The Food Groupie Club

Hi my name is Sarah and I'm addicted to food. I have been a chef professionally for about 12 years now and am currently teaching cooking classes at a culinary school. I seriously love to cook and eat good food. The problem with cooking and eating like the professionals though is that it can be kind of intimidating for a home food enthusiast. My goal is to bring good food into every-day homes. Anyone can make healthy, good quality, good tasting, and good looking food with the right know-how. So here you made easy by a professional!

I will be featuring some of my favorite chef's recipes in my posts and will note in the post what book was used. Their books that I use will be listed in my must have cookbooks tab.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Heirloom Tomato Tart w/ Nicoise olive Tapanade, Mixed Field Greens, & Basil Vinaigrette

 Thomas Keller The French Laundry Cookbook Page 66.  

Before we start..... if you have ANY questions or want me to explain something for you please leave a comment and I will respond.

This was probably one of the coolest looking, high depth flavor profile, and EASIEST salads ever. I know he called it a tart. I looked up some pictures online and saw many different presentations of this. In the book T.K. says this is his interpretation of fancy pizza that meets the standards of The French Laundry name. I did see many pictures of this looking like a pizza. However, I know T.K.'s style, and the way I ended up doing it is by all means a style I have seen on many of his salads. There are many components for this salad, but don't let that overwhelm you. With the exception of roasting the tomatoes, everything else literally took seconds to make. I loved the flavor and texture profile of this dish. The olive and the basil with the tomatoes was a great combo.  All flavors compliment and enhance each other and will definitely get your palate excited.

Step 1: Picking your tomatoes
Buy good quality tomatoes. This recipe calls for heirlooms. When in season, these are the best tomatoes out there. They come in so many different colors which I feel really adds to the eye appeal of any dish they are used in. Trader Joe's is my go-to place for things like this. I got about 6 tomatoes for $4.99. Whole foods is probably your other option, but I lovingly call them whole paycheck. Cool store. Way unnecessarily overpriced. I love the Joe's because you can get cool things and they are way more affordable. If you can't find heirlooms, just get regular beef steak style red tomatoes. Very important that this is made only when tomatoes are in season during the spring and summer months. Winter tomatoes are terrible.

Step 2: Preparing the tomatoes
This recipe includes 2 different styles of tomatoes. Half are roasted and half are cold raw. This really gave some variety to the texture and there is a huge difference in flavor when something is roasted.  Cut the tomatoes you will be roasting a little thicker (about a 1/2 inch) than the raw ones (about 1/4 inch)  as they will shrink slightly during roasting.  All I did with the roasted tomatoes is lay them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or if you have a silpat sheet you can use that.  Silpat's are just silicone baking sheets. I love them. If you buy one from one of the fancy kitchen stores they can get kind of pricy. Keep your eyes peeled at places like Home Goods or Ross and you sometimes get lucky and can find one for a fraction of the cost. Sprinkle a little kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and minced oregano on the tomatoes. The recipe called for thyme. I have oregano growing like crazy in my yard and my thyme hasn't really sprouted yet. Its ok to substitute with what you have when its a comparable sub. They're both Italian herbs, they both go well with tomatoes, so I say that's comparable. Cut enough tomatoes so you have 2 roasted and 2 raw per serving. Roast at 250...recipe says 45 mins to 1 hour. I ended up letting mine cook for about 1 hour 15 minutes.
After cutting the raw tomatoes, lay them on a napkin to drain excess moisture. All these need is a little Kosher salt and pepper, and place them in the fridge until you need them. These should go in the fridge the same time the other ones go in the oven.
Step 3: Make the "crouton"
The crouton (or pizza crust depending on how you visualize this) is made of puff pastry. You can make puff pastry if you have a ton of time on your hands and are up for the challenge. Remember, I have a full time job. I bought it. You'll find this in the freezer section. Quality is fine, so don't feel bad that you are taking a short cut.  The sheet will be folded so you'll want to let it thaw slightly before you try to open it, otherwise it will break at its seams. You want it to only thaw slightly. If you let it get too soft it will be hard to work with and smash on itself.  You will need to cut this into circles with a cookie cutter about the size of the tomatoes you used (probably about 3 inches) then prick it with a fork like when you blind bake a pie crust. This will prevent it from puffing up too much. I didn't roll it out at all before cutting and it puffed up too much. You want this to stay kind of flat. Roll it out just a little so its about 1/4 inch thick. Just bake the rounds on a cookie sheet at 400 until they are golden brown and cooked through. Look at the layers to make sure they aren't raw. Just because it's golden brown doesn't mean its cooked.  If it is still too puffy, push down in it while its hot to collapse some of the layers.

Step 4: Make the Tapenade

6-8 anchovy fillets, soaked in milk for 1 hour then rinsed. (can omit if you don't like anchovies)
1/2 c. pitted nicoise olives
1/4 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil (may not need all of it)

If you have ever purchased tapenade you got ripped off. If you have a food processor this will actually take less then a minute to make.  All tapenade is is blended olives with olive oil. That's it. The recipe called for Nicoise olives. I couldn't find any. You can really use any olive you want. So just use your favorite. I wouldn't use Kalamata olives for this particular recipe though becuase they are way too strong. Eww and also don't use the ones stuffed with pimento. Since these will be pureed it will not be good.  I just found some cured black olives (way different then the canned black ones!) at Savemart's olive bar.  Once again whole foods also has a rocking olive bar, but.... you know. These had the pit in, but olives are super easy to pit especially if you have a pitting tool. If not, just squeeze it out with your fingers.
Just put ALL of the ingredients straight into a food processor and blend! Its that easy.  For this one all it had in it was olives, Dijon mustard, and just enough olive oil to moisten and hold it together as a paste. T.K. also included anchovies in his. Once again, recipes were written to be ignored. I hate anchovies. If you don't like something, you leave it out.
Step 3: Make the vinaigrette. 

1/2 c. Packed basil leaves
1/2 c. Extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbs. Balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Baby green mix as needed

I didn't take pictures of this one. Ooops. Just like the tapenade though....easy. Just add basil to your food processor and slowly incorporate extra virgin olive oil until it is dressing consistency with the basil thoroughly mixed in. Add balsamic vinegar to taste right before serving. (and season of course!)

Side note: Regular food processors are way too big and don't puree well unless it is at least 1/4-1/2 full. I have a mini food chopper that I like to use for little projects like the tapenade and the dressing.

Step 4: Assemble
Smear a little of the tapenade on the center of the plate to "glue" the crouton so it doesn't slide around the plate. Crouton goes down first,  smear a little tapenade on the top of the crouton. Then do a roasted tomato, raw tomato, and smear tapenade on top of the raw tomato. Do one more layer of roasted, raw, tapenade. Should have 2 each of roasted and raw total.
Lastly, in a small bowl, add the greens (I used the herb spring mix from Trader Joe's) with just enough of the vinaigrette to lightly coat the greens. Do not over dress. If you have a puddle of dressing in the bottom of your bowl, its overdressed. place a small pinch of green on top of your tomato and drizzle a little more dressing on the plate to garnish. 
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1 comment:

  1. Just found this. Looks amazing. Going to make for dinner tomorrow night. Thanks so much for sharing!


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