Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Farmer's Market Obsessions: savory tarts and fresh strawberries

Today's post is going to be short and sweet.  And savory.  I hope you don't mind.  Because, it sort of looks like this outside right now, and I want to be sitting under that tree:


Yes, after more rainy days than we've gotten in the past few years (though, we needed it!), it's finally been consistently sunny and gorgeous for the last week or so--while, ironically, I've been longingly gazing out the window and being stuck inside for work.  When the weather is this good (think not-to-hot days and mild, jacket-less nights), I start hankering after more and more spring and summer fruits and vegetables and constantly finding every opportunity and free minute to hang out at farmers' markets.  Hence, today I bring you my ideal farmers' market meal: a caramelized onion, goat cheese, and heirloom tomato buckwheat thyme quiche/tart finished off with a lemon curd cream and strawberry pavlova.  Oh spring/summer, how I adore thee.

I call this tart a tart/quiche, because it's really a tart but with a layer of egg on top to hold everything together.  There's a healthy handful of fresh thyme baked into the buckwheat crust, which makes a super-flavorful base for the tart/quiche (quirt? tarche? tuiche?).  Then, there's a thick layer of caramelized red and sweet yellow onions sitting on the bottom, topped off with a lighter layer of creamy egg, thick yogurt, and goat cheese.  I also love these mini heirloom tomatoes on the tart, which impart tiny little bursts of fresh and juicy flavor to the deep and dark onions sitting underneath.  Pair with a spicy arugula salad for extra om nom nom.

For dessert: lemon curd cream pavlova with fresh organic strawberries.  Though I've learned that pavlova is probably one of the hardest desserts to make look pretty on film, I've also learned that it is one of the best, lightest desserts for the springtime.  Those Australians/New Zealanders (or whoever invented it first) were geniuses.

 Though the highlight of this dessert was supposed to be the sweet and tiny organic strawberries lightly macerated in vanilla sugar and lemon juice, I have to say--and everyone who had this dessert agreed-- that the lemon curd cream stole the show.  I'm going to the record for this: if you haven't had lemon curd cream, you haven't lived at all. And I will swear by that.  The concept is super simple, just tart lemon curd folded into sweet whipped cream, but sometimes, the simplest things are just the best.  I literally ate it by the spoonful out of the bowl, and I didn't have a spoon large enough.  Top the crunchy-outside, soft-inside pavlova meringue with the lemon curd cream and fresh strawberries, and you have a gorgeous-springtime-weather-worthy dessert.

Okay, I'm off to find some excuse to enjoy more of this gorgeous weather!  Too bad there's no more of this lemon curd cream sitting in the fridge....

Read on for recipes...

Caramelized onion, goat cheese, and heirloom tomato 
buckwheat-thyme tart/quiche
makes one 9" tart

for buckwheat pastry:
100 grams buckwheat flour
160 grams AP flour
1 egg yolk
1 Tbspn fresh thyme
1 tspn salt
1/2 tspn freshly ground black pepper
1 stick (4 oz) butter, cold, cut into Tablespoons
3-4 Tbspn water

1. Combine the ingredients in a food processor and pulse just until a dough begins to form.
2. Remove the pastry dough from the food processor, form into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap or parchment paper and chill for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
4. Roll out the pastry crust. Prick the bottom of the crust several times with a fork. Then, line the pastry with parchment paper and weigh it down with pie weights (or dry beans, which is what I use).
5. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the pastry just begins to turn golden. (You may want to remove the beans and bake for 5 minutes longer, if the bottom is a bit soft still.)
6. Remove from the oven and let cool.

for filling:
butter, for pan
1 extra large red onion, sliced
1 extra large sweet yellow onion, sliced
1 egg white
1 egg
170 grams European style plain yogurt
goat cheese, as much or as little as desired
8-10 oz. heirloom tomatoes, cut to size
salt and pepper, to taste
fresh thyme

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. In a frying pan on the stove, heat the butter and add the onions.  Sprinkle lightly with salt.  Cook the onions over medium high heat until they are caramelized.  Remove from heat and distribute evenly in the bottom of the prepared tart crust.
3. In a bowl, whisk together egg white, egg, and plain yogurt.  Add a little bit of salt and pepper.  Pour over the onions in the tart.
4. Spoon small scoops of goat cheese into the tart and distribute the heirloom tomatoes.
5. Sprinkle the tart with salt, pepper and fresh thyme.
6. Bake in the oven for ~30-40 minutes, just until the edges of the quiche begin to set.  Remove from the oven and let cool.  Tart can be reheated in a 350 degree oven for ~10 minutes, if desired, or it's good cold, too!

