Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake

Last Friday morning I made a spur of the moment decision to go pick strawberries.  Since to say I'm not a spur of the moment kind of person is a bit of an understatement, this was a pretty unusual thing for me to do.  But I had seen a picture of a friend's berry picking experience on Facebook...and the thought of getting away (not to mention the thought of returning with a load of ripe, juicy berries) exerted a pull that was difficult to resist.  So I went.  I was so glad I did.

The weather on Friday was ideal for picking.  It was cool...but not cold...and the light from the slightly overcast sky was bright without being glaring.  As I approached the field, a gentle breeze greeted me with the fragrance of the ripening berries and then kept me comfortable as I worked.  It was a perfect morning...and a perfect way to begin my holiday weekend and my summer.

The strawberry field at Gieringer's Orchard

Not only did I come home refreshed and relaxed, my morning of "work" yielded a huge flat of perfectly ripe strawberries.  

Just having the berries for breakfast has been a delight...but I have also made a couple batches of jam 

and on Sunday night I made strawberry shortcake for an impromptu dessert.

My strawberry shortcake is decidedly simple and old fashioned.  It is almost identical to the one my mother made when I was growing up.  The cake portion of her shortcake was made from a loose, drop-type biscuit batter that she baked in a cake pan (instead of making individual drop biscuits).  

This finished biscuit-cake was cut into wedges that were split and then filled and topped with strawberries.  She prepared the strawberries by macerating them in a little bit of sugar.  To make the juices more sauce-like, just before serving, she smashed a few of the berries with a potato masher.

If you have beautiful, ripe berries, the shortcake doesn't really need anything else...but a little whipped cream...or ice cream...isn't a bad thing.  I remember my father pouring milk over his.  This must be a very old-time practice—my mother tells me this was how her grandparents served theirs.  I may have tried it this way once...but I have to admit that this doesn't appeal to me too much since it produces cold, soggy cake.

The biscuit I make is an adaptation of a recipe from Shirley Corriher's Cookwise.  Towards the end of my time at The American Restaurant Ms. Corriher came to teach a cooking class there.  One of the things she prepared was her grandmother’s recipe for “real Georgia biscuits” (Ms. Corriher calls them "Touch of Grace Biscuits”).  One woman in the class who had spent several years living in the South pronounced them to be the best biscuits that she had ever eaten.  Because the dough for these biscuits is very soft and batter-like—and bakes up into a very light and moist biscuit—it occurred to me that this recipe would be perfect for my mother's style of strawberry shortcake...and it was. 

If you have never had a shortcake made this way, I hope you will give it a try.  And, if you happen to have a "u-pick" strawberry patch somewhere near your home—and are in need of a bit of a pick-me-up yourself—you should definitely carve out some time to get away and pick berries.  But don't wait too long, the season for strawberries will be over all too soon. 

Old Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake

For the Berries:

Clean and hull 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of fresh strawberries.  Halve or quarter them, depending on the size of the berries.  Toss them with a quarter cup of sugar.  Taste and add more sugar (a tablespoon at a time) if they need it—but ripe, in-season, local berries shouldn't need much more.   Let the berries macerate while the shortcake bakes, stirring them occasionally.  If you like, just before serving, mash about a quarter to a third of the berries with a fork or a potato masher. 

For the Shortcake Biscuit:

1 1/2  cups all purpose flour (6 oz.)
1/4 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 c. sugar
4 T. cold butter
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. buttermilk
1 T. sugar

Preheat the oven to 450°.  Grease and flour an 8” round cake pan.  Combine the dry ingredients.  Rub the butter into the dry ingredients, just until there are no large lumps remaining.

Combine the cream and buttermilk and add.  Using a rubber spatula, stir in the liquid using a few, deft strokes.  The dough will be quite wet–almost more of a thick batter.  It will look quite lumpy and not at all uniform.  Do not over mix.

Dollop the dough into the prepared pan, spreading minimally—the dough should be of a roughly even depth and the bottom of the pan should not be visible—a rough lumpy surface is perfect.   

Sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the top.  Place the pan in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.  The finished biscuit should be a beautiful golden brown and springy to the touch.  Do not under bake.  Cool in the pan for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack..and let the cake rest at least 10 to 15 minutes before cutting. 

The shortcake is best served warm.  If not serving right away, warm briefly in a 350° oven.  Cut the cake into 8 wedges and split each wedge horizontally.  Place a bottom half on each plate, top with a generous spoonful of berries (and some of the delicious juices).  Place the top half of the biscuit over the berries.  Serve with a blob of sweetened whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. 

(Biscuit recipe loosely adapted from Cookwise, by Shirley Corriher)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Orecchiette with Broccoli & Italian Sausage

The week before last was an unusually hectic one.  As Saturday approached, between the demands of family and work, I realized that I wasn't going to be able to make my weekly run to the farmers' market.  This might not seem like a big deal...but to me it was.  I don't remember the last time during the growing season—when I was in town—that I missed a Saturday morning market.  Not only do I just love to be there....from mid-April through October it is the source of most of our produce each week. 

When I finally got around to doing our weekly produce shopping (at the grocery store) on Monday, I gravitated towards the really is what I'm in the mood for this time of year.  I mentioned in a previous post that due to the lateness of our Spring (and the consequent lack of any local produce) that I had been purchasing quite a bit of California asparagus and that it had been very nice.  Well, the stuff I saw Monday was a different story.  As I looked at it I wondered, as I frequently do when I happen to see inferior "in season" produce in a grocery store, why anyone would purchase it.  Almost always, the locally grown counterparts—which are abundant, and therefore cheaper—are truly superior.

With some regret and irritation, I moved past the asparagus and came upon the broccoli.  Good old, reliable broccoli.  Even if the broccoli at the grocery store isn't as fantastic as just-cut, farm-fresh, it is almost always of a reasonable quality.  And it seems to be available year round.  When nothing else at the store looks good, I can usually count on broccoli. 

Because broccoli is so ubiquitous it is sort of a "go to" green vegetable for us.  Simply blanched and tossed with olive oil, it is a fine side vegetable for a weeknight meal.  Not surprisingly, it often appears at my house as a "sauce" for pasta.  Most of the time it ends up in a pasta with some combination of olives/capers/anchovies, pepper flakes, garlic, pine nuts and lemon zest.  I love it  this way.  This week though, I wanted to combine it with some Italian Sausage. 

I found a recipe in one of my favorite pasta books for a traditional Pugliese pasta with Broccoli Rabe and Italian Sausage.  It looked simple...and delicious...and most importantly, I had all the ingredients in the house.  I obviously didn't have any broccoli rabe, but after looking at the recipe I knew that I could easily adapt it for regular broccoli.  I think this pasta would be delicious with just about any green...kale and chard in particular come to mind.

One of the things I like about this dish is the method used for cooking the sausage.  Instead of warming the oil and then adding the sausage, the recipe instructs you to put the sausage into a cold pan along with the oil and garlic.  Doing this makes the sticky Italian sausage easier to break up as it begins to cook.  I don't know why I never thought of doing this is, after all, exactly how I routinely cook bacon (by starting it in a cold pan).  If you like your sausage to have crispy edges, this method will not be for you, but if you just want the sausage to be cooked and to blend in nicely with the other ingredients, this is an excellent method.

You will notice in the ingredient list that I have included some optional lemon zest and dried oregano.  These were not part of the original recipe, but I liked the lift and interest they added to the dish.  I'm sure the pasta would be delicious without them...and I would not hesitate to make this pasta if I didn't have them on hand. 

I'm happy to report that I was able to return to the market this morning.  As always when I go after having missed a week (after returning from vacation for example), I was struck by how much the market has changed in such a short span of time.  Whereas before the offerings were quite thin, this week there was abundance:  greens of all kinds (arugula, lettuces, kale, chard, broccoli rabe), radishes and white top turnips, the first of the beets, larger spring onions, strawberries.....and, to my surprise, broccoli.  I'm sure this pasta will be even more delicious with fresh, local broccoli.

