This dish caused me some problems from the get-go, not something I ordinarily associate with the cookbook I have used innumerable times before; Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells. Basically a delightful cookbook celebrating typical French ‘home cuisine’ rather than haute cuisine where fancy ass chefs and sous chefs charge you $$$ to receive their amazing cutting edge dishes. Hey, nothing wrong with that– we all indulge these hi faluting types as the years pass and probably enjoy the results, but Patricia’s book captures what even the ordinary French working guy or gal might eat for lunch from work. More power to them, I sez.

But I mentioned problems–for instance, the recipe calls for an olive oil pastry shell for a 10.5″ tart pan–I knew most instantly that this serving amount, once it was spread over that surface, would be thin as paper and wouldn’t even reach the edges. So I doubled the recipe. Subsequently, three eggs, a cup of Parmesan as well wouldn’t…er…cut the mustard, so I also increased the percentages on those by a factor of 25%.

Being the curmudgeon I am, I even emailed her to praise her book, but asked wtf about this particular recipe. As I did this, I also realized that my cooking style had changed; my confidence has increased measurably, I don’t trust and rely on any vaunted chef’s recipe 100% because I can see and anticipate problems, so…ok. Well, then.

Here is the unfilled tart shell- flour, water, and olive oil with a tad of salt, pushed like cookie dough into the tart pan. There is the cookbook, as well. Buy it. It was recently reissued.


A big pile of Swiss chard. And my late afternoon cup of espresso with milk.


The uncooked view…


…and the finished product. I put together a mixed salad with a mustard dressing to complement it, and we still have a little Pinot Grigio from last night. Yes, it will taste different the next night. I don’t understand people who won’t finish a bottle of wine the following night. Snobs.


Final result–wife really enjoyed the filling, found the olive oil based shell was rather tasteless (given it had less than a half teaspoon of salt…) and ‘like unto cardboard’, but she found the salad to be delicious. I had to agree about the salad.

As for making this dish again, given wifey’s disinclination towards this olive oil crusted tart, I will either need to firm this tart shell recipe up or revert to the old butter-based tart standby.

Oh, and thanks to the millions who requested my salad dressing recipe (Joe Millions, retired in Poughkeepsie, NY)

CJ Basic Salad Dressing
(Enough for a small salad for two)

1 Tb red wine vinegar
1/2 Tb favorite Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt and pepper
Pinch (half clove) of garlic, fresh or jarred

Mix and whisk together vigorously. If you have the time, let it marinate for a few minutes.
1 Tb EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

Whisk this in vigorously till emulsified. Taste. Add more vinegar or oil to taste. Pour over salad. Serve. Thank me in an email. The end.