I have to thank Clotilde for hosting the Is My Blog Burning? and (especially) for choosing such a great topic. I have never actually been a fan of the trendy tartine as it often seems to promise more than it delivers, and eating is often messy: tough ham that is difficult to cut through making you squash the soft bread, while the rest of the ingredients go slithering around the plate. Maybe I have just had bad luck, but as a result I paid a lot of attention to the construction of my tartines and was extremely happy with how they turned out. It's always helpful to have a challenge! So read on for the recipes for three tartines: Herbed Hot Goat's Cheese and Tomato Tartine, Eggplant Caviar and Zucchini Tartine and Wild Mushrooms Tartine.
When I read about the topic for IMBB?, several items already in my fridge sprang to mind - some leftover goat's cheeses that I had set to marinate a few weeks ago for a dinner party, the eggplant caviar I bought as a starter when our friend David came to dinner and the ham I had bought to use for a raclette evening we ended up turning into a fondue party. Luckily, Steve was in the mood for beans on toast (see my earlier blog on "English tartines") so I was able to experiment to my heart's content.
I was very lucky to have some of this cheese left over from a goat cheese and salad starter I had made a couple of weeks ago. Following Nigel Slater's instructions, I layered cabécou goat's cheeses (any small goat cheese with a rind will do, but these are my absolute favourite) with juniper berries, a crushed garlic clove, a couple of small dried peppers, a bay leaf, a few peppercorns and a few sprigs of thyme. You then cover the cheeses with olive oil, cover and put in a cool (but not cold - not the fridge) dark place for a week or so. View image
Place a layer of fresh spinach leaves on a slice of bread (mine had walnuts in it, a nice contrast to the sharp cheese), spread with the goat cheese and place a couple of slices of tomato on the top. Slide under the grill in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese is bubbly and the tomato has just started to cook a little on the edges.
Serve with some rocket leaves drizzled with a little of the herbed olive oil marinade from the goat cheeses.
It was the Critic's favourite (being the only one he was willing to try).
Top: Caviar d'Aubergine and Zucchini tartin, Bottom: Herbed Hot Goat Cheese and Tomato Tartine
Eggplant Caviar is a middle eastern spread made with cooked eggplant, tahini, olive oil and garlic. It's also sold under the name Baba Ganoush (spelling may vary). You can make it yourself, but to me the essence of a tartine is that it should be quick and easy. I bought both the Eggplant caviar and the grilled zucchini slices at a local market.
Place a thin layer of Italian style ham on your bread. (I used jambon de Bayonne.) Over it, spread a thick layer of eggplant caviar and then a layer of grilled sliced zucchini. Top with a small handful of freshly grated parmesan and a grinding of pepper. Slide under the grill and cook until the parmesan is bubbling and starting to brown a bit.
This was my favourite of the first two tartines. It was very savoury and the garlic, ham and vegetables all mixed very well together. For me, the goat's cheeses were a little too sharp.
Again, I was really glad to experiment with the tartines because in the bottom of my vegetable drawer were some really interesting mushrooms that needed to be used up: normal white champignons de Paris, brown ones and some Trompettes de la Mort (I think these may be called Black trumpets in English but any input is welcome!). View image
To prepare this tartine, I first melted some butter in a sauce pan and pressed a garlic clove into it. I then sliced a Roscoff onion (more about them in a later blog - they have quite a history) in half rings and added them to the pan. While the garlic and onions were softening, I cleaned and sliced the mushrooms in chunky pieces. I turned up the heat on the onions a bit, added some more butter and tossed the mushrooms in the pan. When the mushrooms were nearly cooked through and soft, I added a splash of sherry. Once the sherry had all but evaporated, I added salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and about two tablespoons of frozen chopped parsley.
To assemble the tartine, spread the mushroom and onion mixture over a slice of bread. In this case, I used a pain poilane - rye bread or sourdough would also work. I topped my tartine with a little grated comté cheese, but any mild slightly nutty hard cheese would do. I then warmed the tartine under the grill until the cheese melted. I served the tartine with a nice ripe pear, that went beautifully with the "fall" taste of the dish.
The result was not the most photogenic tartine (thus no photo) but it was in my opinion the tastiest. The juices from the mushrooms seeped into the bread and instead of making the bread soggy seemed to give it an inflated effect - almost as if it were steamed. My late Austrian grandmother made the best turkey stuffing I have ever tasted in a similar way: she would fry the bread cubes with herbs, then turn up the heat and pour chicken broth in the pan and cover, essentially steaming the bread. This tartine is the closest I have come to reproducing that effect, and it was delicious.
So there you have it: three traditional tartines. What's for dinner...?