The Bandwagon

If you scanned through all the recipes on this blog, paying particular attention to the recipes adapted from various sources (which is most of them), you’d quickly notice that most of them are from magazines. Occasionally, you’ll find one from a website, such as someone’s blog, and you’ll also come across a few from cookbooks.

You see, I get really into my magazines and recipe clippings. They’re easily portable and perusable, and I often use said clippings to figure out what I’m cooking in the week ahead – I grab my stack of clippings, pull out a few for the week, and that’s that. Going through cookbooks seems a bit cumbersome, and the blog recipes I have bookmarked just sit there on my computer as, well, bookmarks.

But every once and a while, I get really really focused on a good cookbook. I become that girl, sitting on the bus reading recipes, staring at pictures of food, and dog-earing page after page. Meanwhile, every one else on the bus is either sleeping, yelling loudly into their cell phones, or eating cheesy hot fries (that’s not a joke, people; the bus-riders love their cheesy hot fries). Recently, this cookbook fixation has happened exactly twice.

One of them, the source of these cutie-patuty tarts you see here, is Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain. The other, I’ll get to later, as it’s chock full of meat that I promised myself I wouldn’t eat this month (because I have a few loose screws, I’ve decided). And it’s a HUGE book that I lugged around town, clutching it closely to my chest like a loveletter from my first boyfriend. I promise, later.

This one though, I’ve managed to read through every last page. I started bookmarking recipes, and I quickly realized it wasn’t necessary, as I’d tagged almost every page, every recipe. The 75 recipes, primarily of the dessert/baking genre, are sorted by grain – with chapters devoted to buckwheat, whole wheat, quinoa, rye, even corn and 7 others. Each chapter of recipes is preceded by a thorough, but fascinating, description of the flour, the origin, the taste, the affinities to other flours and foods. It is educational, but intriguing. Thorough, but concise. And  innovative, but totally approachable.

And by now, if you read as many food blogs as I do, you might even be a little bit tired of hearing about this treasure of a book. So with that, I’ll stop – and finish by saying that this is actually the 4th recipe I’ve made from Good to the Grain. Why haven’t I waxed poetic about it after having it atop my fridge (or rather, on my nightstand) for the last 2 months? A simple answer – I actually forgot to take pictures of two of them, and the other will be posted in good time.

These little rhubarb tarts more or less forced themselves upon me, primarily because it’s the cover recipe that glares at me from my nightstand, and because following our first farmers’ market trip, my countertop became a holding place (by holding place, I mean they sat there for exactly 1 hour, if that) for two beautiful bunches of rhubarb. Plus, I couldn’t head over to dinner with friends without bringing something, right? So, here we are.

As one of those friends happened to be Jon, I also needed to make this recipe gluten- and dairy-free. I made both recipes (“his” and “ours”), comparing taste and textures and I must say that, probably thanks to the corn flour and cornmeal, they were eerily similar. In fact, by looks alone, Jennifer incorrectly picked the gf tart – and for those of you cooking gluten-free on a regular basis, you know that many gf dessert recipes are easy to spot when sitting right beside their non gf counterparts.

In fact, the two finished products here are one of each – can you tell which is which?

Don’t you just love rhubarb too? Try this rhubarb crisp if you need something a little simpler. Got any other rhubarb recipes? Share below!

Rustic Rhubarb Tarts
Adapted from Good to the Grain; makes 10 tarts

printable version

ingredients
compote
2 lbs rhubarb
1 1/4 c brown sugar
1 T dried hibiscus leaves (optional; can also try vanilla, ginger, etc)

dry mix
1 c corn flour
1 c all purpose flour
1/2 c fine cornmeal
1/4 c + 2 T sugar
1 t kosher salt

wet mix
4 oz cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1/4 c + 2 T half & half
2 egg yolks

special ingredients: cheesecloth or tea ball, if using hibiscus; preferably a stand mixer or food processor, although dough can be made by hand or with a pastry cutter, if needed (as long as there is available elbow grease…).

