Fun on the Farm

There is a very special place, just 40 miles northwest of New York, called Rainbeau Ridge. A small, family-owned farm, Rainbeau Ridge is the realization of a dream and an admirable example of sustainability and community. They grow fruits and vegetables, sell fresh eggs in spectacular shades of blue and brown, and raise livestock to make arguably some of the best goat cheese there is (Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns certainly agrees). I have been very fortunate to spend countless, joyful hours there over the years and July 16th was no exception.

Lisa Schwartz, owner and farmer extraodinaire, invited me to spend an afternoon at the farm to sign books and meet her Community Agriculture Partnership (CAP) customers. From noon to 4 o’clock I met with people who love the ingredients they use just as much as they love to cook. It was inspiring to see how many people deeply care about the quality of their food, from farm to table. One woman, Shirley, is in a book club where Alice Waters’s “The Art of Simple Food” is on the list. Oh, what a fun idea for a book club! Maybe “Notes on Cooking” will be next? How wonderful that would be…especially if I am invited to join!

To entice people to chat with me and browse through the book, I bribed them with a little treat: a tomato tart made with Lisa’s Mont Vivant goat cheese. Everyone was raving about it, no doubt due to that delectable chevre! Flaky puff pastry, scrumptious tomato jam, heirloom tomatoes paired with basil from the garden, and a little extra virgin olive oil and coarse salt were a savory backdrop for Lisa’s cheese (she impressively makes it all herself). Try the following recipe for just a little taste of Rainbeau Ridge. Better yet, go visit the farm or a local store or restaurant where Rainbeau Ridge cheese is sold.

Heirloom Tomato & Goat Cheese Tart

for the tomato jam:
2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes
6 whole shallots, peeled
4 cloves garlic, peeled
4 sprigs thyme
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

for the tart:
1 sheet puff pastry
1 cup tomato jam
6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 pint small heirloom tomatoes, halved or quartered
frehsly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
coarse sea salt
fresh basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 400F.

To make the tomato jam, combine the tomatoes, shallots, garlic, and thyme in a rimmed sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-30 minutes, or until the shallots have caramelized and softened. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the tomato mixture to a food processor. Puree for several seconds until more or less smooth. Allow to cool before assembling the tart.

To make the tart, line a sheet pan with a nonstick liner. Place the puff pastry on the sheet pan, then spread the tomato jam evenly over the surface, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle with the crumbled goat cheese, then place the tomato pieces evenly on top. Top with freshly ground black pepper and bake in the 400F oven for 30 minutes, or until the edges of the pastry are golden brown and have puffed. Remove from the oven, drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil, season with finishing salt, and sprinkle with whole fresh basil leaves. Serve warm or room temperature.

The tomato jam may be made up to one week in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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