Thursday, January 5, 2012

Leek Tart on Walnut Crust--Instead of Leek Soup

One would think that since I love to cook and share so peristently my culinary experience on this blog, my kids must be open-minded or even adventurous when it comes to food.

Ironically, it is almost the opposite. They favor the typical American kids' diet based on pasta, pizza, and chicken nuggets. They do not like traditional Polish dishes except for borshch and pierogi, which for them fall rather under pasta category together with ravioli and tortellini.

My younger son, Philip, is particularly difficult when it comes to trying any thing new. Luckily, sometimes he bows to the authority of his French teacher, who occasionally also teaches French cooking classes at his school. This is how Philip got introduced to green salad with balsamic vinegar, omelette, quiche, crème brûlée, and flan, all of which he eventually also got to like.

The other day, he came home and asked for leek soup, handing me the recipe he got at his French class. He never liked leeks so I was surprised but also happy to fulfil his wish. I took out leeks (which I almost always have in my refrigerator) sliced them and was about to start the soup, when I read the recipe and noticed that the soup needs to be simmered for eight hours. I did not have so much time that day and I hardly have so much to cook anything. But since I prepared leeks already I decided to make my favorite dish--a tart, hoping that since I knew he liked an onion tart and seems to like leek soup, he will also like a leek tart.

Leeks and walnuts make that tart very interesting. I like very much the contrast between the softness of the sweet and spicy leek filling, in which you can detect blue cheese, and the crunchiness of the walnut crust, which blend perfectly in the mouth.

Leek Tart on Walnut Crust
(For a 9-inch tart pan)

Ingredients for the crust:
1 and 1/2 cup all purpose unbleached flour,
1 and 1/2 cup ground walnuts,
1 stick butter,
3 tbsp iced water,
1 tsp sugar,
1/2 tsp salt.

For the filling:
3 medium leeks, washed carefully and sliced (they will make 4-5 cups),
2 eggs,
1 cup heavy whipping cream,
1/2 lb Italian Gorgonzola (but it can be any other blue cheese, Roquefort would be particularly good),
3 tbsp olive oil,
freshly ground pepper.

1. To make crust place flour, salt, sugar, and butter in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture turns into crumbs. Add walnuts and icy cold water. Run the processor until a smooth dough forms.
2. Roll out the dough on a surface slightly dusted with flour, forming a circle of about 11 inches in diameter. Using a rolling pin transfer the dough to a tart pan greased with butter. Place the pan in a freezer (for as long as it takes to make the filling).
3. Preheat oven to 375 F.
4. Heat the oil on a large frying pan. Add sliced leeks and fry for 8-10 minutes, until they soften up. Let them cool slightly.

5. Beat eggs and cream. Add crumbled blue cheese and pepper.
6. Place the crust in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the crust is baked but not yet gold.
7. Take out the crust from the oven. Place leeks on the bottom and pour the cream mixture on top of the leeks.
8. Lower temperature to 350F and bake the tart for about 40 minutes, until the filling rises and gets brownish on the surface.

Serve with a green lettuce and tomato salad.