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BLT Tart

Brunch is my absolute favorite meal of the day, and I think Tara will concur. I love to eat sweet and savory at the same time, and with the exception of some Asian cuisines, most of the meals I have sternly progress from savory courses to sweet ones. I’m one of those people who salts their chocolate and eats a handful of salt-and-vinegar potato chips after polishing off a sundae. Which is why brunch is perfect: have some eggs right alongside sausage and a pool of maple syrup. And a spicy bloody Mary.

This tart is a perfect brunch dish, combining eggs, bacon, greens, and starch. The sweetness here comes in the form of a tomato jam, sweetened with brown sugar and balanced with Worcestershire sauce, shallots, and lemon juice. It’s ketchup-like, but thick and rich. And yes, I do eat scrambled eggs with ketchup sometimes.

You can use San Marzano plum tomatoes here, but, if you paid attention, Tara canned some tomatoes last summer and they were all ready for us when it came time to make this tart.

A note on the recipe:  The crust recipe that follows may seem daunting because it is word-heavy, but it is actually easier than it looks. Some patience is required, as there are resting periods following each handling of the crust, but it makes all the difference in the results. Many people I know are terrified of baking, pie and tart dough especially, but practice does make perfect. Try this recipe – adapted from the kitchens at the International Culinary Center – I’ve been using it since my culinary school days and it’s still my go-to for its ease of preparation, easy handling, and constant results.

BLT Tart

BLT Tart

BLT TART

Serves 6

1 blind-baked pie crust, homemade (Recipe follows) or store-bought

8 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut crosswise into thin slices
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes, liquid discarded
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Aleppo pepper
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar or Gruyère cheese
1 ½ cups packed arugula

- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

- Cook bacon in large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp and golden. With a slotted spoon, transfer cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Transfer 3 tablespoons rendered fat to a large saucepan. When cooled, discard the remaining fat or store in an airtight container, refrigerated, for other use (such as frying eggs).

- Heat bacon fat over medium heat until shimmering. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, sugar, Worcestershire, lemon juice, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and ¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, mashing tomatoes and stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are darkened in color and thickened to a jam-like consistency, 15 to 20 minutes. Adjust seasonings as necessary and remove from heat.

- Beat the eggs, cream, and cheddar together in medium bowl. Stir in arugula and bacon. Pour mixture into pie crust, then spoon tomato mixture evenly throughout tart. Bake until egg mixture is set, and wobbles only slightly in the center, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and cool to room temperature, about 20  minutes, prior to serving.

For the Crust
For best results, use a scale to measure out ingredients.

200 grams/7 ounces (about 1 ½ scant cups) all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting work surface
½ teaspoon salt
100 grams/3.5 ounces (about 1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into thin slices and chilled
1 large egg, chilled and beaten
Ice water, as needed

- Combine flour and salt in a medium bowl. Using two dinner knives, cut the butter into the flour until butter is about the size of peas. Alternatively, work the butter into the flour by quickly pressing one piece at a time between thumb and forefinger. Work quickly to avoid melting the butter, which will result in a tough crust.

- Transfer the flour-butter mixture to a clean, dry work surface. Arrange the mixture into a circle, create a well in the middle, and pour in the egg and about 2 teaspoons ice water. Using a bench scraper, quickly cut the wet ingredients into the dry until it turns into a shaggy dough. If dough is very dry, add water, 1 teaspoon at a time.

- With floured hands, bring the dough together. Pinch off 2-inch pieces and drag them on the work surface with your palm to ensure even distribution of butter. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc about 2 inches thick, then wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

- Clean and dry the work surface, then dust with flour. Roll out the dough with a floured rolling pin, working from the center of the dough to the edges, into a 10-inch circle. Gently fold the dough and transfer to a 9-inch pie pan or tart pan with removable bottom. Press the dough into the pan, then dock (or prick) with a fork. Crimp the edges or trim off excess. Freeze for 20 minutes.

- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line chilled dough with crumpled parchment paper, allowing some excess to hang over edges. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 8 minutes, then, remove the parchment and weights and continue blind baking for about 5 minutes or until the dough looks dry and opaque but not beginning to brown. Transfer tart to cooling rack and reduce oven temperature to 350°F.


On mornings when we’re not making a mad dash to head out the door to work, real breakfast, rather than the perfunctory, unevenly buttered piece of toast and only half-drunk cup of coffee, is in order. Fluffy biscuits and scrambled eggs, crisp waffles drenched in syrup, savory sausage links and a stack of pancakes…or today’s specials: egg-in-a-hole and Dutch Baby.

The egg-in-a-hole is a simple construction: trim out a round from a slice of bread, gently crack an egg into it, and cook in plenty of butter until the bread is golden brown and the egg has set. We used a thick piece of buttery brioche loaf and opted for a duck egg; its large sunny yolk is velvety and rich and perfect for dunking that round brioche bit into.

The big showstopper in this post and at any breakfast is the Dutch Baby, an oven-baked pancake that’s all crisp mounds and burnished ridges. If you’ve never made one, do stay close to the oven and flip the light on so you can see the batter heave and huff in a scorching hot skillet and go from liquid pool to impressive puff. The recipe that follows is actually one I (Maria) developed while working at Cook’s Country Magazine. I must have made at least 50 of them during the process, so rest assured this a tried and true formula. Though you can make the baby in a large skillet, I recommend using the cast iron skillet; it’s straight, rather than curved sides, and capacity to hold heat, make for blue ribbon results.

 

DUTCH BABY
Serves 4

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 ¼ cups skim milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 pint fresh blueberries or other fresh berry

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Brush bottom and sides of large cast iron skillet with oil. Place in oven and allow to heat for at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine flour, cornstarch, sugar, lemon zest, and salt in large bowl. In second bowl, whisk eggs, milk, butter, and vanilla. Slowly whisk in wet ingredients into dry ingredients.

Open oven, slightly pull out oven rack with skillet, and pour in batter. Bake until pancake is puffed, golden, and crisp, about 20 minutes. Transfer skillet to cooling rack and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately with berries.

 

DUCK EGG-IN-A-HOLE
Makes 1 serving

4 tablespoons butter
1 slice brioche loaf
1 duck egg
Salt and pepper

With a biscuit cutter or kitchen shears, cut out a 2-inch round from the center of the bread slice. Brush both sides of bread and cut-out with 1 1/2 tablespoons butter. Melt remaining butter in skillet over medium heat. Place bread in center of skillet and cut-out alongside.

Crack duck egg into hole and season with salt and pepper. Once egg white begins to turn opaque and set, flip bread over with spatula and continue cooking until done, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Serve immediately.

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