I love the changing seasons! There is something wonderful about moving from hot to cold and back again. The colors of the world change along with the temperature and the foods we eat change with them.
Spring puts me in the mood for colors and lighter food. It also makes me feel like baking fruit tarts and pastries. Maybe it’s an Easter thing, I don’t know!
This Spring I have been working on making my own puff pastry. Or actually, Rough Puff Pastry which is one step below traditional puff pastry in labor. Don’t worry, I’m not throwing that at you yet. I need to make it a few more times and experience the happy dance of “It worked!!!!” until it becomes “of course it worked” before I do. But I can share with you some of the dishes I am making using the pastry. You can make them easily with store bought puff pastry.
On the day I made this Smoked Salmon and Pickled Radish Tart it was a warm and sunny morning which I spent in the garden planting early radishes and peas. The dish was inspired by a Food and Network Magazine article about savory tarts.
Quick pickling vegetables is a bit of a trend right now and for good reason. It’s kind of the ceviche of the plant world. The pickling brine softens the vegetables and imparts flavor in much the same way that cooking them does but with a brightness and tang. And best of all, you can pickle just what you need, a little at a time.
It starts with a brine: a mixture of vinegar, water, salt and sugar. The flavorings are up to you. You can add red pepper flakes, herbs, spices, whatever works for your recipe. Initially I was thinking about using dill which is traditional with smoked salmon but then I read about radishes and tarragon as a pairing and I thought, “why not?”. Put this all together in a pan and bring it to a boil, stirring initially until the sugar and salt has dissolved.
Using a food processor, mandolin, or sharp knife, cut the radishes into thin slices.
Put them in a bowl with some fresh tarragon sprigs and pour the hot brine over them.
Let it cool and then keep the radishes in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them. They are ready right away or will keep for up to a month in the fridge.
Roll the puff pastry out into a square (or rectangle).
Then brush the four edges with an egg wash and fold them in about one inch to make a frame. Prick the bottom all over with a fork and brush the whole thing once more with the egg.
Even though you judiciously pricked the center with a fork it may still puff up during the cooking. If this happens, slice the side open with a sharp knife and use the bottom of a glass or measuring cup to push it back down after you take it out of the oven. Set that aside to cool.
Mix together crème fraiche and goat cheese, adding a little milk or cream if needed to make it spreadable. Add salt if you think it is too bland.
Spread the cheese evenly over the inside of the tart and top with pieces of smoked salmon which you have ripped apart to give it an edgy look. Top with the radishes and sprinkle with parsley.
Seriously, could that be easier?
SMOKED SALMON AND PICKLED RADISH TART
For the Pickled Radishes
- 1 bunch radishes
- ¾ cups white vinegar
- ¾ cup water
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 6-8 fresh tarragon sprigs
For the Tart
- 1 sheet frozen puffed pastry thawed
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp cream or milk
- 2 tbsp creamy goat cheese room temperature
- 2 tbsp crème fraiche or sour cream
- 2-4 oz smoked salmon
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
Make the pickled radishes
- Top and tail the radishes (slice off the top and bottom) and slice them thinly, using a sharp knife or mandolin. Place them in a bowl along with the tarragon sprigs.
- Bring the vinegar, water, sugar and salt to a boil in a small pan, stirring until the salt and sugar has dissolved.
- Pour the vinegar mixture over the radishes and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until needed.
Prepare the tart base
- Preheat oven to 400 degree and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Roll out the puff pastry into a 12” square or rectangle on a lightly floured board and place on the prepared sheet.
- Whisk the egg together with the cream or milk and brush the edges of the pastry in 1” border. Fold the edges in ½” to form a pastry frame.
- Pierce the center of the pastry all over with the tines of a fork then brush the whole thing with egg wash.
- Place in the center of the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until well browned and crisp.
- Remove from the oven. If the center has risen slice the interior edge with a knife and flatten with the bottom of a cup or glass. Let cool on a rack.
To assemble the tart
- Stir together the goat cheese and crème fraiche (or sour cream). Add a little cream if needed to make it easy to spread.
- Spread the cheese mixture over the center of the tart.
- Tear the smoked salmon into small pieces. Layer the salmon over the cheese and top with pickled radishes. Sprinkle with parsley.