Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Chard, Raisin, and Pine Nut Tart

I was hoping that this would turn out edible at least, and it's actually pretty good. I wanted a different way to cook leafy greens, and this works unexpectedly well. The original recipe claims that this can be paired with a salad for a light dinner, but I think it's a bit too sweet to stand on its own (or with a simple salad) for dinner, even without the confectioners sugar on top. It could even be served for dessert, as weird as it might sound to serve a chard dish for dessert. I had a small salad, roasted asparagus, and a bit of chicken with mine, and that was fine. I could also see this working well with a bulgur or wheatberry pilaf. Warning: this is not a quick weeknight dinner, unless you have prepared the filling (which can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered) and pastry dough ahead of time. I underestimated the amount of time it would take, and ended up eating at 9:30pm. Whoops.

Chard, Raisin, and Pine Nut Tart
Serves 8 as a side or light main dish. 

1/2 cup raisins
1 cup water
2 pounds Swiss chard, stems and center ribs discarded
1 large egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
Pastry dough for a double-crust pie (recipe follows)
2 teaspoons confectioners sugar (optional)

Bring raisins and water to a boil in a small, heavy saucepan, then remove from heat, cover, and let stand 1 hour. Drain, then pat dry with towels. Place rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 400F. 

Blanch chard in a large pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes. Transfer chard with tongs or a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Drain chard, then squeeze out excess water by handfuls. Coarsely chop chard (I forgot this step and it was fine)

Whisk together egg, cream, granulated sugar, zest, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Stir in pine nuts, raisins, and chard until combined.

Note: the original recipe calls for using an 11x15" tart pan with a removable bottom, but since I don't have such a thing, I made it more free-form. I'll post both ways here.

Using a pan: Roll out half of the pastry dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a rectangle slightly larger than 15x11", and fit into tart pan (do not trim edges). Chill shell while rolling out top. Roll out second piece of dough to a similar size. Spread chard filling evenly into shell, then top with second rectangle of dough. Using a rolling pin, roll over edges of tart pan to seal tart, and trim edges, discarding scraps. Put tart in pan on a baking sheet and proceed from brushing with egg to end of recipe.

Free-form: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or aluminum foil) and lay first crust on the parchment. Mound filling on pastry, leaving a 2-inch border on each side. Carefully fold pastry borders over filling. Brush folded-over edges with beaten egg (to help top crust adhere). Roll out second crust and place on top of tart, pressing carefully to folded-up sides of bottom crust to adhere. 

Brush top of tart with beaten egg. Cut three steam vents in top of crust with a sharp knife and bake until top is golden, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack and cool 10 minutes, then cool to room temperature and, if desired, dust with confectioners sugar.


Okay, now for the pastry dough. I wrote up this pie dough in my recent apple pie post, but I didn't quite follow directions properly when I made that pie, so it didn't come out as well as the recipe made it sound like it would. Today, however, I followed the directions extra carefully, and the result was the most tender, flaky, downright perfect pie crust that's ever come out of my kitchen. It was also the easiest pie dough I've ever worked with: no tearing, no cracking, just as smooth and pleasant as can be. It was like rolling out sugar cookie dough. Crucial to this result is the incorporation of the flour into the fat in two steps. Without this two-step process, you won't get the even distribution that gives you such a wonderful dough. 

Now, I've put up the original recipe quantities here. I made the crust as it's written below, as I made a half batch of the tart (yes, I halved the egg--not easy, but it came out fine). You might have to make a 1.5 or even double batch if you're making a full 11x15" tart. 

Pastry Dough
For one 9-inch double-crust pie

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4" slices
1/2 cup cold vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup cold water

Process 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 15 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds and there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape bowl with rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add remaining 1 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix, pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Divide dough into two even balls and flatten each into 4-inch disk. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days. 


Brave Sir Robin said...

That sounds, ...interesting! Is this a cook Illustrated recipe?

It sounds Italian. I'd really like to see a picture of a slice, to see the insides.

What about just leaving out the sugar? It should still have sweetness from the raisins.

The big question - Would you make it again?

Bee said...

Adventures in Chard!

I haven't, knowingly, ever eaten chard. But this is the beauty of veg boxes! (When I get back from Texas, I will get my own veg box organized.)

Off-topic thought: you mentioned that your mom was a keen jam-maker. Does she have a good recipe for raspberry jam? We love picking raspberries in the summer, and every year I vow to make jam . . . but haven't thus far.

I really MUST try that pie-crust. I was raised on Crisco, and despite all of the trans-fats controversy, I still think it has its place in the home bakery.