 Orecchiette with Broccoli & Italian Sausage

1 1/4 lbs. broccoli crowns
1/4 c. olive oil
2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 t. red pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 lb. Italian sausage, casings removed if necessary
Zest of 1 large lemon (optional)
1 t. dried oregano (optional)
1 lb. orecchiette
2 T. Extra Virgin Olive oil
freshly grated Pecorino

Prepare the broccoli:  Trim the florets away from the stems and cut into uniform, small (3/4- to 1-inch) florets.  Trim the tough end off of the stalk (you should only need to trim away about a quarter inch or so—because you are using "crowns" the stalk portion should be almost entirely usable).  Peel away any thick/tough skin on the portion of the stalk that remains.  Cut the trimmed and peeled stalks into rough 1/4-inch by 1-inch batonnets. 

Ingredients for half of a recipe

Bring 6 quarts of water to the boil in a large stock/pasta pot.

Meanwhile, place 1/4 c. olive oil, garlic, pepper flakes and sausage in a very large, cold sauté pan.  Set over medium heat.  Cook, breaking up the sausage with a fork or a wooden spoon.  When the contents of the pan begin to sizzle add the zest and oregano.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage has lost its pinkness,  Set side and keep warm.

While the sausage cooks, cook the broccoli and the pasta:  When the pasta water comes to a boil, add 2 T. of salt (or to taste).  Add the broccoli stems and cook until just tender—about 3 minutes.  Add the florets to the pot and continue to cook until the florets are just tender—another 2 minutes.  Scoop the broccoli out, shaking off any excess water and add to the pan with the sausage.  Toss to combine and keep warm (in a warm spot or over very low heat) while the pasta cooks. 

Add the pasta to the same pot that the broccoli was cooked in and cook until al dente.  Drain, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid.  Add the pasta to the pan and toss to combine—adding some of the reserved pasta water if it looks dry.  Drizzle in the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and toss again.  Serve, passing the Pecorino on the side.  Serves 4 to 6.

Note: If preparing this pasta with Broccoli Rabe, use 1 1/2 to 2 lbs.  Trim away any tough or dry portions of the stems and split any stems that are thicker than a pencil.  Blanch the broccoli rabe in the boiling salted water until just tender.  Lift out and spread on a baking sheet to cool.  When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the excess water, coarsely chop and add to the pan with the sausage.  Proceed with the recipe as written.  If using kale or chard, prepare as for the broccoli rabe, removing the ribs of the greens (discard the ribs) before blanching.

(Recipe adapted from Four Seasons Pasta by Janet Fletcher)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Potato Salad with Spring Herb Pesto & Peas

Dinner tonight:  hamburgers on the grill for the first time since last fall.  To go with them: potato salad.  But this was no ordinary potato salad.  Instead, I prepared an adaptation of a recipe I have been eyeing in Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty for some time now.   Tossed with a loose pesto of mixed herbs...and was beautiful, simple and delicious.  The perfect accompaniment for those first grilled burgers of the year.   

Potato Salad with Spring Herb Pesto & Peas

2 eggs
1 1/4 lbs. small or new potatoes
1 1/2 to 2 t. white wine vinegar
Salt & Pepper, to taste
2/3 c. shelled peas
1 c. (loosely packed) arugula (about 1 oz.)
1/4 c. (packed) flat parsley leaves (1/4 oz.)
1/4 c. (packed) mint leaves (1/4 oz.)
1 clove garlic, smashed to a purée with a pinch of salt
1/4 c. pine nuts, toasted
1/3 c. (1 oz.) finely grated Parmesan
1/2 c. olive oil

Pesto ingredients....

Place the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring to a simmer over high heat.  Turn off the heat, cover the pan and let sit for 10 minutes.  Drain and refresh in cold water.  Peel and set aside.

Scrub the potatoes and place in a saucepan large enough to hold in a single layer.  Cover with cold water, salt the water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender to the tip of a knife but not falling apart.  Drain and let cool just until you are able to handle them.  If using true new potatoes, simply halve or quarter the potatoes (to get 3/4- to 1-inch chunks).  If using a small store bought potato, the skins will likely be tough.  If so, remove the skin by pulling it away from the potato with the help of a paring knife.  Cut the potatoes into 3/4- to 1-inch pieces.  Drizzle the potatoes with vinegar while they are still warm and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to distribute the vinegar and seasoning. 

