Friday 20 June 2014

Courgette Tourte

This is a hybrid, from Roux (from their Carrot Tourte, which has apparently been on the menu at Gavroche since the dawn of time), Grigson (who gives a recipe for courgette tart which works on the basis that enough other things are added to give the thing a semblance of flavour, given that in Grigson's opinion, courgettes are a junior relation of the vegetable marrow and therefore essentially worthless), and Wolfert (for the idea of courgettes sliced thinly, and then sautéed gently in butter and thyme).  The structure is really that of a pithiviers with a steam hole in the top. Overall, the result is light, delicious, and generally likely to get the tastebuds working overtime.

For Four, as a starter.

Ingredients: Puff pastry, sufficient to make 8 x 10 cm discs, when rolled to a 2mm thickness (if using commercial pastry, I imagine this equates to less than a normal 'packet'; if using homemade, then pastry made with 250g flour and 250g chilled butter will give you more than enough for this recipe, with enough left over for something else); 60g butter; 1 clove garlic, minced; 2 medium-large courgettes; half a medium onion; quarter cup cream; 2 tbs grated parmesan; 1 tsp dried thyme; 2 tbs olive oil; 1 sprig rosemary; 3 tbs cream; half a cup of dry white wine; salt and pepper.


1. Finely dice the onion and one of the courgettes. Melt a third of the butter in a small pan. Sauté  the diced onion and garlic for several minutes, until softened, and then add three quarters of the diced courgette. Cook this mixture until thoroughly collapsed, add the cream and continue to cook until the cream has visibly thickened;  remove from heat, stir in the parmesan, taste and season accordingly.

2. Finely slice two thirds of the remaining courgette, and finely dice the remainder (to be added to the unused dice from step 1). Melt another third of the butter in a large frying pan, with the oil,  and sauté the slices at high temperature, just to colour; turn them half way through. When cooked, sprinkle lightly with salt and with the dried thyme.

3. Roll out the pastry to 2mm thickness, and cut out 8 circles of 10 cm diameter. In the centre of four of them, cut out a circle approx 2.5 cm in diameter (I don't have a cutter this small, and so use the large end of a piping nozzle as a guide instead). Egg wash, made from 1 beaten egg and a little water.

4. On each of the four intact circles of pastry, make a layer of sautéed courgette slices, leaving a rim of uncovered pastry of approx 1 cm all round. The point of this step is to make a membrane that will stop the courgette filling leaching into the pastry as it cooks and making it soggy, so there should be no obvious gaps in this layer. Divide the courgette-parmesan mixture in four, and place a heaped tablespoonful on each pastry base. Lay a second layer of courgette slices over the top of the mixture. Brush the exposed edge of the pastry with water, and then place the lids over each tourte, and ease down to meet the exposed lower rim. Press together to seal.

5. Place the tourtes on a baking tray. Brush the surface of each one with egg wash, and leave in the fridge for at least twenty minutes.

6. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees C, and bake for fifteen or twenty minutes, until puffed and brown.

7. Meanwhile, sauté the remaining diced courgette in the remaining oil and butter, until softened, then add the white wine, and simmer for ten minutes or so. Blend this mixture, then add rosemary, finely chopped, and cream. Check seasoning, and simmer until slightly thickened.

8. Once the Tourtes are baked, spoon some sauce onto each of four plates, place Tourtes on top, and serve.