Make New Friends

December 13, 2007

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Sometimes, you find a recipe that looks so good that you are compelled to go out and buy the obscure piece of kitchen equipment for which the recipe calls.  And then there are the times when there is an obscure piece of kitchen equipment so must-have that you will search high and low for the recipe for which it will be put to use.  Behold: the rectangular tart pan.  It’s the same old kind of tart pan that features the pop-up bottom (impossibly fun)—but, rather than a boring circle, it is a rectangle!

 The recipe I want to share with you today captures a little bit of both of the scenarios I’ve depicted above.  First, the recipe sounded so good that I just had to make it.  And, even though it didn’t call for a tart pan (let alone a rectangular tart pan), I thought I could make it work.  AND, it would be the most perfect starter for our dinner on Sunday night.  The only problem was that I didn’t have said rectangular tart pan.  So, I launched a holiay shopping trip last Saturday with a very selfish motive: Williams-Sonoma (coal in my stocking, for sure).

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Needless to say, I came home from the shopping trip with not only a couple of Christmas gifts, but also a brand spanking new cupboard-space-taker-upper.  But I will gladly shove the ancient circular tart pan (so yesterday) aside for my new rectangular-shaped friend.

 I will also have you know that I am pretty sure that the new pan made for the perfect format for this tart.  Oh, yes, I suppose I should tell you about the tart too: it featured a flaky, buttery puff pastry crust, filled with a completely decadent custard spiked with pungent camembert and melty leeks.  The recipe calls for a broad rustic circlular tart, sliced into wedges.   And I happen to think that this particular tart—awesomely decadent as it was—could be an example of too much of a good thing.  So, the rectangular shape afforded by my new pan allowed me to cut it into thin, elegant fingers—just the right amount.

Leek and Camembert Tart
Bon Appetit 

1 17.3-ounce package frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
4 leeks (white and pale green parts only), sliced (about 4 cups)
1/4 cup water
2/3 cup whipping cream
4 ounces Camembert cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese  

Preheat oven to 400°F. Roll out each pastry sheet on lightly floured surface to 12-inch square. Stack squares and roll to 15-inch square. Using 14-inch pizza pan as guide, cut stacked dough into 14-inch round. Crimp edge of dough to form 1/4-inch rim. Transfer to pizza pan or baking sheet. Freeze 10 minutes.

Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and 1/4 cup water; cook until leeks are tender, about 15 minutes. Season leeks with salt; set aside to cool. Bring cream to simmer in medium saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; add Camembert and stir until melted. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes. Whisk in egg, cayenne, and nutmeg. Set custard aside.

Sprinkle Parmesan over crust. Spread leeks over. Drizzle custard over. Bake until bottom is golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

*  Note: To accommodate the rectangular tart pan, I halved the recipe, which probably yielded a more shallow filling than called for by the recipe.  But, as I mentioned, the custard is so rich that a little goes a long way.  I was worried when I was spreading the filling into the tart shell, but I was really pleased with the result. 

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