Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cooking for looks: my first food styling class assignment + onion tart

The online food styling class that I am taking was a lot of fun so far, and this week we don't just do research, but get to actually play with the food - the assignment was to style a salad. Since there was no hard requirement on what kind of salad to make, I just looked at what's good at the farmers market, and it turned out to be baby greens, blood oranges, and spring onions. I gave it a simple dressing of red wine vinegar, olive oil, and sea salt. God, how messy blood oranges are! I am writing this two days after I did the assignment, and my fingernails are still red.

The greatest challenge was to keep the salt cristals from dissolving on the onion and orange slices while taking the photographs.

I just kept adding more salt. And the way my little camera captured it, you can barely see the salt at all! I guess the salad got very salty by the time I was through with shooting. I also had to spray it with water to keep it looking fresh. And then the man got home and ate it! And liked it... Probably because there was this spring onion and prosciutto tart to go with it (not for the class, so it was fresh from the oven). The tart is based on the spring onions I bought for the salad and didn't use - I got three in case the first one doesn't look perfect sliced, but the first one was just what I wanted. So I had two left for another use. And they were big, fresh, and very sweet.

My neighborhood grocery has these 1 lb. food service packages of proscuitto on sale for $8, thanks to the irrational swine flue scare. So everything I cooked recently has proscuitto in it.

The idea of the tart comes from Suzanne Goin's book Sunday Suppers at Lucques book, as well as the idea to cut the spring onions lengthwise, to show their gracefull curves. I have simplified the cheese filling, but added asparagus, and, of course, proscuitto, to the topping.

Cut the green tops off the onions, leaving about 2 inches attached. If the greens look good, wash and trim them, slice thinly on the diagonal, and add to the sautee in the last minute.

Spring Onion and Prosciutto Tart

Serves 6 as appetizer, 3 as a main dish

1 package Dufour frozen all-butter puff pastry, defrosted for about 1 hour at room temperature
flour for dusting
2 whole eggs
1/2 tsp water
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 large spring onions, cut lengthwise, then sliced thinly
6 oz goat cheese
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked, steams discarded, + 4 thyme sprigs for decoration
4 asparagus spears, cut into 1 inch slices
1/8 lb prosciutto, thinly sliced
olive oil, sea salt, fresh-ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, dust with flour. Roll the puff pastry out on the baking sheet. Separate 1 egg, mix the yolk with 1/2 tsp of water and whisk until smooth to make the egg wash. Score a 1/2 in border on the pastry, brush the border with the egg wash. Keep the pastry in the freezer until ready to bake.

Add the leftover egg was to the eggs, add the goat cheese and thyme leaves, season with salt and pepper, whisk until smooth, set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions, sauté until soft, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Spread the cheese mixture over the dough, inside of the border. Spoon on the onion filling, toss in the asparagus and prosciutto, sprinkle with olive oil.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the underside of the tart is cooked (lift a corner with a fork to check) . Do not undercook the puff pastry dough, or it will get soggy. Serve with a green salad and a full-bodied California Meritage.

P.S. I got so carried away with food styling that I forgot to make the usual fancy borders around my photos. I'll do it right the next time.

No comments: