Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dinner Party Favorite! Rustic Potato and Tomato Tart

What a terrific weekend. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Navy and the 8,000 sailors and airmen who were in Victoria this week, some friends and I retreated into my backyard for a girls only dinner party. We had a terrific time avoiding the mayhem of downtown by catching up over a wonderful dinner and a few bottles of white wine.

I made one of my old favorites, a rustic potato and tomato tart. It's a guaranteed crowd pleaser that looks fabulous and tastes even better then it looks. The hardest part is the pastry which some people have any easier time at then others. I've learned over the years that pastry isn't that difficult and my biggest tip is that you shouldn't over think it. Just wash your hands, roll up your sleeves and take a deep breath.

Pastry always calls for cold ingredients, cold butter, shortening, water and vinegar. In a large bowl, add flour and a pinch of salt and cayenne pepper and then cut pieces or cubes of cold butter and shortening into the flour mixture. Using your hands (cold hands preferably) pitch the butter and shortening into the flour mixture to break it into small and varied clumps or pieces. Next, combine the water and vinegar and slowly add it into the large bowl. Add a little liquid and stir, add a little more liquid and keep stirring with a fork to combine the pastry until it sticks together. And then ease up and keep breathing. Pour the mixture onto a clean counter and gently form a flat but circular ball- this is help get you that circle shape for the tart when you roll it out.

Rustic Potato and Tomato Tart (serves 4)
This recipe has a few parts to it, so give yourself lots of time.

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
pinch of salt
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/3 cup cold butter
1/3 cup shortening
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/4 cup cold water

6 plum tomatoes
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and halved
2 onions, thinly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon rosemary, minced (add a little more if you like Rosemary)
1 1/2 cup Asiago cheese, grated
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper

In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt and cayenne pepper. Using two knives, cut in the butter and shortening until mixture is in small crumbles with a few larger pieces.

Stirring with a fork, pour in the cold water and vinegar to make the dough stick together. Press into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or longer.

While the pastry in cooling in the fridge, you can start on the filling. Cut each tomato lengthwise into halves or quarters and place on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little olive oil and bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes until the tomatoes are slightly shrivelled and cooked.

In a large sauce saucepan of boiling salted water, add the potato halves and cook for 20 minutes or just until tender. you don't want to overcook the potatoes because they will cook further in the tart. Drain and let cool. Slice thinly crosswise and add into a large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a skillet heat oil over a medium high heat and add onions and saute for about 10-15 minutes until they start to caramelize. Add minced garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper and continue stirring for a few more minutes. Remove from heat and add the mixture with the potatoes. Then add the Asiago cheese and all but one tablespoon of the eggs, toss gently to combine.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into a 14-16 inch circle and place onto a pizza pan or baking tray. Spread the potato mixture over the pastry, leaving a two inch border around the sides. Arrange the tomatoes over the filling. Add a little pepper and fold the edges over onto the filling, pleating to fit. Brush the pastry with the remaining egg to give the pastry a nice golden finish when it comes out of the oven.

Bake in the oven for 40 to 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden. Enjoy!

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