Blanch the peas in boiling salted water until tender—about 4 minutes.  Drain and refresh under cold running water.  If fresh peas aren't available, use frozen.  There is no need to boil frozen peas....simply thaw.  Set aside.

While the potatoes, peas and eggs cook, make the pesto:  Place all of the herbs, garlic, pine nuts and cheese in the food processor and process until finely chopped, stopping the machine once or twice to scrape down the sides. Add the oil and process.  You should have a runny pesto.  Taste and correct the seasoning.

Ready to put it all together...

To finish the salad, add the peas to the potatoes.  Pour the pesto over and fold to distribute.  It's OK if the potatoes start to fall apart.  Taste and correct the seasoning with salt & pepper.   Cut the eggs into rough, half inch pieces.  Add to the bowl and fold in.  Transfer to a serving bowl and top with parsley or mint chiffonade, if you like.  Serves 4.

  • The original recipe used a small waxy new potato called Jersey Royals...but you may use any new potato you prefer.  I used Melissa's Baby Dutch Yellow Potatoes.  New potatoes should be lightly scrubbed, but not peeled.  The Baby Dutch potatoes had tough skins and needed to be peeled.
  • Ottolenghi's original recipe called for quail eggs (10 for this size recipe), soft cooked (30 seconds from the boil) and halved.
  • The original recipe used basil and parsley in the pesto and added a shower of finely shredded sorrel or mint to the finished salad.
  • This salad was delicious with hamburgers.  It would be a wonderful accompaniment to roast or grilled lamb.
(Recipe adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi)

Printable Recipe

Monday, May 12, 2014

Market Inspirations: Asparagus & White Bean Salad with Arugula (and a bonus recipe for a Versatile Two-Olive Sauce for Fish)

As we sat down to dinner on Saturday I was struck by how much I love this time of year.  It is finally warm enough to eat out of doors...and the food that fills our plates is fresh from the market.  What could be finer? Our meal was just a simple white bean salad, but it was made special by the presence of local asparagus and arugula...purchased that morning...directly from the people who grew it.  It was so delicious.  What a privilege and pleasure it is to be cooking from the market again.

I served our salad with some pan-seared salmon.  I am partial to salmon in the spring and early is so lovely with the early pale green vegetables...asparagus, as well as artichokes and peas...but I think the salad would be good with any number of varieties of fish and seafood.  Scallops, Shrimp, Halibut and Swordfish all come to mind.   As originally conceived, this salad was a vehicle for leftover salmon (whether poached, roasted, baked, grilled or pan-seared)...broken into large chunks and folded in with the asparagus.  In this form it would make a great salad for a buffet...or a boxed lunch (bearing in mind that the acidity of the vinaigrette will dull the color of the asparagus).  It would also be pretty good without any fish at all.

I like this salad a lot—just as written—but on Saturday I left the olives out and topped the salmon with a delicious olive sauce instead.  

On this particular occasion, the sauce was a leftover (from a dinner earlier in the week of halibut with broccoli and couscous), but it was so good I will certainly make a point to serve the two together again.  The sauce—a loose tapenade-like concoction from Joyce Goldstein's Kitchen Conversations—is spiked with a generous dose of orange zest and juice, making it an especially good companion for the asparagus.  Even if you don't make this salad, this is a great sauce to have in your repertoire if you like fish. 

Finally, since the white beans are the backbone of this salad, I really think they should be freshly cooked from dried.  But if cooking dried beans is a task you hate, you can of course make a very nice salad with a good quality canned bean (just make sure you rinse them before adding them to the salad).   At one time I was a bit of a snob about canned beans...really frowned on using them.  But over the years I have discovered that they can be a pretty good product...a "convenience" food that isn't awful or too much of a compromise.  I keep canned items to a bare minimum in my kitchen, but I admit to always having a can or two of beans (especially cannellini, chickpeas and black beans) on hand.  If you would like to cook dried beans for this salad, I am including a great method from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  It uses the gentle heat of the oven to produce soft, creamy beans that still retain their shape—exactly what one wants in a salad. 

