Tomato Tart and a Little Gem Salad - july 28, 2010
The week we left San Francisco for Tucson, this summer's volume of Canal House Cooking arrived with the mail. You may already know this, but Canal House is my new favorite thing. Besides Nigel Slater, of course. I love its irreverence toward normal day to day life - for those at the Canal House, everything revolves around food. I also love its quick vignettes: trout from a friend of a friend fishing outside the window, a whole essay on why their pal likes to get a buzz on and a few words about Patricia Curtan (illustrator of Chez Panisse Vegetables) and her apricot jam.
The photos are beautiful, in an edgy foodie sort of way. Similar to the style I was first smitten by in Saveur Magazine (the two women behind Canal House both spent time there, one as a founder), there is calculated imperfection, telling me that this food is the real deal and what's for dinner, not just props prettied up for a photo shoot. I love that. And in this latest issue, the "Gone Fishin'" title page is just so spectacular. Two fish laying on a print ad for a vacation spa, wrapped in a bloody bag. It sounds gross, but really, its perfect. I want to hang it up on my wall. I'm so glad Elizabeth David made it OK to write and talk about food as something much more meaningful than simple calories. Without her, I'd be branded a moron for wanting to frame my cookbook.
But before I forget - the recipes. They are, for the most part, quick and easy, always seasonal and always stylish (I'm willing to bet kippers will be the next big thing this summer). I've found that the key to this particular one is which puff pastry to use. Pepperidge Farm was really tough to unfold last week, but this time Dufour Kitchen's pastry did me right. So use that one, if you can. I bought it at Rainbow Grocery.
The best place to get your lettuces is Star Route Farms, check their website to see if they come to a farmer's market near you.
Tomato Tart: (adapted from Canal House Cooking Volume 4)
1 sheet puff pastry, defrosted (follow the instructions on the box)
2-3 tomatoes, cored and sliced
2-3 branches fresh thyme
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Line a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper and preheat the oven to 375°. Lay the puff pastry sheet on top of the parchment paper, and score the outline of the pastry, about 1/2 inch from the edge all the way around. Stab the middle section of the pastry with your knife tip many times, to prevent it from puffing up like the outer edge will. Lay the tomato slices on the pastry in a single layer, and sprinkle thyme leaves on top. Drizzle some olive oil, grate some pepper and sprinkle some salt on top. Bake until the edges of the pastry are browned, about 30-40 minutes.
Little Gem Salad:
Slice the bottom off each baby lettuce head, then cut them into chunks, roughly one inch by once inch. Wash and dry them in a salad spinner, then wrap them in a towel to finish drying. Let them sit while you mix up the dressing below, then put the lettuce in a big bowl, grate a carrot over them (if you have one around) and toss them with the dressing. Be careful not to use too much dressing, this makes enough for more than one medium sized salad.
For the dressing (adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone):
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup whole milk yogurt (or sour cream)
2 garlic cloves, minced or put through the press
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
fresh lemon juice or white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt (or so)
For starters, pour the yogurt into a sieve (thats a fine mesh strainer) over a bowl to drain some of the water and thicken up the yogurt. After a while, combine it with the buttermilk in a bowl Whisk in the garlic and salt, then add the parsley and lemon juice. Stir it up and taste, adding salt if it needs more.