Make Mom a brunch to remember
It never ceases to amaze me how two children raised together have turned into such different adults. In all ways, including career choices, partying styles, exercise and eating habits, and kitchen preferences. My son, the meat-eater, enjoys working with pastry dough; my daughter prefers to cook vegetables and fruit. Win, win for this mother. I request they collaborate this Mother’s Day. On the menu? Savory, flaky-crusted tarts filled with vegetables and a salad brightened with fruit.
Because of their busy schedules, separate homes and the parental compulsion to teach, I offer tips. Make the whole wheat tart dough up to 5 days in advance. Then shape and pre-bake it the night before. Some of the vegetables can be prepped ahead, too. Ditto for the vinaigrette for a salad and the crisping of the greens.
Spring means peak season for asparagus and fresh peas. They look beautiful in any dish; they barely need cooking. Shaved or thinly sliced, raw asparagus works beautifully in the tart filling. Fresh peas need only a minute of cooking before they’re added. Freshly shucked peas, sold in bags in the produce section of some grocery stores, save time. Otherwise frozen (thawed) peas make a quick substitute.
The homemade tart dough can be refrigerated for several days or frozen for weeks. I prefer to combine trans-fat-free vegetable shortening (for easy dough handling and maximum flakiness) with unsalted butter (for flavor). For savory uses, I weave in a bit of nutty-tasting whole wheat flour and sesame seeds along with the all-purpose flour.
The tart recipe that follows could be called a quiche, except it’s lighter on the egg custard and heavier on the vegetables. Nearly any kind of vegetable mixture will work in the tart. I like roasted peppers, sauteed onions and mushrooms, grilled zucchini and eggplant. You’ll need two loosely packed cups for a 9-inch tart. That leaves just enough room for a bit of cheese and an egg custard to hold everything together.
A rustic-style galette, sans the egg mixture, proves another way to go. For the free-form treat, roll out the dough, layer on thinly sliced vegetables and cheese, fold over the edges and cook it on a baking sheet. I like to add a smear of bacon fat to the dough for luxurious flavor, then top the dough with sauteed mushrooms, thinly slice tomatoes and crispy bacon.
For either recipe, there’s no shame in using store-bought pie crusts. Look for ones without preservatives. I like the frozen version sold at Trader Joe’s, but it nearly always has cracks after thawing. A quick roll between the sheets of plastic smooths it out nicely.
Both the tart and the galette taste best eaten the same day they’re baked. However, in a pinch they can be made the day before and refrigerated covered. Then reheat them in a warm oven before serving.
Whichever tart style you choose, serve it warm with a green salad dressed with homemade grapefruit vinaigrette. Offer mom a grapefruit mimosa, and she’ll be sure to slip you a little something to help with the rent money. And welcome you home even when you’re not cooking.
Prep: 20 minutes
Chill: 1 hour
Makes: Two 9-inch tart shells
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold
1/2 cup trans-fat-free (nonhydrogenated) vegetable shortening, frozen
2 to 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, optional
Put flours and salt into a food processor. Pulse to mix well. Cut butter and shortening into small pieces; sprinkle them over the flour mixture. Use on/off pulses with the food processor to blend the fats into the flour. The mixture will look like coarse crumbs. (Alternatively, use your hands or a pastry blender to work the butter and shortening into the flours and salt in a large bowl.)
Put ice cubes into about 1/2 cup water and let the water chill. Remove the ice cubes, and drizzle about 6 tablespoons of the ice water over the flour mixture. Add the sesame seeds if using. Briefly pulse the machine (or knead with your hands) just until the mixture gathers into a dough.
Dump the mixture out onto a sheet of wax paper. Divide the dough in half; gather each into a ball. Flatten the balls into thick disks. Wrap each in plastic; refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. (Dough will keep in the refrigerator for several days.)
Nutrition information per serving (for 12 servings): 243 calories, 17 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 20 mg cholesterol, 20 g carbohydrates, 0 g sugar, 3 g protein, 198 mg sodium, 1 g fiber
Spring Veggie Tart
Prep: 45 minutes
Cook: 65 minutes
Makes: 1 tart, serves 6
1/2 recipe sesame whole wheat tart dough, see recipe
1/2 medium leek, tough green ends removed, white section split lengthwise, rinsed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup fresh shelled or thawed frozen peas
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 bunch skinny asparagus
2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro, basil, chives or parsley (or a combination)
1/8 teaspoon dried or fresh minced thyme
1/2 cup fontina or brick cheese, shredded
3 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy (whipping) cream or half-and-half
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Have a 9- or 91/2-inch tart pan with removable bottom ready. Alternatively, use a shallow 9-inch pie plate.
