"It just took her! In the night! We were all together, and then bam! PAM WAS GONE!"
Hey! How was your summer? I have a question for you.
Do you ever want quiche, but you don't want to deal with eggs?
It is salty, buttery, caramelized and so flaky you feel like you're eating an Honest to God Croissant. Somehow this dough laminates itself, and the inner folds remain not doughy, but tender and ethereal and almost yeasty, while the outer layers bubble and lift and turn into the thinnest, crispiest shards of golden love. And all it is, all that does this, is a little extra butter and flour. It is a revelation.
So when I had these sinful Quiche Thoughts circulating in my brain, I remembered I had Ricotta I needed to use up before it sued me/Animal Planet got involved and tracked me down for inhumane treatment. And some tomatoes, though not from my garden because I live in The City Summer Forgot this year. I don't want to talk about it. Some young, sparse chives and rosemary in pots outside. Away we go.
And the results are kind. Warm and savory and just this side of rich. This would be so nice, topped with a shaggy, lemon and olive oil dressed tumble of Arugula but I didn't have any. You could serve it cold, room temperature or still warm. I thought about cracking an egg in the middle for the last couple minutes of baking, so that the yolk formed a sauce, but didn't. You could add more tomatoes (I wish I had), substitute herbs and cheeses for others of their kind, or just make it as is. Enjoy a slice for any meal, all meals. Hide Barbie limbs in the folded-over crust.
Use that wonderful imagination.
Roasted Tomato and Ricotta Crostata
(Everyone and their mother has a version of this, but this one answers to me)
2 ½ cups Ricotta cheese
½ cup Crème Fraiche or Sour Cream
2 large eggs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 small (each the size of a large egg) balls fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces
1 teaspoon course ground black pepper (1/2 a teaspoon, if finely ground)
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
A few scrapes of fresh nutmeg
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon minced fresh chives
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary (or thyme)
1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley
Half batch of Flaky Tart Dough (recipe follows)
Roasted Tomatoes (recipe follows)
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Line, or don’t line in my case, a light-colored half-sheet pan with parchment.
In a large bowl, mix together all of the above ingredients, adding the eggs last so you can taste beforehand and gauge the need for seasoning/salt adjustments. This will vary, depending on your cheese choices. CHOICES ARE IMPORTANT, DANNY.
On a cool, floured surface roll your dough out into a large, slightly free-form circle. Make sure the thickness of the dough is even from center to edges. Dust the dough lightly with flour, smooth excess off the surface and then carefully fold up and then to the left, so you end up with a ‘quarter’ fold. Transfer to the sheet pan, unfold and fill with the ricotta mixture, leaving a three to four inch border of dough (The ricotta spreads and the dough expands). Again, make sure you aren’t building up the edges of the filling circle, you want a smooth, even thickness. OR YOU WON’T WIN THE PAGEANT.
Now arrange the roasted tomatoes on top of the Ricotta mixture. I didn’t use as many as I should have, so I encourage you to go wild. Use up every slice you’ve got. Be as frugal as a Kardashian in Paris. Gently, beginning at one point, fold the excess dough up and over the ricotta mixture, like a traditional crostata. Pinch or press each seam gently, so that the folds stay secured while baking. Scatter the remaining mozzarella over the top of the tart, in-between tomato slices if you like, and brush the dough with ice water. Then, using a microplane grater, shower the surface of the crostata with Parmesan cheese. In more formal terms, MAKE IT RAIN.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the crust is golden brown, the mixture is just set and you’re about to pass out from the beautiful fumes. Remove from the oven, cool for just a few minutes, then slice into wedges. USE THE SAFETY SCISSORS, TINA.
Tartine’s Flaky Tart Dough
3 cups AP flour
2/3 cup cold water
1 cup + 5 Tablespoons salted butter
½ teaspoon fine salt
Dissolve the salt in the water (I do this in a glass measuring cup, and always fill it with just a little more water than called for, to account for humidity, fickleness, etc.) and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, measure your flour and dump into a bowl and pop that into the fridge, for the same amount of time.
Dump the chilled flour into the bowl of your food processor, fitted with the metal blade. Dice the butter into large chunks or tabs, add, and pulse ten times exactly. Look inside. You should see buttery rubble, and cold, floury fumes should rise to meet your face. Run and grab the salty water from the freezer. Pour ¾’s of the water in (remember, you overfilled the measuring cup), hit the ‘On’ button and watch. The dough should begin to form and clump around the blade. The minute it does, stop. If it isn’t clumping, add a little more water and pulse once or twice. If you’re not sure, take the lid off and press your finger into the mass. Does it feel like pie dough now, with a little compression? Then you’re good to go.
Dump out onto the counter, which you can dust with a little flour (but I don’t, for this particular recipe). Gather into a large ball, then divide in half. Form each half into a ball, then flatten with the palm of your hand and wrap well in plastic, or slide into a Ziploc bag. Chill for at least one hour, though the dough only gets better and better as it sits. Freeze after three days.
4 large, firm but ripe tomatoes (I suggest using Roma or Plum-types)
Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Wash and stem the tomatoes, and cut into thick slices (I got three from each of my Plum tomatoes). Lay in a ceramic baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and scatter with salt, pepper and a smidge of white sugar. Bake at 375 until soft, juicy and sputtering, the edges caramelized and brick red, around 30-40 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature before using in this recipe.