This beautiful torte makes a wonderful luncheon dish...but using mini pastry shells turns it into tasty hors d'oeuvres.
Preheat oven to 350. Combine eggs, salt, pepper and basil; slowly add butter and half-&-half, then chopped tomatoes. Pour filling into pastry shell.** Grate or shred cheese and sprinkle over top.
Bake for 45 minutes, or till knife inserted near edge comes out clean. Allow torte to sit 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.
* Piecrust: store-bought versions are heaven-sent for those who have neither the time nor the know-how for good homemade piecrust. But for those willing to make their own, see Noel's Pie Crust under French Desserts: it's a winner.
** Traditional French tartes use flan pans (with detachable sides), but you can also use a standard quiche pan.
Tips & Glossary
Bouquet Garni: (boo-kay gar-nee) bundle of herbs tied together with string or wrapped in cheese cloth square; usually parsley, thyme, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Flavor is released during long cooking.Remove before serving.
Chervil: (sher-vil) related to parsley but has a delicate anise flavor. Long cooking kills flavor, so add at the last minute.
Cornichon (kor-nee-shon) teeny-tiny pickle, served with pates & smoked meats; found in specialty food stores.
Fines Herbes: (feen-airb) mix of finely chopped herbs: parsley, chives, tarragon, & chervil. Not as strong as a bouqet garni. Buy it at most grocery stores.
Fromage: (fra-mahj) Cheese! The French eat more than any nationality, 45 pounds per capita per year; and the country makes more cheeses than any other country, about 400.
Herbes de Provence (airb-duh-pro-vonce): mix of dried herbs, usually thyme, rosemary, marjoram, basil, & bay leaf Can be found at most grocery stores.
Mutarde: (moo-tard), mustard. Most famous:
Nicoise Olive: (nee-swaz- oh-leev) small, purplish-black olive with a mellow, nutty flavor; used primarily in Salade Nicoise. The Picholine variety is a green, medium-sized olive with a light, nutty flavor.
Roux: (roo) paste-like mix of melted butter and flour, into which liquid is gradually added. The basis of every classic French sauce.
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