Tarts and Vicars

July 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

When I was thinking about doing a blog post on “tarts” I couldn’t help but thinking about Bridget Jones Diary and the Tarts and Vicars Party.

I love tarts!  I love how beautiful they are no matter if they’re sweet or savory.  They look difficult to make, but they’re not.  The savory tarts can be an appetizer, a side dish or even the main course.

…no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.”

Julia Child

Plum Peach Galette from Two Tarts

Best Tart Crust

From the Alice Waters classic
makes enough for two crusts

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
  • 12 Tbsp cold butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup ice cold water

Combine flour, salt, and butter. Pulse a few times; just until butter is in large irregular pieces. Drizzle in the water bit by bit, pulsing in between, until dough forms a craggy ball. Divide in two, shape into discs, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 1 hour or longer.

Summer Galette Filling

  • 1 large ripe peach
  • 5 small ripe plums
  • 3 Tbsp melted butter
  • 3 Tbsp sugar for sprinkling

Use one serving of the tart dough. When ready to use, take out one disc and let soften on counter for 10 minutes then roll out to a rough circle approx 15” wide. No need to be perfect here, the point is that this is a rustic dessert!
Slice the fruit thinly and arrange in concentric circles to fill the center of the rolled out dough circle.

Leave yourself two inches of non-fruit covered dough around the edges. You’ll then fold these edges in towards the center to form the galette. Once again, perfection doesn’t matter here. Brush the crust and fruit with the melted butter, then sprinkle the sugar evenly over the whole thing.

Bake at 400 for 50 minutes.

Asparagus Gruyere Tart


  • Flour, for work surface
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry
  • 5 1/2 ounces (2 cups) Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 1/2 pounds medium or thick asparagus
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil Salt and pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Trim uneven edges. Place pastry on a baking sheet. With a sharp knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to mark a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce dough inside the markings at 1/2-inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.

2.  Remove pastry shell from oven, and sprinkle with Gruyere. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell; arrange in a single layer over Gruyere, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, and season with salt and pepper. Bake until spears are tender, 20 to 25 minutes.

French Apple Tart


For the pastry:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 cup ice water

For the apples:

  • 4 Granny Smith apples
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small diced
  • 1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
  • 2 tablespoons Calvados, rum, or water


For the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baler. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. (I tend not to use the apple ends in order to make the arrangement beautiful.) Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. Don’t worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine! When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly together with the Calvados and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Leek and Olive Tart with Two Cheeses


  • 15 to 20 baby leeks or 3 large leeks, white and pale-green parts only
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 box (14 ounces) frozen puff pastry, such as Dufour, thawed
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Scant 1/4 cup Nicoise olives, pitted
  • 4 ounces Pave d’Affinois or other soft-ripened cheese (such as Camembert or Perail), thinly sliced


  1. If using baby leeks, halve lengthwise and trim to about 3 inches long. If using regular leeks, cut crosswise into 3-inch pieces; halve each piece lengthwise, then cut into 3/8-inch-thick strips (about 5 cups). Rinse well, and drain; set aside.
  2. Melt butter with oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add leeks and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are tender but not browned, about 15 minutes. Stir in thyme. Leeks can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 1 day; bring to room temperature before assembling tart.
  3. Cut or roll out pastry to a 6-by-14-inch rectangle; place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (reserve remaining pastry for another use). Score a 3/4-inch border. Brush with egg wash; sprinkle with Parmesan. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake pastry until golden, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and press center area with a metal spatula. Arrange leeks end to end in rows within border of pastry. Scatter olives over leeks. Bake until crust is golden brown, about 10 minutes. If bottom is soft, bake 3 to 5 minutes more.
  5. Remove tart from oven, and arrange soft cheese over top. Using an offset spatula, slide tart onto a wire rack; let cool slightly. Cut into pieces; serve warm or at room temperature (tart can stand at room temperature up to 1 hour).

Leek and Mustard Tart  from The Greens Cookbook

1 recipe tart dough (to follow), in a 9-in tart pan, partially prebaked
4-5 cups leeks (about one pound, trimmed), cut into 1/4-inch rings
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup white wine (or water)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup cream or creme fraiche (I used half cream and half sour cream)
2-3 tablespoons good quality smooth or coarse mustard (I used 2T because I have some very strong, imported whole-grained mustard that I get in Montreal)
3 oz. grated cheese or 4 oz. goat cheese (I prefer Swiss, Gruyere or Emmenthal)
2 tablespoons chives, sliced into narrow rounds

Prepare the tart dough and partially prebake it (see below).

Wash the leeks well and set them aside. Melt the butter in a wide skillet, add the leeks along with the water that still clings to them, and cook two to three minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the wine or water and the salt, cover, reduce the heat, and cook slowly until the leeks are tender, about ten to fifteen minutes. Check the pan after seven minutes, and add more wine or water, if necessary (I would use water here, as a half cup of reduced wine is already pretty strong-tasting). When done, season with freshly ground black pepper.

Beat the eggs and stir in the cream or creme fraiche, mustard, leeks and grated cheese. If you are using goat cheese, work half of it into the custard and crumble the other half over the top just before baking.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Pour the custard into the prebaked shell, smooth down the top, and scatter the chives over the entire surface. Bake the pie until the top is firm and golden brown. Let it sit for five minutes before cutting and serving.

Tart Dough

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (bleached works fine, too)
3/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 1/2-3 tablespoons ice water

The recipe from The Greens Cookbook has you working the fat into the dry ingredients by hand, which is fun to be sure, but this is so easily made in a food processor. Whiz together the dry stuff. Add the butter pieces and pulse maybe ten times. Add the shortening and pulse perhaps five more times, until (everyone together now) it looks like coarse meal, oatmeal, petit pois, or whatever your favorite descriptor is). Add the ice water little by little, using only enough until the dough holds together when pressed. Form a flat disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

This is just a wonderful crust recipe for sweet or savory pies. And it is very forgiving…even if it gets a little too warm and it tears or some pieces break off or whatever the crisis, you can just press it back together with your fingers and it still bakes up beautifully.

To partially pre-bake the crust, freeze it (in the tart pan) until very firm, and bake it at 425 degrees for about ten minutes until it looks set and just starts to color. If the bottom crust starts to puff up, just dock it with the tines of a fork or the tip of a paring knife.

I understand that absinthe makes the tart grow fonder.
Ernest Dowson

Me hearts tarts:)



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