Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Feta & Creme Fraiche Tart, and an Improvement update!

I have two things to share with you today:  a new recipe, and an improvement on one that I have previously posted. I am very excited about both, so no more delays!

First, the improvement:

That's right, I made macarons again, but this time, they aren't ugly!!! The difference, and the improvement, this time around is that I didn't have any trouble with the chocolate ganache filling.  I think that the recipe I used last time had too much cream and not enough chocolate, so I remedied that.  Here's what I did:

In a small saucepan, heat 2/3 cup of heavy cream until hot. In a small heatproof bowl, put 8 ounces of chocolate, chopped fine.  When the cream is hot, pour it over the chocolate.  Let that sit for a minute, then stir until it is combined and smooth.  Add 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and stir until melted.  Let it cool until it is the right thickness for piping, then pipe onto the bottoms of the macarons and top with another macaron.

Let me tell you, when these things are right, they are SOOO good.  It is so hard not to just eat the whole bowl of them.  But, if I do that,  I will have one sad hubster on my hands.   So, I have put them out of view until he gets home.

Second, the new recipe!

Feta & Creme Fraiche Tart with Lemony Spinach Salad

Source:  Fine Cooking magazine, Fall 2008

I did not make this recipe the way it is printed, sort of out of necessity.  I will print the real recipe first, and then tell you what I did.  You can decide for yourself which way you want to make it, but do make this.  MAKE IT NOW.  This is so, so, so good, and really easy.  If you make it the way you are supposed to, it would only take about 25 minutes. 

The real recipe:

2 large eggs
1/3 cup creme fraiche or heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus 1/2 cup loosely packed dill sprigs for the salad (optional)
1 teaspoon lightly packed, finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 cup crumbled feta (about 1/4 pound)
4 small handfuls baby spinach, washed and dried
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice; more to taste

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to oven to 450 degrees F.  In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and creme fraiche or cream with the chopped dill, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and about 10 grinds of pepper.

On a lightly floured surface, gently roll out the puff pastry sheet until it measures about 11 x 13 inches.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.  Lay the pastry on the baking sheet, wet the edges with water, and fold over a 3/4-inch border.  Distribute the feta evenly within the border, and then carefully pour the egg mixture of the cheese, taking care that is doesn't slosh onto the border.  Carefully transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake until the border and underside of the pastry is puffed and brown and the filling is golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. 

Slide the tart off the pan and onto a rack to cool slightly. Move the warm tart to a cutting board and cut into four rectangles, so that each piece gets some border.  Put the four pieces on plates.

In a large bowl, toss the spinach and dill sprigs (if using) with the olive oil and lemon juice until evenly coated. Season with salt, pepper and more lemon juice to taste. Arrange a handful of the salad on each piece of tart and serve immediately.

Alright, so that's the real recipe.  I did it differently.  I LOVE puff pastry, but for some odd reason, I couldn't find any when I shopped for this recipe.  I decided that my pie crust is really flaky, so I would just use that instead.  This is the same pie dough that I used for the Pop Tarts, so if you want, it, that's where you can find the recipe. 

Once you have the pie dough rolled out, you can do a couple of things to it: you can either make it a rectangle, and fold the edges over as the original recipe suggests, or you can do what I did and put it in a tart pan.  I didn't think there would be enough filling for a pie pan, and the more shallow tart pan ended up being the right choice. 

I did blind-bake the crust a bit, for about 20 minutes on 425.  After it was baked, I let it cool a few minutes, then followed the rest of the recipe. 

I am really happy with how this came out.  The crust was  flaky and wonderful, and the filling was so good.  I wanted to eat the whole thing.  I think it will be good as leftovers.  One thing I will suggest is that if you aren't going to eat the whole tart right away, don't top the whole thing with spinach, or it will get wilty, and no one wants that. 

And, just because I'm so happy with my pie crust, here's another photo, so you can experience the wonder:

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