Outdoor entertaining during the warmer months is always so effortless and fun but having a few friends over during the Fall and Winter months with a roaring fireplace and a good bottle of red wine is even better. I’ve been wanting to do a girls night in or Sunday brunch for a while and I’ve got the perfect recipe for it. When it comes to putting together brunch it’s got to be easy, or like our friend Lionel Ritchie says “Easy like Sunday Morning” (I’m sorry I just couldn’t resist).
The recipe comes from a book that I fell head over heels in love with, hell I’m pretty crazy about the author too. The book is Whole Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon. Megan and I first met at a food writers conference back in 2011. We had become briefly acquainted via email just prior to the conference and when we finally met in person I remember we embraced like long-lost friends. We’ve kept in touch over the past few years thanks to Facebook and the like and I imagine if we lived closer (she’s in Seattle) we’d be great friends. Especially since we have that “Jersey” connection (her husband is a proud South Jersey native). This is Megan’s first book but certainly not her last. Broken down by season, the recipes explored are all made with nourishing whole grains and celebrate her love of mornings and the ritual of preparing that first meal of the day. Although I’ve dog-eared over half of the book and intend on following the well thought out recipes to a tee, they are also a delicious blank canvas that will lend itself to hours of inspiration and ideas to improve on your own morning meals. The recipe I’m sharing today is for the Smoked Salmon Creme Fraiche Tart with a Cornmeal Millet Crust. I chose this recipe for a few reasons, one because I love tarts, quiches and frittatas which are all perfect brunch food. Second, I wanted to explore cooking with a millet a little more and lastly because I know it’s something that my mom would have enjoyed.
Serves 6 to 8
Morning Notes: If you can’t find crème fraîche, it’s easy to make your own at home (recipe follows), or substitute sour cream instead.
- 1⁄2 cup / 65 g fine-ground cornmeal
- 3⁄4 cup / 90 g white whole wheat flour or standard whole wheat flour
- 3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons / 85 g cold unsalted
butter, cut into 1⁄4-inch cubes, plus more for greasing the pan
- 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
- 1⁄4 cup / 45 g millet
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1⁄2 cup / 50 g minced shallots (about 3 medium shallots)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup / 240 ml whole milk
- 1⁄4 cup / 60 ml crème fraîche
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- 3 tablespoons capers, drained
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ounces / 115 g smoked salmon, cut into small pieces
To prepare the crust: Butter a 9-inch tart pan with 1-inch sides and a removable bottom. Using a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulse together the cornmeal, flour, and salt. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal (alternatively, you can use a pastry blender or your fingertips to work the butter into the dry ingredients). Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time and pulse until the dough starts to look like wet, clumpy sand. It’s ready if a small piece holds together when squeezed between your fingers. If it still seems too crumbly, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time. Turn the dough out into a large bowl and mix in the millet using a fork. Press the dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the prepared crust on a small baking sheet for easy transport to and from the oven.
Bake the crust for 15 minutes to slightly dry out the top so that it won’t get soggy when you add the wet filling. Meanwhile, prepare the filling.
To prepare the filling: In a small sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil and sauté the shallots until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 1 minute. Remove from the heat. In a bowl, whisk together the milk, crème fraîche, eggs, capers, dill, salt, and pepper to make a custard.
To assemble and bake the tart: Spoon the shallot mixture in an even layer on the bottom of the crust; arrange the salmon across the top evenly. Pour in the custard mixture.
Bake at 375°F until the top is golden brown and the filling is set, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Unmold the tart onto a serving platter and serve warm or at room temperature. If you have leftovers, cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Make Ahead: You can bake the crust a day ahead so the next day you simply whisk together the filling, pop the tart in the oven, and serve. If going this route, refrigerate the prebaked crust, covered with plastic wrap. You can also bake the entire tart up to 1 day in advance and allow it to cool, then refrigerate it, covered. To serve, reheat in a 300°F oven until warmed through, 12 to 15 minutes.
Make Your Own Crème Fraîche: Pour 2 tablespoons cultured buttermilk and 1 cup of unpasteurized or vat-pasteurized cream into a small glass jar. If your store only stocks ultra-pasteurized cream, it will still work—it’ll just take much, much longer. Let the jar sit, uncovered, at room temperature for 12 to 36 hours. If you’re worried about dust or other particles, cover loosely with a swath of cheesecloth. Once it firms up quite a bit, refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. The crème fraîche will continue to firm up in the refrigerator, so don’t expect it to have your ultimate desired consistency right off the bat.
This recipe was reprinted with permission from Whole Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon (Ten Speed Press, @2013). Photo Credit: Clare Barboza