Just the other day, we got a coupon in the mail for a free package of cheese at the new grocery store down the street. So, we went, figuring that no matter what, we’d at least get some cheese (we got mozzarella for pizza), and check out the prices of their produce and staples. Just inside the door, they had beets. For 99¢ a bunch. We got two, figuring that we’d be able to put together nearly four dishes for under $2 (two with the beet greens and two from the beetroots). But, we didn’t know what they’d be.
This is one of the dishes we came up with. It’s based loosely on the Goat Cheese Tartlets that we make from time to time, but with more panache. Well, we think it looks fancy, anyway.
Sure, we’ve had goat cheese that tastes, well, goat-y, but we’ve also had goat cheese that tastes tangy, clean, and bright. How do you find the latter? We can only suggest heading to a local farmers’ market, where you can try before buying. Unless you’re one of those lucky people who have a real cheesemonger in town, then head there.
Procedure in detail:
For the crust:
Whisk dry ingredients. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Really, you don’t have to whisk; we just gave the ingredients a good stirring with our fingers. That should be fine.
Cut in butter. To work in the butter, we like to start by slicing the butter into about 8 pats and distributing them across the surface of the flour mixture. The butter pats are easier to break up, which means it’ll be easier and faster to cut in. Faster is the key, since you want to work fast enough so that the butter doesn’t begin to melt into the flour. It should remain cold, but get broken into small pieces. Start breaking and rubbing the butter into the flour with your fingers, and continue until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. You’re better off having larger pieces than soft pieces, so stop if the butter seems to be too soft (if it’s very soft, freeze or refrigerate).
Add eggs and milk. Rapidly stir in the eggs until you have a shaggy-looking dough. Most likely, there will be some flour that will not be incorporated, so add a small amount of milk or cream, and stir it in. If the dough comes together, perfect. If not, add a small amount of milk or cream and try again. Once you have a dough, turn it out on a clean work surface, knead just a few times before shaping into a disc and wrapping in plastic.
Chill. Refrigerate the dough for at least 3 hours, or as long as overnight.
For the filling:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Roast beets. Scrub the beets well and place on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and rub with your hands to coat. Sprinkle with some kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and wrap the foil tightly around the beets. Bake 40 to 60 minutes, or until the beets are tender and easily pierced with a sharp knife. Leave oven on to bake tart.
Peel and slice. Once the beets are cool enough to handle, use your fingers to rub off the skins, leaving nice, smooth beetroots behind. Slice the beetroots into rounds 1/8 inch thick and set aside.
Make filling. In a medium bowl, stir together goat cheese, eggs, milk or cream, salt, freshly ground pepper to taste, and nutmeg. Use the back of the spoon to break up the goat cheese and continue mixing until your filling is smooth and creamy. Set aside.
Butter tart pan. Lightly butter a 4×13-inch rectangular pan with removable bottom. If you don’t have a rectangular pan, a 9-inch round tart pan, or even a pie plate, will work.
Roll and fit crust. Roll the crust into a rectangle about 6×16 inches and place in pan, pressing it into the fluted sides and trimming away the excess.
Freeze. Place the tart crust in the freezer for 15-15 minutes. This allows the gluten to relax and helps prevent large flaky bubbles from forming.
Fill. After the crust is frozen, pour in the goat cheese mixture, top with sliced beets, sprinkle with walnuts, and a bit more kosher salt.
Bake. Slide into the center of the oven and bake 35 to 45 minutes, or until the filling has set and puffed slightly, and the crust has turned golden brown.
Stand. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes before removing from the tart pan and plating nicely.
We love beets and we haven’t really found a beet recipe that we don’t like, so we might be biased, but we thought this was delicious; the tangy goat cheese contrasts nicely with the smooth texture of the beets, and who can resist a light buttery crust? This is a five-star recipe, although we think that a drizzle of Balsamic Reduction would be really good on top. We wish we’d some on hand to try it.