You Say Tomato, My Father Says Thongs

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I started this blog exactly six months ago today and this is my 50th post.  It’s been a fun and interesting experience; and I thank those who have stopped by to visit and/or followed The Sensory Cart for their support and hope it continues.  Since I’ve already used up my Fifty Shades of Grey material, I thought I’d celebrate 50 posts by telling the tale of a weekend trip to New York City with my father, Crazy Bob, for my thirtieth birthday.  Why?  Because in hindsight it’s a funny story and it directly relates to one of my most requested recipes for which I unfortunately cannot take credit.

Prior to my turning thirty, I had only been to New York on business and while I had dined, attended shows, and shopped, I had never experienced the museums despite having spent six years pursuing two degrees as an art major.  My father and I decided to fly down to the city and visit the museums, see a show, hit some shops, head to SoHo for some Dark Obsession tea, and experience some tarts at a small cafe called Once Upon a Tart.  You see, I had purchased the cafe’s cookbook many years ago after one of the owners, Jerome Audureau, made his mother’s signature apricot tart on the Martha Stewart Show.  Yes, it was prior to Martha’s incarceration – don’t you be talkin’ smack about my girl!  Not only had I perfected the apricot tart at home, but several other dessert tarts as well. We can discuss dessert tarts at a later date.

So Crazy Bob and I boarded a Delta flight to JFK.  We won’t discuss the fact that I put everything, and I mean everything, in my checked luggage and left my carry on practically empty since I was a woman on a retail mission.  I’m sure you can envision what happened next.  Crazy Bob and I arrived. I contacted the shuttle because I figured that in NYC traffic, it would arrive right around the time our luggage would roll off the conveyor belt.  And so we watched the baggage go around, and around, and around, and the shuttle go bye-bye before I realized I was pretty much screwed.  Insert big, fat, giant hissy fit here with several nasty phone calls to Delta customer service.  We were on a tight schedule since SoHo was slated for that afternoon and The Producers show was planned for that evening.  So we ventured over to SoHo and I began to rack up additional expenses for what should have been in my carry on.  Our first stop was Aveda, and the next stop was a random Asian market for non-Aveda products like toothpaste, deodorant and a comb (that Delta Sky Mall package wasn’t cutting the mustard).  The third stop was Once Upon a Tart.  I hadn’t eaten. It was late afternoon and not too much was left.  I glanced at the case and decided I’d go with a savory tart, soup, and several scones to have for the hotel the next day.  The tart was Tomato Provençal and it was simply delicious.  I inhaled it and knew I would have to check my book for the recipe when I returned home.

We still hadn’t resolved the very obvious problem.  I had no clothing – not one single item, including underpants.  That didn’t stop us from heading to Mariebelle for tea and chocolates, where I had to ask the sales associate where I could find decent undergarments.  She recommended Anthropologie.  I knew shopping there was going to impact how much I could spend on other things so I inquired, “Where is the nearest Victoria’s Secret?”  She gave me directions and off we went.  Now, I had shopped in Victoria’s Secret with my mother while she was alive, but had never experienced one with Crazy Bob.  This is how it went down:  I told the sales associate what happened with my luggage.  I asked her for very specific products and underpants (basically the items that were lost).  She gave me 20 different options that they were trying to ‘pimp’ at the time.  I became frustrated and told her I needed a minute to look around.  Meanwhile, my father was on my heels the entire time.  I located a hoodie, black yoga pants, and some fragrance mist and started poking through the undie-bins trying to find my size.  The clock was ticking and we had to go to the show.  He inquired, “What’s the matter?”  I told him that I couldn’t find my size in the color and style that I wanted.  He asked what I was looking for.  I uncomfortably said, “They don’t have any small black thongs.”

To my horror, Crazy Bob started to yell at the top of his lungs, “SHE CAN’T FIND ANY SMALL BLACK THONGS! DO YOU HAVE ANY SMALL BLACK THONGS AROUND HERE?”

