Thursday, September 04, 2008


Heirloom Tomato Tarts with Rocket & Torpedo Salad

While reading the book The United States of Arugula (Lovely book, but my, what a cheese-ball title) by David Kamp, a brief passage stuck with me enough so that I am about to look it up and share with you. Yes, my dears...for you.

Ah. Here it is.

I am copying from page 154 of the soft-cover edition, where Mr. Kamp is speaking about the ever-so (devilishly) outspoken Jeremiah Tower (who I just can't help but adore.) and his tenure at the acclaimed (and indisputably influential) Berkeley, California restaurant, Chez Panisse, in the early 1970’s. The italics are Mr. Kamps.

What was most extraordinary about their partnership, Bishop says, is that Tower wrote out these elaborate, themed menus, a different one for each night of the week, and sent them off to Goines to be rendered in calligraphy, printed up, and posted for public viewing a few days before they’d be served…without ever having cooked any of the dishes described.


The scandal!

Oh. Wait. Really?

Who doesn’t do that?

I certainly do. Every darned time. Conceptualize first. Cook later. It seems only natural. Is that not natural?

And if not, I guess I am just doing things the JT way, because I never have a recipe first. Or, mostly never.

I just think of best and most intriguing ingredients, string their names together into a pretty title and start cooking. Seems like the right way to go.

Makes cooking that much more of an adventure I say. And lends itself more to my very own artistic expression...

This tartlette, for instance, was conceived as such:

Tomato Tartlettes with Rocket and Torpedoes Salad

Polenta Crust Tart, Czech Yellow Wonder, Black Triefle and Cherokee Purple Heart Tomatoes, Wild Rocket Greens, Pickled Torpedo Onions, Indonesian Long Pepper Vinaigrette

Right there you have whole recipe so far as I can tell. Hardly needs much explanation. I would argue that anyone with a basic knowledge of cooking could take that title, and the ingredients and pretty much come up with a sensational recipe. Perhaps it would be a free-form tart. Or maybe the tart would rest on a bed of the greens. Maybe the pickled onions would appear minced up in the dressing. The possibilities are endless and endlessly delightful. It's what I love about cooking. The interpretivnessocity of it all.

But not everyone has a basic knowledge of cooking now do they. And some people just happen to like a good old fashioned recipe. Nothing wrong there! So for them (and you!) I present my interpretation (read: recipe) of that string of pretty words. Its a good launching point and hopefully one that will inspire.

The Rocket and Torpedoes business is just me thinking I'm a cut above sassy, when it really just means arugula (called Rocket in the UK) and Torpedo onions, which are elongated red onions. You can use whatever you have on hand. I also incorporated Indonesian Long Pepper which was grated on a microplane. Chic and warm, it’s a nice variation from regular black pepper. All together this makes for a sensational starter or light luncheon.

So try this my peaches, and taste the joy.

Your favorite whole-wheat tart dough recipe – enough for two large tarts
12 large tomatoes
Olive oil
½ cup pickled torpedo/red onions
Parmesan cheese
2 cups arugula (Rocket) greens
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 scant teaspoon lemon juice
6 each, organic Indonesian long pepper, grated as needed
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
Pepper as needed

For individual tarts you will need six individual removable bottom fluted tart pans. Otherwise, just make one large tart.

Core your tomatoes and slice lengthwise. Coat the skin lightly with olive oil and season with salt. Place cut side down on a sheet pan and roast at 500F until the skin blisters – about 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Make your crust and blind bake. When slightly browned, remove from the oven and immediately grate some Parmesan cheese into each shell. Let cool then top with tomatoes.

For your vinaigrette. Whisk together the mustard, long pepper, olive oil and lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Toss the greens with a scant amount of the dressing.

Top each tartlette with the greens, some of the pickled onion and another light grating of Parmesan and long pepper.

Serves six

© 2008 Fresh Approach Cooking

© 2008 Rachael at "Fresh Approach Cooking"

Coffee is one of the world's most chemically treated food commodities. DDT, malathion, BHT, and petroleum-based chemical fertilizers are commonly used in it's production. - Los Angeles Magazine

Japanese Black Trifele are ttractive tomatoes that are the shape and size of a Bartlett pear with a beautiful purplish-brick color; the fruit are perfect and smooth with no cracks. The flavor is absolutely sublime, having all the richness of fine chocolate. -Baker Creek Seeds

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I agree with your style of conceptualizing and then cooking! Recipes can be so overrated. But I have to ask, where did the polenta crust go? I was looking forward to that! But I think I can go figure it out myself if needed ;)

When we first made it we put cornmeal in the crust, (was keeping it gluten free for the dinner party) but I preferred it with whole wheat...

I have some of those Indondesian long peppers and I have used them a few times but I've not really seen anyone else using them, at least not over here in the UK. It's good to see them in a recipe! So how many did you use in the end?
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