Sunday, December 28, 2008

Yule Log - Daring Bakers Challenge

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand
And, as you can see, my yule log is very French!!

The yule log is not the typical genoise/buttercream roll. It's more of a layered frozen mousse cake, and it's incredibly delicious. Below you can see all the different layers

There are 6 different elements, which we all had to make, which were:

1. Dacquoise biscuit - a light meringuey biscuit made with almond meal (on the very bottom in the picture).
2. Ganache - like the chocolate you find inside truffles, very rich (right above the biscuit in the picture)
3. Mousse - which holds everything together
4. Praliné Feuilletée - a sort of chocolatey crisp (in the middle in the picture)
5. Crème Brulée - a cream made by baking for 1 hour (the yellow thing in the picture)
6. Icing - to go on top!

We were given quite a lot of leeway in terms of flavor, design, decoration, etc. I mostly stuck with the original recipes, as they were usually for dark chocolate, and in my opinion you really can't improve on dark chocolate! However, I did think that with all that chocolate, a bit of fruit would be really nice, so I added some orange zest and grand marnier to the ganache, and I made the crème brulée orange-flavored instead of vanilla, which was the original recipe. The orange crème brulée worked particularly well - definitely a good choice.

Below is the full recipe (though I'm not listing all the different variations suggested by the authors to save space), along with my notes in purple.

FRENCH YULE LOG OR ENTREMETS RECIPE by Flore of Florilège Gourmand

Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)

Preparation time: 10 mn + 15 mn for baking

Equipment: 2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10”x15” jelly-roll pan, parchment paper

Note: You can use the Dacquoise for the bottom of your Yule Log only, or as bottom and top layers, or if using a Yule log mold (half-pipe) to line your entire mold with the biscuit. Take care to spread the Dacquoise accordingly. Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.

2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) almond meal
1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s sugar
2Tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium egg whites
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar

1. Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioner's sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds).
2. Sift the flour into the mix.
3. Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff.
4. Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
5. Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.
6. Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc...) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm).
7. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden.
8. Let cool and cut to the desired shape.

Element #2 Dark Chocolate Mousse

Preparation time: 20mn

Equipment: stand or hand mixer with whisk attachment, thermometer, double boiler or equivalent, spatula

Note: You will see that a Pate a Bombe is mentioned in this recipe. A Pate a Bombe is a term used for egg yolks beaten with a sugar syrup, then aerated. It is the base used for many mousse and buttercream recipes. It makes mousses and buttercreams more stable, particularly if they are to be frozen, so that they do not melt as quickly or collapse under the weight of heavier items such as the crème brulee insert.

Gelatin is the gelifying agent in all of the following recipes, but if you would like to use agar-agar, here are the equivalencies: 8g powdered gelatin = 1 (0.25 oz) envelope powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp powdered gelatin = 1 Tbsp Agar-Agar.
1 Tbsp. of agar-agar flakes is equal to 1 tsp. of agar-agar powder.

2.5 sheets gelatin or 5g / 1 + 1/4 tsp powdered gelatin
1.5 oz (3 Tbsp / 40g) granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp (10g) glucose or thick corn syrup *I just used some regular sugar syrup
0.5 oz (15g) water
50g egg yolks (about 3 medium)
6.2 oz (175g) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped *I used Valrhona for all the dark chocolate in the yule log - I firmly believe in using the highest quality ingredients whenever possible, and Valrhona chocolate is truly incredible, though a bit difficult to chop!
1.5 cups (350g) heavy cream (35% fat content)

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water. (If using powdered gelatin, follow the directions on the package.)
2. Make a Pate a Bombe: Beat the egg yolks until very light in colour (approximately 5 minutes until almost white).
2a. Cook the sugar, glucose syrup and water on medium heat for approximately 3 minutes (if you have a candy thermometer, the mixture should reach 244°F (118°C). If you do not have a candy thermometer, test the sugar temperature by dipping the tip of a knife into the syrup then into a bowl of ice water, if it forms a soft ball in the water then you have reached the correct temperature.
2b. Add the sugar syrup to the beaten yolks carefully by pouring it into the mixture in a thin stream while continuing to beat the yolks. You can do this by hand but it’s easier to do this with an electric mixer.
2c. Continue beating until cool (approximately 5 minutes). The batter should become thick and foamy.
3. In a double boiler or equivalent, heat 2 tablespoons (30g) of cream to boiling. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted and smooth.
4. Whip the remainder of the cream until stiff.
5. Pour the melted chocolate over the softened gelatin, mixing well. Let the gelatin and chocolate cool slightly and then stir in ½ cup (100g) of WHIPPED cream to temper. Add the Pate a Bombe.
6. Add in the rest of the WHIPPED cream (220g) mixing gently with a spatula.

