Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Perfect portion: chioggia beet and goat cheese tartlets

I had the nightmare experience of trying to turn my computer on yesterday only to find that no matter what I did, the screen remained black. Two computer repair places and several hours later, I accepted the fact that it needed to be sent out for repair, and that I would be without my lifeline for four days. Luckily I have a backup system that would make Bill Gates proud, and am not worried about my files. That said, it has taken a while for me to get set up so that I can access my critical files from a borrowed computer and be able to write this week’s post. I’ll save what I was going to share from Maine for next week when I have my own computer back, and in the meantime have a bright lunch idea for this rainy weather.

I love anything cooked in individual portions. Somehow, everything looks and tastes better served that way. Tartlets are no exception – they are even easier to make than full-sized tarts since forming the dough size is simpler. Inspired by the beautiful Chioggia beets in the farmer’s market, I set off to make beet and goat cheese tartlets for lunch and served them with wonderful farmer’s market greens. I love Chioggia beets – they are even more exotic-looking raw and can be eaten that way. I like thinly slicing them in salad: they are a beautiful contrast to greens. Cooked, their concentric rings lose some of their punch but they become beautifully mottled with pink, white and orange colors.

These tartlets (with a great green side salad) are the perfect light, highly civilized lunch.

Beet and goat cheese tartlets

For the dough, use any basic pâte brisée such as this one (dough for one 9 inch pie will make 4-5 tartlets)

For the filling

4-5 beets (Chioggia are beautiful but standard beets would be nice too), drizzled with olive oil, wrapped in foil and roasted in the oven at 350˚ for ~45 minutes or until a knife easily passes through them)
5 oz goat cheese
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, well washed
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme plus one spring thyme to garnish each tart
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Press dough inside fluted mini tart pans (~4.5 inch diameter) with removable bottoms. Roll rolling pin over tops of tarts to cut off any dough above the edges. Prick dough with a fork in several places. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes. Place parchment paper inside tart pans, covering sides and fill with pie weights. Blind bake for 25 minutes until dough is a golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.

While tart shells are blind baking, slice leeks into thin rounds and sauté over medium/medium low heat with a splash of olive oil, small pat of butter and sprinkle of salt and pepper until they are soft and translucent. Mix ~1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves, and a sprinkle of pepper into goat cheese. Stir to soften the cheese.

When beets are cool enough to handle, remove skins and slice very thinly and evenly, ideally using a mandolin.

When tart shells come out of oven, fill bottoms with sautéed leeks and then dot goat cheese evenly on top, using your finger or a fork to gently distribute the cheese.

Bake tarts for ~10 minutes until cheese has softened. Remove from oven and neatly place beet slices on the top, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with remaining teaspoon chopped thyme leaves and heat in oven until warm, ~5-7 minutes, taking care to ensure beets do not dry out.

Remove from pie pans, garnish with a spring of thyme and serve with a green salad.

p.s. I'm entering the top-down image in this month's "click" event

24 comments:

Anita said...

I love the varying colors of the beets - it's like a pastel painting!

Y said...

Wow, those beets look great! Perfect on those tarts for a sunny-day kind of lunch :)

Peter G said...

Sorry to hear about your computer! As I've already explained I love this dish and it's wonderful to indulge in this on a rainy day.

Ivy said...

How awesome are these! wow!

I usually can get golden and red beets but not these-they're amazing. :)

Cate said...

Those tarts look incredible! Beets and goat cheese are such a fantastic combination!

Meeta said...

sorry to hear about that computer mishap! it reminds me to get that external hard drive i've been meaning to get! but these tarts look simply delightful!

catchall fan in brooklyn said...

Just lovely. When's lunch?

Venus ~ Vi said...

These tarts look so divine! I love the composition of the second photo! It is art!

I too, are having problem with my computer and it is currently under examination. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it can be fixed!

larryb said...

This dish looks and sounds great. Superb photo, as usual!

Andreea said...

lovely as always. and more good news on the way ... :)

Tartelette said...

Your second shot makes me smile big it is so alive (not to say that the first did not). Lovely dish!

pea & pear said...

Goats cheese tarts with beetroot are my favourite and these are look perfect! Congratulations on being so diligent with your back up files. IF my screen turned black it would be the end of the world... hmm think I need to go and start backing up some files right now... Double thanks Ali :)

Helen said...

Such cute little tartlets! I love those chioggia beets, they are just so pretty. A perfect simple yet elegant lunch.

Rasa Malaysia said...

I know how you feel about black computer. Yesterday, I turned on mine and the monitor said "No Signal" but little did I know that the monitor cable went loose at the back of the computer. I had to turn my PC on and off a few times then I realized I need to check the cable connection. PHEW!

As I told many, my laptop/computer is my life. If they go dead, I will not know how to function!!!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Those tartlets looks amazing, and I'm so impressed you can pull this off without your dedicated computer!!

Popular Dinnerware Sets said...

Wow the beet in a colors looks so great.
I like that.

bee said...

beautiful entry. thank you, sabra.

Nate-n-Annie said...

Beets don't deserve the knee-jerk reaction they so often get. Those look wonderful.

Care to share how your backup system is set up?

skrockodile (sabra) said...

Nate-n-Annie:
Re: the backup system: I use a Mac that has software on it called Time Machine that stores backups so that I can effectively go back in time if I accidentally delete something. That's never happened yet but I could certainly see that coming in handy. My computer then backs up wirelessly to a product they offer called Time Capsule (I believe this works with pcs too) that is essentially a huge wireless hard drive. Then I have an additional hard drive connected to Time Capsule via a cable. My computer backs up wirelessly to the Time Capsule and then that backs up to the additional hard drive. Because my computer's hard drive is not super large, I have to clear it out occasionally by moving everything to one of my hard drives. So in the end, I always have my images and files in at least two places, sometimes three. Hope that makes sense. It took a while to figure out! It I were super careful I'd also back up to somewhere off-site but I haven't quite gone that far yet : )

CulinaryAssassin said...

I just made these last night and they are yummy! Thanks for the recipe.

Sunshinemom said...

Very beautiful pictures - saw them at Jugalbandi:) Congrats!

Flo Makanai said...

Waow! A little shallot (raw or caramelizes) goes well with goat-cheese and beets, too.

Square Dinnerware said...

Looks great, tasty and healthy! I'm gonna have to try it out.

Heidi said...

I just made this! I had no pans to make the individual tarts so I made one big one, and I only had regular beets, but this was amazing. First time ever I made beets I liked. I had way too much beet for my tart (how big were those 4-5 supposed to be?) but I'll use the extra beets I roasted trying to replicate this beet pesto I had at a tapas joint, so no waste! Thanks for the inspiration!

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