Brave Sir Robin said...

My go-to pie crust is From Baking With Julia, and it is a butter/shorting mix. I will definitely try the vodka though!

Anne said...

BSR - Whoops, I forgot to link to the original recipe. I'll edit the post with the link. This is from Gourmet. The preamble to the recipe says it's served in the south of France, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to see it served in Italy as well. I want to say northern Italy--it seems like something Lidia Bastianich would make.

I'm sure you could leave out the sugar if you wanted something more savory. You're right, the raisins would still provide some sweetness. I'm pretty sure I'll make it again, both as-is and with some variations. A bit more saltiness might contrast nicely with the sweetness, so perhaps I'd add some pancetta.

Bee - I'm a recent convert to chard, so I'm probably not the best person to sing its praises convincingly. It sure is healthy, though! And rainbow chard is so pretty. The stuff I got in my box this week was a mix of yellow, white, and red. I will try to find that camera download cable tonight so that I can post a picture!

The pie crust really is incredible. The original recipe is called "foolproof pie dough" and while I'm reluctant to call anything "foolproof," this just might be as close as one can get with pie dough. I was raised on Crisco, too, but I've found that I can get non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening. I don't feel quite as bad about eating that.

Baking With Julia is an incredible book, and it is downright shameful that I don't have a copy. My mom has a copy, and I gave a copy to Katie at one point, but I myself do not have one. If you have a stand mixer (or the strength and stamina to beat dough vigorously for several minutes, in which case I am in complete awe of you) you MUST try both her brioche recipe and her brioche sticky buns. Should you have any brioche left over, I highly recommend using it for French toast and topping it with apricot jam.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Should you have any brioche left over
As if.


Anne said...

As if.

Lol, I know, right?! In this case it's crucial to make a double batch.

Bee said...

I do have "Baking with Julia" and I have never tried the brioche.

This will be a project for late April, I suppose. That -- and vodka pie crust.

(I have had my own Kitchen Aid mixer since I left college!)

As for chard, I won't eat anything merely on the basis of "health!"

Anne said...

I am so envious, Bee! I long for a KitchenAid mixer of my own, and have for years, but a) they're a little pricey for a student budget, and b) my kitchen is too small for all of my stuff as it is. Fortunately there are very few things in my week-to-week repertoire that I can't manage without a stand mixer.

On chard: well, it's a good thing there are so many tasty ways to cook it! :)

I just realized that I have neglected your jam question. The answer is yes! It's so easy, too. I will check with her for the exact instructions and post the recipe later today.

Brave Sir Robin said...

I am currently on my THIRD Kitchen Aid. It, like it's predecessors had a broken transmission.

That part where Julia warns you about the mixer getting hot? Yeah.

My next Mixer will be a Hobart.

Bee said...

I think you've had bad luck, BSR.

My first Kitchen Aid was a hand-me-down from my Mom, and when I left Houston two years ago I gave it to a friend. It was still going strong after at least 25 years of HARD USAGE.

Anne, I really want one for you!

Oh, and no hurry on the jam recipe . . . but just for someday, when the berries are out. We are back to winter today. I hate it! Why don't I live in California? Why?

Anne said...

I'm with Bee: that sounds like a string of bad luck. My mom's has been going for at least 25 years, also with hard usage.

I have the jam recipe from my mom and just need to post it, which shouldn't take too long. Since I found a few spare moments to post this comment, maybe I'll take a few more to post the jam recipe!

We are having rather wintry weather here, too--well, wintry for California. It's going to be in the low 60s today, with rain showers this evening. I love California, but I actually miss the snow and really cold weather. Crazy? Perhaps!

Bee said...

When you say you miss the cold weather are you talking about your time in Chicago?

There is a short story called "Wet" by Laurie Colwin -- about a woman (also an academic) who swims everyday in the Chicago winter. In early spring she decides to take a dip in Lake Michigan! I reread this recently and it gave me the shivers. I just hate being cold. I wear cashmere turtleneck sweaters every day so I won't get a cold neck!

Anne said...

I am indeed! Maybe I'm just conflating nostalgia for my time there with nostalgia for the winters... but they sure were an integral part of my life there.

Funny coincidence: my last two years in Chicago, I swam (almost) every day in the winter. It was a cold nine blocks to the gym at 5:30am, but watching the sun rise during a kick set was pretty cool.

I don't much care for being cold, but I LOVE winter clothing: scarves, hats, warm sweaters, wool trousers, down vests, and so on.

You must have loved living in Trinidad!!