Monday, September 29, 2008

Savory Goat Cheese and Leek Tart and Fried Green Tomatoes

It’s been a wet and dreary early fall here in New England, which kind of dictated this unusual but in the end, wonderful meal.
We were supposed to go camping but the weather made that an impossibility. The only upside is that this weather is that it makes me want to cook, specifically something savory and fall-like, and a chance conversation with a friend about the fate of our tomato plants in this terrible weather led me to find a recipe for fried green tomatoes at Southern Living magazine. Paired with this tart I’ve been meaning to make from Local Flavors I had a great meal for a rainy Saturday night.
There are many other recipes online for fried green tomatoes, many of them with fewer ingredients. But this one is from Southern Living, first of all, and the additions are all things like buttermilk and cornmeal, second of all -- so it seemed worth the extra effort, to me. The next day I noticed that I’m not the only Boston-ite who was interested in this southern staple -- the folks at the Boston Globe had the same idea, so you can find a another recipe here. Theirs turns the tomatoes into little mozzarella sandwiches which I just might have to try.
The tart came together with surprising ease. I didn’t make my own crust since we had a frozen rolled one already, but your favorite simple pie crust would do nicely. Since my husband was unable to find crème fraîche at the store I substituted heavy cream. I was worried about the tart setting but there’s such a high leak/other stuff ratio it wasn’t a problem at all -- it’s different than a quiche, the vegetables really do hold the dish together. I had no fresh thyme so put some dried on top instead. While the tart is best served piping hot my husband is planning on taking cool leftovers to work and I think it will be a wonderful and different lunch.
I’ve never made fried green tomatoes before but I’ve enjoyed them at restaurants, most recently at the sorely missed Magnolia’s here in Inman Square. Mine were not nearly as pretty as some of the ones you can get elsewhere but they are easy to make and absolutely delicious. And what a great use for end of season tomatoes that won’t go red before the first frost. We ate them with a little hot sauce but I was thinking that some horseradish mayo would have been amazing as well.

Savory Goat Cheese Tart with Leeks
1 9-inch prebaked tart shell
6 slender leeks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 ounces goat cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup crème fraîche (or heavy cream)
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper
white pepper
2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves (or one teaspoon dried)

1. Preheat the oven to 400.
2. Slice the leeks into thin circles and then rinse them thoroughly in water. Meanwhile, elt the butter in a skillet. Add the leeks and cook over medium heat until they are tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Beat the goat cheese and the egg in a mixer until blended. Add the milk, creme fraiche or cream, a pinch of salt and a pinch of white pepper. Put the leeks into the pie shell and then pour the custard over them, mixing a bit with a spoon or spatula so they are evenly distributed. Put the thyme on top of the part and bake for 30 minutes.

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