Posts Tagged ‘tarte’

Classic French tomato tarte with mustard

20 September 2018


From memory, it was in Elle magazine; one of a sweeping collection of recipe cards, cut out along the dotted line, neatly organized, in a couple of bright orange bakelite boxes, color-coded and arranged by dish — starter, meat, dessert, etc. — most probably from the nineteen eighties. My mom’s.

This, at least, is how I remember it. Neither my mother nor my sister can recall where the recipe for this tarte — the clever combination of tomatoes with sharp mustard which mellows as it cooks — really comes from. In fact, it seems to be part of the French subconscious. As I was trying to corroborate the recipe’s origin I realized that according to the usual web search engines, in France ‘tarte à la tomate’ automatically defaults to ‘et à la moutarde.’

Regardless of whether it actually did once appear in Elle, there is no doubt that it is a French classic, and in my view firmly anchored in the 1980s. There are tomatoes, Emmental, mustard, a sprinkling of dried thyme at most. No fancy flours in the crust, no fresh herb flourishes.

I break these rules sometimes and add a few cut herbs, or substitute Comté for Emmental. But at heart the combination of tomatoes, mustard, and cheese remains. Its simplicity is testament to a recipe classic.

We make versions of it every summer, often on days when there isn’t a plan but always an enormous stash of tomatoes at different levels of tenderness that need rapid eating.

Tomato tarte with mustard

One uncooked savory pie pastry (see recipe below)
Strong Dijon mustard
Hard cheese such as Emmental or Comté, grated
Tomatoes, sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Dried or fresh thyme (also oregano, basil)

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Roll out the pie crust and carefully transfer to a well-buttered pie dish. Poke the crust all over with a fork (so it won’t puff up as it bakes).

Spread a generous amount of mustard over the crust (like a shmear of cream cheese, the sharpness will mellow as it cooks). Sprinkle the grated cheese all over the crust. Arrange the tomato slices on top. Season with salt and pepper and thyme (or other herb).

Slide into the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden, the tomatoes cooked, and the juices bubbling.

Serve immediately.


Quick savory pie pastry

200g cold butter
200g flour
A pinch of salt
A little ice-cold water

Cut the butter into 1/2 inch (1 cm) chunks.

Prepare the flour and salt in a large bowl. Mix in the butter with your fingertips, crumbling the butter and flour together until most of the butter chunks have become grains, but other larger bits remain. Add a little ice water, just enough to gather the crust into a smooth ball. (It’s important not to overhandle the dough, which will ensure that it remains flaky when cooked.)

Let the rest dough rest, covered, in the refrigerator, for at least one and up to 24 hours.

If the dough has been in the refrigerator for a few hours, allow a little time for it to soften before rolling it out.

Walnut tarte with Chartreuse

24 February 2012

Some years ago I developed an interest in cocktails. It was triggered by an arcane email correspondence about absinth and Sazeracs leading up to our yearly skiing vacation in Haute Savoie, and quite quickly developed into a somewhat obsessive search for the perfect Sazerac in New York, at a time when few bartenders here knew what a Sazerac is, let alone how to make a good one.

My interest in Sazeracs grew into a more general curiosity for all things cocktail — mixer’s alcohols, bitters, techniques for making larger ice cubes — which happily coincided with the beginning of the cocktail trend in the city. Had I been writing then, cocktails would have featured prominently.

These days I drink mostly wine, except when my cocktail-fiend friend and then fellow-bar-stalker comes over for dinner, a bottle of gin or good rye in tow; I don’t have cocktail recipes jotted down on every second page of my little black notebook; and my cocktail bar recommendations would probably have a taste of five years ago. But I do still own a ludicrous number of partially full liquor bottles.

I will have to find creative ways of using Luxardo and Lillet, in the meantime, this tarte is a good excuse to tackle the Chartreuse.


This recipe is part of my “Schindler book” collection. Judging by its position in the book, which I copied in chronological order, I found it when I was about twenty. Unfortunately I can’t remember its exact origin, though I’m pretty sure I wrote it down after a vacation in France in the Vercors close to Grenoble, the region of walnuts and Chartreuse.