Element #3 Dark Chocolate Ganache Insert

Preparation time: 10mn

Equipment: pan, whisk. If you have plunging mixer (a vertical hand mixer used to make soups and other liquids), it comes in handy.

Note: Because the ganache hardens as it cools, you should make it right before you intend to use it to facilitate piping it onto the log during assembly. Please be careful when caramelizing the sugar and then adding the cream. It may splatter and boil.

1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
4.5oz (2/3 cup – 1 Tbsp/ 135g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
5 oz (135g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
3Tbsp + 1/2tsp (45g) unsalted butter softened
Zest of 1 orange
1 spoonful of Grand Marnier, or other orange liqueur

1. Make a caramel: Using the dry method, melt the sugar by spreading it in an even layer in a small saucepan with high sides. Heat over medium-high heat, watching it carefully as the sugar begins to melt. Never stir the mixture. As the sugar starts to melt, swirl the pan occasionally to allow the sugar to melt evenly. Cook to dark amber color (for most of you that means darker than last month’s challenge).
2. While the sugar is melting, heat the cream until boiling. Pour cream into the caramel and stir thoroughly. Be very careful as it may splatter and boil.
3. Pour the hot caramel-milk mixture over the dark chocolate. Wait 30 seconds and stir until smooth.
4. Add the softened butter, orange zest, and Grand Marnier, and whip hard and fast (if you have a plunging mixer use it). The chocolate should be smooth and shiny.

I had a bunch of ganache left over, so I used some of it for my decorations, along with whipped cream and whipped cream mixed with a bit of orange juice.

Element #4 Praline Feuillete (Crisp) Insert

Preparation time: 10 mn (+ optional 15mn if you make lace crepes) *I made both the gavottes (the lace crepes) and the praline paste. Though both tasted good, I realized that using a mortar and pestle to make praline paste is a very ardous task and results in a rather crumbly paste. However, I'll include my directions for the praline paste here.

Equipment: Small saucepan, baking sheet (if you make lace crepes).
Double boiler (or one small saucepan in another), wax paper, rolling pin (or I use an empty bottle of olive oil).

Note: Feuillete means layered (as in with leaves) so a Praline Feuillete is a Praline version of a delicate crisp. There are non-praline variations below. The crunch in this crisp comes from an ingredient which is called gavottes in French. Gavottes are lace-thin crepes. To our knowledge they are not available outside of France, so you have the option of making your own using the recipe below or you can simply substitute rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K for them. Special note: If you use one of the substitutes for the gavottes, you should halve the quantity stated, as in use 1oz of any of these cereals instead of 2.1oz.
If you want to make your own praline, please refer back to the Daring Baker Challenge Recipe from July 2008. Or see below:

To make praline paste:
50 g granulate sugar
A few spoonfuls of water
A handful of almonds

1. Blanch the almonds in boiling water for a few minutes.
2. Drain the almonds, let cool, and remove their skins, which should pop right off now. Set aside.
3. Heat the sugar and water over medium heat in a small saucepan.
4. A minute or two after the sugar-water mixture starts boiling, add the almonds.
5. Let cook until the mixture is a lightish amber caramel.
6. Pour the mixture onto a sheet of parchment paper and let cool about an hour. You know have the praline. To make the praline paste, chop up the hard candy, and grind it until you get a nice paste.

To make 2.1oz / 60g of gavottes (lace crepes - recipe by Ferich Mounia):
1/3 cup (80ml) whole milk
2/3 Tbsp (8g) unsalted butter
1/3 cup – 2tsp (35g) all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp / 0.5 oz (15g) beaten egg
1 tsp (3.5g) granulated sugar
½ tsp vegetable oil
1. Heat the milk and butter together until butter is completely melted. Remove from the heat.
2. Sift flour into milk-butter mixture while beating, add egg and granulated sugar. Make sure there are no lumps.
3. Grease a baking sheet and spread batter thinly over it.
4. Bake at 430°F (220°C) for a few minutes until the crepe is golden and crispy. Let cool.

