Annie-Mae DeBresson, the French chef from whom Dayton took several cooking classes at her home above the gourmet ghetto in Berkeley in the 70’s is the inspiration for this indescribably delicious and satisfying vegetable pie which graced our dinner table last night. It was so tasty that I’m looking forward to left-overs this evening! It is a unique and unusual dish for several reasons. First of all, it does not contain a large number of eggs or cream to act as a binder for all of the wonderfully fresh ingredients that make up the filling. Therefore it does not have the custard-like consistency one would expect from a dish such as a quiche. Each ingredient stands on its own merits and contributes to the wonderful array of individual flavors that burst forth with each delectable bite. Secondly, the exquisitely light and flaky pastry is made by combining flour, butter, egg, extra virgin olive oil and… white wine! This is a dish that, once you have taken that first bite, will have you hooked. I can predict with near certainty that La Tourte Aux Herbes will become not only a family favorite but a dish begging to be showcased in a late Sunday morning garden brunch with close friends!
La Tourte Aux Herbes
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and prepare the pastry… Pate Brisee.
To the stainless steel bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle add:
3 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
Quickly whisk together to combine. Add:
8-oz (2 sticks) frozen unsalted sweet butter, cut into tiny bits
Mix on medium speed until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal:
With a small whisk mix together in a measuring cup:
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 C dry white wine
Add to flour mixture and mix until pastry just begins to pull together:
Transfer to a silicone mat, form into a ball and cut the ball in half. Shape into discs, wrap in film and refrigerate for 30 minutes:
Baker’s Note: Flecks of frozen butter will be visually obvious… and are most welcomed! During baking they will be responsible for creating the flaky, puff pastry-like texture of this wonderful crust!
Remove one pastry disc from the refrigerator and place on a floured work surface.
Baker’s Note: I suggest using a silcone baking mat covered with film, then sprinkled with flour. The use of the film greatly faciliates transfering the rolled pastry to the tart pan.
Sprinkle the disc with flour and cover with a large piece of film. Roll pastry out just larger than a 12-inch tart pan:
Remove the film and fit the pastry into the bottom of the tart pan and up the sides, allowing the pastry to hang over the edge. Prick the bottom and sides with the tines of a fork. Place in the refrigerator while preparing the filling.
Bring to a boil over moderately high heat in a small saucepan:
- 1 – 1 1/2 C water
When the water comes to a boil add:
- 1/3 C long-grain white rice
Return to a boil, then cover and reduce to a brisk simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, drain through a fine sieve and cool completely under running cold water. Set aside.
Rinse, julienne and place in a large bowl:
- 1 lb collard greens
- 3 medium zucchini, quartered and sliced
- 3 medium crook neck squash, sliced
- 1/2 bunch Italian parsley, finely minced
- 6 whole garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bunch green onions, chopped
- 1 large shallot, finely minced
- 1/2 lb pancetta, finely chopped
1/2 C Jarlsberg cheese, shredded and packed
- 6 oz frozen petite peas
- the reserved long-grain white rice
- 2 large eggs
- 3 T extra virgin olive oil
Add to the vegetables and pancetta, then mix well to thoroughly incorporate:
Season to taste with:
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 5 – 6 gratings of nutmeg
Remove the pastry-lined tart pan from the refrigerator and paint the bottom of the shell with:
- Dijon mustard
Remove the second pastry disc from the refrigerator and roll out the same way as the first. Heap the vegetable mixture into the lined pan and cover with the top pastry:
Grasp both pastry layers with your fingers and trim with a scissors, leaving a 3/4-inch overhang:
Roll the top crust under the crust on the bottom, tucking into the edge of the tart pan. Crimp to seal and wash the crust with:
- 1 large egg, beaten
If desired, use the left-over scraps of pastry to decorate the top for presentation. When finished, paint the decorations with egg wash as well. Cut a vent or two on the top to allow for the escape of steam during baking:
Place the vegetable pie in the preheated 400 degree oven and bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool briefly before slicing and service:
This magnificent dish is extremely versatile! Chard, spinach or kale can be used rather than collard greens and bacon or blanched salt pork can be used as a substitute for pancetta. And don’t forget the cheese… Swiss is also wonderful! So, mix and match… and enjoy this spectacular dish soon… Bon Appetit!
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