Lightly flour 1 sheet of wax paper. Put the dough disk onto the paper and cover with another sheet of floured wax paper. Roll gently with a rolling pin, lifting the paper occasionally to loosen the dough and turning the dough over several times, until it is a uniform circle about 12 inches in diameter and 1/4-inch thick. Remove the top sheet of wax paper. Loosen the dough from the bottom sheet of wax paper, then fold the dough in half and gently put into tart pan. Unfold and gently fit dough over bottom of pan and up the sides. Trim edge. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to overnight (cover it well).
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Press a piece of foil over bottom of crust. Fill crust with pie weights or dried beans (this prevents puffing). Bake until crust is nearly opaque, about 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and beans. Bake until golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool. The crust can be parbaked several hours in advance (or even overnight).
Meanwhile, for filling, thinly slice the white portion of the leek and some of the tender green. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add leek; cook until golden, about 3 minutes. Add peas and garlic, cook and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Trim off the asparagus tips and reserve them. Cut the stems into 1/8-inch thick pieces. Stir tips and stems into the cooled leeks along with the herbs. (Filling can be refrigerated overnight.)
To cook the tart, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Set the tart shell, in its pan, on a baking sheet. Spread the vegetable mixture over the bottom of the tart crust. Sprinkle cheese over vegetables. Beat eggs, cream, milk, salt and pepper in a small bowl until smooth. Slowly pour the egg mixture over the vegetables being careful not to get any between the crust and the pan, or you will have sticking later.
Carefully put the tart into the oven. Bake until filling is set and golden brown, 35-38 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Unmold from pan (or slice directly in the pan if using a pie plate). Serve warm.
Nutrition information per serving: 444 calories, 34 g fat, 15 g saturated fat, 151 mg cholesterol, 25 g carbohydrates, 3 g sugar, 10 g protein, 515 mg sodium, 2 g fiber
Bacon, Tomato and Mushroom Galette
Prep: 40 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Makes: 2 galettes, serving 6 each
Notes: Save time by purchasing sliced mushrooms. Shred cheese at home to avoid added cellulose.
4 thick-cut bacon strips, about
6 ounces total, diced
5 ounces (about 2 cups) sliced shiitake mushroom caps (discard stems)
3 ounces (about 1 cup) sliced button mushroom caps
1/2 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 recipe sesame whole wheat tart dough or 1 box (22 ounces) ready pie crust, thawed
About 1 cup shredded cheese, such as fontina or brick
3 or 4 small ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced, patted dry
1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs, such as chives, basil and parsley
Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium heat, turning often, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove crisp bacon with a slotted spoon to a plate. Pour the bacon drippings into a small dish.
Return 2 tablespoons of the drippings to the pan. Add mushrooms and onion to skillet. Cook and stir until golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool. Season with basil, salt and pepper. Mixture can be refrigerated for up to several days.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Have two parchment-lined baking sheets ready.
Roll one dough disk (or 1 refrigerated pie crust) between sheets of floured wax paper into a 1/8-inch thick circle. Remove the wax paper. Carefully transfer dough to a baking sheet.
Smear 1 to 2 tablespoons reserved bacon fat over the crust, leaving a 2-inch border. Spread half of the mushroom mixture over the crust, leaving a 2-inch border. Top the mushrooms with 1/4 cup of the cheese, then with half of the crispy bacon, sliced tomatoes and herbs. Top with another 1/4 cup of the cheese. Fold the border of the crust up and over the filling. Repeat to build a second galette.
Bake galettes, rotating pans occasionally, until crusts are nicely golden, about 25 minutes. Cool a few minutes before cutting into wedges. Serve warm.
Nutrition information per serving: 600 calories, 41 g fat, 18 g saturated fat, 66 mg cholesterol, 44 g carbohydrates, 3 g sugar, 14 g protein, 714 mg sodium, 4 g fiber
Pink Grapefruit Vinaigrette
I like this vinaigrette over a salad of artisan lettuces. Add grapefruit wedges, diced avocado and a sprinkle of cooked peas or beans just before tossing the greens with the dressing.
Prep: 10 minutes
Makes: about 1/2 cup
Grated zest of half a pink grapefruit
1/3 cup freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon light agave syrup
1/4 teaspoon each: salt, freshly ground black pepper
Put everything into a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well.
Nutrition information per tablespoon: 68 calories, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g carbohydrates, 1 g sugar, 0 g protein, 73 mg sodium, 0 g fiber