Ingredients for the Praline Feuillete:
3.5 oz (100g) milk chocolate *For the milk chocolate, I used Gianduja which is fantastic
1 2/3 Tbsp (25g) butter
2 Tbsp (1 oz / 30g) praline
2.1oz (60g) lace crepes(gavottes) or rice krispies or corn flakes or Special K *If I hadn't made the gavottes, I would have used crushed-up amaretti here - I still think this would be nice

1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
2. Add the praline and the coarsely crushed lace crepes. Mix quickly to thoroughly coat with the chocolate.
3. Spread between two sheets of wax paper to a size slightly larger than your desired shape. Refrigerate until hard.

Element #5 Vanilla Crème Brulée Insert *I'm leaving in the vanilla recipe, but when I did it I did not add the vanilla bean, and used orange as shown below

Preparation time: 15mn + 1h infusing *only when using vanilla bean + 1h baking

Equipment: Small saucepan, mixing bowl, baking mold, wax paper

Note: The vanilla crème brulée can be flavored differently by simply replacing the vanilla with something else e.g. cardamom, lavender, etc...

1/2 cup (115g) heavy cream (35% fat content)
½ cup (115g) whole milk
4 medium-sized (72g) egg yolks
0.75 oz (2 Tbsp / 25g) granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean *Replaced with zest and juice of 1 orange

1. Heat the milk, cream, and scraped vanilla bean to just boiling. Remove from the stove and let the vanilla infuse for about 1 hour. *Instead I just heated the milk and cream, added the zest and orange juice and mixed well.
2. Whisk together the sugar and egg yolks (but do not beat until white).
3. Pour the vanilla-infused milk over the sugar/yolk mixture. Mix well.
4. Wipe with a very wet cloth and then cover your baking mold (whatever shape is going to fit on the inside of your Yule log/cake) with parchment paper. Pour the cream into the mold and bake at 210°F (100°C) for about 1 hour or until firm on the edges and slightly wobbly in the center.
Tartelette says: You can bake it without a water bath since it is going to go inside the log (the aesthetics of it won't matter as much since it will be covered with other things)....BUT I would recommend a water bath for the following reasons:
- you will get a much nicer mouth feel when it is done
- you will be able to control its baking point and desired consistency much better
- it bakes for such a long time that I fear it will get overdone without a water bath
Now...since it is baked in a pan and it is sometimes difficult to find another large pan to set it in for a water bath, even a small amount of water in your water bath will help the heat be distributed evenly in the baking process. Even as little as 1 inch will help.
5. Let cool and put in the freezer for at least 1 hour to firm up and facilitate the final assembly.

I had some issues with my crème brulée being a bit too soft and sort of breaking apart when I tried to put it in my yule log. I used a water bath, so perhaps I should have raised the temperature a bit at the end. In any case, it still worked pretty well and tasted delicous!

Element #6 Dark Chocolate Icing

Preparation time: 25 minutes (10mn if you don’t count softening the gelatin)

Equipment: Small bowl, small saucepan

Note: Because the icing gelifies quickly, you should make it at the last minute.
For other gelatin equivalencies or gelatin to agar-agar equivalencies, look at the notes for the mousse component.

4g / ½ Tbsp powdered gelatin or 2 sheets gelatin
¼ cup (60g) heavy cream (35 % fat content)
2.1 oz (5 Tbsp / 60g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (50g) water
1/3 cup (30g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1. Soften the gelatin in cold water for 15 minutes.
2. Boil the rest of the ingredients and cook an additional 3 minutes after boiling.
3. Add gelatin to the chocolate mixture. Mix well.
4. Let cool while checking the texture regularly. As soon as the mixture is smooth and coats a spoon well (it is starting to gelify), use immediately.

I think I used the icing too soon, and so the yule log ended up being a bit lumpy. Luckily I was able to cover this up with ample decorating!

How To Assemble your French Yule Log

Depending on whether your mold is going to hold the assembly upside down until you unmold it or right side up, this order will be different.
You will want to tap your mold gently on the countertop after each time you pipe mousse in to get rid of any air bubbles.

