I was talking to a friend the other day and she was relating to me her single girl dating angst; she’s seeing two different guys. One was “hot, but a project”, and the other was “cute, but not self assured enough.” In other words, he was the dreaded “too nice” guy.
Considering she had just broken up with a long term project, I told her she should listen to her instincts and run as fast as possible in the other direction from Mr. Project. After all, how well had the last one worked out? As for “Mr. Too Nice Guy” she needs to listen to her instincts there as well; if she likes him, great, but if there’s no chemistry, you can’t force it.
Sometimes cooking is like that for me. I know better, but I’m doomed to make the same mistakes over and over. I need to learn to listen to my instincts. When I don’t listen, when I follow a recipe to the letter, and a little nagging voice in my head says, “umm…no, I don’t think that’s going to work…” I always regret it. It’s certainly not the first time it’s happened, so why don’t I learn?
I knew I wanted to do something with fresh beets and goat cheese and planned to make a tart. I decided to use puff pastry but then, as I was assembling it (free form, not in a tart pan) that little voice said, “this isn’t going to be substantial enough” because it just had the vegetables and cheese. Sure enough, it was pretty, but when I picked it up, it fell apart. It was missing something (like Mr. Too Nice Guy).
After that, I decided to turn it into a true savory tart with eggs and a stronger crust. I wanted to try a new method for pie dough but as I was doing it, the voice said, “there’s too much water in this.” Yep. It came out a sticky mess (like Mr. Project). Why don’t I just listen to myself?
Fortunately, the final version came out just the way I wanted; a light, flaky crust with some substance in the middle.
My Mr. Perfect and I enjoyed our dinner with a salad and a good bottle of wine and lived happily ever after.
Beet, Leek and Goat Cheese Tart
1 pie dough/tart shell- (par baked, see below for how to make basic pie dough)
1 ea roasted beet (about 8 oz-see below)
2 oz crumbled goat cheese
2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1 large leek, sliced and cleaned (cooked about 1 cup)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1.5 oz 1/2 & 1/2 (or milk)
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp fresh herbs, chopped (I used parsley, basil and thyme)
To cook the beets: Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Wrap the fresh, cleaned beets in a foil package tightly and roast in the oven for about an hour. The beets are done when they can be easily pierced with a fork. Do not cut the beets first or all the juice will run out when they cook. When done, and cool enough to handle, the beet skin should easily slip off. Hint; wear latex gloves unless you want your hands to be “beet red.” Cut the beets into 1/2 lengthwise and then slice into half rounds.
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Make the pie dough and par-bake the shell (see instructions below). Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Leave the oven at 375 if you are going to finish making the tart now.
Clean the leeks. Leeks can have a lot of mud and dirt on them (see photo above). Cut off most of green part of leek and slice in half. Slice thinly, crosswise. Put in a colander and rinse well with cold water. Make sure to get all the dirt off.
Heat a large saute pan and add the olive oil. Add the leeks and saute until soft.
Heat a small saute pan to medium and add the pine nuts. Keep them moving until they are toasted (about 2 minutes). Remove from hot pan so they stop cooking.
Spread the cooked leeks over the bottom of the par-cooked tart. Lay out the sliced cooked beets on top of the leeks. Top with crumbled goat cheese and toasted pine nuts.
Scramble the eggs with the 1/2 & 1/2 and salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and cheese in the tart pan. Sprinkle the chopped herbs on top.
Bake at 375 for 25 min or until eggs are set.
Basic Pie Dough (makes one 10″ tart pan) 1 3/4 cups flour (about 8 oz wt.)
1.5 sticks unsalted butter (6 oz wt.) cut into small pieces
5 Tbsp ice water
Directions for making in food processor:
Fit bowl with metal blade. Add flour, butter and salt to bowl. Put on the lid and process in short bursts, about 10 times to break up the butter into the flour. With the processor on, quickly pulsing, add the water through the tube in the lid into the bowl until the mixture looks like oatmeal. Remove and form into a small cake.
If you don’t have a food processor and want to make it by hand, that works too. Just follow the same steps you would for pie dough; cut the butter into the flour, working it through by hand until it becomes like coarse meal or breadcrumbs. Mix in the water with a fork until it’s incorporated and the dough comes together in a soft ball.
Refrigerate the dough for half an hour and then roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Once it is rolled out, put it in the pan and pressed the dough into the edges, pulling off any excess.
The shell needs to be partially baked before adding the filling. To keep the center of the crust from puffing up and cracking during baking, you’ll want to weigh it down. Cut a piece of parchment paper or foil to fit the bottom of the tart pan. Tip; fold a square in 1/2 and then 1/2 again to make a smaller square. Cut from edge to edge in a semi-circle equal to 1/2 the diameter of your pan. Unfold and voila! You have a perfect circle to fit. See my post on Sweet Tart Dough for photos on how to do this.
Pierce the bottom of the dough with a fork and put the paper on top.
Weigh down with pie weights or beans.
Bake for about 12 minutes or until the curst begins to set. Don’t let it get too brown because it’s going to keep cooking later. Remove from oven, and carefully remove the paper and beans. Add the filling (see above) and finish baking.
Notes; To save some time you can use a pre-made pie dough. Pillsbury makes a decent one. Trader Joe’s sells cooked fresh beets, vacuum sealed in the produce section.
Quite a bit of this dish can be done a day in advance. The pie dough can be made in advance. The beets and leeks can be cooked the day before. The pine nuts can be toasted the day before and once cooled, placed in a dry, sealed container or plastic bag.