Friday, May 14, 2010

Back in Gear

I coach this high school lacrosse team, which is quite possibly the sweetest, most fun group of teenage girls one could encounter. It's been a great season, though incredibly time-consuming for me. My weekends are sucked away travelling to out-of-town tournaments--because I coach the only girls lacrosse team in the state of Nebraska, we have to travel at least two hours to play someone. There are two to three practices a week, plus pasta dinners and I haven't gone to one single pasta dinner. I scheduled them all, but I bow out every time. I'm trying to grasp onto a shred of sanity, and that involves making time to cook. Yesterday was the last pasta feed of the year (minus the end-of-the-year party), and the girls were asking "Oh Lainey aren't you going? We made the best cake ever! You have to try it." I was tempted to go, I really was, but this tart was calling my name all the way from my home in Dundee to way-out West Omaha. After a day spent indoors, doing a number on some flour with a pastry blender and chopping some vegetables to bits is how cope with the overabundance of fluorescent lighting in my life.

Once I got home, I realized I didn't have enough flour. In typical fashion, I substituted polenta for what I was missing. This didn't quite work out. It wasn't bad per se. I didn't realize until the tart shell was browning in the oven that corn meal polenta isn't exactly interchangeable with flour. Now I know I should have just cooked the polenta the way you're supposed to cook polenta, which is with boiling water to dissolve the larger, crunchy bits of corn. It's fine though, this crust is a tad on the too-crunchy side for my preference, but everything else, the wilted kale, pancetta and the creamiest feta cheese I've ever eaten, made up for it. By the time the savory tart was finished, it was nearing 9 p.m., and being no European, I was practically gnawing my arm off. I downed at least one-third of the pie while watching Hulu and finished the night off with some amazing gelato from eCreamery. Ah life, I'm back.

Savory Tart with Kale and Pancetta: from Tartelette (tart shell recipe not included here)
1/2 onion, chopped
big bunch of kale, chopped (any green will do here)
2 ounces pancetta, chopped
3 eggs
2/3 cup milk
salt and pepper
1 teaspoon nutmeg
crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet. Once it's hot, saute the onions for a couple minutes until they're a bit translucent, then add the kale and saute until it's wilted and turned a brilliant green. Remove from heat. Saute the pancetta for a few minutes to crisp.

In a small bowl, combine eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Whisk to blend. In a nearly finished tart shell (I recommend following the shell recipe on Tartelette, linked above, for a regular shell or here for a polenta shell). Arrange the kale, onion and pancetta on the tart shell. Pour the egg mixture over the top. Sprinkle with crumbled cheese. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the egg has set completely.

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