I’m one of the worst food blogger out there. I abandon my site constantly. Neglect it for extended periods of time and when I do post I have typos and writing mistakes everywhere. I rarely provide photos of the process. I can’t stay focused on the subject in question and find it extremely hard to provide a recipe since it’s not how I cook. If you’re still here thank you for putting up with all this crap. I could make some promises that I will try to address some of these things but I won’t. I simply don’t have the time to work a full-time job and maintain my blog the way I want to. I’m not gonna give up now either, although it has crossed my mind lately but that would be even more lame so I’m just going to continue with my efforts and hopefully provide some useful content from time to time. We’ve been through a lot since 2013 and there’s really no point in throwing the towel now. Happy holiday season… end of rant… #1.
Rant #2. Because of work, I have for 2 years been unable to cook a thanksgiving meal for family and friends. WTF. I feel I’ve been robbed of precious time and those opportunities aren’t coming back. That really took a toll on me this year. I can’t think of any other meal I look forward to cooking and sharing more than a thanksgiving meal. Takes me a whole week and a very stressful dinner service day but after the battle. That cooking battle, I always realize that battle is worth it.
So… back to this cooking thing. I started writing this post like a month ago… and like the crappy blogger I am… I couldn’t finish it. Let’s finish this thing today. Here, I got news. I have a convection oven now. I’ve had it since I moved into this apartment several months ago and I didn’t even know it. Because convection ovens are so rare in the US, this thing cooks in the old traditional mode, no convection, and it has a convection mode. But guess what.. it’s not called convection. It’s called quick bake. That button has been there un-pushed for months until I finally got curious about it. I wondered the entire time why would they have a fan inside a traditional oven to begin with…. well… mystery explained and to break it in I decided to make something I’ve never tried before. A ratatouille tart.
300g cake flour
200g unsalted butter
60g or so of chilled water
Pinch of salt
Like any tart, most of the magic is in the crust. I have a pretty simple pie crust recipe explained in my pate brisee post. So I won’t bore you with the details. Make sure you’re working with ice cold water, and frozen butter. You don’t need a stand mixer but if you have one, use it with the paddle attachment. The link I provided shows you how to do it by hand. It’s basically the same process. This time I used cake flour which has a lot less gluten and creates a super crispy flaky finish but it’s a a lot more delicate and it can tear easily so be extra patient. After chilling the dough for about an hour in the fridge, make sure you have a good surface to roll it out and don’t be shy with the flour dusting. This buttery doughs love to stick to a counter… and that can mean game over… specially if you’re close to being done with that rolling pin. Just keep that in mind. Once you’re done… freeze it. And go get those veggies chopped.
Remy’s veggie arrangement.
2 yellow squashes
6 small red tomatoes (cherry or slightly bigger)
2 orange sweet peppers
2 yellow sweet peppers
3 red sweet peppers
4 garlic cloves
2 thyme sprigs
Salt and pepper to taste
If you have a chopping obsession this is the task for you. Having a mandolin helps. That’s what I used being extra careful not to add my own knuckles to the topping layers. I think I remember timing this task and it took close to an hour to get everything chopped very finely and evenly. I’m not the fastest with a knife but I’m also not the slowest. Make sure to group each vegetable carefully. Some of the veggies don’t like the mandolin so there’s really no way of avoiding the knife. Use the sharpest knife you got.
Once you’re done with the chopping, the layering begins. This might drive you insane or you might find it zen (I felt a bit of both). Takes about 40 minutes to do it if you’re being careful and take color distribution seriously. Also, choosing the slices to match in diameter.. you know… all that psycho stuff OCD people love. In 40 minutes the crust will definitely not be frozen anymore specially if you’re working in a warm room. You might need to stop mid way and re-freeze. Pastry making hates warm rooms.
Finish up with salt and pepper to taste. Return to the freezer and get your oven going.
The convection baking fun.
This is the easy part. Once your tart is nice and frozen and your oven preheated to 400F bake for about 20 minutes and then take a moment to brush the veggies with vegetable oil to get them to brown. I do it this way just so the veggies are dryer and oil can stick to them easily. Otherwise, most of the oil will just not coat as well. Return the tart to the oven and continue to bake for another 20 minutes or so. Depends on your oven really. Just keep an eye on it. The smell might also signal amazing things are ready to be served. And if you don’t have a convection oven you will need to bake for a little longer or go a little hotter. I suggest going longer if needed.
Once the crust is nice a golden is time to stop. If you veggies aren’t caramelized enough you can finish with a torch. And that’s it. I hope to be back with a thanksgiving reenactment or at least another Christmassy recipe soon! take care guys!