White Bean Salad with Asparagus & Arugula

For the vinaigrette:
1/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 to 1 t. fennel seed, toasted and finely crushed
1 clove garlic, smashed to a purée with a pinch of salt
1/2 c. olive oil
Salt & freshly ground pepper

For the salad:
3 c. cannellini beans, canned or cooked from dry (see note below)
1/2 c. finely diced red onion, well rinsed under cold running water
1/4 c. chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 T. chiffonade mint
16 to 20 Kalamata olives, halved (optional)
1 medium bunch asparagus, trimmed, sliced on the diagonal into 1 1/2-inch lengths, then blanched and refreshed under cold running water
4 or 5 handfuls arugula (or other favorite salad green)
1/3 c. toasted pistachios, chopped (optional)

To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice and garlic.  Gradually whisk in the olive oil in a thin stream to form an emulsion.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Set aside.   

To make the salad, drain and rinse the beans and place in a large bowl.  Add the onions, the herbs, olives (if using) and about half the vinaigrette.  Toss to coat.  Taste and correct the seasoning.  At this point, the beans can be left to marinate for up to 30 minutes.

To finish the salad, place the arugula in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with some of the vinaigrette.  Toss to coat and divide among four serving plates, spreading out to form a base for the rest of the salad.  Add the asparagus to the beans and gently toss to coat, adding more vinaigrette if necessary.  Divide the bean mixture among the plates, mounding in attractively on top of the greens.  If desired, sprinkle each salad with some of the chopped pistachios.

Serves 4

  • To cook the beans from dried for a salad, soak them in water over night (to get three cups cooked, you will need to start with 1 1/4 to 1 1/3 cups dried). Drain the soaked beans, rinse them and transfer to a shallow baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover the beans with boiling water by one inch. Cover the pan with foil or a lid and transfer to a 325° oven. Bake until the beans are tender all the way through, salting when they are half cooked. This will take about 2 hours—depending on how fresh the dried beans are. Cool and store (in the refrigerator) in their cooking liquid until ready to use.
  • You can serve this salad as is or as I did with some salmon (or other fish) cooked however you like. To pan sear the salmon (as pictured): heat a sauté pan (large enough to comfortably hold all of the fish) over medium-high heat. While the pan is heating, season the fish on both sides with salt & pepper. Add a thin film of oil to the pan. When the oil is very hot, add the fish, skinned side up (if the fish is skinless....if serving with the skin, put the side with the skin down first). Cook until nicely browned (or the skin is crisp if serving with the skin), regulating the heat as necessary to prevent smoking but at the same time, maintaining an active sizzle. Turn and cook the fish, until barely opaque in the center (reducing the heat further, if necessary). A good rule of thumb for cooking fish is to cook it 10 minutes total per inch of thickness. If you like you may sear the first side, turn the fish over and then transfer the whole pan to a hot oven and finish cooking in the oven. When the fish is cooked the way you like, remove it from the pan and keep warm.

Black & Green Olive Sauce with Rosemary, Orange & Garlic

1/4 c. chopped Kalamata olives
1/4 c. chopped green Picholine olives
2 t. finely minced garlic
1 T. grated orange zest
1 T. minced fresh rosemary (see note)
2 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. fresh orange juice
1/2 to 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 to 3 T. minced Italian flat leaf parsley (optional)

Combine all the ingredients and let sit at room temperature for up to an hour to allow the flavors to blend. Serve over grilled, pan-seared, poached or roasted fish. Refrigerate any unused portion. Serves 6 to 8.

Note: The original recipe calls for 2 T. rosemary. I didn't have that much on hand when I made the sauce this last time. I really liked the lesser should include the amount that you prefer.

(Recipe adapted from Kitchen Conversations by Joyce Goldstein)

Two olive sauce with halibut, broccoli and
couscous with toasted pine nuts, currants and spring onions..

