Thea and Gelsamina Singing 2003, charcoal and pastel on paper, 42 x 63 inches
This drawing of two beautiful women singing conjures up the memory of their voices and makes me happy ─ as do all the melodies of summer.
I can’t resist a warm, just-picked tomato, one of the few vegetables I grow up here on Blue Mountain Road. They take forever to ripen, but each day, one or two, maybe only tiny cherry tomatoes, are ready for my picking. They go straight into my mouth. I am resigned to picking masses of green tomatoes just before the first frost and leaving them to ripen on my kitchen counter.
For serious cooking and eating, I buy luscious tomatoes from the Zwecks. After days of tomato salads, pastas and gazpacho, I decided to make a tomato tart for a dinner with our friend Susan. I remembered a recipe from a Time-Life cookbook I have, Provincial French Cooking, published in 1968 and a real blast from the past. The text, explanations and descriptions of French food and customs, was written by my hero, MFK Fisher!
I’m not sure if this is her recipe but I feel guided by her when I make this tart.
Our dinner with Susan began with corn on the cob, of course. Then I served the tart with a salad including farro and roasted figs. Here is what I did.
For the tart crust, use half of my recipe here ─ Pie! ─ minus the sugar. Make this first as it needs an hour-long rest in the fridge before forming and baking.
In the meantime, slice 2 large tomatoes (or enough small ones to cover the tart), salt lightly and let them drain on paper towels. Slice 8 – 12 ounces of gruyere and grate a 1/2 cup of parmesan.
On a piece of parchment, roll the pastry into a large rectangle, about 9 x 12 inches, and fold or pinch the edges to make a low rim. Place on a baking sheet.
Prick with a fork and bake at 400° for about 15 minutes, until a little brown and set. Let cool. Arrange the cheese slices, slightly overlapping, on the pastry, top with the tomatoes, patted dry; sprinkle with a lot of chopped basil, and strew with the parmesan. Add a drizzle of olive oil.
Bake at 375° for 30 minutes, until browned and bubbly.
While the tart is baking, assemble the salad. I had a cup of cooked farro, (dressed with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice), on hand. If you need to cook some it will take about 40 minutes so plan accordingly.
Toss the stemmed and halved figs (about 3 figs per person) with a teaspoon or so of olive oil, just enough to lightly coat the fruit. Add a bit of salt and pepper.
Heat up a grill pan or heavy skillet and roast the figs, cut sides down, until fragrant and lightly caramelized. Let cool a bit. Combine lettuces, arugula and a cucumber cut into small chunks, and dress with olive oil, salt and pepper and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Toss in the farro and place the warm figs around the mound of greens.
Slide the tart, with the parchment, onto a cutting board and dinner is served.