Sunday, June 26, 2011

Rustic Ham and Brie Tart With Grape Tomatoes and Thyme

One of the things I like most about cooking is taking a peek into the fridge, seeing what needs using up, and concocting some sort of splendid dish out of the whole mess.  All of these years in the food biz have taught me don't dare throw any food out unless it's a rotting disaster. Ideally you stay on top of your inventory and use accordingly; buying only what you need for certain functions, etc.  Throwing away food is like throwing away cold, hard cash.  Same goes at home.  I'm the total nerd in the market with my list, buying only what I need for what I'm cooking this week.  There may be the odd impulse buy in the cheese section, or hello, I do in fact need this bar of dark chocolate.  Cheese and chocolate will get me every time.

Speaking of cheese, this delicious tart came to fruition because all that remained off of a wedge of brie were a few lonely slices.  There was also a container of sour organic whipping cream that needed to be used up ASAP, as the odour in the fridge was getting to be a bit much.  A few bits and pieces of roast ham were kicking around and I've got wonderful fresh spring onions in the garden now, and herbs galore!  The only thing I bought special were some lovely grape tomatoes.  I love eggs and tomatoes, especially in a warm buttery crust with all of that brie.

One of the things I want to become better at is making pastry.  The press-in crusts are awesome, and they come to my rescue many a time, but I really want to kick some butt at making honest to goodness roll out pastry.  Usually it tears apart and ends up a garbled mess of dough after trying to patch the pieces together, then it's tough as nails because I overworked it.  Joy.  So, practice practice practice.

I'm happy to report that this attempt did not suck.  Far from it.  I even added some whole wheat flour to the pastry, and it turned out just fine, save a minor crack I noticed after I par-baked the crust.  I just filled the shell with my fresh ingredients, wrapped the tart pan in foil, hoped for the best, because sometimes that's all you can do.  I kinda figured the egg would set up before any disaster took hold.  And I was right.  No kitchen nightmare here!

The best thing about this tart, is that you can prepare it in stages.  I made the dough the day before.  Rolled it out and put it in my tart pan, pressed the edges in, pierced the crust.  Plunked it in the freezer and forgot about it until the morning I wanted to make the tart.  Par-baked it for 20 minutes, prepped my filling ingredients, cracked some eggs, chopped some herbs, filled the tart and let it bake up into golden goodness.  Really, it's that easy.  Served warm, this tart is a splendid sensation of creamy brie and buttery crust, salty ham tamed by the sweet of the tomatoes.  Aromatic thyme and a tender bite of spring onion compliment it perfectly.  These ingredients are just a jumping off point...think bacon and Gruyere; roasted zucchini and cheddar; goat cheese and anything. Perfect for brunch guests, or a simple supper with salad.  And seriously, if I can make this pastry and it turns out half decent, you can too. 

Rustic Ham and Brie Tart With Grape Tomatoes and Thyme

11/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp chilled butter
3 Tbsp chilled shortening
4 Tbsp ice cold water

5 slices brie (about 1/2 cup) approx
1/2 cup diced ham, approx
2 green onions, sliced
1 handful grape tomatoes, cut in half
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
3 large eggs
1 cup whipping cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

To make the crust:  in a food processor, add the flours and fat.  Pulse until coarse crumbs form and if pinched between your fingers it holds it shape. With the motor running, gradually pour in water until a ball forms.  Pour in a bit more water if need be. Gently place the dough on a surface, gather into a ball and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  After it has chilled, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface.  Place in a 9 inch tart pan with removable bottom.  Trim the overhanging crust to 1 inch, and fold it in, pressing gently.  Pierce crust allover and refrigerate for another 30 minutes, or you can wrap it and freeze overnight.  When ready, heat your over to 375*F, bake crust until golden, about 20 minutes, pressing down with fork if it bubbles up.  Remove from oven, layer in the cheese, meat, veggies. Whip the eggs with salt and pepper, pour over filling ingredients.  Sprinkle with fresh thyme.  Bake for 30- 40 minutes, until golden and filling has set.  Let rest 5 minutes and cut into wedges.  Serves 4-6.  Adapted from Bon Appetit. 


  1. Wow! This tart looks amazing. I love anything with brie!

  2. Yum. I want a piece right now! Grape tomatoes are my favorite.

  3. This is exactly what I want for breakfast. Exactly. You have a gorgeous site here. Thank you for the recipe.

  4. Thank you Eva, Ruth. I'm down with brie and grape tomatoes, too. Angela, I'm happy you like my site, and yes, this is perfect for breakfast...and a middle of the night snack. :)

  5. Oh how lovely! This sounds absolutely delicious. I can't wait for some fresh local cherry tomatoes!

  6. This tart is lovely! Sounds delish as well- I especially love that you could make something so wonderful looking just with what you have in the refrigerator. My kind of meal!

  7. i think it is a yummy dish


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