Saturday, March 8, 2014

Roast Capsicum and Goats Cheese Tart

Roast Capsicum and Goats Cheese Tart
Home Cooking

This post is an example of what could be called Cooking Vanity. This again, goes back to my family Christmas dinner where we were all supposed to bring some food. I wasn't even going to bake a tart; in fact, I initially was just brining salad and later stretched that to include and ice-cream. I was leafing through Nick Malgieri's The Modern Baker for dessert recipes (where I found this) and accidentally fell onto this recipe for a goats cheese tart. I decided right then and there that I would also bake that for my family.

The reason I label this cooking vanity is that I made it for purely selfish reasons. It wasn't until after the dinner party was over and I found a discouragingly high portion of goats cheese tart untouched that I was forced to reevaluate my choice. Goats cheese is not for everyone. It's got a pungent flavour that many people can't stand the smell of let alone taste. My family is of Chinese ethnicity and although my grandparents have a broad acceptance of taste and flavours, it was a tough stretch to assume they would like goats cheese. The other boo boo I made was serving the tart cold as the recipe suggests. Chinese typically like these types of savoury dishes warmed up. Even I thought the tart tasted better when microwaved the next day. I guess if you bake this at home, you can try it both ways. The reason I wanted to make this tart is because full tarts or pies look so damn impressive when presented. I just wanted to produce something to be proud of.

This recipe uses one batch of olive oil pie dough, which Nick published as a separate recipe but I'll include here for completeness sake.

Goats Cheese Tart
Serves 8-12


For the pastry...
  • 1 and 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp water
For the filling...
  • 4 medium bell peppers, about 900g
  • salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 250g mild goats cheese, crumbled
  • 6 large eggs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

For the pastry...
1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse several times.
2. Ad the oil, egg, egg yolk and water. Pulse repeatedly until the dough forms a shaggy ball. Don't overmix or the oil might separate from the dough and make it impossibe to handle later on.
3. Invert the food processor bowl over a floured work surface. Press the dough into a roughly 1cm thick disk without folding it over itself. Wrap in clingwrap and refrigerate until needed (can be chilled for several days).
For the filling...
1. To roast the peppers, place an oven rack about 15cm from the heating element and preheat the grill. Place the peppers on the prepared pan and slide them uner the grill. Let the skins of the peppers char on one side, then use tongs to turn each pepper 90 degrees. Repeat until the peppers are evenly charred on all sides and have collapsed.
2. Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. The peppers will steam as they begin to cool and the skins will loosen on their own. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, place them in a colander and stem, peel and seed them.
3. Place the cleaned peppers back in the bowl and break them apart (do not peel under running water or much of the flavour will be lost).
4. Place a layer of peppers in a shalow bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Scatter a few of the garlic slices over the peppers. Repeat until you have layered all the peppers with seasonings. Cover the bowl and refregerate up to 3 days.
5. When you are ready to bake the tart, set a rack in the lowest level of the oven and preheat to 190 degrees Celsius.
6. Roll the pastry dough out to the size of your dish and press evenly into the dish.
7. Sprinkle the tart crust with half the cheese. Cover the cheese with a layer of marinated peppers, overlapping slightly. Repeat with the remaining cheese and remaining peppers (ending with peppers on top).
8. Whisk the eggs, salt, pepper and parsley. Pour the mixture into the crust.
9. Bake the tart until the filling is set and well coloured and the crust is baked through. This should take about 30 minutes. Cool the tart on a rack.

I've covered all my reservations about this recipe at the start of this post. If you are someone like me who actually likes goats cheese, we can start talking about the positives. I personally thought the tart was pretty tasty. A lot of these types of things (tarts, pies and quiches) are very rich but this one wasn't heavy. In fact, with only self marinated capsicums, goats cheese and egg in its filling, I'd say this is borderline health food. Aside from the pastry (which is healthier than conventional butter pastry), it's definitely low carb.

I've been heating up small portions to eat as breakfast or as snacks. As I mentioned before, I prefer this heated but you can try it at room temperature too. I like that the tart is a meal in one and doesn't require garnish or sauce.

The downside is that it is a fairly involved recipe. The pastry needs to be made and rested. That part was relatively easy with a food processor but good grief, flaming the capsicums was a chore! If you have a barbecue at home, this step would be a breeze. I tried using my gas stove top at first and then switched to the grill element of my oven. It worked alright but was annoying because I had to keep rotating capsicums that weren't perfectly shaped for rotation. I suppose you could buy some marinated caps from the shops but that would take away all the fun.

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