1) Line your mold or pan, whatever its shape, with rhodoid (clear hard plastic, I usually use transparencies cut to the desired shape, it’s easier to find than cellulose acetate which is what rhodoid translates to in English) OR plastic film. Rhodoid will give you a smoother shape but you may have a hard time using it depending on the kind of mold you’re using.

You have two choices for Step 2, you can either have Dacquoise on the top and bottom of your log as in version A or you can have Dacquoise simply on the bottom of your log as in version B *I did version B:

2A) Cut the Dacquoise into a shape fitting your mold and set it in there. If you are using an actual Yule mold which is in the shape of a half-pipe, you want the Dacquoise to cover the entire half-pipe portion of the mold.
3A) Pipe one third of the Mousse component on the Dacquoise.
4A) Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
5A) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
6A) Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
7A) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
8A) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
9A) Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight eidge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.
10A) Close with the last strip of Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.


2B) Pipe one third of the Mousse component into the mold.
3B) Take the Creme Brulee Insert out of the freezer at the last minute and set on top of the mousse. Press down gently to slightly ensconce it in the mousse.
4B) Pipe second third of the Mousse component around and on top of the Creme Brulee Insert.
5B) Cut the Praline/Crisp Insert to a size slightly smaller than your mold so that it can be surrounded by mousse. Lay it on top of the mousse you just piped into the mold.
6B) Pipe the last third of the Mousse component on top of the Praline Insert.
7B) Freeze for a few hours to set. Take out of the freezer.
8B) Pipe the Ganache Insert onto the frozen mousse leaving a slight edge so that ganache doesn’t seep out when you set the Dacquoise on top.

9B) Close with the Dacquoise.
Freeze until the next day.

If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with TWO pieces of Dacquoise the order is:
1) Dacquoise
2) Mousse
3) Creme Brulee Insert
4) Mousse
5) Praline/Crisp Insert
6) Mousse
7) Ganache Insert
8) Dacquoise

If you are doing the assembly UPSIDE DOWN with ONE piece of Dacquoise on the BOTTOM ONLY the order is:
1) Mousse
2) Creme Brulee Insert
3) Mousse
4) Praline/Crisp Insert
5) Mousse
6) Ganache Insert
7) Dacquoise

If you are doing the assembly RIGHT SIDE UP in a springform pan the order is:
1) Dacquoise
2) Ganache Insert
3) Mousse
4) Praline/Crisp Insert
5) Mousse
6) Creme Brulee Insert
7) Mousse
8 OPTIONAL) Dacquoise

Unmold the cake/log/whatever and set on a wire rack over a shallow pan.
Cover the cake with the icing.
Let set. Return to the freezer.
You may decorate your cake however you wish. The decorations can be set in the icing after it sets but before you return the cake to the freezer or you may attach them on top using extra ganache or leftover mousse, etc...
Transfer to the refrigerator no longer than ½ hour before serving as it may start to melt quickly depending on the elements you chose.

Some final notes. Here is the order in which I made the elements, which can help in terms of organization:

2 days before log-eating day: Make the gavottes and praline paste (this was just so I wouldn't have to worry about doing these on the day when I would be making almost everything else, and so that I would be able to buy substitutes in case they didn't turn out well)

1 day before log-eating day:
1. Make the dacquoise and let cool (can also be done later, but I wanted to get it out of the way)
2. Make the crème brulée, put in oven to bake.
3. While crème brulée is baking, make the praliné feuilletée and place in refrigerator to cool.
4. Make the mousse. At some point during the mousse-making, it may come time to take the crème brulée out of the oven and move to the freezer.
5. Let crème brulée freeze for an hour. You can make the dacquoise here if you didn't make it earlier.
6. Line pan with plastic wrap, pipe in 1/3 of the mousse, put in crème brulée, pipe in second third of the mousse, put in praliné feuilletée and pipe in the rest of the mousse. Let freeze for a few hours.
7. Right before you're going to use it, make the ganache.
8. Pipe the ganache over the last layer of mousse, and lay the dacquoise over that. Let freeze overnight

Log-eating day.
Make the icing, and ice log. Decorate as you please. Return to freezer until 1/2 an hour or so before you plan to eat it. 1/2 an hour before you plan to eat it, move it to the refrigerator to make cutting it easier.