Monday, May 5, 2014

Leek & Goat Cheese Tart

Every year, sometime during March or April, I teach a class called "Everyday French".  It includes five classic—or classically-inspired—French recipes.  Three of them have appeared on my blog—Gâteau au Yaourt, Salmon with Asparagus, Peas & Herbs and an unusual Asparagus and Gruyère Tart.  The tart is really just a quiche, which makes it a nice fit for the class.  It is unusual in that it is baked in a pizza pan.  Baking it in this shape allows the asparagus to be arranged like the spokes of a wheel, creating a dramatic presentation. 

I mention all this because this class and this tart mean that every year—at least once—I will have a flat, pizza-shaped short crust pastry hanging out in my freezer (I always bring home the shell I roll out in class) just waiting for me to come up with a filling that works well with, or is shown off to advantage by, that particular style of shell.  I will probably always share it here.  Today's post is that post.

The asparagus well as an eggplant tart I posted a couple of years ago...are great examples of how this crust can be used to create a tart that is visually beautiful.  But this isn't the only use for this kind of pastry shell.  It also happens to be a perfect vehicle for fillings that are very thick.  Since the edge of this crust is quite low, care must be taken with more liquid fillings to keep them from overflowing.  With a thick filling, there are no such worries.  The filling of the spinach and artichoke tart I posted a few years ago is a good example of this kind of filling.  

This year it occurred to me that the filling of the traditional Flamiche aux Poireaux (a leek tart from the Picardy region of France) is also ideally suited to this crust.   To make the filling, a large quantity of leeks are cooked down in a generous amount of butter until they are soft and glazed.  They are then folded into a small amount of egg custard (just enough to bind)—along with cheese and, if you like, a cured meat like bacon, pancetta or ham.  The custard transforms the cooked leeks into a substance that is rich, thick and creamy.  Perfect for my crust.

Notice how the filling is thick enough that it "stands up"
 in the crust...even before baking.

I love leeks and I love this tart.  As I am posting it today, it is very, very good—much more than the sum of its parts—but the tart also takes well to any number of variations.  My favorite "classic" version can be found in Patricia Wells' book Bistro Cooking.  To the leeks and custard she adds Gruyère and ham and then bakes the tart in a standard removable bottom tart pan.  It too is delicious.  My version is largely drawn from one in Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook.  Waters bakes hers in a puff pastry crust—which I'm actually not crazy about (no matter how long you cook puff pastry, it always seems to have a thin, gummy layer in the middle).  For the filling she swaps out the traditional Gruyère with goat cheese (fabulous with leeks) and replaces the ham with pancetta.  The tart is excellent with the pancetta, but I find that I like it equally well without.  Sometimes I include it...sometimes not.  The most inspired addition to Waters' version is a topping of buttered breadcrumbs.  They add a delicious light, barely discernible crunch that provides great contrast to the creamy filling. 

The baked tart...with its gold-tinged breadcrumb topping.

If it happens that you are not a fan of Gruyère or goat cheese, you might enjoy Thomas Keller's version from his book Bouchon—he uses Roquefort...which is also wonderful with leeks—and no meat at all.

Obviously the most important part of this tart is the leeks...they should be abundant (don't skimp!) and cooked to melting tenderness.  Whatever your additions, if you love leeks, I predict you will love this tart.  If you have never tried leeks, you should give them a try...this tart would be a great place to matter what style of crust you choose.    

  Leek & Goat Cheese Tart

3 lbs. leeks, white and pale green portions only, halved and thinly sliced cross-wise (you should have a 6 to 8 cups of sliced leeks) and well rinsed in several changes of water

4 to 6 T. unsalted butter (see notes)

salt & freshly ground pepper
4 oz. pancetta (optional—see notes)
1 egg
2 t. Dijon mustard
1/2 c. heavy cream
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
1 12-inch flat tart shell, blind baked (see recipe below...and see notes)
1/3 to 1/2 c. fresh breadcrumbs tossed with 3 to 4 t. melted butter

In a large, wide, straight-sided sauté pan melt the butter over moderate heat.  Add the leeks along with a generous pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper and toss to coat in the melted butter.  Cook until the leeks begin to sizzle and steam in the pan.  Reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight fitting lid, and cook until the leeks have collapsed and are very tender—this will take 30 minutes to an hour.  If there is any liquid remaining in the pan when the leeks are tender, increase the heat and cook uncovered until the liquid has evaporated.  The total volume of leeks will have shrunk by half to two-thirds.  Taste and correct the seasoning (be careful with the salt—bacon and cheese are salty) and set aside to cool.