instructions
make compote. rinse rhubarb and trim ends. cut into 3/4-inch chunks. dump 1/2 of rhubarb into bottom of heavy pot. place hibiscus leaves into tea ball or cheesecloth, and add with brown sugar to rhubarb. stir, cover, and turn heat to med-low. cook 15 minutes, covered. remove cover and increase heat to medium; cook 15-17 minutes until rhubarb is broken down. add remaining half of rhubarb to mix and stir to combine. remove hibiscus and pour compote onto large baking sheet to cool. makes ~ 3 cups (will have leftover that’s great on toast!).

to make tarts, combine dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer; whisk together. with stand mixer with paddle attachment, add butter and turn mixer to low to incorporate. turn to medium and mix until mixture resembles cornmeal. add half & half and egg yolks, mix until combined. dough will be slightly crumbly but sticks together when pressed (like pie dough).

to shape tarts, divide dough into 10 equal pieces. on a lightly floured surface, working with one piece at a time, smash dough with hands into a rough circle, about 5 inches diameter. spoon 3 T of rhubarb compote in center of disc. fold edge of dough toward compote and up, to close tart. continue all the way around (if this doesn’t work well, you can sort of crimp however you want – notice these here are not elegant at all…).

line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (they will be going into your freezer, so if you have a lame freezer like me, you can instead place these on parchment-lined plates). slide spatula or bench scraper underneath and place on baking sheet or plate. freeze for 1 hour, at least (can keep frozen, unbaked, for another couple of weeks if needed, but wrap in plastic or place in freezer bags).

preheat oven to 375 F. transfer tarts to baking sheets (or remove sheets from freezer and place directly in oven). bake for 35 minutes, until edges brown and compote bubbles.

Gluten/Dairy-Free Rustic Rhubarb Tarts
Adapted from Good to the Grain; makes 10 tarts

printable version

ingredients
compote
2 lbs rhubarb
1 1/4 c brown sugar
1 T dried hibiscus leaves (optional; can also try vanilla, ginger, etc)

dry mix
1 c corn flour
1/2 c sweet rice flour
1/4 c sorghum flour
1/4 c potato starch
1/2 c fine cornmeal
1/4 c + 2 T sugar
1 t kosher salt

wet mix
4 oz cold shortening, cut into small chunks
1/4 c + 2 T vanilla hemp milk
2 egg yolks

special ingredients: cheesecloth or tea ball, if using hibiscus; preferably a stand mixer or food processor, although dough can be made by hand or with a pastry cutter, if needed (as long as there is available elbow grease…).

instructions
make compote. rinse rhubarb and trim ends. cut into 3/4-inch chunks. dump 1/2 of rhubarb into bottom of heavy pot. place hibiscus leaves into tea ball or cheesecloth, and add with brown sugar to rhubarb. stir, cover, and turn heat to med-low. cook 15 minutes, covered. remove cover and increase heat to medium; cook 15-17 minutes until rhubarb is broken down. add remaining half of rhubarb to mix and stir to combine. remove hibiscus and pour compote onto large baking sheet to cool. makes ~ 3 cups (will have leftover that’s great on toast!).

to make tarts, combine dry ingredients in bowl of stand mixer; whisk together. with stand mixer with paddle attachment, add shortening and turn mixer to low to incorporate. turn to medium and mix until mixture resembles cornmeal. add hemp milk and egg yolks, mix until combined. dough will be slightly crumbly but sticks together when pressed (like pie dough).

to shape tarts, divide dough into 10 equal pieces. on a lightly floured surface, working with one piece at a time, smash dough with hands into a rough circle, about 5 inches diameter. spoon 3 T of rhubarb compote in center of disc. fold edge of dough toward compote and up, to close tart. continue all the way around (if this doesn’t work well, you can sort of crimp however you want – notice these here are not elegant at all…).

line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (they will be going into your freezer, so if you have a lame freezer like me, you can instead place these on parchment-lined plates). slide spatula or bench scraper underneath and place on baking sheet or plate. freeze for 1 hour, at least (can keep frozen, unbaked, for another couple of weeks if needed, but wrap in plastic or place in freezer bags).

preheat oven to 375 F. transfer tarts to baking sheets (or remove sheets from freezer and place directly in oven). bake for 35 minutes, until edges brown and compote bubbles.

