least use it every once in a blue moon.)

The first tart was a potato, broccoli and cheese tart in a homemade saltine cracker crust. Easy to prepare, an ingredient list that didn't break the bank, and all components that you'd think would make an Irish gal swoon. But alas.

For what it's worth, I think with a few edits to the recipe here, this tart could be oh so tasty. The crust, very easy to prepare, but keep in mind we're talking saltines here ... so go light with the salt for the rest of the dish. In the future I may try to lighten it up a bit by mixing something else in, perhaps, or trying a different type of cracker.

Also, the diced potatoes, although I cooked them 3/4 of the way in the microwave first (a handy technique for quick baked potatoes), still had a strange chewy softness that was a bit off putting, and once again, the parsley was overpowering (crazy, I know, but as much as I love parsley, I'm going to be very hesitant to use it in this recipe again. ugh.). Next time, I may try using smashed potatoes in this, since the rest of the ingredients don't need much cooking ... hmm..

Before sharing the recipe, note that the ultra-tasty, beautiful winner in the tart-to-end-all-tarts contest (that I held with myself, don't judge) is coming right up after this mild disaster. It's a sweet tart - strawberry mascarpone with aged balsamic. Yep, I went there. Stay tuned.

But first ...

Broccoli, Potato and Gruyere Tart
Adapted from Veggie Belly

1 medium baking potato, 3/4 way cooked and diced
1/2 cup low fat milk
1 tsp flour
1 tsp dijon mustard
3/4 cup gruyere / fontina mix, cut into tiny cubes
1 cup broccoli florets, chopped
2 tablespoons parsley (I'm omitting this next time, fyi)
salt and pepper

Saltine cracker crust
1 sleeve of saltine crackers
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2-3/4 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 375f. Poke holes all over potato and place on a plate in the microwave on high for 1.5 - 2 minutes. Take out, flip over, then another 1.5 - 2 minutes.

Mix together the milk, flour, and dijon mustard. Then add the cheese, broccoli florets, potatoes, parsley (blech), salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

For the crust, whir up the saltine crackers in a food processor until they're a powder consistency. Mix together with butter and hot water until it comes together into a dough. Press into tart pan, making sure it comes up a bit on the sides.

Pour the filling mixture into the tart pan with the saltine crust. Place the pan on a foil lined baking sheet and bake on 375 degrees for about 20 minutes or just till the top of the tart starts to turn golden. Let it cool a bit when it's done, and you're all set.

Makes 6 small tarts or in my case, 1 big momma tart.

And now, on to the good stuff. I made this for a pulled pork party a friend was having (awesome friends, me has) and it was a sure fire hit. I could have done with just aged balsamic on strawberries, but the filling here is worthy of including, too. This comes together in less than a half hour, and is a perfect summer dessert.

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart with Aged Balsamic Glaze

Look at how pretty. Really, now. It doesn't get much better than that.

From Elise at Simply Recipes

1 pre-made pie crust (a good cheat, but go ahead and make by hand if you want)
2 lbs strawberries, stemmed and quartered
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 TB orange zest
1 tsp lemon juice
12 ounces mascarpone cheese (KT note: I used 8 oz. mascarpone, rest ricotta. It was delicious)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (or aged balsamic, if you have it ... which I did! m'm)

Bake off pie crust as instructed (and as needed). Set aside to cool.

In the meantime, mix the strawberries with half the orange zest and granulated sugar. Set aside to macerate for 30 minutes.

Mix together the mascarpone / ricotta with the powdered sugar, remaining zest, lemon juice and vanilla. Resist eating entire bowl. You've been warned. Refrigerate until needed.

Once the strawberries have macerated, strain their juice out and put in a small stovetop pan. Add to said pan the balsamic and reduce until it's a glaze consistency. (KT note: If using aged balsamic, you don't need to reduce much here. It'd be cruel to the product, trust me on that one. :) )

To assemble the tart, spread the cheese mixture on the bottom, arrange strawberries as you'd like on top of that, then glaze with the balsamic. It's that easy. And just wait until you try it. With minimal oven / stove time, this is an ideal dessert for those hot and humid days where you'd much rather be outside or sipping a frosty drink with your feet up.

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