Sunday, June 5, 2011
This is one of those posts I thought I'd better get to you quick, because ramp season is nothing if not fleeting. And ramps can be nothing if not hard to find. And there's a reason for that. Part of the reason is that they're usually foraged, not cultivated. At least, that's the way my CSA, Holton Farms, does it. And if you're in the NYC area, you should definitely look them up, because they are one great CSA.
So I realize that ramps aren't going to be available everywhere, nor are they available for very long. So you can substitute leeks for the ramps here and you'll still come up with a great tart. But if you happen to be at a farmers market and you happen on ramps, grab them, confident that this tart recipe is waiting for you. And if, upon coming home with your treasure, you discover that a tart isn't really what you're craving, you can also make a Ramp and Potato Soup, Ramps with Lemony Couscous, or even just sauté them with some bacon.
Now about the recipe. I used a crust from one of my new favorite cookbooks, The Nordic Diet by Trina Hahnemann. But speaking of ingredients that can be hard to find! Hahnemann calls for 1/2 cup of quark or fromage frais for the dough. Just hold on now, if you're about to close down the window on account of all the shopping around you think you might need to do. Both quark and fromage frais are fresh cheeses, in other words, unaged. I think that since I was lucky with my ramps, it was only right that I would be unable to find either quark or fromage frais, so I used fromage blanc, which is another french-style fresh cheese, just like fromage frais. 'Oh thanks a lot, Andrea' you might be thinking 'for suggesting fromage blanc as a substitute for quark (cue eye roll). That's totally much easier'. But that's actually not what I'm suggesting because I am almost 100% sure that you could just use sour cream. Yes, the taste is different, and sour cream is slightly higher fat (so get reduced or something then), but it should act as a binder just as well. So sour cream, quark, or fromages frais or blanc should all work. It's a bit of a dry dough, so you may need to add some water while kneading or do a little patching-up job once you've got it into your tart pan. But no one will notice.
So that's the crust. The filling recipe comes from one of the World Community Cookbooks called Simply in Season. Never heard of the World Community series? They're cookbooks put out by the Mennonite Central Committee, all of which focus on fresh, whole food and delicious, nourishing cooking. They're completely unassuming, no pictures, just the recipes. Almost like quality-controlled community cookbooks. Remember, if you can't find ramps, use leeks, but use only the white part of the leek, whereas you'll use the entire ramp.
Ramp Tart on Rye Crust
Recipes adopted from Trina Hahnemann's The Nordic Diet and Mary Beth Lind and Cathleen Hockman-Wert's Simply in Season
For the crust:
1/2 cup wheat flour
1 3/4 cups rye flour
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks and chilled
1/2 cup quark, fromage frais, fromage blanc or sour cream
Sift the flours and salt together into a bowl. Add the butter and rub it into the flour with your fingers until it has the texture of oatmeal. Using a wooden spoon, stir the cheese into the flour mixture. As it comes together to form a dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed it just enough so that it holds a ball shape. If it's too crumbly, add a little water. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
For the filling:
1 cup evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups ramps, both the whites and the greens chopped (or use leeks)
1 cup shredded gruyère cheese
Whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together in a bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9 or 10" tart pan with a removable bottom with cooking spray and set aside. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out to a size large enough to be draped over your tart pan. Line the pan with the dough, trimming off extra dough from the sides, which you can then use to patch any tears.
Line the dough with parchment paper and pour dried beans on the paper. This will keep the dough from puffing while you parbake, or partially bake it. You might want to put the tart on a cookie sheet, because I find that whenever I have to pour a custard over a tart as in this one, there tends to be some leakage. Slide the tart crust into the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove the tart from the oven and remove the parchment paper and beans. Put the ramps on the bottom of the tart and sprinkle the cheese over the top. Pour the egg mixture into the shell and return to the oven for another 40 minutes, until the filling is slightly browned and set. Remove and let cool slightly before serving.