Tip: If you want to skip the egg mixture, that works perfectly fine, too, though you probably want to bake it for a little less time (~20-30 minutes), just long enough to melt the goat cheese and cook the tomatoes.

Lemon Curd Cream Pavlovas with Farmer's Market Strawberries
makes 4-5 individual sized pavlovas

for meringue:
180 gr egg whites (~6 egg whites)
200 gr superfine sugar*
2 Tbspn corn starch, sifted
2 tspn white vinegar
2 tspn vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat.
2. Begin whipping the egg whites on low until they become foamy.  Then, increase speed to medium-high, gradually adding the superfine sugar.  Beat until glossy stiff peaks.
3. Whisk in the corn starch, vinegar, and vanilla extract, being careful not to overmix.
4. Spoon the meringue onto the silpats, shaping the meringues with spoons for your desired size.  Make an indent with the back of a spoon on top of each meringue.
5. Place the meringues in the preheated oven.  Immediately lower the oven temperature to 250 degrees F and bake for an hour to an hour and a half, until the outside of the meringues are dry.  Turn off the oven and allow the meringues to cool inside the oven.

for lemon curd cream:
adapted from David Lebovitz's Improved Lemon Curd recipe
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
50 gr sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 large egg
pinch of salt
3 Tbspn unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
zest of one lemon, freshly grated
1 cup heavy whipping or manufacturing cream, cold
2 Tbspn powdered sugar

1. Prepare a fine mesh strainer over a bowl.
2. In a double boiler (or, if you're brave like David Lebovitz, cook this directly on the stove over low heat), whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, egg yolk, egg, salt, and cut butter.  Cook over simmering water until the butter is completely melted and the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
3. Remove the lemon curd from heat and strain through the prepared sieve.  Mix in the freshly grated lemon zest.  Allow the curd to cool completely.
4. In a chilled bowl, whip the cream just until stiff peaks form.  Whisk in the powdered sugar and then quickly fold in the cooled lemon curd, being careful not to overmix.  Use immediately (though, if you whip manufacturing cream properly by hand, this cream should stand in the refrigerator for at least several hours without breaking down).

for assembly:
strawberries, hulled and chopped
vanilla sugar
lemon juice

1. Place the chopped strawberries in a bowl.  Sprinkle lightly with vanilla sugar and lemon juice and mix to combine.  Let sit for a few minutes (or in the refrigerator for few hours, if you want to make this ahead of time.)
2. Top each meringue with a generous helping of lemon curd cream and macerated strawberries.

*Tip: to make superfine sugar, weigh regular sugar and grind in a food processor for several seconds.



  1. Oh My! Those are just some *stunning* photos of the sun shining through - I don't blame you for just wanting to be under that tree - I would too! This post is just making me crave summer! Lovely.

  2. Gorgeous! Love the sound of that tart. And the photos of that tree make me want to sit under it too...so inviting!

  3. This is beautiful. I love it!

  4. Yes! Go enjoy the weather, that's what it's there for. In the meantime, I will just gaze longingly at this lovely quiche. So good.

  5. What a delicious and lovely spring meal - and such beautiful photos too. Thank you for inspiration. I'll be taking it with me to the farmers market this weekend!

  6. Truly inspiring! I mean, I have a jar of freshly made lemon curd sitting in the fridge, waiting to be used and exhalted in a simple yet yummy recipe, and here you are! I think this weekend something great is going to happen in my kitchen thanks to this post!
    By the way, the heirloom tomato quiche or tart or whatever is gorgeous!
    ..and that tree as well!

  7. Wow, your photos are beautiful. The tart looks so good, as well.


  8. beautiful lunch and dessert!!!
    love your photos!

  9. if I were u, I will be outside all the time! With the strawberries of course and the tart! Guess i need to be walking and running AND eating at the same time. LOL

  10. I don't blame you for wanting to be outside, lovely..great tart...


  11. Ahhhhh such gorgeous lighting! I love savory tarts and have recently become fascinated with the idea of pavlovas. Dying to make/try it!

  12. The pictures of the tart are gorgeous ! It makes me wanna try this right now :o)


I love hearing from you and reading your comments! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. Happy feasting!