Despite the fierce winds and lashing rain brought by the fringes of super storm Sandy to Toronto, we are keeping safe and thinking of all our friends in the northeastern U.S. We, here, are just merely hit by the edge of the storm system, but we are already feeling its menacing effects! This is the time I like to sit down to my “end-of-the-world” thoughts (note the quotation marks – I feel like being a tad dramatic).
If it were my last day on earth, what meal would I choose to feast on? This is a tough one. I think I will definitely go with a Filipino-style grilled pork belly that we call liempo. Or this pork baby back ribs that I blogged about. Or my favourite Korean-style BBQ beef ribs known as kalbi or galbi. For dessert, a simple chocolate pot de crème with milk crumble and maybe some blackberry financiers!
Of course, I won’t forget this savoury tart – it’s definitely part of my end-of-the-world feast! I previously made another version, with Swiss chard, pear, and Comté cheese, and I became utterly, madly, deeply in love with it! I hope you’ll like this version, too, with the sweetest cherry tomatoes, caramelized onions, Gruyère cheese, and a gluten-free crust made with tapioca, brown rice, sorghum, and glutinous rice flours (but it tastes like the regular wheat one)!
Since a dish like this has the power to transport me back to certain places and times in my life, I’ve decided to evoke a very French Provençal spirit and apply it to these tarts. Tomatoes (very French) – check. Caramelized sweet onions (very French) – check. Herbes de Provence (very French Provençal) – check. Gruyère cheese (ooh, Swiss, but who cares!) – check.
Let’s talk a bit about herbes de Provence. It’s typically a dried mix of whatever herbs or spices that are seasonal and abundant in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. Mine has savory, marjoram, thyme, basil, and fennel (both seeds and pollen). Traditionally, this herb mix also includes lavender, but I opted out this time (la famille is not very fond of this). I ground them all in a spice grinder and added it to the custard-like filling of my tarts!
With each bite, it felt like I was back in the South of France on a market day! Antiques and brocantes on a Sunday in l’Isle sur la Sorgue. The daily (except Mondays) marché aux poissons (fish market) in Nice. The thrice-weekly marché aux fleurs (flower market) in Aix en Provence. The second largest marché Provençal (second only to Carpentras) on Tuesdays in Vaison la Romaine. The Friday morning marché aux truffes (truffle market) from November to March in Carpentras.
And so, I imagined sitting down for lunch at an outdoor café, the brim of my hat pulled down low to shield me from the hot sun, contemplating what I’ll be having for dinner that night. La vie est belle!
Tell me, if it were your last day on earth, what meal would you choose to feast on?
- ~~ For the pastry crust* ~~
- ½ cup (70 g) tapioca flour + more for dusting
- ¾ cup (105 g) white or brown rice flour
- ¼ cup (30 g) sorghum flour
- ½ cup (60 g) cornstarch
- ¼ cup (30 g) glutinous rice flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1½ teaspoons guar gum
- 1½ sticks (165 g) cold or frozen butter, diced into ½" pieces
- 2 large eggs, cold
- ~~ For the filling ~~
- 2 pints (about 30 to 36 pieces) cherry tomatoes
- 2 white onions, cut in wedges or crescent-shape
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence (savory, marjoram, thyme, basil, fennel seeds and pollen)
- 1 tablespoon glutinous rice flour
- ¼ cup (60 ml) whole milk
- ¼ cup (60 ml) cream
- 1½ cups (45 g) Gruyère cheese, finely shredded
- sea salt to taste
- fennel flowers for garnish
- To make the pastry crust, add the first eight ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse five times. Add the cold butter and pulse ten times until the mixture resembles very coarse sand.
- Add the two eggs and pulse until dough comes together to form a loose ball.
- Turn the dough in a floured work surface. Knead it a couple of times and divide the dough into three disks, if making 6" tarts. If making 9" or up to a 12" tart, divide the dough into two disks. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 F (190 C). Take dough out of the refrigerator and unwrap the plastic. Roll it out on the plastic wrap to about ¼-inch thick, making sure it's about a couple of inches in diameter larger than your tart pan.
- Using the plastic as an aid, lift your dough and invert gently on a tart pan with removable bottom. Roll your pin on top to cut out excess dough. Remove plastic and excess dough. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
- Blind bake by covering with parchment and pie weights (use ceramic ones or dry beans). Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool. The tarts can be made up to 2 days in advanced. If not yet using, store in refrigerator covered loosely with aluminum foil.
- To make the filling, preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Line a baking sheet or roasting pan with aluminum foil. Place the cherry tomatoes on the prepared pan, drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, and roast until slightly tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, heat pan with olive oil over medium. Sauté the onions until tender and slightly browned on the edges, about 4 to 5 minutes.
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, herbes de Provence, glutinous rice flour, milk, cream, half the amount of Gruyère cheese, and about ½ teaspoon salt.
- Fill the tart crust with the cherry tomatoes and onions. Pour the custard over it and top with remaining Gruyère cheese.
- If desired, protect the edge of your crust by wrapping around it a pie crust protector or make your own with a thin sliver of aluminum foil.
- Bake at same temperature, 375 F (190 C), about 20 to 25 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and golden. Let it cool slightly before cutting. Garnish with fennel flowers.