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So there I was, happily navigating the Cream Puff Highway when out of the blue … computer woes.

Talk about getting kicked in the pâte à choux!

June was supposed to be a fairytale, but it’s turned into a bit of bad dream with my inability to post regularly. Admittedly, I’ve felt somewhat lost and it’s made me realize how important this blog has become to me. I’ve met so many wonderful people and on a daily basis, I’m presented with the opportunity to "virtually" feast on the most incredible food. I’ve missed it all terribly!

But it’s time for this Cream Puff to snap out of the bad dream and return to the food fairytale. This was made considerably easier by the incredible Alanna of A Veggie Venture. After I posted my first recipe from Once Upon a Tart, Alanna dropped me a note and mentioned that she too owned the cookbook. Alanna suggested that we have a Once Upon a Tart cross-post where we make the same recipe and blog about it.

Intrigued, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I got to choose the recipe and my choice was a Roasted Red Pepper Tart with Olive Tapenade. Why this particular tart?

Quite simple, my friends. Roasted red peppers and olive tapenade are two of my favourite things in the world. In fact, I briefly contemplated chucking the tart shell and just eating up the peppers and tapenade! But that would not do. I’d hate to deny anyone the pleasure of a buttery and flavourful tart shell embracing red peppers roasted in olive oil and some pretty luscious homemade olive tapenade (if I do say so myself).

I would never deny any of you that!

The ever-creative Alanna decided to turn the recipe into mini tartlets. I warn you now. You will be drooling all over your keyboard.

I’m glad to say that the tart I made was a hit on all counts. To begin with, the pastry recipes that Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau present in Once Upon a Tart are among the best I’ve tried. They have several recipes for pastry covering both sweet and savoury. Even if you have very little experience with pastry, you will find these recipes easy to follow and worth the little extra effort they may take.

While I have an olive tapenade recipe of my own that I use frequently, I decided to test the recipe in the cookbook. I was not disappointed. I used oil-cured black olives, lots of fresh basil, garlic, capers and lemon. The tapenade was thick and luscious. And the best part is that you only need a few tablespoonfuls for the tart. The rest is all for you to consume as you wish. My personal favourite method of consumption is to stand by the open refrigerator with the container of tapenade in one hand and a spoon in the other. Simplicity can be truly blissful.

Interestingly, the recipe does not require you to remove the skins of the roasted peppers. I’m so used to eating roasted peppers without the skins that I was a bit taken aback by this idea. Well you could have tipped this Cream Puff over with a feather when I finally tried the tarts. Since the peppers had been julienned, the skins were not unpleasant at all. In fact I enjoyed the bits of skin that became ever so slightly caramelized and even charred. It was a nice contrast to the sweet, roasted flesh of the pepper. Pair this tart with a refreshing summer salad and you have the perfect summer lunch. Add some figs and cheese and now you’re in exceptionally satisfying dinner territory.

It turns out that both Liza of the charming French Toast and Maura of the enviably beautiful Egg Hunt also count themselves among the proud owners of Once Upon a Tart. They too decided to try the roasted red pepper tart. Please read about Liza’s experience making the tart and Maura’s account of buying the book and also baking the tart.

As for me, the June fairytale is back. And if I’m not mistaken … I do believe that somewhere there is a frog turning into a Prince … or a Roasted Red Pepper Tart with Olive Tapenade. Whichever you prefer!

Ciao!

Roasted Red Pepper Tart with Olive Tapenade

Adapted from Once Upon a Tart … by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau.

For the tart shell:

  • 2-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, finely chopped (optional)
  • 12 tablespoons (1-1/2 cups) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into small cubes
  • a bowl of ice water
  1. Combine all of the dry ingredients (flour, salt and rosemary) in a large bowl and mix with a whisk.
  2. Add the butter and vegetable shortening and cut into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or your fingertips. You want the mixture to resemble coarse oatmeal.
  3. Add 4 tablespoons of ice water and begin gathering the dough together into a bowl. If the dough does not come together, add more ice water one tablespoon at a time.
  4. As soon as the dough comes together into a ball, knead it a few times on a floured work surface.
  5. Cut the dough in half and flatten each half into a disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  6. When your ready to make your tart shell, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  7. Roll out one of the discs into an 11-inch circle and gently fit the dough into a 9-inch pan. Press the dough firmly into the pan and remove any excess dough.
  8. With a fork, prick the base of the dough.
  9. Line the tart with aluminum foil and place either pie weights or dried beans on the aluminum foil. This is called blind baking the tart. Bake for 10 minutes.
  10. After 10 minutes, remove the foil and pie weights/dried beans. Bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  11. Remove the tart and let cool while you prepare the filling.

Note:  This pastry recipe will yield two 9-inch tarts. You will need a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.

For the olive tapenade:

  • 2 cups black olives (preferably oil-cured)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 5 tablespoons capers, drained
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  1. Combine all ingredients, except the olive oil, in the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Process until a thick paste forms. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse several times to combine.
  3. With the motor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube until combined.
  4. Taste and add black pepper if desired.

Note:  The tapenade can be stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.

For the tart:

  • 5 red bell peppers, julienned
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 a yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive tapenade
  • 1/2 cup parmesan, freshly grated
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup light cream (10%)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
  • parmesan and fresh basil to garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a rack in the centre of the oven.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the peppers, garlic, onion, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well and spread on the the baking sheet.
  4. Roast for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the peppers are golden. Keep an eye on the peppers as they can burn.
  5. Once the peppers are done, scrape the entire mixture into a bowl and set aside.
  6. Spread the olive tapenade over the base of the tart shell.
  7. Sprinkle the parmesan over the tapenade.
  8. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, light cream, salt and pepper. Pour into the bowl with the red peppers. Mix well and pour the mixture into the tart shell. Don’t worry if it appears that there are more peppers than the tart shell can hold. Pile them in the centre.
  9. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour. The tart is done when the custard is set and doesn’t jiggle.
  10. Let the tart cool on a wire rack.
  11. Once cool, carefully remove the outer ring and slide the tart of the base.
  12. Garnish with parmesan and basil before serving.
  13. Enjoy!

Note:  This tart is best served warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers (if there are any) in the refrigerator.

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