Tourte aux Blettes and Orange Scented Olive Oil Cakes

Once again, today (Saturday) is my non-Moosewood day.  I went to the Farmer’s Market in the morning and got some nice varieties of fresh vegetables.  I bought Swiss Chard for the first time; I’ve used the mixture of chard and collard greens in the past but they came all chopped up.  I found a nice recipe using the chards –  It’s “tourte aux blettes” simply meaning “chard tart”, I think.  In Southern France, this pastry is often times served as desserts!  I know, I wouldn’t have believed this until I tasted it myself!  Even though this was mildly sweet, I made this for dinner and everyone, yes, even the children loved the taste.  This recipe is from the November 2006 issue of Gourmet magazine.

1/2 cup golden raisins
1 cup water
2 pounds green Swiss chard, stems and center ribs discarded
1 large egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh orange zest
1/3 cup pine nuts (1 1/2 ounces), toasted
Pastry dough for a double-crust pie
2 teaspoons confectioners sugar
Special equipment: an 11- by 8- by 1-inch rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom

Bring raisins and water to a boil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan, then remove from heat and let stand, covered, 1 hour. Drain in a colander, then pat dry with paper towels. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Blanch chard in a large pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes. Transfer chard with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking. Drain chard in a colander, then squeeze out excess water by handfuls. Coarsely chop chard.
Whisk together egg, cream, granulated sugar, zest, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Stir in pine nuts, raisins, and chard until combined.

Roll out larger piece of dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 15- by 11-inch rectangle and fit into tart pan (do not trim edges). Chill shell while rolling out top.
Roll out smaller piece of dough on a lightly floured surface with lightly floured rolling pin into a 12- by 9-inch rectangle. Spread chard filling evenly into shell, then top with second rectangle of dough. Using a rolling pin, roll over edges of pan to seal tart and trim edges, discarding scraps. Cut 3 steam vents in top crust with a paring knife, then put tart in pan on a baking sheet. Bake until top is golden, about 1 hour. Transfer to a rack and cool 10 minutes, then remove side of pan. Cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Dust with confectioners sugar.

My opinion: If you don’t have the rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom, don’t fret, I used round 11 inch spring form pan and it worked just fine!  Also, you don’t have to cover the raisins in hot water for an hour.  I only soaked the raisins in hot water for about 15 minutes.  I also, pre-chopped the chards and then put them in boiling water for 5 minutes (I used about 1-1/2 pound chards and 1/2 pound spinach).   The rest you can just follow the recipe directions.    This is a treat, a very big treat – it tasted really good.  As I said, it was mildly sweet but a hint of savory chard.  

Orange Scented Olive Oil Cake
This is another treat I made today.  I have to warn you that this was a bit time consuming, and yeah, I don’t know what possessed me to make the tart and this cake?!  I have to say it was well worth my time slaving in the hot kitchen today (first with chopping the chards and cutting off the chard ribs, and this cake…).  This cake was adapted from the May 2010 issue of Saveur magazine.

2 oranges
2 1⁄3 cups sugar
Unsalted butter, for greasing
2 1⁄2 cups flour, plus more for pan
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 eggs
6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1⁄4 cup fresh orange juice
1⁄4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Sea salt, for garnish

Trim about 1⁄2″ from the tops and bottoms of oranges; quarter oranges lengthwise.  Put oranges, 1 cup sugar, and 4 cups water into a 4-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until sugar dissolves and orange rind can be easily pierced with a fork, about 40 minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Heat oven to 350°. Grease a 10″ round cake pan with butter and dust with flour; line pan bottom with parchment paper cut to fit. Set pan aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. Remove orange quarters from syrup (save the syrup for later use on the cake), remove and discard any seeds, and put oranges into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until oranges form a chunky purée, 10–12 pulses. Add remaining sugar, reserved flour mixture, vanilla, and eggs and process until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Add olive oil; process until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan; bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40–45 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes.
Using a pastry brush, brush left over orange syrup (don’t use the everything, that’ll be too much, I probably used about 1/4 cup worth of syrup)  over top and sides of cake; let cool completely. Garnish cake with salt.

My opinion: This is such a simple looking cake but it’s not a simple recipe!! No, let me re-phrase, it’s a simple enough recipe, but time consuming.  BUT, what an absolute treat!!!  The whole entire cake is infused with orange (but not over-powering), and olive oil makes the cake moist, and if you are hesitant about garnishing the cake with salt, you don’t have to, but using the coarse sea salt give the cake a crunch but not salty taste.  I personally like having the salt, but you can decide.  Regarding the left over syrup, I just transferred to a little jar, and every time I drink seltzer water (water with gas), I add a little of this syrup, it’s very good:-)

Do you also see that there is this custard-ness in the center of the cake?  I slightly under-baked the cake and you have this custard-like cake in the middle that’s very nice to bite into!

  Yes, today, I was possessed by a cooking fairy, because I made two things which I normally wouldn’t try unless it was Winter time and the kitchen was nice and cold.  I was sweating but I was on a mission, and know that the mission is accomplished, I feel really darn good about tonight’s dinner and dessert!!


2 thoughts on “Tourte aux Blettes and Orange Scented Olive Oil Cakes

  1. wow, both these recipes make me want to be in the kitchen too instead of here at work (lunchbreak)… the tourte aux blettes sounds a bit strange (savory and sweet), but i guess it takes inspiration from a Moroccan b'stila… so definitely an idea for some weekend baking here too! and the orange olive oil cake… what can i say but… wow!

  2. Interestingly, the tourte aux blettes blended very well together with savory and sweet) – it was a wonderful light dinner! The orange scented cake is one of my favourite now, it's just time consuming, so an idea is to make the orange syrup beforehand and always keep in the frig.

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