…and that means there are certainly changes happening in the kitchen. It was a long summer and for those of us in southern California, September and the beginning of October were even hotter than the earlier months. I continued cooking with corn, zucchini and peppers and visiting my garden daily for luscious, ripe tomatoes. Even thought the calendar said “fall” my menus were still screaming “summer”.
Then all at once there a noticeable change in the air. Leaving the house in the morning I grabbed a jacket. Returning at the end of the day and heading into the garden to load up my tomato picking basket, I noticed that they were only a few tomatoes left and I no longer needed a basket! Then the unthinkable happened-I had to purchase a tomato at the market-something I haven’t done since June!
Well, I thought I would get a few heirlooms at this weekends farmers’ market, but as I searched the stalls I noticed that they had disappeared. In their place were piles of butternut and acorn squash. Chard, kale and cabbage replaced the summer favorites. All at once I was excited and ready to let go if the summer kitchen and move on to comfort food.
Inspired by a recipe from the great book Sunday Suppers At Lucques by Suzanne Goin, I prepared this Alsatian type tart as a starter for our weekend dinner with great friends. In between lots of laughs we managed to devour this tasty fall starter.
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
2 large eggs
1/4 pound thick cut applewood smoked bacon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup whole milk ricotta, drained if wet
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Defrost the puff pastry slightly and unroll it onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Use a paring knife to score a 1/4″ border around the edge of the pastry. Make an egg wash with 1 egg yolk and 1/2 teaspoon water and brush along the border. Return the pastry to the freezer until you are ready to assemble.
Slice the bacon into 3/8″ rectangles. Heat a saute pan over high heat for 2 minutes and then add 1 tablespoon olive oil and allow to heat for another minute. Add the bacon and turn the heat to medium-high and saute for 4 to 5 minutes, until slightly crisp, but still tender. Add the onions, thyme and salt, lower the heat to medium-low and saute for about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove to a plate to cool.
Mix the ricotta in a bowl with egg yolk, 1 tablespoon olive oil and pulse in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and gently fold in the creme fraiche and season with 1/8 teaspoon salt and a pinch of pepper.
Spread the ricotta mixture onto the puff pastry within the border. Top with the grated gruyere cheese and arrange the bacon-onion mixture over the top. You can prepare the tart up to this point earlier in the day and place in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake.
Bake the tart for 25 minutes, rotating the sheet once, until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is golden brown. Lift up the edge to make sure that the crust is cooked through, or else it will be soggy.
Cut into squares and enjoy! Serves: 6
This tart comes from the Alsace Lorraine region of France which over the years has been part of both Germany and France. Be it French or German, it’s delicious and your guests will be wowed!