Wow! The summer has just flown by! I must say, I’m not sorry to see it go. Summers in Virginia are not pleasant, to say the least. And I’ve definitely determined that it is the humidity around here that makes it so intolerable. I thought I just plain hated hot weather. But I just got back from a trip to Maui. It was roughly the same temperature in Maui as it is in Virginia. Yet a Maui 89°F day felt entirely different from a swampy 89°F day in good old Virginia. I am happy to report as well that my husband and I did not spontaneously combust the moment our pale skin contacted sand. That being said, we did spend an extraordinary amount of time every morning slathering ourselves with 100 SPF sunscreen. And even with that, my husband managed to get an impressive burn on his back the second day we were there. Maui is simply drop dead gorgeous, from the mountains
to the sea
and we found plenty to do that did not involve any intentional sunbathing. We saw the sunrise at the top of the volcano Haleakala
and then rode bikes twenty-one miles down to the base of the volcano,
we went snorkeling
and were thrilled to make the acquaintance of this huge turtle.
And witnessed many lovely sunsets.
Overall a great trip. But enough of that holiday talk, let me get to talking about this Tourte Milanese, which is quite a stunner itself.
I knew the minute I saw this over at Parsley Sage & Sweet (PSS), I was going to be making it. Now I will admit, I did take some shortcuts from the recipe as listed on the PSS sight. I used store bought puff pastry. PSS gives you a great recipe if you would like to make your own puff pastry. I’m afraid I was not that motivated. Furthermore, I decided that I couldn’t be bothered to roast my own red peppers as PSS did. I simply went out and bought a couple of jars of roasted red peppers and used those. If you are one of those industrious, “everything must be homemade” kind of folks, take a look at the PSS sight for the directions. Actually you should look at the sight anyway because there are some gorgeous step by step photos of the Tourte displayed there that you shouldn’t miss out on.
With all of my shortcuts, this Tourte was not difficult to make at all. It was a bit time-consuming, but Wowsa… just look how impressive it is. It looks like you spent all day making it. Folks won’t understand that it is mostly just assembly work, with very little actual cooking skills involved. Without a doubt it will be the star of your breakfast, brunch or pot luck supper. With all of its vibrant colours, it would make a holiday brunch all the more festive. And not only is it quite the looker, it is delicious as well! You can’t go wrong with this recipe!
recipe from: parsley sage & sweet
yield: 6-8 servings
- 1 pound store bought puff pastry, chilled. Roll both sheets together for 1 lb, then cut off a 1/4 lb for the top of the tourte. Use any scraps to cut out designs for the top, if desired.
For the Eggs
- 10 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 teaspoons snipped fresh tarragon
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 jars roasted red peppers
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 pounds spinach, trimmed and washed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 8 ounces Swiss cheese or Gruyere, thinly sliced
- 8 ounces smoked or honey ham, thinly sliced
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt
Prepare the pastry: Generously butter an 8 1/2-inch springform pan. Cut off one-quarter of the pastry, cover, and set aside. Roll out remaining puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick round. Carefully fit the pastry into the pan, pressing to get a smooth fit, leave a 1-inch overhang. Roll out the smaller piece of pastry until it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut out an 8-inch circle of dough for the top of the tourte and lift it onto a plate or baking sheet. Cover both the crust and the lid with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the filling. If using scraps for cut-out designs, like leaves, place the cut-outs on a separate plate, cover with plastic wrap and chill in fridge along with top and lined springform pan.
Make the Eggs: Whisk eggs, herbs, salt and pepper together. Melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat and pour in the eggs. Gently but constantly stir the eggs around in the pan, pulling the eggs that set into the center of the pan. Slide the eggs onto a plate, without mounding them, and cover immediately with plastic wrap. You want a loose, soft scramble since the eggs will be baking for a little over an hour.
Prepare the peppers: Remove roasted peppers from jar. Cut them into the largish bite size pieces. Blot the peppers dry with paper towels before adding them to the tourte.
Cook the spinach: in a large quantity of boiling salted water for 1 minute to blanch it. Drain spinach in a colander, rinse with cold water, and press it to extract all of the excess moisture. Heat the oil, butter, and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Add blanched spinach and sauté for 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and add a little heavy cream. Bring quickly to the boil and stir so it mixes with the spinach. Remove the spinach from the skillet with a slotted and set aside. Once it’s coole, squeeze as much liquid out before adding it to the tourte.
Assemble the Torte: Remove the pastry-lined springform pan from the refrigerator and layer the filling ingredients in the following order: (quick tip: Sprinkle a little dry bread crumbs or grated Italian hard cheese on the bottom of the raw crust before adding first layer of scrambled eggs to protect against a soggy bottom crust).
- half the eggs
- half the spinach
- half the ham
- half the cheese
- all the roasted peppers, laid flat
Continue layering in reverse order;
- remaining half of cheese
- remaining half of ham
- remaining half of spinach
- remaining half of eggs
With each layer, make certain that the ingredients are spread to the edge of the pan. Fold the excess crust in over the filling, and brush the rim of crust you’ve created with the egg wash. Center the rolled-out top crust over the tourte and gently push the edge of the top crust down into the pan, pressing and sealing the top and bottom crusts along the sides. Brush the top with the egg wash and cut a vent in the center of the crust. Use the point of the knife to etch a design in the top crust, taking care to cut only halfway into the dough. Chill the fully loaded tourte for 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking.
20 minutes prior to baking; position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F.
Bake the Tourte: Place the tourte on a jelly-roll pan, give it another coat of egg wash, and bake it for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until puffed and deeply golden. Remove from the oven and let rest on a rack until it reaches room temperature. Run a blunt knife or offset spatula around the edges of the pan and release the sides. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.