Humor me on this one...I’m starting this recipe from the very very very beginning. When we vacation in northern Michigan, my husband loves to fly fish at a special little trout club. It is a leafy green labyrinth of streams in which to lose yourself. One may go there for the fish but one always returns with a soothed spirit (and hopefully a couple of rainbow, brown, or brook trout too.... which Lyle, the manager will smoke for a later pick up).
Recipe for Smoked Trout Tart - Step One
one handsome fly fishing husband
a ridiculously quaint trout club
one dozen hand tied flies
ten sprays of bug repellant
several miles of gorgeous trout stream
one unlucky rainbow trout
(see “how to” photos below)
1. fly fishing husband
2. ridiculously quaint trout club
3. even more ridiculously quaint wicker creels
4. hand tied flies
5. several miles of gorgeous trout stream
6. just reinforcing the beauty of the trout stream here
7. one unlucky rainbow trout
8. lucky for us
We were going to a cocktail party on a Saturday night and I had volunteered to bring an hors d’oeurvre. Originally, I developed this recipe as a smoked salmon tart to sell at the farmers’ market because my friend and fellow market vendor, Pam, made the most delectable homemade smoked salmon (she had a cult following of smoked salmon addicts). I would always use her smoked salmon in my tarts but while up in northern Michigan, I decided to try the same recipe for a smoked trout tart. Worked out great! The sweetness of the caramelized red onions compliments the saltiness of the smoked fish very nicely. The spinach adds depth of flavor, color and a bunch-o-healthy!
The best tool for deboning a smoked trout is impeccably clean hands.
Special thanks to our friend, Alex, who is a professional photographer in Aspen and fellow annual northern Michigan vacationer, who so very generously gave me, the newbie photographer, a wealth of advice in photography in exchange for a cappuccino on our screened porch one afternoon.
Smoked Trout Tart - Step 2
1/2 medium sized red onion - chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups fresh spinach - chopped
1 cup cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/2 cups flaked smoked trout (or smoked salmon)
1 recipe pate brisée - basic pastry dough - pre-baked (see below)
preheat oven to 375 degrees
Melt the butter on medium heat. Add the chopped red onion. Caramelize the red onion for 10 minutes until the onions are soft and lightly browned. In a large bowl whisk the eggs. Add the cream, milk, salt and nutmeg and whisk together until smooth. Place the chopped spinach in an even layer in the pre-baked tart shell. Arrange the caramelized red onion over the spinach followed by the smoked trout on the top. Pour the batter over the trout, spinach and red onion into the tart shell until full. Baked for 30 minutes until golden brown.
Pâte Brisée - basic pastry dough
I use this basic dough recipe for most of my savoy tarts. This dough freezes well so I like to make this dough in a double batch when at home and freeze the other one for later use if I'm not using it right away. I figure if you're going to the effort to make pastry dough then you might as well make two... so this recipe is a double. Remember, the key to a successful and flakey crust is to work quickly and keep the dough cold. You want the butter to remain in little pea sized balls throughout the dough for a flakey crust.
300 grams flour (2 cups) I like to weigh my flour for more accuracy
1/4 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons unsalted butter - chopped
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons ice water
In a food processor add the flour and salt and pulse until combined. Add the chopped butter and pulse until the butter is in small pea sized balls. Add the water and pulse until the dough just comes together.
Put the dough out to a floured surface and make into a large mound and cut in half with a pastry scraper. I like to weigh the halves so that they are equal. Put each half onto a square of wax paper and form into a disk. Wrap with the paper and chill for at least one hour.
If you are freezing at this time, then wrap again in foil and freeze. Let dough defrost in the refrigerator before use.
Roll out dough on a floured surface into a 13" circle. Place dough into a 10" tart pan and fold the overhang inward and press gently into the sides. Do not force or stretch the dough because a thin spot may cause the filling to leak. The dough edges should be a little bit higher than the side of the tart pan to help prevent shrinkage. Prick the bottom of the shell with your fork. Press a piece of foil (12"x13") into the edges of the shell and cover with the foil completely touching and covering the entire shell. Chill for at least a half an hour.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Completely fill the foil covered shell with pie weights or dried beans. Put the shell into the preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes. Take out of the oven and remove beans and foil. Brush the inside of the shell with a beaten egg white to prevent leakage from small cracks. Return to the oven for about 10 minutes and bake until golden brown. Let cool on wire rack. The shell is ready to fill.