Le Quatorze Juillet

Here it is Bastille Day and where am I? Sadly, not in France!

But my mind, my heart and my taste buds are there...

I woke up wondering what we should do to celebrate from this distance...

When we were in Provence for my 50th birthday several years ago, we had several lovely meals with Pierre and Muriel, mutual friends of Susan and Towny of The Modern Trobadors.

Pierre and Muriel used to own a little bookshop and salon de thé a couple doors down from Susan and Towny's home in Lourmarin - Le Thé dans l'Encrier. The café was well know for its Tarte aux Tomates. We had it several times, even though Muriel and Pierre had sold the business. Sadly, this little gem of a café has since gone under.

When we dined on the rooftop of their home, Muriel served the most delectable Crumble au Poulet - a savory crumble that I will make for you someday when the weather is cooler. But we never had her version of the Tarte aux Tomates.

Upon our return to the States, I checked with Susan and Towny to see if they had her recipe for the tarte. Happily, they did and shared it with me. And, on this Fête de la Bastille, I share it with you. It makes a perfect light meal - one that reminds us of being in France.

Like other recipes we have from Muriel's kitchen, the directions and amounts are not precise but, once you start putting it together, they all make perfect sense.

The original recipe calls for puff pastry but, as I am not the biggest fan of the frozen pastry we can get here in the States, I prefer to use a short butter crust which worked just fine.

Bon appétit!

- David

Tarte aux Tomates

1 1/3 cups flour
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup ice water
Dijon mustard
6 ounces Emmentaler cheese, grated and set out to dry a bit
2 large tomato, sliced horizontally
salt and pepper
Herbes de Provence*
extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon small capers
2 ounces grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place flour in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter in 16 pieces. Pulse 12 times then then sprinkle with the ice water. Pulse until the dough forms clumps, then turn out onto a floured board and pull together into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Roll out dough on a floured board to make a 13-inch round. Place pastry in an 11-inch tart pan and roll up the edges like a pizza. (Alternatively, use one sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed and rolled out to a 13-inch round.)

Prick bottom of pastry with a fork and coat bottom with Dijon mustard using a heavy hand. Sprinkle the grated Emmentaler over the bottom to cover.

Add sliced tomatoes – if tomatoes are juicy, pat dry with paper towel first, or let drain on paper towels. Generously salt and pepper the tomatoes and sprinkle Herbes de Provence on top. Drizzle the tart with olive oil. Sprinkle capers on top and then a layer of grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

Bake for 1 hour, or until pastry is golden. Serve immediately.

Serves 6-8. 

* Herbes de Provence is a mixture of dried herbs including rosemary, savory, thyme, basil, marjoram, oregano and lavender. Each producer uses their own proportions and combinations. If you don’t have Herbes de Provence, make your own blend with what you have on hand.

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