Sunday, July 08, 2007

Vegetable Tartlets

This past week, I harvested my first eggplant of the summer. It wasn't very big, but in the company of all the other ingredients in this amazingly easy (and yet so fancy-pants looking!) recipe, it made a great dinner.

Vegetable Tarts in Blue Cornflour Crust

For the crust:

2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup blue cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar (I used brown sugar--honey might taste nice: I have to experiment)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup ice water

For the Filling:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium zucchini, thinly diced
1 medium eggplant, thinly diced
2 small yellow onions, quartered and seperated
1 bunch kale, cut into ribbons
1 package vegetable broth mix, stirred into about 1/2 a cup of water
6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 bunch basil (about 1 cup), cut into ribbons
feta cheese, to "garnish"

1. Make the crust. Pulse flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in a food processor (we used our vitamix). Add butter; process until mixture resembles coarse meal. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream; process just until dough holds together. Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 1 hour or up to three days.
2. Preheat oven to 350*F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 thick. Cut out rounds to suit the size of your tartlet pans--I used muffin tins, so I cut mine to the size of a quart-container lid and then folded them into the muffin cup space (after greasing it lightly). Put the finished tins or muffin tray into the fridge for 1/2 hour.
3. Make the filling. Heat up the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini, squash, eggplant, and onion, stirring--about 2 minutes to cook. Add water and vegetable broth mix; season with salt and pepper. As soon as the liquid has mostly evaporated, add kale and cover until wilted, about 3 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in basil and red-pepper flakes.
4. Spoon veggie mix into pastry shells. Top each with 1/2 tomato. Bake 40-50 minutes. Top each tart with feta cheese to serve.
I had leftover dough. I'm planning on experimenting for breakfast tomorrow--zucchini strips with pine nuts, raisins and feta? Mixing in pesto, whole basil ribbons, and loose corn? The versatility of this recipe, once made once, is pretty awesome. I'm exited to have such an easy dough on hand for future combinations. Wait until fall, when you can stuff it with squash and sage....or pumpkin and nutmeg...or mushrooms and thyme...mmmm....

Moosewood Pilgrimage

It's hard to imagine my slack-jawed, open-appetite ecstasy from the photograph, but I promise that my first visit to the Moosewood Restaurant was nothing short of spiritual. I had an artichoke and potato-with-thyme and cheese confection that had so many layers of taste it felt like three meals, and then, when I was close to death from happiness, was presented with the dessert menu. Bosc pears poached in red wine sauce with black pepper, cloves, lemon and cream? Yes, please. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, if you though the cookbook could change your life, please, bite into their food. Hurrah for local produce, hurrah for vegetarians, and a hip-hip-hurrah for the concept of dessert with black pepper's subtle bite, which only made the local-dairy-whipped cream float sweeter on the palate.

Sweet Summer Garden

Two things are official: it's hot and our plants have grown large. The squash in particular has taken off. Right now all the leaves are the size of chair seats. I know because, on a whim, I sat on one. Yes: it's huge.