Hard as it may be to believe (snort), even I have kitchen mishaps. Sometimes they're disastrous, and sometimes they're minor. The one I had on the Saturday before Easter could be classified as the former. I actually found myself standing in my kitchen, throat on fire from a cold, cursing the author of a recipe. Loudly, colorfully and at great length.
What happened, you ask? Well, I'll tell you. I was making a ramp tart to go alongside my brother's Easter leg of lamb, and the crust betrayed me. I made it, let it rest for a full two hours, rolled it out between two pieces of plastic wrap, and placed it gently in the tart pan. And then, when it came out of the oven, it was cracked all along the bottom.
Idiot that I occasionally am, I figured this was all par for the course, and went ahead and poured in the custardy filling. Of course, this was a tart pan with a removable bottom, so the filling proceeded to spill all over the stove and counter as it leaked through those little cracks and out of the pan. OF COURSE.
After screaming, stomping and generally muttering as I cleaned up the mess, I decided to make a second crust. I couldn't face rolling the dough out again, so I decided my guests would have to deal with a pressed-in tart crust (and to use a pie plate for extra safety), something I've done before and plan to do again. It is so. Much. Easier.
And, frankly, the tart was still flaky and delicious, so I feel no guilt about it and have no qualms encouraging you all to do the same, lest you end up as I did, shaking your fist at the kitchen gods.
Oh, and, the tart? It's marvelous. Creamy and decadent, but small enough in stature to go down nice and easy. The stinky ramps call for a mild goat cheese, but if you don't have ramps where you are, sub in some chopped leeks and an aged cheese - that'll be pretty dang good, too.
Ramp Tart with Goat Cheese
Adapted from Bon Appétit
For the ramp filling:
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 bunches ramps (about 1/2 pound), cleaned, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
2 tbs. water
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
For the crust:
4 tbs. ice water
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 1 tbs. chilled butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
For the custard:
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk
1/4 tsp. salt
4 oz. mild goat cheese
Make the ramp filling:
In a small saucepan set over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the ramps and stir to coat in the butter. Stir in the water and salt, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the ramps are very tender, about 25 minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside. (If you're doing this the day before, allow to cool, cover tightly, and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before adding to the tart.)
Make the crust:
Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse a few times to combine, then add the butter. Pulse a few times until a coarse meal develops. With the motor running, add two tablespoons of the ice water. Check to see how the dough is doing; if it's still a bit dry and not coming together, add the rest of the water.
Take the dough out and place it in a 9-inch glass or metal pie plate. Gently press the dough out and down with your hands or a flat-bottomed measuring cup, until it is evenly distributed and goes up (but not over) the edges of the pan. Place in the fridge for at least an hour. If you plan to leave the crust in overnight, cover tightly with plastic wrap first.
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the crust from the fridge and line with tinfoil, covering the entire crust (including up the edges). Fill with pie weights or dry, uncooked beans and bake until set and dry, about 30 minutes. Remove the pie weights and tinfoil and bake until golden, about 10 more minutes, depending on your oven's personality.
Make the custard and finish the tart:
In a medium bowl, combine the milk, cream, eggs and salt. Beat until light and well-combined. Dot half the cheese around the bottom of the warm tart shell. Arrange the ramp filling on top, then place the rest of the cheese on top of the ramps. Gently pour in the egg mixture.
Return the tart to the oven and bake until the center is set and puffy and the tart is golden in spots. You may need to cover the edges of the crust - one of these is super-handy, or you can make a make-shift one from tinfoil.
Serves 8 as a side, or 4 as a main course.