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Longtime food writer Julian Armstrong documents Quebec’s evolving cuisine

TomatoTartsTarte aux tomates confites au sirop d’érable et cru du clocher/
Tomato tarts with maple syrup

Brother and sister Marco and Suzy Latreille, self-taught cooks, grew up in Ville-Marie, in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region of northwestern Quebec. Their mother kept them out of the kitchen when she cooked but passed on her belief  in the importance of family dining. Marco uses a week of holidays from his auto sales job to help at cooking demonstrations at the annual regional Quebec-Ontario food fair called Foire Gourmande.

Serves 6

Pastry
1 1/3 cups (325 mL) all-purpose flour
Pinch salt
1/3 cup (75 mL) cold butter, chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon (15 mL) ice water

Filling
8 ounces (250 g) cherry tomatoes
(1 1/2 cups/375 mL)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons (45 mL) maple syrup
7 ounces (200 g) shredded Cru du Clocher or aged cheddar cheese
Dried basil or oregano, for sprinkling
Small arugula leaves

For pastry:
-Butter 6 aluminum foil tart shells, each 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter.

-Combine flour and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until butter is the texture of small peas. Add beaten egg and water, continuing to pulse, until pastry forms a ball. Remove from the food proces- sor, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

-Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

-Roll out chilled pastry on a floured surface. Cut 6 rounds of pastry, each a little larger than the diameter of the 6 tart shells. Fit pastry into the tart shells. you should have enough pastry to shape or crimp with your fingers or a fork to make a raised border. Place the tart shells on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes, just until the pastry turns golden. Remove baking sheet from oven, leaving the oven on, set on a rack and cool.

For filling:
-Cut tomatoes in half and press to remove seeds and juice. in a baking pan, arrange tomato halves cut side up. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with maple syrup. Bake for 15 minutes.

-Divide grated cheese among the tart shells and top with tomato halves. Return tarts to oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with basil, and trim with arugula.

Recipes from Made in Quebec: A Culinary Journey by Julian Armstrong ©2014. Photographs © Ryan Szulc. Published by HarperCollins Canada. All rights reserved.