Confession 2: Despite loving salmon in almost every way possible, I just can't muster a lot of affection for it in its smoked form. Yes, I'm the person who generously smears an everything bagel with cream cheese but neglects to garnish it with lox. Being married to a Scandinavian hasn't helped matters much. One would hardly think that the idea of a tart wherein the offensive fishy ingredient is bathed in a puddle of egg custard would appeal to me. I don't know what it was that made me decide to try this particular recipe, even though I love dishes that I can easily transport for brunch and I especially love to make things that will make for nice weekend lunches, a meal that is almost always bereft of inspiration for me. On her blog, Megan writes that it's her favorite recipe in the book, and it might have been her mentioning how easy it would be to make it a "greens and gruyere" or "mushrooms and shallot" tart that made me decide I could, indeed give the smoked salmon version a shot. I was sure my SH would love it, and since we're in the thick of a pickle-loving stage with our little guy I thought he might be won over by the capers. What did I really have to lose? I'm practically the only person in the world who doesn't love smoked salmon!
I am here to tell you that I did not, in fact, become enamored with smoked salmon after tasting my lovely, just-like-the-pictures-in-the-book tart. However, I didn't hate it, not at all. The crunchy cornmeal and millet crust was extremely satisfying, buttery and toothsome, and the perfect base for the flavorful filling. The addition of crème fraîche, swirling around the perfectly pink shards of salmon gave the tart a richness that didn't feel at all heavy, and the capers and shallots made it feel special, a classy, grown-up dish that could definitely impress. I made it for our Valentine's Day lunch, and not surprisingly, my SH devoured two huge slices. Next time, I plan on bringing it to a bigger gathering-it's definitely the kind of dish people will remember.
Smoked Salmon Crème Fraîche Tart with a Cornmeal Millet Crust, adapted from Whole Grain Mornings, by Megan Gordon
1/2 cup fine-ground cornmeal
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour or standard whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes, plus more for greasing the pan
3-4 tablespoons ice water
1/4 cup millet (This is the first time I have used millet, and I'm excited to try it in other ways. I ordered it from Bob's Red Mill, but it's also often available at Whole Foods)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup minced shallots (about 3 medium shallots)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup crème fraîche
3 large eggs, beaten
3 tablespoons capers, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces smoked salmon, cut into small pieces
1. To prepare the crust: Butter a 9-inch tart pan with 1-inch sides and a removable bottom. Using a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse together the cornmeal, flour, and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal (alternatively, you can use a pastry blender or your fingertips to work the butter into the dry ingredients). Add the ice water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse until the dough starts to look like wet, clumpy sand. It's ready if a small piece hold together when squeezed between your fingers. If it still seems too crumbly, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time. Turn the dough out into a large bowl and mix in the millet using a fork. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
2. Preheat the oven to 375. Place the prepared crust on a small baking sheet for easy transport to and from the oven.
3. Bake the crust for 15 minutes to slightly dry out the top so that it won't get soggy when you add the wet filling. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.
4. To prepare the filling: In a small sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil and sauté the shallots until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 1 minute. Remove from the heat. In a bowl, whisk together the milk, crème fraîche, eggs, capers, dill, salt, and pepper to make a custard.
5. To assemble and bake the tart: Spoon the shallot mixture in an even layer on the bottom of the crust; arrange the salmon across the top evenly. Pour in the custard mixture.
6. Bake at 375 until the top is golden brown and the filling is set, 30-35 minutes. Let cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Untold the tart onto a serving platter and serve warm or at room temperature. If you have leftovers, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.