Be Still, My Tart

To think that I used to hate, no – loathe, even dispise tomatoes is a true testament to the ever-evolving tastebuds, and/or my own personal shortcomings. My face used to shrivel up, and my hair would stand on end like a defensive feline any time someone mentioned adding tomatoes to a dish.

Ever so slowly, I came around. First, it was non-chunky tomato sauce, which was a great accomplishment. Then, diced tomatoes in that tomato sauce, which was so much more than a baby step, in my opinion, since I was eating visible pieces of tomato. I must say though, my tomato-liking progression was stagnant at the diced tomatoes in sauce for many a year.

Until I was introduced to heirloom tomatoes, which actually wasn’t until last year. Late last summer I was wandering through Green City Market, excited to finally see those Flamin’ Fury peaches piled high atop the tables at the entryway, welcoming visitors, enticing those leaving with bags void of their juiciness. As usual, I was drawn to the free samples, and in one short moment I detached myself from the taste of those juicy peaches to catch a glimpse of what looked like a sight for sore eyes: a wonky, lumpy, bumpy, and strangely-colored ‘blob’ on the neighbor’s table.

Some were green, some purple even, and others traditional red-orange, but with stripes. After a bit of staring, as we humans often do when things look different, I finally realized the stubbly mounds before me were tomatoes, but special tomatoes. I grabbed a few, stashed them in my reusable bag, and made a bee-line for the exit without even stopping for my fourth or fifth free taste of the Flamin’ peaches.

I don’t even remember what happened to all of those tomatoes. I know a couple made it on to burgers for July 4th and I know some homemade pizza was also in attendance that day, smothered with heirlooms and basil. A later purchase of green zebras ended their journey in my belly battered and fried. The others? I could have eaten them whole, for all I know. A true sign that I was a different person, a complete 180 of my former, tomato-hating self.

I like this version of myself much better, new and improved with tomatoes and ready to face the world.

It’s because of those heirlooms that I have now fully embraced all things tomato, minus eating beefsteak tomatoes raw as my mom used to do (and probably still does). So when I saw this tomato tart recipe in Food and Wine my jaw dropped and I immediately found myself salivating. Unfortunately, I was thousands of miles in the air on the way to Seattle, then New Mexico, and thus at least a week away from any remote opportunity to cook this jewel.

Eventually the stars aligned – I was back home and in need of a first course to pair with bouillabaise for a French-inspired dinner party and although there are many things far Frenchier than this, I was in no position to deny myself this recipe any longer and so I forged ahead. Simple, delicate, and bursting with juicy slow-roasted tomatoes, this tart is a perfect welcoming to a slowly-approaching spring. Worth the wait? You bet, but if I were you I wouldn’t.

What about you – what are you just dying to make for spring?

Whole-Wheat Cherry Tomato Tart
Adapted loosely from Food & Wine, April 2010; serves 8 as appetizer or first course

printable recipe

ingredients
1 c all-purpose flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
pinch of salt
1 t dried Italian seasoning
5 T unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
2 T shortening, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 c 2% milk
2 1/2 pints heirloom cherry tomatoes
2 T fresh basil, cut into chiffonade (thin strips)
1 T evoo

instructions
Spray or butter a 9-inch tart pan. In a food processor, pulse the two flours with a pinch of salt and the Italian seasoning until combined. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the milk and pulse until the dough nearly comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times. Shape into a disc, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until ready for use.

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Roll out the dough to a 14-inch round. Press the round into the tart pan; trim off any excess. With the tines of a fork, pierce the dough softly multiple times, making small holes in the dough. Mound the tomatoes in the shell (they should sort of pile up on one another and be squeezed in together). Brush with olive oil. Bake for about 1 hour and 40 minutes, until the dough is evenly browned. Let cool. Season with salt, garnish with the basil and serve.