This is a first for me. With all my years of baking and cooking I’ve never made a free form tart, sweet or savoy. The beauty of it is that this rustic free formed asparagus tart was not entirely planned. It was more of a- well I’ve got this, and I’ve got that, and I don’t have the other thing…
You see, last night I had a few friends over. All relatively new friends, and a couple that I had yet to meet who are new to the neighborhood like myself. Now that I am settled into my new place I have the where-with-all to do some entertaining- which, as you know, is my absolute favorite thing to do. However, my place is small, and not all my baking bits and bobs made it into the tiny, albeit genius, storage system I have here. Alas dear Alice, there is only so much space in this Wonderland.
I also have a superbly ridiculous stove in this new place. A mere 24″ wide, which offers great challenges to my pot and pan array. Not everything fits! On top of that, the inside does not have rack ridges for the entire height of the oven space, especially in the middle. What that translates to is that the things I am baking are either too low in the oven, or too high.
So far this has lead to a few too many burnt bottoms. Can you imagine? A professional baker for nearly 25 years and I am burning things now?
I do not lament however, it’s part of the learning curve- I WILL make this work. Nothing, my friends, is ever perfect. Nothing ever, so why fight it?
So back to tart making. For my guests I planned this long tart, but at this moment I have only the one pan.
I had some leftover filling, a bunch of pastry dough, and just a few asparagus spears, and some of the trimmed ends. I also had a bit of goat cheese left over in the fridge that I felt I should use up too. So this is what happened- No pan=free form tart on parchment paper. No available cookie sheet that fits the oven so I used the broiling pan top piece.
This all went very well, but as you can see from the dark paper, I placed it on the bottom rack of the oven first. That paper got toasty pretty fast, which cast off a bit of smoke. The result was the piercing scream of my smoke detector.
Who was it that said it’s not party unless the smoke alarm goes off? Somebody? Anybody? Ha! well, it made me laugh (and flap wildly at the smoke detector to get the damn thing to simmer down).
In the end, even when things don’t go exactly as planned- with good food and good people, it’s always a success.
Don’t you agree?
Free Form Asparagus Tart
(or traditional tart pan too)
1 recipe of pastry dough
2 cups whole milk ricotta
1/2 cup milk
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bunch asparagus
1/4 cup minced dill weed
2 oz goat cheese
drizzle of olive oil
Prepare the dough, roll it out and either press into a tart pan and trim, or lay flat on a sheet of parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium sized bowl combine the ricotta, eggs, milk, garlic and some salt and pepper. Stir to thoroughly combine. Fill tart pan with ricotta mix, alternatively spread filling in center of free form tart, covering 2/3 of the circle. For the long tart I simply place the asparagus on top and sprinkled with dill. For the free form tart I chopped the asparagus ends (not the dried out part) and tossed them on top along with the dill.
Then I coated the long spears with a little olive oil added them on top. Then I simply folded up the sides of the dough. My dough was soft and very breakable, so I just tucked and patched where I needed to. All part of the charm. In the end I pulled up the heads of the asparagus so that they stuck out from under the dough. A sprinkling of goat cheese on top and an extra drizzle of olive oil on top and into the oven it went.
Depending on the pan and the thickness of the filling, baking time should take about 35 minutes. I keep an eye on mine since this oven seems to have a mind of it’s own- and with the free form tart, after I nearly burned down the house I moved it up to the higher rack. Baking as an art- not a science. Hoo yah!
Serve warm-preferable amongst friends.