Friday, April 23, 2010

Fear of commitment

Spring has come in like a cool lion in the Piedmont; A lion resting tentatively in the yard, sometimes rolling in sunshine, sometimes growling with cold days and rain tantrums. Winter in the shade, summer in the sun, as they say.

I receive text messages on sunny days from friends at the nursery, "I want to buy tomato plants!" Carve some time out of your schedule to grieve for them and replace them, because it isn't time yet. Everyone is ready; everyone, it seems, but the lion in the yard.

But there have been clear signs of a impending spring, however non-committal. Mysterious asparagus have been springing up daily from an ancient garden plot (another gift from my ghost in the gardens). I fell asleep with the baby in the meadow behind the house then woke up only to realize someone was going to have to swath it, (ah-hem, the royal "someone"). And then I was writing to you about Fearrington House (and even as I write to you now, the onions, shallots, and leeks are caramelizing for Mrs. Fitch's savory tart) so, I've been taken with green things, it seems.

Nosing around the back field, I was reminded of the old iron table I found back there. It was left to its own devices seems like years ago. I need to replace the glass top somehow. Tell me where to begin?

Because now I have this beautiful dish ready.

And a table outside would be beautiful with these linens.

Somewhere in the fridge is a bottle of a delicious lemony crisp Sancerre.

I'm ready for the rain to stop and dinner in the yard, I wish the lion were not so afraid of commitment.

Onion, Leek, and Shallot Tart
adapted from the Fearrington House Cookbook, Jenny Fitch (1987, Dell)
serves 8

1 pie crust, partially blind baked in a tart or shallow pie pan
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 pound leeks, thinly sliced, soaked in water to remove sand, dried
3 ounces butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 shallots, thinly sliced
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper (black or white)
4 ounces bacon
2 eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
freshly grated nutmeg to taste
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper (black or white)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 ounce goat cheese, crumbled
optional: 1 tablespoon fresh herbs
optional: 2 teaspoons butter

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, brush the partially-baked pie shell with Dijon mustard and set aside.

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet and add the olive oil. Cook the leeks, onions, and shallots over medium-low heat for one hour or until the onions are gently caramelized and and soft, but not browned. Add salt and pepper. Cool. Spread the mixture over the bottom of the pie shell.

Cook bacon until crisp. Drain, chop, and spread over the onions.

Lightly beat the eggs, add the heavy cream, nutmeg, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Pour over the onion mixture in the tart shell and sprinkle evenly with the Parmesan, goat cheese, and herbs. Dot with paper-thin slices of butter if you choose.

Place the tart on a pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden. Allow to sit at least ten minutes before slicing.


Acanthus and Acorn said...

You and me both Catherine!!!

Perhaps, he will soon be lured away with a toss of meat from the grill. That is my hope, because I am dreaming of a beautifully set table, a wonderful meal topped off by and a warm evening breeze...

Town and Country Mom said...

This tart sounds amazing, and someone gave me a bunch of leeks only yesterday! As for the table, maybe a beautiful slab of marble--it would be more practical than glass--if you plan to keep the table in the meadow and if the base can take the weight, that is.

Marie said...

Beautiful napkins

Thank goodness for your posting of the most heavenly scones in the universe-Market Salamander is the best!
How fortunate you are to live in such a lovely place, though as a fellow Westchesterite the Hudson Valley does cast a spell.

Trish said...

Those table linens are gorgeous! I like T&CM's idea about using a slab of marble on your outdoor table, that would be unique and would weather heat/cold well. That tart recipe looks amazing, I am going to print it out and include it in my must try recipes for warmer weather. I love the wine selection you've chosen too, really sounds perfect! Happy weekend, hope the rain stops soon for you, I hear it is coming our way. XOXO

kansasgirl1 said...

For your glass tabletop, go to a commercial glass/window company. They will have access to good quality glass in the proper thicknesses, which can be cut to your custom requirements (if your table is not one of their standard sizes).

home before dark said...

Why not a teak top? Look at Belgian Pearls blog. their table was oak and was left to weather outside. I love my teak table in Kansas. I don't worry about it. Much to be said about that.