Over at Patent and the Pantry, Gwendolyn hasn’t been cooking and blogging; she’s been traveling and eating. The other day she blogged about that. One of her adventures was afternoon tea at the Plaza Hotel in New York. When I saw this photo, I misinterpreted it as a slice of cucumber tart. Clearly I have tart on the brain; it’s a cucumber sandwich.
However, having tart on the brain, I’ve been thinking about what that would be if it were a tart. Misremembering what the photo showed, I thought of round slices of cucumber in a round tart. Looking at the photo again, I can see a better approximation would be lengthwise slices of cucumber in a square tart. However, I have no intention of slicing cucumbers thinly lengthwise; for one thing, I just don’t have the knife skills. As the tart took shape in my mind, it became a pâte brisée with a ricotta custard topped with thin round slices of cucumber and decorated with very thin slices of radish, the whole thing brushed with a lemon glaze.
Most of it was pretty easy to figure out, but the lemon glaze had me stumped for a bit. Lemon glaze is sugar and lemon juice for cake, right? But what I wanted was a kind of lemon gelatin glaze. Well, there’s nothing new under the sun: Lemon gelatin glaze makes a good coating for fish that you’re going to freeze. That glaze looked like just what I had in mind.
The first one is always an experiment, and this is the first time I’ve done this, and I’m making it up, so it’s definitely an experiment. This is how I did it today. I’m going to try it again, but with some changes.
Cucumber Ricotta Tart with Lemon Glaze
(makes a 10- to 11-inch tart)
Tart Shell (pâte brisée)
7 oz all-purpose flour
½ tsp table salt or 1 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt
1/8 tsp sugar
4 oz butter (1 stick)
1½ oz shortening (3 T)
2½ to 3 T ice water
Whisk the dry ingredients together, cut in the fat, and stir in the ice water until the pastry forms lumps. Alternatively, using the food processor, combine the dry ingredients, add the fat and pulse until the fat is in pea-sized lumps, then add the water in a slow stream until the pastry forms lumps. Press the dough into a disk.
Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes. Roll out the dough, fit it into a 10- or 11-inch tart pan, line the pastry with foil and pie weights, and chill it in the freezer while the oven preheats.
Preheat the oven to 375℉ and bake the shell for 20 minutes. Remove the weights and bake the shell for another 5 to 7 minutes.
Cool the shell, then remove it from the tart pan and place it on a baking sheet. Brush the inside of the tart shell with a little beaten egg.
1½ teaspoons dried dill or 1½ T fresh dill
ricotta custard (recipe follows)
lemon glaze (recipe follows)
8 oz cucumber, sliced thin (~1/8 inch) (the whole cucumber should be 10 oz or more)
Radishes sliced very thin (~1/16 inch) (I used 4 to get enough nice slices, but 1 or 2 should be enough if your knife skills are better than mine)
Sprinkle the dill over the baked tart crust.
Make the custard.
8 ounces ricotta
1 large egg, beaten
4½ oz (½ cup) sour cream
4½ oz (½ cup) whole milk yogurt
salt and white pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients to a homogeneous mixture.
Pour the ricotta custard into the crust.
Bake at 400℉ for 20 minutes, until the custard is set but still white. (Those spots are dill that floated up from the bottom.)
While the tart is baking, make the glaze.
¼ cup lemon juice
1¾ cups water
1 package powdered unflavored gelatin
Dissolve the unflavored gelatin in ½ cup of the lemon juice–water mixture.
Heat the rest of the liquid to boiling. Stir the gelatin mixture into the boiling liquid. Set aside to cool.
While the tart cools, slice the cucumber and radishes. I used the food processor to slice the cucumber, but now I think just doing it by hand would be easy enough.
Slice the radishes thinly; they should be translucent:
Arrange the cucumber slices in concentric overlapping circles, working from the outside in.
Brush the cucumber with the lemon glaze. Arrange the radish slices decoratively over the cucumbers and brush the lemon glaze over the radishes.
We could taste the dill, but I think a dill pesto would be nicer, and that would discourage the dill from floating up through the custard. The cucumbers are pretty wet, and next time I’ll salt them and let them drain to dry them out a bit. The lemon glaze was very thin, and I want it to be thicker, so next time I’ll use only 1 cup of water in the glaze and see if that does it. I also think the tart and the glaze should be good and cold before I brush the glaze on, and it might need two coats of glaze to get a real shine.
National Center for Home Food Preservation: Freezing fish: Lemon gelatin glaze. Available at http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/freeze/fish.html (accessed August 22, 2010).