14 March 2008

Pi Day: Tomato and gruyère tart

My maths teachers would be proud...and confused.

Let's face it, I was not known for my stellar work with numbers...English, history, science, geography, French--pretty much anything other that maths and phys. ed and the machine-assisted sewing part of Home Ec, I happily claimed a small part of. Anything and everything beyond BEDMAS made my head hurt...a lot.

Now, ironically, one of the things I've developed a reputation for (at least amongst vendors who works with me) is my somewhat quick and usually annoyingly airtight ability to cut through smarmy numbers...yeah, I'm a favourite in some circles...

Maybe there is a mathy in me screaming to get out. I'm sure it has to do with all my baking and cooking...yet another reason why people should bake more chocolate cakes and make more ice cream...

So when Alanna of Kitchen Parade announced a foodish twist to Pi Day (look at my posting date (omitting the year), if you don't get it), I planned to seize this opportunity to continue making peace with my inner mathy...

Ah...the best laid plans of mince and mandolines...Life got busy so I couldn't bake specifically for this event. I pretty much gave up on participating, until I remembered a tart I made last summer I didn't blog about...

In May I blogged about Georgeanne Brennan's sweet memoir A Pig In Provence, with plans to try a few more recipes. One of which was her Tomato Tart.

Her instructions were quite easy--roll out the crust, fill it and bake it--all done with a voice of someone who's very experienced and matter-of-fact in the kitchen. Quantities aren't specific--you just add as much much as makes sense, season to taste and then bake at the required temp until done.

I didn't want to use a wheat-based crust for my version, instead wanting something that was a little different and had a bit of a texture. Then I remembered Nigella's pastry recipe for tomato tarts used cornmeal...well, I didn't have to go much further than that.

I'll be honest and admit to forgetting if I had to fiddle with quantities for my 30cm fluted tin-- Nigella's is for eight 12cm individually-portioned tarts--but somehow I don't think I had to adjust things. I do recall deciding to form the crust as Edna Staebler used to, by pressing the dough directly into the tin, instead of the usual roll, drape and trim.

I do remember the tart. The crust was crisp and the cornmeal's texture was a nice crunchy-crispy contrast to the soft and gooey cheesey-tomatoey filling. It was the right thing, paired with a leafy salad, for a light supper.

Tomato and Gruyère Tart
Inspired by Georgeanne Brennan's A Pig in Provence and Nigella Lawson's How To Be A Domestic Goddess

for the Pastry
125g pastry flour
60g cornmeal
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
115g butter
25g shortening
iced water

For the filling
prepared Dijon mustard
sliced tomatoes
grated Gruyère
olive oil

Mix the dry ingredients together, then rub in the fats until the mixture reminds you of coarse breadcrumbs. Sprinkle in enough water so the pastry comes together into a dough. Pat into a disc, wrap in cling and let it sit in the fridge for about half an hour.

When the dough has rested, take it out and press it to about 0.5cm/1/2" thickness into a 30cm x 2.5 cm/12"x1" tart pan. Pop it back into the fridge for another 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Spread a thin layer of mustard on the pastry base. Snug in the tomato slices and sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Spread the cheese over top and drizzle with the oil and sprinkle with more thyme, salt and pepper.

Bake until the cheese is golden and the tomatoes have softened--about 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool for about 15-20 minutes before serving.


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glamah16 said...

I have the same problem as you! I just commented on another blog that I always had a mental block towards math. My step father was genius in math and Lord knows he tried. However in business I can totally get the numbers as my aunt the doctor( another whiz) points out. I'm surronded my math whizs,but they all count on me to measure it all out and cook for them. That tart is scrumptious BTW.

K and S said...

happy pi day!

Deborah Dowd said...

This looks like a delicious pi! And I love the idea of a crumbly cornmeal crust, all of this adds up to make a tart that is fabulous to the nth power!(sorry I work with physicists and it rubs off!)

Anonymous said...

Aiii, that's just beautiful, Jasmine. I'm also a fan of cornmeal and semolina and similar textures in savory crusts, glad to have a Nigella recipe at the ready now. Thanks much for contributing to Pi Day!

breadchick said...

And I was just trying to figure out what to do with this hunk Gruyere sitting in my cheese drawer. Now I know exactly what I'm going to do with it!

thanks for the inspiration

p.s. if it is any consolation, I didn't do so well with the sewing machine in Home Ec either ;-)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

What I love about math is that, for most of us, what we retain is the practical, the instinctive -- and we forget most everything we learned in order to pass tests in school. Thanks for your pi/pie -- it looks delicious!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

That's just brilliant: first to remember a good one already done and not blogged about and then the whole process and final result. I really enjoy corn meal in a crust and this one sounds excellent. And I can never resist brie!

Unknown said...

I know the feeling of being too busy for Pi Day; I almost didn't make the deadline myself!

I'm glad you remembered this tart and got the chance to share it with us. It looks lovely. The drippy cheese in the photo is almost obscene, it looks SO good!

Anonymous said...

I always explained my lack of math skills by saying I had bath math genes, no exeptions! That tart looks great, can't wait to try it out.

Annemarie said...

That is some pretty good memory that takes you back to something you made last summer. My excuse for forgetting it was Pi day is that in Europe the date is 14.3, and what does *that* really mean to anyone?

jasmine said...

Hello all

Glad you liked my contribution.

Annemarie, my memory can be annoyingly wonderful or disappointingly horrid.