Monday, November 17, 2008

One Last Time: A Trip to the Market!

We are so close to our return to Cincinnati now. And so lately here when we do something it is something we're doing for the VERY LAST TIME. Saturday was one of those days. It was off to the Farmer's Market in the Ferry Building.

I love the Farmer's Market- In fact I think looking at vegetables is rather like walking through a flower garden- Don would tease me in Cincinnati because when we would grow tomatoes- or peppers- I wouldn't pick them because I liked to look at them on the plant- just like looking at flowers. They are beautiful!

All the bright colors!

So we bought leeks and sweet potatoes and tomatoes (the absolutely very last of the season here) and sugar snap peas. San Francisco has a LONG GROWING SEASON- I'm going to miss this. But we'll take somethings home with us- like the joy of a Farmer's Market- and I've found a blog for Cincinnati's Locavore's-

and I found a CSA- Community Supported Agriculture to join when I return. But I digress.

What Max didn't say here was that she was trying to take this locavore thing to a bit of an extreme as we return to Cincinnati. By that I mean local in our back yard. To be more precise, I was supposed to plant a large garden in our yard, take care of it, weed it, and harvest it. That makes me the local part. I used to garden a lot. When I was little, we all had to chip in and work in Dad's garden. We turned the soil with spades and rakes, and then we were in the garden, stooped over picking green beans, okra, tomatoes, radishes, peppers, onions, and whatever else was planted. It was hot, humid, itchy, and certainly not much fun. I asked Max if she was going to take care of that garden in August when things ripened, the temperature is in the 90's, the humidity is in the 90's and the mosquito's are very very hungry. Consequently, she is now looking for a local "CSA" that will do all of that for her for a price - something that will most likely exceed what we want and cost more than normal, but Barbara Kingsolver would be proud because we will be locavores.

We brought the the vegetables home and I made the MOST INCREDIBLE "Leek and Chard Tart" or as Don said- "Onion Pie". Onions in an egg base all in a pie crust is an onion pie.

So here goes: I found the recipe on:

And mostly followed her approach.

First you make the crust- a butter crust. I'm gradually moving entirely to the butter category. I've been rather on the fence- and usually mix it up with half butter and half Crisco for the crusts- but the flavor from an all butter is to die for- and with some practice it is just as flaky as the ones with Crisco- and I keep thinking- would I spread Crisco on a piece of bread- and when I stop to think how disgusting that sounds- I think about spreading butter on the bread and the smile comes all over my face.
So I'm going to just move to butter for pies (I still toy with the idea of lard for biscuits but Don keeps discouraging me- and usually I am persuaded.) Note that she doesn't mention spreading lard on a piece of bread and eating it. But to the butter- I am on board.

So here is the recipe:

Leek and Chard Tart:

Mix 1 and 1/2 cup of flour with 1/2 tsp of salt.
Add in 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp of butter (you got it- this crust has BUTTER) cut into small pieces.
Using a pastry blender (I use a pastry fork- just looks like a big serving fork) to blend the butter into the flour. You probably could use a food processor- but I don't. But you blend the butter into the flour until the butter pieces are not larger than a small pea.
Now you add 1/3 cup of ice water.
NOTE: The butter should be VERY COLD- and the water should be VERY COLD. And you don't want to overwork a crust. So add the ice water and toss just to mix- I needed more than a 1/3 of water- so I add a tbsp at a time- careful not to overwork- or to make too wet.
And then you form the dough into a disk- wrap in plastic wrap and put into refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (I went for a 2 hour walk down on the Marina with Don.)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
After the dough is chilled- roll out to a circle larger than your tart pan (or pie pan or quiche pan- any will work for this). And place crust in the pan.
Bake the crust for 25 minutes. (This blog suggests that you cover the bottom with a buttered piece of aluminum foil for the first 20 minutes). Ann Waters in THE ART OF SIMPLE FOOD does not prebake the crust for her tart- but she doesn't use eggs in hers.

3 pieces of bacon cut into small pieces (We used the Niman Ranch bacon- which is VERY ANIMAL FRIENDLY- I'm trying to use only "happy" eggs- and "happy" pigs in this house.) But vegetarians can skip this and use a tbsp of butter instead.
3 leeks (white and light green part cut in small slices). Cook until the leeks glisten and are soft.

And then add 1/2 bunch of swiss chard cut in small pieces.

Saute until chard is limp. Spread mixture on the crust.

Whisk 5 eggs and 1 cup of milk and salt and pepper together. Pour over the vegetable mixture.

Now place the tart in a oven that has been preheated to 375 degrees. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325 degrees for 30 minutes- until eggs are set. (At this point we had a real disaster- somehow- not sure how- the oven turned off- and we waited for 30 minutes- while the tart sat in a cooling oven- but by this time it is getting very late- and we are getting very hungry - long walks on the Marina sure do delay dinner- so I turned the oven up and just baked- and the tart did just fine!) This dinner finally was served at about 9:30, but it was awfully good.

And it tasted incredible- and was still just as good when I had it for lunch today. So bake one soon- or just schedule a visit to see us in Cincinnati- and request the tart!


valereee said...

Thanks for the shout out! And the recipe -- I love chard.

Karen said...

Max, you know I love to garden! Be careful, though. Because of the flood and our late start, I had no "garden" this year. I planted a pepper among the lilies and stuck the tomato plant between a storage shed and the heat pump. Wow, what a tomato! It quickly outgrew its cage and shot toward the sun, sent tendrils out in the yard, crawled back behind the shed and produced more tomatoes than any single plant I've ever had. The joy of gardening is harvesting the produce. The sadness is not being able to find good homes for the produce you cannot use. I've experienced this previously with squash, but never tomatoes. I no longer have my canning equipment, so have made sauce several times, and served spaghetti more often than usual. The neighbors lock their doors and run when they see me coming with my sack of "extras"! Just make sure you hook up with a good distribution vehicle!

Frost and a freeze in the forecast caught me plucking any that showed the slightest pink, but when I pulled the vine, there must have been close to fifty green tomatoes. I almost cried. I'm one who transplants rather than thins carrots and radishes!

I wish I could create something wonderful in the kitchen, as you do. Please do continue the blog!

Lucas said...

I'm responding more to your email rather than this post but please, Please, PLEASE keep on blogging! This part of your adventure may be coming to a close, but there is still so much fun ahead of you in Cinci! I would miss your musings so much if you stopped so please keep the stories and photos coming! With much love from MN!

Beyond The Strip said...

The tart looks really tasty, somewhat quiche like. The vegetables at the farmer's market look wonderful, you're so lucky!

Anonymous said...

call me a dummy (I dare you!) But what is a locavore?
Love, K