Tag Archives: parmesan

Leek and Gruyere Tart

22 Jan

My first attempt at making a tart: not so hot. I think I’m just not a big fan of things that taste too much like egg. However, I was trying to use some leftover leeks and found a recipe in my Easy Pies book  that I could easily modify. The original, called Caramelized Onion Tart, sounded quite delicious, and my version tasted ok, just not really what I felt like. At least I didn’t feel sick like I always do with the museum’s cafeteria quiches.

The Stuff: leeks (I used 4), about 75g gruyere, 1 egg, some milk, puff pastry, parmesan

The Seasoning: salt and pepper

The Method: Caramelize the leeks in butter. Line a small pie tin with puff pastry and blind bake at 190C until mostly cooked.

Meanwhile, beat the egg and mix it with a small amount of milk, the gruyere, and seasoning. When they’re ready, add in the leeks and pour the mixture into the crust. Top with parmesan and bake for 15 minutes; let sit for 10.

Clearly, I can make some improvements on this. I liked the taste of the leeks, but I would definitely use fresh-grated gruyere from Neal’s Yard instead of store brand pre-grated. Cheese is just better fresh, yes? (I will probably write more about cheese later. It deserves its own post.) I don’t know the chemistry of eggs and whether I could replace a whole egg with two egg whites, but I’d definitely try it: in addition to being lower in cholesterol, they don’t seem to have that characteristically eggy taste (sulphurous, I read). However, I’ll have to check if they will work in a tart.

Second, a tart should have a certain look. It should be evenly spread and fit nicely into the crust. As you can see in the picture, I messed up big-time. My friend Ramya’s mother Lee’s father, in an oft-repeated phrase, said that the foods that look the worst taste the best. The leftovers of Lee’s Pie, which look like a disaster, taste absolutely fabulous. That is not true in this case, where I think the look is integral to the sensation of eating (if not the actual taste). Part of the reason for my oversize crust is my use of puff pastry in places where it doesn’t belong, and another part is my laziness in actually shaping the pastry to the size of the pan. These are things to work on.

Anyway. Next one should be better.

Lee’s Pie

21 Jan

After a few weeks of experimenting with recipes, in early December I branched out and made an all-new pie from my own head. I was thinking of my good friend Lee, who likes to boil things in cream: I have witnessed her joyfully boil a variety of vegetables in cream, none of which I have eaten. Instead, I stare at them with hungry eyes (and at her with sad eyes) as she tells me how these dishes will clog my arteries and kill me. I might note that she ate all of these while sitting in a dilapidated armchair facing a beautiful bay window and sipping tea. Her life: full of delicious. My life: salivating over her delicious.

So I decided to make a (reasonably) healthy pie for me based on her sumptuous preference for cream. I substituted low-fat cream and skim milk for full-fat cream and decided to boil the things up. And lord, was it delicious.

The Veg: shallots, turnips, 3 potatoes, 1 medium-size cauliflower, parsnips, other white/cream vegetables of your choice

The Other Bits: cream (or milk) – probably about a cup and a bit, flour and butter for a roux, 2-3 chanterelle mushrooms, pie crust (generally puff pastry)

The Seasoning: nutmeg, sage, parmesan, salt and pepper

The Method: Cube everything. Parboil the potatoes.

Steam the cauliflower in milk. That’s right, steam it in milk. It should be chopped into bits as small as possible as it will form the creamy base of the pie.

Make a roux in an American wok or big soup pot. Then pour in the cream. When it’s hot, put in all the vegetables and cook on medium heat until they get mushy and all look like one big wet lump of vegetable. It should be the consistency of one of the curries I make (that is, not liquidy, but still a mush).

While the filling is cooking, lightly fry the mushrooms (cut very, very tiny) in butter. Add in the chopped sage. When the vegs are almost cooked, add this in with some salt and pepper. Add parmesan to taste.

With the crust, make it into a pie. Put a little more parm under the crust just for fun. Bake per the crust directions.

The first time, I spent about an hour trying to get the spices right. It tasted excellent, but the flavor just didn’t stick in my mouth. Fortunately, Max (who is magnificent at all things spice and writes a column for Serious Eats) was available by skype and suggested I put in nutmeg, which really rounded out the flavor. I added more parmesan for a little more umami (my favorite taste, by the way). It was pretty much the most perfect winter taste ever. I have since made Lee’s Pie twice more, and I can not attest that it does NOT taste better with sweet potatoes or without sage (it was an emergency pie situation). This recipe WORKS. It also tastes delicious as leftovers.

Oh yeah, pie leftovers: if you put it in the microwave with crust, it gets squishy, and nobody wants a squishy pie. Instead, save whatever pie filling is left in ramikins. When you’re ready for round 2, put a new crust on the mini-pies and bake. Yay.