Can you keep a secret? I mean really. As in like actually not telling a single soul what I am about to tell you? That’s okay… since starting this blog over a year ago, I’ve accepted that I no longer have any secrets. None. I am stripped of my mystery. But not of leftovers or vegetables, thank goodness. I couldn’t function without them. Vital organs would begin shutting down, I tell you. Which brings me to today’s recipe…
And there they are… the current seats on the board. All subject to change. Like the onion could be replaced with leftover broccoli (I’ve even used broccoli casserole), carrots, zucchini, or other items lingering in single-serving portioned containers lining the shelves of your fridge. The cheese can be sharp cheddar, fontina, castelo branco, gruyère, emmental, beaufort, taleggio, Jarlesberg, edam, or gouda. As long as it is good and flavorful stuff — you may use it in this recipe however you like. Who am I to judge?
Here’s what you’ll need for the filling:
- at least 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 1 lb fresh leeks (or whatever veggie you have on hand)
- 1 cup evaporated milk or heavy cream
- 2 whole eggs, plus one yolk
- a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg or whatever you’ve got in your cabinet
- 1 cup of the cheese of your choice (in this case I used extra sharp smokey cheddar), grated
- 1/4 lb of goat cheese or some other kind of cheese (I used feta in this recipe)
- 3 tablespoons chopped or diced red onion (or chives, carrots, mushrooms, leftovers)
- salt and pepper
First things first: the pastry crust. I am here to tell you that they are not all created equal and some crusts just don’t make the grade. They are stupid. They need to be outsourced. We’re letting them go. (Remember, the awesome thing about blogging is that we don’t have to be fair or politically correct or any of that nonsense.)
You will need:
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 10 tablespoons lard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4-5 tablespoons of ice water
Stir flour and salt together in a bowl and add the lard. Using a pastry blender (or a fork), cut the lard into the flour until it resembles course crumbs. Slowly begin adding the ice water using the pastry blender or a fork to stir and toss until the dough just holds together.
Now wrap it in plastic wrap and shove it in the fridge. You have more important things to worry about for the next 30 minutes. Like digging through your leftovers to throw this baby together.
Pull the dough out of your fridge and roll it out. Don’t mess with the dough very much. Roll it once in each direction and that’s it. I’m serious. The less you mess with crust — the better the final product. Now, fold it into quarters and lay it gently into the pan you intend to use. If you have a tart pan — then good for you. If not, then you and I have a lot in common. Poor thing.
Since I don’t have a wonderful tart pan like every other foodie on planet Earth, I must make do with a pie plate. But who really cares? Seriously. Are you guys really here to criticize my bakeware? I think not.
Anyway, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place a piece of parchment paper in the bottom of the crust and weigh it down with dried beans or pie weights. Who has pie weights? I don’t. I have spied them with my little eye at Sur La Table though. *drool*
Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove the weights and parchment. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork and bake another 5-10 minutes. Let cool on a rack.
Now, chop those leeks after washing all the sand and grit out of them. You don’t HAVE to use leeks but I do. I love leeks. I think that they are the greatest thing since flip-flops.
Now for those charming red onions (or chives or mushrooms or whatevers). They are too charming.
Melt that butter in your skillet (I like a good sized and fairly deep skillet for this project) over med-low heat and add the leeks and onions once the butter foams. Reduce the heat to low and cook slowly. I mean it! Don’t rush the leeks, man. Cook until they are soft and golden and cooing. (Maybe not “cooing”) Season with some salt and pepper.
Heat your oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolk, and evaporated milk. Season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. (Be sure you thrill to the totally retro-looking photo of my hand and the separating of the yolk above. That picture could have rolled right out of the Better Homes & Garden cookbooks from the late seventies, don’t you think?)
Am I insulting your integrity with all of these step-by-step photos? If so, I’m sorry. I don’t do this very often — I promise.
Sprinkle half of the shredded cheese evenly over the bottom of the crust, top with the veggies, and goat cheese. Pour in as much of the egg mixture as will fit 1/2 below the rim. Sprinkle what’s left of the cheese over the top. Or not. Whatever.
Bake for about 25 minutes or when the filling is only slightly jiggly when you shake the pan. Remove the tart from the oven and let it sit for about 10 minutes before removing it from a tart pan or simply diving in with a fork. I also like to make this recipe into mini-tarts. These are fun for kids to eat, too.