The farmer’s market rockin’ this morning and I came home with a gorgeous haul.  My favorite farmer’s market to frequent in Houston in the Urban Harvest market, open Saturday mornings year round.  It isn’t the biggest farmer’s market, but it has become a quite well-rounded one.  You can find eggs, breads, pastries, local meats, vegetables, fruits, honey, preserves, vegan goods, flowers, coffee, and Gulf Coast shrimp.  Even in the short time I have been living in Houston, the market has expanded and if you live in the area, is quite a treasure.

Houston (and no doubt, the city where you live) has no shortage of venues for buying high quality food, just check out this recent Culture Map article.  For some people this is exciting, for others overwhelming.  I thought I would start a running “series” of sorts to highlight some of these places as well as show you how to use their products in your cooking repertoire.  My hope is to emphasize seasonality (most specifically here in Houston), support local farmers and business, continue to introduce new recipes, try new things myself, and maybe make someone out there feel more comfortable shopping at these opulent stores and markets.

This is what caught my eye this week:

– Pain au chocolat from Angela’s Oven (because who can resist?) – How to eat? ASAP

– French country bread also from Angela’s Oven

– Texas peaches – I am obsessed with poaching them at the moment

– Charoomy cheese from Pola Artisan Cheeses.  A young, soft, pungent cheese, cow’s milk cheese that makes me feel like I am in France and is great with fruit like…

-Figs!  To make an easy appetizer, just halve the figs lengthwise, caramelize cut-side down in a hot skillet with a bit of butter and oil, top with a soft cheese (in my case charoomy), and wrap in thin strips of prosciutto.  Voila!  Doesn’t get much easier.

-Tomatoes.  Our tomato season is quickly slipping away, but I plan to make the most of it.  Right now, few things make me happier than a tart, even savory tarts, so why not one topped with tomatoes?


Simple Tomato Tart

Serves 8

Adapted from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

For tart shell:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons olive oil

4 tablespoons ice water

For tart filling:

1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

5 tomatoes, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick


2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup part-skin ricotta

1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

1 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Process the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined.  Drizzle the oil over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse sand, about 12 pulses.  Add the ice water and continue to process until large clumps of dough form and no powdery bits remain, about 5 seconds.

Sprinkle walnut-sized clumps of the dough evenly into a 10-inch tart pan.  Working outward from the center, press the dough into and even layer, sealing off any cracks.  Working around the edge, press the dough firmly into the corners of the pan with your fingers.  Go around the edge once more pressing the dough up the sides and into the fluted edges.  Lay plastic wrap over the dough and smooth out any bumps using the palm of your hand.  Put in freezer for 30 minutes and preheat oven to 375°F.

Set tart pan on a large baking sheet.  Remove plastic wrap and press a double layer of aluminum foil into the frozen tart shell and over the edges of the pan and fill with pie weights (or dried beans if you are like me).  Bake until the tart shell is golden brown and set, about 30 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and carefully remove weights and foil.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the Parmesan evenly over the bottom of the tart shell, return the baking sheet to the oven, and continue to bake until the cheese is golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes.  Let the tart shell cool on the baking sheet while making the filling.  Increase the oven temperature to 425°F.

Meanwhile, spread the tomatoes out over several layers of paper towels.  Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and let drain for 30 minutes; gently blot the tops of the tomatoes dry with paper towels before using.  Whisk 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and the garlic together in a small bowl.  In a separate bowl, mix the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella, and remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil together and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the bottom of the tart shell. Shingle the tomatoes attractively on the top of the ricotta in concentric circles.  Drizzle the garlic-olive oil mixture evenly over the tomatoes.  Bake the tart on the baking sheet until the cheese is bubbling and the tomatoes are slightly wilted, 20-25 minutes.

Let the tart cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with the basil.  To serve, remove the outer metal ring of the tart pan, slide a thin metal spatula between the tart and the tart pan bottom, and carefully slide the tart onto a serving platter or cutting board.  Serve warm.