As regular readers know, we’re big fans of the Canadian Chef Chuck Hughes, whose recipes we’ve shared here before and whose Le Bremner restaurant was one of the highlights of last fall’s culinary adventures in Montreal. His food is uncomplicated, fresh as can be and his personality is truly winning. So when I decided to make lunch the other day and one of his recipes came to mind, I jumped on it.
I don’t know about you, but I am amazed at how many articles I’ve been reading about homemade pizza. To me, pizza is a perfect food combining as it does protein (with meat or cheese toppings), vegetables (can you even make pizza without any?) and, if perfect, a crust that is thin, crisp and crunchy. Now I’ve done pizza myself but I find the dough positively intimidating. Even why I buy the ready-made stuff at our local pizzeria, I find it hard to handle. And quite honestly, we have sensational pies all the way out here in the Hamptons. The pies at World Pie (2402 Main Street Bridgehampton, NY 11963 (631 537 7999) are better than anything I can produce. And one of them, is my absolute favorite pizza in the world. It’s called “the Parma” because in addition to the tomato sauce and mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, it’s topped with prosciutto. So I combined those items with Chuck’s recipe and made what turned out to be a very good lunch. And what about the crust?
Chef Hughes’ recipe used puff pastry as a base. Fortunately, you get a complete pass if you buy puff pastry because it's virtually impossible for a home cook to make successfully. I am sure that there are people who make their own but having watched the stuff being made by at The Kitchens of Sara Lee, I would never attempt such a thing. At Sara Lee, a giant machine is responsible for the layers and layers of butter and flour that go into the recipe. Right then and there, I knew there would be no puff-pastry making in my future. Instead, I found two supermarket brands that should be in everyone’s freezer. While Dufour is a huge favorite of mine, I rely on Pepperidge Farm. Dufour is about double the price and since I was about to cover 90 percent of the puff pastry surface, there seemed to be no reason to spring for it. Instead, I defrosted a Pepperidge Farm sheet while we went out to get the rest of the ingredients.
It’s tomato time here and I can’t find enough ways to use the ripe, red, luscious field tomatoes that are grown right over the hill from us and sold at Country Gardens, our nearby and very good farm stand. 4 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto provided the perfect salty companion to the tomatoes. Adding to the flavor was Dijon mustard brushed over the puff pastry. I had both mozzarella and reggiano parmigiano on hand and that and a hot oven, was all that I needed. I served this with the simplest of green salads. I highly recommend this dish as it could not be easier, packs a lot of flavor and you don’t have to deal with pizza dough at all. Here’s the recipe.
Recipe for Tomato and Prosciutto Tart adapted from Chuck Hughes
1 sheet of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 cup of shredded Mozzarella cheese
½ cup of Reggiano Parmigiano cheese, grated
4 oz of thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma
3 ripe tomatoes, sliced ¼ inch thick
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Remove the Pepperidge Farm puff pastry from it box, reserving second sheet for later use. Let puff pastry defrost for approximately 40 minutes at room temperature.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Spray a sheet pan or cooking sheet with non-stick spray.
Put the puff pastry on the pan or sheet and, with a rolling pin,
flatten out the puff pastry.
Brush the surface of the puff pastry with the Dijon mustard leaving a ½ inch border.
Lay the prosciutto atop the mustard coating so that it covers it entirely.
Then sprinkle the grated mozzarella evenly over the prosciutto. Sprinkle to Parmagiano over the mozzarella.
Overlap the slices of tomato until they completely cover the cheeses.
Sprinkle the thyme over the tomatoes. Fold the ½ inch border of the puff pastry up to meet the edges of the tomatoes.
Bake in the 400 degree oven for 25 minutes. Splash some olive oil over the tomatoes and a sprinkling of sea salt. Quarter the finished pie and serve hot or warm. Makes 4- 4 x4 inch pieces of tart.