Make a visually appealing meal using the leftover leek and Gruyère cheese in the fridge and cute little jar of herbes de Provence. Technique will be adapted from BHG New Cook Book.
Hypothesis 1: Savory tarts are disgusting. You always see them in cases next to the cash registers at cafés and coffee shops, but like the quiches, few people ever order them. As a microbiologist, I would ever eat something that has been sitting at room temperature all day unless it was a baked good (come C. diff or salmonella, I'll probably eat it anyway).
Hypothesis 2: Cookbooks are outdated. Rarely are recipes perfected on the first try. The beauty of the digital age is that the aspiring home cook can type nearly anything recipe into Google and get enough hits to have a fairly good idea of where to start. And as an added bonus, some sucker has usually tried every recipe and then comments underneath ("I was skeptical of the absurd flour to liquid ratio. My dough was the consistency of a bag of flour so I added a dozen eggs to get it to the consistency I thought it should be. It tasted great, but I think you forgot to add eggs to the recipe."). I usually don't make recipes that have under a 4.5 star rating and I read the reviews to make sure people weren't giving their version of the recipe 4.5 stars (which they usually do).
1 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp herbes de Provence
1 Tbs dijon mustard
3 oz aged Gruyère cheese
1 pie crust
1-2 T sliced almonds
1. Trim off leek's greens and roots. Slice in half lengthwise and rinse warm water between the layers to remove any sand or grit. Slice leek into small slices, up to 1/4-inch wide. Set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.
3. Add sliced leeks to hot oil. Using a garlic press, press garlic into the skillet. Stir occasionally until the leeks are tender.
4. Remove from heat and stir in mustard and herbes de Provence. Shred the Gruyère cheese and stir it into the leek mixture once the skillet has cooled a bit. Set aside.
5. Roll the pie crust to form a 10" circle. Move crust to a baking stone.
6. Place the leek mixture in the center.While leaving two-inch border, spread filling evenly over crust.
7. Pleat the excess crust over the filling to form the edge.
8. Chop the sliced almonds and spread over the tart.
9. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until the pie crust is golden brown.
10. Cool 10 minutes before moving to a serving dish.
The smell while baking wasn't quite strong enough to have me checking the crust every minute to see if it was done. The tart looked beautiful. It broke in half while moving it from the stone to my serving plate. Maybe the crust wasn't done enough, the filling was too thick or the crust was rolled too thin. Tasted pretty good. The almonds didn't seem to add much, but hey, they're expensive so why not add them to this fancy little tart?
Discussion and Future Directions
Before making a tart again, I would scour the internet for crust recipes (store bought doesn't quite cut it--plus it's loaded with partially hydrogenated lard. I can think of fewer things that sound that disgusting). Finding another crust recipe might also lead to insight into the proper thickness for a tart. Might be interesting to try with some sort of layered, flaky, buttery dough (technically called "laminated" dough).The flavors were great and I would make this again (if I were the type of person to repeat recipes, which generally, I am not). Therefore the hypothesis that savory tarts are disgusting was disproved. However, one should be weary of eating food that's been sitting at room temperature all day, so maybe a tart sitting in a deli case isn't a great idea.
This research neither supports nor refutes the hypothesis that cookbooks are outdated. The book itself was a pain to use and now has watermarks in it from spills. However, the cookbook was a good starting point as it has an index and the recipe used was easy to find by looking for "Leek." I believe this recipe could have been found as easily on the internet. I think part of the thrill of making a recipe is the time and energy spent selecting just the right version to try. A cookbook eliminates that. In the future, I will try recipes from cookbooks. Particularly when the power is out, oh wait..