While the leeks cook, render the pancetta.  Film a medium-sized sauté pan with water and add the pancetta.  Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the water has evaporated and the pancetta is crisp, lightly golden and sizzling in the rendered fat.  Transfer to paper towels and set aside.

Place the egg in a large bowl.  Whisk in the Dijon, a pinch of salt and several grindings of pepper.  Whisk in the cream.  Fold in the leeks, the pancetta and half to three-quarters of the goat cheese.  Taste and correct the seasoning.  Spread evenly over the blind baked shell.  Crumble the remaining goat cheese over the top and follow with a scattering of the buttered bread crumbs, if you like.  Bake in a 375° oven until set and slightly puffed (a metal skewer or knife tip will come out clean)—about 25 minutes.  If the breadcrumbs/cheese aren't tinged golden brown, run under the broiler for a moment or two.  Serves 6 as an entrée or 8 to 12 as a first course with a small salad.

The original recipe calls for 6 T. of butter...this is how I make the tart...but if you feel you must, you may reduce the butter to 4 T.
The pancetta is part of Waters' original recipe, but it is optional.  I have also successfully made this tart with American bacon.  Use four ounces and slice the strips thinly cross-wise.  Cook until crisp and drain on paper towels.  You may also add 3 1/2 oz. of ham (American-style, or an air-cured European-style like Parma or Bayonne or Serrano).  Slice the ham thin and cut into a julienne or a small dice.     
If you like, you may replace the goat cheese with an equal weight of coarsely grated Gruyère.
This tart may also be baked in a standard, 10- to 10 1/2-inch removable bottom tart pan for a more traditional/classic presentation.  Use the quantities in the note at the bottom or the recipe.
The tart may be topped with the buttered breadcrumbs, an ounce of finely grated Parmesan, or left bare.

(Recipe adapted from Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook by Alice Waters)

Pâte Brisée (Short Crust Pastry):
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour (200g)
1/2 t. salt
11 T. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (150g)
1/4 to 1/3 c. ice water

Combine the flour and the salt in a medium-sized bowl.  Rub the butter into the flour until the butter is in small pea-sized pieces. Drizzle 1/4 c. ice water over the flour/butter mixture.  Using your hands, fluff the mixture until it begins to clump, adding more water if necessary.  Turn the dough out onto a counter and form into a mound.  Using the heel of your hand, gradually push all of the dough away from you in short forward strokes, flattening out the lumps.  Continue until all of the dough is flat.  Using a bench scraper, scrape the dough off the counter, forming it into a single clump as you do.  Form the finished dough into a thick disk.  Chill for at least 30 minutes.

To roll out, let dough warm up for a moment or two.  Butter a 12- to 13-inch pizza pan and set it aside.  Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a circle that is about 1/8- to 1/6–inch thick and is about 15 inches across.   Trim any ragged edges.  Brush off the excess flour and fold the dough circle in half.  Transfer it to the prepared pan.  Unfold the dough and ease it into the pan being careful not to stretch it.  Fold the edges to form a ½-inch rim of a double thickness of dough.  Chill for 30 minutes.

To blind bake, line the pastry with aluminum foil or parchment paper, pressing it into the corners and edges.  Add a layer of pie weights or dried beans.  Bake in a 400° oven for 15 to 20 minutes.  When the pastry begins to color on the edges, remove the foil and weights and continue baking until the pastry dries out and turns a golden brown (another 5 to 10 minutes).

Note:  For pâte brisée for a standard 9- to 10-inch quiche, use 1 1/3 c. flour, 8 T. butter, a scant half teaspoon salt and 3 to 4 T. ice water.