Unsweetened pie crust

250 g flour

125 g butter plus a little more to butter the pan

The filling

3/4 cup (200 g) crème fraîche

1 cup (200 g) sugar

2 generous cups (200 g) shelled walnuts

1 1/2 liquid ounces Chartreuse


The pie crust

Prepare the pie crust at least 1 hour in advance, as it needs to rest.

Place the flour in a large bowl, cut the cold butter into 1-inch pieces and work it with the fingertips into the flour, to obtain the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs. Add drops of cold water, little by little, until the dough sticks and can be shaped into a ball.

Cover the ball of dough with a damp cloth and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour, and up to one day.

Take the dough out of the refrigerator 10 to 15 minutes beforehand so it has time to soften at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C) and generously butter a 12 inch (30 cm) pie pan.

To roll out the dough, lightly dust a clean, flat surface with flour and roll out the dough into a circle until it is 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thin.**To prevent the dough from sticking to the the floured surface, turn it at the beginning then lift it regularly, all the while adding a little flour on either side and on the rolling pin.**

To transfer the dough to the pie pan, gently fold it in half once, then fold it in half again, and carefully place the folded dough in the buttered pie pan, positioning the angle in the center. Unfold, pressing gently onto the pan and sides, and cut off excess dough from the edges.

Bake the pie crust blind for 15 minutes. **When baking blind either poke a bunch of small wholes into the crust with a fork, or use dried beans or ceramic baking weights on the crust to prevent it from rising.**


The tarte

Increase the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C).

In a large bowl mix the crème fraîche and sugar, add the walnuts and the Chartreuse. Pour the mixture into the blind-baked crust.

Place the tarte in the oven on a larger baking sheet or aluminum foil, as the filling is likely to bubble over. Bake for 20 minutes.

Let the pie cool before eating. It becomes sticky and brittle, reminiscent of baklava. Mmmm!


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Quince and apple tarte

18 October 2010

Having found quinces at the market last week I decided to organize dinner around the fruit. As planned, I prepared lamb and quince tagine and an apple and quince dessert, though rather than the crumble I initially had in mind I made pie, or rather a French version of pie: tarte. I improvised both dishes from a variety of recipes. The tagine looked beautiful and tasted very good, but it could still be improved and I would like to refine the recipe before posting it here. The tarte, on the other hand, was entirely delicious.


Puff pastry*

Juice from 1 lemon

3 medium quinces

4 Tbsp mild-tasting liquid honey

3/4 cup (150 g) brown sugar

1/2 vanilla bean

3 medium apples

1 cup (100 g) ground almonds (or almond flour)


If using frozen puff pastry, remove from freezer and set out to thaw.

Prepare a medium saucepan with 4 cups (1 liter) cold water and juice from 1/2 lemon. Peel, core, and cut quinces in slim slices. As you cut the quince, put the slices in the lemon water (quince oxidizes very quickly – placing it in water prevents it from turning black).

Bring the lemon water with quince slices to a light boil and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, until the fruit just starts getting soft (they should still be easy to handle; they will continue cooking later.) With a skimmer, remove quince slices and set aside.

Add the honey, 1/2 cup (100 g) of the sugar, and the vanilla bean to the quince poaching water, increase heat and let the syrup boil and reduce for 45 to 50 minutes.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).

Thinly slice apples to the same size as the quince slices. (As you set the apple slices aside, sprinkle them with a little lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown.)

In a small bowl, mix the ground almonds with the last 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar.

Prepare baking sheet (or pie pan) lined with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper and roll out pie crust. Sprinkle almond/sugar mixture evenly on crust, then place apple and quince slices, alternatingly. Using a spoon or pastry brush, coat the fruit with some of the thickened syrup.

Bake in oven for 45 to 50 minutes, until fruit is starting to color, taking care that the crust does not become too dark.

Before the tarte cools, glaze the fruit with more syrup. (There should be some left over, it will continue to thicken and can be used on toast like quince jelly).

* I have never made puff pastry. It is terribly time-intensive and I have often heard that it is one of the rare things that are not necessarily better home made, unless by an experienced pastry chef. Dufour frozen puff pastry is a very good brand available here in New York.

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