by Betty Thompson
Doug Gosling is famous in Sonoma County for his tomato tarts. The garden manager at Farallones Institute, a nonprofit "self-sufficiency" community, grows and markets specialty produce in every color of the rainbow, and his savory tomato pie is a feast for the eye as well as the palate.
But there's no need to travel to Sonoma when we have Fred's Produce bringing delicious rainbow-colored tomatoes every week from Willow Creek to the farmers markets in Arcata and Eureka.
This month's recipes make use of these tomatoes and other fall vegetables prepared in three different pastry containers: a flaky, nut-filled pie crust; a crisp, quick biscuit shell; and a tender yeast-bread tray.
Doug's tart features a nut crust which is baked before it is filled. (It can be made ahead and frozen.) Since pie shells tend to shrink in baking, allow the dough to stand for a few minutes before rolling. Lift the edges and ease the dough into the corners rather than stretching it up to the rim. Building up a rim also helps offset the shrinking. Pricking the dough helps prevent blisters from forming, and using egg in place of water adds structure so that pastry will be sturdy enough to hold the filling.
The Greek pie in a scone shell uses a baking-powder biscuit dough baked on the back of a pie tin. It is filled with a blend of summer squashes, eggplant, tomatoes, onions and peppers and topped with Kalamata olives and pine nuts. A few variations for the dough include: brushing the unbaked shell with slightly beaten egg white and sprinkling with coarsely ground black pepper, sesame or poppy seeds; adding two tablespoons minced fresh mint, oregano or other herbs; adding half a cup grated sharp cheese or two tablespoons grated onion. Note the preparation of the eggplant for the filling. In place of salting and frying, the cubes are simply blanched in boiling water for a few minutes. This is faster and uses less fat than frying. Any favorite combination of cooked vegetables and seasoning could be used to fill this pie. The mixture should be fairly dry so it will cut easily and not make the crust soggy.
The onion tart is made with a yeast crust. Don't let this scare you off. Yeast dough is very forgiving, and in some ways it is easier than pastry. All the ingredients in this crust recipe are mixed together at one time. Take care that the milk is no hotter than body temperature or it may kill the yeast. The dough is topped like a pizza crust with sauteed onions combined with bacon, eggs and sour cream forming a creamy custard.
DOUG'S TOMATO TART
Adapted from Cooking from the Garden by Rosalind Creasy.
11/2 cups flour
1/2 cup toasted almonds, finely ground
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter
1 egg, well beaten
Combine flour, almonds, sugar and salt. Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes and smear each quickly into the flour with thumb and forefinger. Stir egg in with a fork and gather dough into a ball. Press and fold twice. Let rest 10 minutes.
Roll into an 11-inch circle between wax paper. Remove top sheet and invert dough into a 10-inch tart pan. Lift edges of the dough, push into the sides of the pan, using excess dough to build up the edge slightly.
Peel off wax paper and trim dough to the edge of the pan. Prick bottom and sides and chill for one hour.
Bake in a 400° oven for 10 minutes, reduce heat to 375° and bake an additional 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and cool.
Filling: 9-12 medium tomatoes, red, orange, yellow and white (if available)
1/2 cup virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, pressed (or to taste)
1/2 bunch chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or basil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 pound mushrooms, sliced
1/2 sweet red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons grated Swiss cheese
Combine olive oil, garlic, parsley, oregano and pepper into a marinade and place in a flat baking dish or tray. Slice tomatoes into thin rounds and place in marinade. Let stand one hour.
Sauté mushrooms and onions in one tablespoon oil and set aside. Paint crust with mustard. Scatter mushroom and onions over the top. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.
Drain tomato slices and arrange in a layered circular pattern over parmesan. Sprinkle with grated Swiss cheese. Bake in a 375° oven until cheese just melts, (about five minutes). Serve at room temperature.
Variation: Blend softened cream cheese with fresh basil and cream, spread it in the baked pie shell and arrange drained tomato slices over the filling. Glaze the tart lightly with garlic-flavored oil. Do not bake.
GREEK PIE IN A SCONE SHELL
11/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup milk
Combine, flour, baking powder, salt and cut in shortening. Add egg and milk and stir quickly with a fork just to combine.
Fold and press with the hand on a floured board three times. Roll an 11-inch circle and place crust on the back of 9-inch pie pan. Flute edges and prick bottom and sides. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes.
1/2 pound Italian sausage (mild or hot)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2-3 cups, zucchini cut into 1-inch cubes
1 eggplant (2-3 cups) cut into cubes
2 large tomatoes, diced
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup imported olives (Kalamata)
1/4 cup pine nuts
Parboil eggplant for 3 minutes. Remove and drain.
Sauté sausage and remove excess fat. Add green pepper, onion and garlic. Sauté 2-3 minutes and add zucchini, eggplant and tomato. Cook until zucchini is tender and juices are reduced.
Add cinnamon, cumin, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Mixture should be fairly dry. Just before serving, spoon hot filling into baked scone shell. Garnish with olives and pine nuts. Cut into wedges to serve.
ONION TART WITH BACON
Delicious served hot or cold with a favorite salad.
2 1/2 cups flour
1 package yeast
1/2 cup warm milk
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons margarine
Combine all ingredients into a soft dough. Mix thoroughly. Let stand covered while making the filling.
6 large onions cut into thin rings
1/4 pound lean bacon or Canadian bacon, diced
3 eggs, well beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon whole caraway seed (optional)
1 cup sour cream
Fry bacon and remove. Sauté onions in the same pan over medium heat for 20-25 minutes until moisture is evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and cool. Combine eggs, sour cream and caraway and fold into the onion mixture along with the bacon.
Roll out yeast dough and lay in a greased 9-by-13 jelly roll pan. Form a lip edge around the outside. Let rise 15 minutes. Pour in the onion, sour cream mixture. Bake 425° for about 25 minutes.
Betty Thompson has taught cooking locally since 1974.
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