Eat!! And Joyeux Noël!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cannelloni with Squash and Ricotta

This is one of those dishes where you take one bite and immediately think "Oh my goodness! Why haven't I been making this before and how soon can I make it again?!" Yes, they are that good.

I don't know if I've ever eaten cannelloni before, yet alone made them, but I can guarantee that after these, I'll be making (and eating) them again soon! The idea to make cannelloni occurred to me mostly because I have a whole lot of ricotta to get rid of. I'm leaving on Friday and won't be back for a week and a half, so my meals for these past few days have consisted of creative combinations of perishables that must be eaten or suffer the sad fate of being thrown away.

Anyways, I'd had a lot of spinach and ricotta recently, so I decided to try something different and mix the ricotta with a nice acorn squash I had, and then I just needed to figure out what kind of pasta to pair it with. Squash and ricotta cry out stuffed pasta to me, but I was a bit tired of ravioli and tortelli, and I wanted to try something different. So... baked pasta! An interesting experiment that turned out quite deliciously.

The squash ricotta pairing yields a lovely, delicate taste and a topping of béchamel and grated parmesan finishes it off perfectly. This recipe makes about 6 cannelloni:

For the pasta:
6 pasta sheets (if you want to make your own, see here for a pasta dough recipe - though you'll probably need to double it)

For the filling:
1 medium-sized squash (acorn worked very well here, I'm sure other winter varieties like butternut squash would too)
250 g ricotta
Grated parmesan

For the béchamel:
50 g butter
A few large spoonfuls of flour
200 ml milk

Preheat the oven to 355º F/180º C. Cut the squash in half and scoop out all the seeds. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the squash halves onto it, cut side down. When the oven is hot, put the squash in and let bake until soft, about 30-45 minutes depending on the size and type of squash.

When the squash is done, remove the baking sheet, turn the squash halves over so the cut side faces up and let them cool. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, and add the pasta sheets, a few at a time if necessary.

After a few minutes, remove the pasta sheets and place onto a clean towel to dry and cool.

While the pasta and squash are cooling, make the béchamel by melting the butter in a saucepan, then adding the flour and stirring up. Add the milk and whisk everything thoroughly. Butter a large baking pan, and pour in enough béchamel to cover the bottom.

By this time, the pasta and squash should be cool enough to deal with. Scoop out the fleshy part of the squash and mash it up in a bowl. Add the ricotta and mix thoroughly. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and a healthy dose of grated parmesan and mix again.

Preheat the oven to about 400ºF / 200º C. Spoon 1/6 of the squash ricotta mixture onto the short end of one of the pasta sheets, leaving a bit of room at the edge. Roll up the pasta sheet and place into your baking pan.

Repeat for the remaining 5 sheets, and then pour the rest of the béchamel over the cannelloni. Finish it off by grating some parmesan over everything and then place into the oven and bake 20-30 minutes.

Serve warm.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Vegetable broth

Now that it's cold and wintry, it seems that practically every evening the only thing I want for dinner is a nice hearty bowl of soup. Since the beginning of December, I think I've made 4 or 5 different types of soup, which translates to 8-10 soup dinners in 19 days since I always make too much for one night!

Anyways, making soup is easy and almost always works out well, and it's even nicer when you make your own broth. It just feels so much more authentic than throwing in a little cube or using a store-bought version. Plus, since you decide what's in it, you have more control over the tastes that will go into your soups.

Though I have yet to try my hand at a meat/poultry/fish-based broth, I'm very happy with this vegetable broth, which is also slightly easier on the wallet! I usually make a humongous pot and then freeze everything I'm not going to use in the next couple of days. You can freeze your broth in various containers - I've seen suggestions for using ice cube trays or muffin tins - and then transfer the frozen brothsicles into ziploc bags for safekeeping. The night before you plan to use one, just pop it into the fridge to thaw and then heat it up immediately before using it.

The recipe below is my standard one, but you can throw in all sorts of vegetables, legumes, and spices. I would advise against anything that might give off a particularly overwhelming flavor, like pepper or tomato, but as always, it's up to you! Here's what I like to use:

1 leek (can substitute with a yellow onion)
A few cloves of garlic
1-2 carrots
A stalk of celery, with leaves if desired
A few sprigs of parsley
Whatever leafy greens of the cruciferous family are on hand - spinach is good, cabbage leaves, kale, etc.

