As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of The Occasional Vegetarian to give away this week.
This Endive Cheese Tart is one of the most elegant and intriguing offerings from Elaine Louie's The Occasional Vegetarian. Inspired by the classic French tarte tatin, this one treads the line between sweet and savory with refined ingredients and rustic technique.
The recipe begins with bitter endives slowly browned in buttery caramel in a pan. They're topped with slices of pungent, creamy Époisses, a downright genius cheese from Burgundy, and finished off with a layer of rich pastry sweetened with just a bit of confectioners' sugar. The pan is baked until the pastry is golden and the caramel bubbles over. It's inverted onto a plate, displaying a spiral of burnished endives.
The tart as has unmistakable sweetness that's beautifully balanced by the earthy, heady aroma of the Époisses making for a combination of sweet, bitter, salty, and rich that's unforgettable. We like to serve this tart with a greens salad dressed with a bright and bracing vinaigrette and a chilled glass of white Burgundy.
- For the dough:
- 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 41/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg
- For the filling:
- 3 pounds small Belgian endives, trimmed of brown edges
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 pound Époisses cheese
For the dough: In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, and salt. Add the butter and mix with a pastry cutter or two knives until it resembles large crumbs. Add the egg and mix with a fork until it forms a mass. Shape into a disk and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Fill the bottom of a steamer with 1 1⁄2 inches of water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil. Add the endives and steam until just tender, about 20 minutes depending on the size. Transfer to a colander and allow to drain for 20 minutes.
Place a 9 1/2-inch flameproof baking dish or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Melt the butter and add the sugar, stirring until dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and add the endives in a circular pattern, tips meeting in the center, or other attractive pattern (which will be visible when the tart is finished).
Allow the endives to cook over low heat until the liquid is reduced to a caramel on the bottom of the dish and the endives are golden brown (but not burned) on the underside, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.
When the endives are cooked, remove the pan from the heat. Cover the endives evenly with slices of Époisses. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out into a circle large enough to cover and slightly overhang the top of the pan. Place the dough on top of the Époisses; do not try to adjust it once placed.
Trim the excess dough from the sides. Perforate in a few places with a sharp knife and bake until the dough is golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven. Place a large plate on top of the pan. Invert, gently removing the pan. Serve hot or warm.