I made a leek tart! From scratch! I’m so proud of me.
I used the recipe in the Joy of Cooking. I also used Joy’s recipe for a deluxe pastry crust, but halved it. It’s mostly butter with a wee bit of shortening. I didn’t use the food processor, rather a pastry blender, a silicone spatula and my trusty Pyrex mixing bowl. Once the dough came together, I formed it into a ball, wrapped it in plastic and put it in the refrigerator.
The next step was cleaning and cutting the leeks. I forgot what a bitch this was. I hadn’t worked with that many leeks since I made vichyssoise – at least four years ago. J. Christ, if that didn’t take forever! Once they were cleaned and cut to the appropriate size, I sweated them in butter for a half hour.
In the meantime, I mixed the half and half, eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper. I also rolled out my dough into the tart pan. Well, I attempted to, really. This part was fun because I forgot to flour my surface and it stuck to the wax paper. I also learned I haven’t a clue how to roll a ball of dough into a circle. Not even Dali could have called my, uh, form a circle. I stuck the whole mess in the freezer and was finally able to get it in the pan after a few minutes. It wasn’t pretty, though. I had too much on one side and not enough on the other. I trimmed and patched and patted until it was even. Well, as even as it was ever going to get. Since I had manipulated the dough so much and since it contained a fair amount of butter, I put it back in the freezer for another few minutes.
When the leeks were done, I added them to the egg mixture and poured the concoction into the tart pan. Into a 400 degree oven it went for twenty-five minutes.
The result? Not bad! It was rather leek-y. The recipe called for 2.5 lb of leeks but because I bought them from the (scale-less) farmers’ market and don’t possess a kitchen scale, I just used all the leeks I had – about eight. Also, my crust was a bit salty. The dough recipe called for unsalted butter, of which I have none, so I used salted butter. I also forgot to cut back on the amount of salt for which the recipe called. It had the right texture, though, and was quite flaky. Aesthetically, it was very pleasing. I used a tart pan with a removable bottom and a scalloped edge so the tart presented very well. The leeks varied in color from white to emerald, which made for a beautiful green mosaic.
All and all it was a pleasant experience. I think I’ve learned from my mistakes and plan to make another tart this weekend. It won’t be a leek tart, however, because I need not clean leeks again for another few years, at least! I’m thinking an apple tart as I saw one of the stands at the farmers’ market had them last week.