See, you truly haven’t lived until your father requests thongs for you at high volume in the middle of a SoHo Vicky’s Secret.  It’s character-building.  Tears of embarrassment are good for you.  And, you really haven’t lived until you’ve tried this delicious tart. So without further ado, I give you:

Lady Sensory’s Don’t Get Your Panties in a Bunch Tomato Provençal Tart

(from the Once Upon a Tart cookbook with a minor adjustment here and there – do yourself a favor and buy the book for more tips on how to make great crusts)

Savory Tart Crust (You will need to make this in advance and chill for about an hour – I usually make mine the night before.  You’ll want to use the crust within 3-4 days. This makes 2 crusts for 9-inch tart pans):

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

3 tbsp semolina flour

1 tsp salt

12 tbsp (1.5 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

3 tbsp cold solid vegetable shortening

Small glass of ice water

In a food processor, combine the flour, semolina flour and salt and pulse.  Add butter and shortening all at once and pulse until the mixture forms little pea-sized balls – do not let it turn to a paste!  Remove blade and place the crumbs into a large bowl.  Add ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until dough just comes together into a ball – do not let it get so wet that it turns sticky and pasty white!  Cut the dough in half and form two disks.  Wrap the disks in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.  I recommend about an hour to overnight.  When it’s time to make the tart, remove the dough from the fridge and place the racks in the center of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  For this recipe you will par-bake (half-bake) the crust.  On a floured surface, with a floured pin, roll out your disk of dough to about 1/4-inch thick.  Carefully place your dough into your tart pan (I recommend the pans with the removable bottoms) and press evenly into the bottom and sides of the pan. Don’t worry if the dough breaks or if you mess up!  Trust that it gets easier with practice!  As long as you don’t work the dough too much, the crust will still come out flaky and delicious.  Using a fork, prick holes into the bottom of the crust (this will help prevent air bubbles).  Line the dough with parchment paper or foil and fill with an even layer of dried beans or pie weights.  Place the tart pan on a cookie sheet (easier to remove from the oven) and bake for 10 minutes.  Remove the foil/paper & weights, carefully, and return the crust to the oven for about 5 more minutes.  Remove when toasted and slightly golden brown.  Reduce the oven heat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit to cook the rest of the tart.

Tomato Provençal Filling

Camellia pattern

9-inch par-baked crust (above)

12-15 plum (Roma) tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch thick round slices, and drained in a colander

2 tablespoons Grey Poupon Country Dijon mustard (or any grainy Dijon mustard)

1 cup freshly grated Gruyère cheese

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional, my addition to the recipe)

1 tsp Herbes de Provence (or more, depending on your preference – I use 1.5 tsp)

2 large eggs

1/4 cup light cream (you can substitute with half and half)

Salt & freshly cracked pepper to taste

While the tomatoes drain (about 15 – 30 minutes),  whisk together the eggs, cream, salt, and pepper in a bowl.  Spread the mustard in an even layer on the bottom of the tart shell with the back of a spoon.  Sprinkle Gruyère and Parmesan cheese over the layer of mustard, then follow with Herbes de Provence.  Lay the tomatoes in a camellia-type pattern (overlapping slices in concentric circles) from the outside in.  Pour the egg mixture (custard) evenly over the tomatoes until it is approximately 1/4 ” away from the top of the crust.  You can drizzle a little more cream if you don’t have enough.  Bake the tart on the center rack in the oven at 375 degrees Farenheit for 1 hour to an hour and 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on the custard – it shouldn’t jiggle when it is done.  Remove the tart and allow to cool a bit before removing the outside ring.  I typically place mine on an old tea canister, but you can use any large, sturdy can.  This tart is delicious warm or at room temperature.  I typically store it in the fridge for a few days and warm slices up in the microwave and serve with a tossed salad and a glass of red.  This is wonderful to bring to a brunch, picnic, or pie/tart contest. The presentation is beautiful and it’s always a crowd-pleaser.  It isn’t gluten-free, but it is vegetarian-friendly.  Whether you buy the cookbook or try the cafe in person, you will not be disappointed.

As a side note, my luggage did arrive the next day after my SoHo VS/ Crazy Bob debacle.  If you ever get down to SoHo, please take a little jaunt to 135 Sullivan Street and enjoy a slice of savory or sweet goodness.  But whatever you do, don’t forget to pack your underpants in your carry on.  This has been a public service announcement from Lady Sensory.

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6 thoughts on “You Say Tomato, My Father Says Thongs

  1. clairelovescraigslist

    Man that crust looks awesome! Can you recommend a good tart pan? I am working on my Amazon wish list

    • If you can get your hands on a Wilton non-stick one, grab it. I have a Wilton and a Williams-Sonoma and the Wilton pan’s ridges are a little wider so there is less risk of crust-crumbling (crust aesthetics – ha ha!). Always get one with the removable bottom. I have mini ones that don’t have removable bottoms and they make me sad. You can place it on a coffee can as it cools and the side rim falls off. Then all you have to do is insert the chef’s knife between the bottom and the crust and slide it off and onto the serving plate (when cooled).

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