17 April 2013

Heavenly Caramelized Garlic and Goats Cheese Tart

If you do not already own an Ottolenghi cookbook - buy one today, any of them, all of them, it doesn't matter so long as you have one to inspire your own cooking. They are filled with recipe after recipe that you just want to make, each one such a perfect pairing of flavours and textures you wonder why you aren't eating them right now. If I am stressed I like to go to a foreign supermarket where I am so quickly distracted by the unknown ingredients with their exotic possibilities I relax immediately. If I am exhausted I have a hot bath and either read the New Scientist starting with the "feedback" page, or flick through a cookbook, not really reading recipes but absorbing the pictures and letting ingredients lodge themselves in my psyche. Recently I was  neck deep in hot water, holding Ottolenghi's "Plenty" aloft so as not to turn it into a soggy mess and this recipe caught my attention - caramelized garlic, soft goats cheese AND mature goats cheese in a flaky pastry shell, I was instantly relaxed... to the point of drooling.

The original recipe says it feeds 8... it is rich but the two of us still managed to eat 3/4 in one sitting so I would realistically say serves 4 - 6 for lunch (or 2 little piggies with a slice left over). I have made very few modifications to Ottolenghi's filling because it really doesn't need it. I made a shortcrust pastry cut with thyme instead of puff pastry, added pine nuts before baking, and an extra egg yolk (as I used the egg white to seal my pastry while blind baking and didn't want to waste it)... if you use puff pastry don't worry about the extra yolk in the filling. The other thing I added was a zesty, pomegranate molasses dressed spicy/peppery radicchio to the top of the tart which completely cuts and compliments the rich filling, you could also serve it with a tart vinaigrette side salad. 

If you made confit garlic this would work really well too - just put a little in a saucepan with a tablespoon of the garlicky oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, some herbs, a tiny bit of water and a large pinch of sugar on a medium heat, shaking the pan a little until the liquid thickens to a caramel - it shouldn't take long (confit garlic cloves are super soft so try to combine by shaking the pan instead of stirring or they won't hold their shape - if they don't hold their shape it doesn't matter, they will still taste fantastic and will be covered by other tart ingredients anyway).


Shortcrust Pastry **or use Puff pastry:
1 cup (150 g) sifted plain flour
pinch salt
1/4 cup (60 g) unsalted butter, cut into 1 cm cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 - 4 tablespoons cold water
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 egg white, beaten

3 heads of garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
220 ml water
1/4 tablespoon caster sugar
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
150 grams soft goats cheese
120 grams firm mature goats cheese, grated
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
100 ml pure cream
100 ml crème fraîche
salt and cracked pepper
70 g pine nuts

Dressed Radicchio:
150 grams (or more) radicchio
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
good splash of lemon juice

You will also need: a 28 cm tart tin; a rolling pin and a pastry brush


For the pastry: Preheat the oven to 180 C

Sift flour and salt into a large glass bowl and add cubes of butter and olive oil. Lightly rub to combine until it resembles coarse meal. Add the cold water and chopped thyme and stir quickly with a fork or pastry blender/ cutter. Press the damp clumps together to form a ball, turn out onto a lightly floured surface then using the heel of your hand smear the pastry across the surface. Form into a ball again and refrigerate for 30 minutes - 1 hour to rest. Roll onto a lightly floured surface into a large circle to fit your tart pan with a little over as it will shrink while baking.

Fold over your rolling pin and transfer to your tart tin, pressing firmly into the edges, trim around the edges leaving at least 1 cm over the height of the tin as it will shrink. Place in the fridge for a further 20 minutes.

Start the filling before blind baking the tart shell.

For the filling: Put the garlic cloves in a small saucepan and cover with water, bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes, drain well. Dry the saucepan and return the garlic to it along with the olive oil, fry on a medium high heat for 2 minutes, add the vinegar and 220 ml of water and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, rosemary, thyme and a pinch of salt continue simmering until the liquid has evaporated and the garlic is soft in a dark caramel syrup (10 - 15 minutes). 

Blind bake the pastry shell: Line with aluminium foil and fill with baking weights or dried beans, bake at 180 C for 15 minutes, then remove the foil and weights. Lightly brush with the egg white and cook for a further 7 minutes to seal the tart. If any of your pastry is still hanging over the edge you can break it off now.

Remove the pastry shell from the oven and scatter evenly with the grated mature goats cheese and broken chunks of soft goats cheese, spoon over the garlic cloves and drizzle with the syrup. 

Combine the eggs, cream and crème fraîche in a container and whisk until smooth; pour over the tart filling then top with salt, cracked pepper and pine nuts.

Reduce oven temperature to 160 C and bake for 35 - 45 minutes, or until the tart is set and the top is turning golden. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Dress the radicchio by combining with lemon zest, juice, pomegranate molasses and olive oil. 

Once the tart has cooled to just above room temperature, pile with the dressed radicchio and serve.

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