Peel the garlic, crush and set aside. Rinse the leek and tear off the outermost leaves. Chop off the rough, green leaves at the top and then slit the leek lengthwise with a knife. Holding the leek under cold running water, spread out the leaves so that every leaf gets thoroughly rinsed on both sides. When the leek has been well-washed, chop it into little circles and set aside.

Peel the carrot and chop into small bits. Wash the celery, greens and parsley, and chop these up too.

Find the biggest pot you can and fill it about 3/4 full with water. Put all the vegetables into the pot. Cover the pot and bring the water to a boil. when the water is boiling, add the spices, salt and pepper. Turn the heat down to the lowest degree possible and let simmer for about an hour.

When the hour is up, you should have a nice goldeny liquid filling the pot. Turn off the heat, and set a strainer over another large pot. Pour the broth into this second pot so that the vegetables get strained out and you're just left with the liquid (you can also just use some of the broth right then and put the vegetables in it for a simple soup).

Whatever part of the broth you don't use immediately, you can store in the refrigerator for a few days or else freeze it as mentioned above. It's a good idea to let the broth come to room temperature before putting it directly into the refrigerator or the freezer.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Zucchini leek tart

I like tarts. A lot. And I make tarts a lot. Perhaps because I've only had an oven since I moved into this apartment in July, I've filled up the months since then eagerly making anything that involves baking, roasting, etc. And now that it's practically Winter and the world is cold cold cold, baking is a cheap way to heat the house with the bonus that you get to eat something delicious at the end!

I actually first made this tart awhile ago and somehow never got around to writing it up. Then this week, I suddenly found myself with some week-old zucchini and leeks sitting around in my fridge, and so I decided to try the tart again, except with a cornmeal crust instead of a normal pastry crust like I had used the first time.

Though the cornmeal crust was tasty, I decided it didn't complement the filling as nicely as a regular pastry crust, so I'll give the recipe for the first version, though of course you're free to substitute cornmeal for some or all of the flour and see how you like it. Either way, this is a wonderful tart - light and yet filling, and also not too difficult!

For the crust:
200 g pastry flour
50 g unsalted butter
1 egg
A small spoonful of salt
A little bit of cold water

For the filling:
2 medium-sized zucchini
1 largish leek
100 g ricotta
1 egg
Olive oil

Begin by making the dough a couple of hours ahead of time. Sift together the flour and salt. Cut the butter into smallish chunks and crumble it into the flour mixture, using either your hands or mixing-gadget of your choice (I'm old-fashioned and go with the hands way). Once the flour and butter are thoroughly mixed, lightly beat the egg and then mix it into the flour/butter mixture. Pour in the cold water a little bit at a time, mixing as you go so that you get just enough to make a stickyish dough. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Several minutes before you plan to bake the tart, preheat the oven to 355º F/180º C. While the oven is heating, prepare the filling. Wash the zucchini and chop the ends off. Using the large holes of a cheese grater, grate the zucchini into a bowl.

Tear off the outer leaves of the leek and then rinse thoroughly. Slit the leek lengthwise with a knife down almost all the way to the root. Spread the leaves apart and rinse even more thoroughly in cold water to get out all the bits of dirt that inevitably find their way into the leek leaves. Once the leek has been washed, chop it into little half circles.

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil. When the oil is hot add the leek, and after a minute or so, add the zucchini. Let cook at high heat for a few minutes, then cover the pan and turn the heat to low. Let the zucchini and leek cook at this heat for 15 minutes or so, until the leek starts to caramelize. Stir every so often to keep the zucchini from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Lightly beat the egg with a fork. When the zucchini/leek mixture is done, add it to the egg, and then add the ricotta. Stir everything up well. Grate the parmesan over the top, sprinkle on the salt and pepper and mix everything up again.

When the pastry dough is done chilling, take it out and roll it out onto a well-floured board. I like my crusts fairly thick, but you can make yours as thin as you like - as long as it doesn't fall apart!

Butter a tart pan all over the bottom and sides and carefully place the rolled-out dough into the pan, adding and taking away bits where necessary. Poke holes in the bottom and sides with a fork, and let bake for about 10 minutes to pre-cook the crust.

After the crust is somewhat hard, take it out of the oven and spoon in the filling. Return the tart to the oven and let bake 20-25 minutes. Remove, let cool a bit, and then eat!