Saturday, August 30, 2008

Potato and Parmesan Tart with Chives

Potato and Parmesan Tart

Potato and Parmesan Tart

Cookbook photos can be dangerous.

I looked at the beautifully photographed potato tart in Tarts: Sweet and Savory and decided I had to make it immediately. I don't think i'm the only one who's aesthetically drawn to recipes. If the photo is pretty enough, I will empty my wallet for special pans or ingredients. I will make a potato tart even though I rarely eat potatoes. Or savory tarts. Or anything that's really heavy on dairy.

Baking on impulse can be successful or unsuccessful. For a while, I thought this tart would be wildly unsuccessful. Part of the problem was my friend Siobhan gave me a casserole dish that looked just like the one in the photo. While the recipe said any 1 quart capacity dish would work, my dish was too small. I had so much filling leftover that I layered it in a separate souffle dish.

The crust created another set of problems. I've blind-baked tarts lined with commercial grade plastic-wrap before; the plastic becomes brittle, but it doesn't lost its shape or affect the taste. Trying this trick with normal plastic wrap was a disaster. The plastic shrunk excessively, and I spent a while picking little bits of it out of the pan. It was frustrating. I had invited two people over for dinner, and I was convinced we'd be stuck with nothing but Caesar Salad.

When I pulled the tart from the oven it looked perfect. Not quite picture-perfect, but certainly close. It warm, comforting, and well-seasoned. The crust was especially flaky and well browned, even on the bottom. I was especially proud because I haven't hand-made tart dough in a long time (usually I use the food processor.)

If you have any interest in trying this recipe, definitely use an 8-inch springform pan. And try not to be so hard on yourself if things start going wrong!

Potato and Parmesan Tart with Chives
adapted from Maxine Clark's Tarts: Sweet and Savory

1 recipe rich shortcrust pastry dough
2 lb new or white potatoes, thinly sliced
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup freshly chopped chives
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
4 oz freshly grated parmesan cheese (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 large egg, beaten
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a deep, 8 inch diameter springform tart pan

Bring the dough to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 400F.

Roll out the dough thinly on a lightly floured work surface. Use the dough to line the pan or dish (this can be a little tricky, so be patient and take your time) then prick the base. Chill or freeze for 15 minutes, then blind bake (lined with foil or parchment filled with pie weights or dried beans) for 10-12 minutes. Remove the weights and bake for another 5-7 minutes. If you are worried about the crust becoming soggy, you can brush it with beaten egg and bake again for another 5-10 minutes, until shiny and dried.

Turn down the oven to 325F. Reserve 1/4 cup of the Parmesan. Layer the sliced potatoes and butter in the baked pie crust, seasoning the layers with chives salt, pepper, nutmeg, and 1 cup of the parmesan.

Put the egg and cream into a bowl, beat well, then pour over the potatoes. Sprinkle the remaining parmesan over the top. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the top is a dark golden brown.

Let cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan or dish, or serve straight from the dish.

Rich Shortcrust Pastry Dough
2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
9 tsbp unsalted butter, chilled and diced
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp ice water

Sift the flour and salt together into a bowl, then rub in the butter

Mix the egg yolks with the ice water. Add to the flour, mixing lightly with a knife. If it is still too dry, add a little more water 1 tbsp at a time.

Invert the mixture onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead lightly with your hands until smooth.

Form the dough into a ball. Flatten slightly an chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.


Rebecca said...

Wow, this looks delicious. I won't buy a cookbook without gorgeous photos. It's a trust issue. ;)

Aran said...

oh yes!!

Snooky doodle said...

these look so mediterranean and yummy. :-)

Jo. said...

I have got such tart for ages and I have already forgotten how wonderfully it tastes. Thanks for reminding me about this tart.