Tomato tart, even simpler simple syrup, books for science lovers
Greetings! Hope everyone had a nice long weekend. I have finally managed to get every Bo Burnham song out of my head, which is not as easy as it sounds. (If you know, you know.) We went to my sister’s house on Long Island and were back in time to grab lunch at Sugarfish, where we’ve been dreaming about returning to since pre-pandemic. It somehow got better, but maybe that’s the absence/fonder thing? Here are Three Things I thought you’d like to know this week…
1. Anything Goes Tomato Tart
Puff pastry was intimidating to me for the longest time, and I’m not really sure why that is. The most complicated part about baking with it is making sure it’s fully thawed in the first place. Once it is, you can roll it a bit thinner, prick a few times with a fork, top with vegetables, cheese, herbs then bake it into the most beautiful summer tart. And those instructions are deliberately vague to emphasize how flexible the recipe is — use any vegetable, any cheese, any herb, and you’ve got a guaranteed winner. Your vegetables don’t even have to be all perfect-peak-in-season-museum-quality vegetables that we all go so bananas over. This weekend, at my sister’s house, we had a bunch of tomatoes that I’d give about a B+, i.e. not the A+ heirloom type that you should be arrested for messing with beyond a drizzle of olive oil and sea salt. These B-plussers were perfect tomatoes to bake since they sweetened as they grew more concentrated in the oven. I made the tart as something to snack on at lunch (there were 11 of us), but I’d also recommend it for an easy dinner with a green salad. Bonus: It can be made ahead of time and served at room temperature.
Anything Goes Tomato Tart
One thing: You don’t want the tomatoes to be too juicy or else the dough might get soggy. You can address this by poking some of the seeds and pulp out of the tomatoes while you slice them. (Feel free to brush the juicy pulp left on the cutting board onto grilled or toasted bread to make a version of pan con tomato.)
1 14-ounce package puff pastry (such as Dufour brand), thawed
flour, for dusting
2-3 tablespoons olive oil, for brushing and coating
4 or 5 tomatoes (any kind, any size), sliced as shown on a cutting board
2 to 3 tablespoons cheese (feta, Parm, goat; we used this three-milk double-creme because we had it)
fresh thyme or basil for garnish
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll out puff pastry on a sheet of lightly floured parchment paper. Prick pastry in a few places with a fork and brush all over with olive oil. Slide the parchment paper onto a baking sheet.
Arrange tomatoes on top (a little overlap is fine, just leave about a 1-inch border), sprinkle with your cheese, salt and pepper, then drizzle with another tablespoon of olive oil. (I use my fingers to sort of “paint” the tomatoes.)
Bake tart until edges of pastry are browned, puffed, and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. (Start checking on it after 15.) Let tart cool about 10 minutes before slicing.
2. This Trick Will Change Your Life…or, Well, Will At Least Save You About Four Minutes
If you open our refrigerator at any point between May and October, also known around these parts as Iced Coffee Season, you will always find a Bonne Maman jam jar filled with simple syrup. I used to make simple syrup by simmering sugar and water (1 to 1 ratio) in a small saucepan until the crystals dissolved, then allowed it to cool, but I learned a trick recently which somehow made me way happier than it probably should have: You can also just add your sugar and water to a jar (same ratio, 1 to 1) and shake violently for about 20 seconds. No heat. No pot. No clean-up. This is not one of those TikTok tricks that doesn’t actually work. (Looking at you, disgusting sinus-clearing garlic cloves!) It makes perfect de-crystallized simple syrup.
P.S. Two other great uses for those Bonne Maman jam jars! Salad dressings, of course, and this ole DALS favorite: The roadie cocktail.
3. Summer Reading: Teenager Edition
Fun fact: My daughter wrote her college essay on being a science and math kid living in a house of English majors. (If you want to earn a special place in her heart, ask her about the Unit Circle…or acrylic nails.) These past few months, she’s discovered a love for reading a very specific genre, what I’d maybe call Medical Narrative Nonfiction. For those of you who might have teenagers like her, or be like her, she’s been on a great run. I’ve already mentioned that she devoured Hidden Valley Road (about a family with twelve children, six of whom were schizophrenic); but there’s also Patient H.M. (about one of medicine’s most famous patients, who was unable to form longterm memories after a surgery went wrong*); The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (how scientists cultured cells from a poor Black woman — without her family’s consent, knowledge, or compensation — which led to some of the century’s most famous medical advancements); and (on deck) Empire of Pain, about the massive role the Sackler family played in America’s opioid addiction crisis.
What else should be on deck? Please enlighten.
*full disclosure: edited by my husband, but in my daughter’s words “This is the one that kicked off everything.”
If you like that tomato tart, you’ll probably like The Weekday Vegetarians, entirely devoted to fresh, easy, vegetarian dinners. Pre-order today!
Every recipe you read about in this newsletter lives permanently in my searchable archive. Or, if you can’t find a recipe, feel free to get in touch: Jenny AT dinneralovestory DOT com. You can also find me on instagram.
Thank you, as always, for your support.
See you in a few days.
1) Anne Fadiman: The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down
2) Atul Gawande: Being Mortal, Complications
3) Oliver Sacks: anything
4) Abraham Verghese: Cutting For Stone (A Novel)
5) Walter Isaacson: The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna
6) Andrew Solomon: Far from the Tree
7) Sheri Fink: Five Days at Memorial
-An English major who went to medical school
I would recommend Being Mortal by Atul Gawande and Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan for your daughter. I actually don't read a lot of nonfiction but found both of those interesting. I also found Hidden Valley Road to be fascinating!
I have puff pastry and a big fat tomato so I think I'll make a tomato tart tonight!