The ivy on the back wall of the building I can spy from my office has turned a deep, vibrant crimson. We've put away our summer clothes and pulled out our woolen hats, our thick socks, our flannel pyjamas. The toasty smell of the heating rises up against the windows in the morning. But my favorite stand at the green market is still selling plum tomatoes, the last ones of the season, and I am physically incapable of passing them by, no matter how heavily autumn presses upon us. Every week, I buy a sackful of those tomatoes and simmer them into sauces, chop them into Hugo's pastina, turn them into a quick lunch with a piece of cheese and bread. They're still irresistible, despite the winter squash and cabbage that look at me fetchingly from the side.
My most recent way to make my way through a pile of tomatoes was to bake a French tomato mustard tart from Clotilde's lovely new cookbook, The French Market Cookbook. A savory olive oil tart dough speckled with poppy and sesame seeds is parbaked, then filled with a savory blend of sautéed onions, mustard and egg. On top go a whole mess of halved, seeded and salted plum tomatoes before the tart goes back in the oven. There, the tomatoes shrink and shrivel, the crust goes crisp, the mustard and onions mellow. We ate slices of the tart hot from the oven and they were very good, but an overnight rest made them truly sing. The next day, Max and I eyed each other ferociously over the last few slices.
(A note: I mistakenly used a tart pan that was too small by a few inches, only realizing my mistake when the tart was already in the oven. Don't follow in my footsteps - make sure you use an 11- or 12-inch tart pan. You want the tart dough to be very, very thin.)
Clotilde is celebrating her blog's tenth anniversary today. Oh, 2003! I still remember first discovering Chocolate & Zucchini just a few months after Clotilde got started and feeling like I'd happened upon something seriously momentous. Her newest book, The French Market Cookbook, is a celebration of the very things that Clotilde has always done so well: simple yet creative vegetarian dishes that are seasonal and delicious, but also very, very beautiful.
One of Clotilde's gifts lies in the ability to take rather prosaic ingredients and transform them into something delectable. This book is full of these ideas. To wit: a stir-fry with barley flakes, carrots and curry; a mashed broccoli casserole on a bed of green lentils and rice; or, the one I'm now most excited to try, poor man's bouillabaisse, with nary a piece of fish in sight (poached eggs and peas take center stage). She updates an old French classic, fontainebleau, with yogurt, but also goes way back with an old-fashioned take on macarons made with walnuts and almonds and sandwiched together with a simple filling of melted chocolate.
Happily, I have an extra copy of The French Market Cookbook to give away today, in celebration of Clotilde and her lovely site and all the things she made me feel capable of doing all those years ago. So for a chance to win a copy, please leave a comment below and I'll pick a winner at random on Wednesday. Good luck!
Update: Jennifer is the winner and has been emailed. Thank you all for participating - comments are now closed.
Clotilde Dusoulier's Tomato Mustard Tart
Makes 1 11-12 inch tart
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
2 cups (260 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon toasted poppy seeds (optional)
1 large egg
1. Combine the flour, salt and seeds, if using, in a bowl. Add the oil, egg and 1/4 cup/60 ml of water and mix them in with a fork until absorbed. Knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together in a smooth ball.
2. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, turning it every so often, so that it doesn't stick to the surface or pin. Avoid overworking the dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled 11- or 12-inch tart pan and line it neatly. Chill for 30 minutes.
1 large egg, separated
1 3/4 pounds (800 grams) plum tomatoes
Fine sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling (optional)
2 small red onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Handful of basil leaves, if available
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 325 F (160 ).
2. Brush the tart dough with some of the egg white. Bake for 30 minutes.
3. Halve the tomatoes lengthwise and squeeze out the juice and seeds and core. (Save them for drinking with a sprinkle of salt - so good!) Sprinkle the cut sides with salt and place the tomatoes face down in a colander to drain.
4. Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt over medium heat for about 15 minutes, until the onions are very soft, but haven't taken on any color. Let cool slightly.
5. Stir the egg yolk and any remaining white and the mustard into the onions and spread over the crust. Arrange the halved tomatoes, cut side down, over the onion layer. Drizzle the tart with more olive oil to taste (optional). Bake the tart until the tomatoes are wrinkled and fragrant, 45 minutes.
6. Top with shredded basil and black pepper and serve warm or let cool and store at room temperature overnight before serving.