Pretender to the Throne.

By now, it’s not news that the powers-that-be shut down Gourmet. I haven’t been able to bring myself to talk about it too much, other than to express my disbelief at a company’s  decision to turn its back on a game-changing publication, one with decades of food history, brilliant writing, beautiful photography, and consistently great recipes to back it all up. Sure, some of the dishes might require a bit of work, but the results, in my experience, at least, have always been worth the effort.

OK, fine. Maybe I’ve been talking about it a lot. This is (was? *sob*) one of my three favorite magazines, and the only food-related publication of the bunch. I’m still in the denial phase of my grieving process, but suffice it to say, I am not happy about this.

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In an effort to finally begin the transition toward acceptance, I decided to make something from Saveur, the publication closest to being the successor to the food-mag throne. I enjoy reading it on occasion, but I’d never used it as a source for recipes before; sadly, after trying this Tuscan tomato tart,  I’m even less convinced that there will ever be a replacement for Gourmet.

For something consisting of frozen puff pastry and roasted tomatoes, this sure was a fussy recipe. Not gratuitously so, at least: All of the steps were very logical, but nonetheless, it was a pain to make. The tart, in its various incarnations, was in and out of the oven three times: once covered with parchment paper and weighted down with dried beans, then with paper and beans removed and grated Parmesan strewn in their place, and, finally, topped with roasted tomatoes and fresh herbs.

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The tomatoes, coated with a mixture of olive oil, chopped anchovies (I’d recommend anchovy paste instead), salt, and pepper, are subjected to the broiler, where they release copious amounts of liquid under the intense heat. Once they’re nicely blistered, you’re supposed to leave all of that oil-anchovy-pepper goodness behind and scoop them up with a slotted spoon, plop onto the pre-baked pastry shell, sprinkle with fresh oregano, parsley, chives, and nutmeg, and reheat until it’s warmed through. I couldn’t abandon the pan juices, though, and drizzled a some over the tomatoes for good measure.

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In the end, my crust got too brown (mea culpa) and the cheese completely disappeared under the dominant flavor of the tomatoes; those tomatoes were great, but, as a whole, for the time and energy put in, this just gets an overall “meh.” It’s a decent starting point, but now I miss Gourmet more than ever.

Torta di Pomodori (Herbed Tomato Tart)
From Saveur, October 2009

2 9″x11″ sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed and chilled
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
12 anchovy filets in oil, drained and finely chopped
3 pounds cherry or grape tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano
Freshly grated nutmeg

1. Heat oven to 375°. Fit pastry sheets side by side into a parchment paper-lined 13″ x 17¾” rimmed baking pan, pressing pastry against bottom and sides. Trim inner edges of pastry sheets so that they form a seam in center; trim pastry hanging over sides of pan. Prick bottom of pastry with fork. Line bottom and sides of pastry with parchment paper and fill with dried beans. Bake until edges of tart are golden, 25 minutes. Remove beans and parchment paper, sprinkle Parmesan over tart shell, and bake until cheese is melted and tart shell is golden all over, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a rack, let cool.

2. Heat oven to broil and arrange a rack 4″ from heating element. In a large bowl, mix together oil and anchovies; add tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Transfer tomato mixture to a rimmed baking sheet and broil, shaking pan once or twice, until tomatoes blister, 12-14 minutes. Let cool slightly. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tomato mixture to the prepared tart shell; distribute tomatoes evenly.

3. Increase oven heat to 425°. In a medium bowl, combine the parsley, chives, oregano, and nutmeg; sprinkle herb mixture evenly over the tomatoes. Return tart to oven and bake until hot, about 15 minutes. Let tart cool slightly before serving.

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