Thursday, March 22, 2007

Tomato Tart with Bacon and Red Onion

It's probably only fair to warn you that the tart I'm going to describe possesses some strange powers. Namely, it robs people (read: me) of all self-control. The night we had this, it was too dark to take pictures. The only thing that kept me from downing the whole thing, in spite of not being the least bit hungry, was knowing how much butter went in the crust.

tomato tart

The following day I cut out a slice to take out and photograph (trimming a bit off the edges because it didn't quite look right), snapped a few pictures that turned out to be all out of focus and weirdly lighted, and promptly wolfed down the subject. The day after that, I was at home with my trusty lampshade-cum-lightbox and interfering felines, snapped a few shots of the last slice and... suddenly... through no conscious decision... ate it up.

tomato... oops.

Possibly I'm just telling you that, like grocery shopping, food photography is best left to when you're not hungry.

This tart owes a lot to Molly's Roasted Tomato Tart with Crème Fraîche and Thyme, in the way that that was what I was going to make, to the letter, until I discovered my tomatoes were a bit sad and felt the need to add something to the mix. Namely bacon, onions and balsamic vinegar.

I was also making it in the wilds of, er, the place where we have our vacation home and no internet, and had a crust recipe calling for sticks of butter which is just one of those things I haven't yet learned conversions for, so the shell is improvised. I would also like bonus points for making said shell without the benefit of a mixer and freezer, which is how I usually survive the trauma of crust-making. Incidentally, it was also the flakiest crust I have ever managed to produce. Maybe I'll have to eschew the mixer in the future. (EXTRA bonus points for doing the cleanup without running water.)

tomato tart

Anyway, it was yummy, as things containing stuff like bacon, onions, tomato and cheese tend to be, especially when encased in a ton of buttery crust, and I'm sure it would be very acceptable even without the bacon if you want to go the vegetarian route.

Tomato Tart with Bacon and Red Onion
for the crust:
100 g (3½ oz) of cold, lightly salted butter, cut into small cubes and then chilled
250 ml (8½ fl oz) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp ice-cold water

for the filling:
about 700 g (1½ lb) tomatoes
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
50 ml (1.6 fl oz, or 3 tbsp + 1 tsp) olive oil
3 cloves garlic
3 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 medium red onion, sliced
2 tbsp crème fraîche
2 tsp dijon mustard
150 ml (5 fl oz) grated gruyère

Put the flour in a bowl and top with the butter. With the tips of your fingers (it helps if your hands are cold from, um, the cold), work the butter into the flour until it's all almost cohesive. Part crumble, part paste. Add the water and stir gently with a fork until the dough starts coming together (this is like three or four swirls). Dump the dough on a piece of clingfilm and bring it together with your hands to form a ball, then press down to a disc. Cover with the clingfilm and refrigerate overnight.

Halve and deseed the tomatoes. Toss with the thyme, olive oil and some salt, then arrange on a baking tray, cut side down. Bake for half an hour at 175°C (350°F), remove from the oven and let cool until you can handle them, then remove the skins. (Note: this was a pain, and I wonder if blanching and peeling before the baking wouldn't be easier.) Turn the tomatoes cut-side up and sprinkle with garlic, bacon, balsamic vinegar and the onion. Bake for 40 minutes.

On a piece of lightly floured parchment paper, roll out the dough. Transfer to a 27-cm (10-inch) pie pan (I do this by taking parchment and dough to the pan, inverting the whole thing and letting the dough rest on the edges of the pie pan, and peeling off the parchment paper) and chill until the tomatoes are done in the oven, then cover with tin foil and weigh down with beans. Bake, still at 175°C/350°F, for about 30 minutes, remove the tin foil and bake until the shell is pale golden. Mix together crème fraîche, mustard and cheese and spread over the bottom of the shell. Arrange the tomatoes in the pan (in flat layers, not just tossed around) and bake for half an hour.


Shaun said...

Deinin - This tart looks absolutely delicious. The tomatoes are cooked down well and look full of flavour. I, too, cannot help myself when it comes to tarts; they always mysteriously find themselves in my mouth before I have even thought about having second or third helpings. I may have to wait until Summer to make it with cherry tomatoes - right now it is Autumn.

Peabody said...

Well, I'm in...anything with bacon and I am there.

Astrid said...

This looks so delicious.

On another note I would love to hear more about or see your lampshade/lightbox! I had a suspicion that superior photos such as yours use more than ambiant lighting, but don't have enough knowledge to create my own light box.

joey said...

This does look very very good and I don't blame you at all for eating your (photo) subject! :) And with bacon to boot...that is always the deal-maker for me...

I second Astrid, please share lamp-shade lightbox wisdom :) Your pictures are always fantastic!

Brilynn said...

I've definitely succombed to the temptation of devouring whatever it is I'm trying to photograph, especially when it looks this good!

Monkey Wrangler said...

It made it a few days? That must be some vacation home to keep you occupied enough! Kudos for the no running water cleanup and lack of kitchen ammenties.

I've been thinking of doing a post round-up sometime of dishes cooked while camping/vacationing/hiking.....out of your normal culinary confines. This post makes me suspect an interest?

Fantastic pics. If I hadn't just made an all butter crust for a quiche that I ate 1/2 of yesterday.......I'd be making this now.

deinin said...

Shaun - it's midwinter here, and I can't believe how often we're shelling out for the insanely expensive hothouse tomatoes (sometimes they even smell like actual tomato!) these days. I guess we're ready for winter to be over already.

Peabody - too right! I'm a sucker for anything with bacon.

Astrid and Joey - well, I was probably exaggerating a bit in calling it a lightbox, since I don't use any actual lightbulbs. But I set up white canvas-type things (one of which is, or was made to be, a lampshade) to bounce back the natural light from the window. However, this looks like a thorough-enough explanation of how to go about it. I would probably need to make it collapsible - the cats would have it destroyed in a matter of minutes (plus, imagine how much space it would take up!).

Brilynn, I think I'm developing some sort of Pavlovian reflex by which when I grab the camera, I immediately start drooling. Snapping cat pictures made me ravenous this week. This is somewhat alarming.

Monkey Wrangler, sure! I'm not really good at adjusting to circumstances, and when I'm at the cottage with my family, they will almost actively discourage me from cooking since I make such an awful mess... As for the tart, I did have one cheeky cat demanding to be taken out for walks (he's not allowed to run free) every five minutes. Also a lot of other food to eat.

Libitina said...

My friend and I made this tart over the weekend. We used a packaged pie crust, and we added slightly more bacon - but it was incredibly tasty. I shall definitely be making this again. Thank you.

Health News said...

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