Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Daring Cooks August 2012: Cooking with Cornmeal!

Rachael of pizzarossa was our August 2012 Daring Cook hostess and she challenged us to broaden our knowledge of cornmeal! Rachael provided us with some amazing recipes and encouraged us to hunt down other cornmeal recipes that we’d never tried before – opening our eyes to literally 100s of cuisines and 1000s of new-to-us recipes!

Lots of colors in summer veggies.

We have been doing quite a bit of traveling this month and keeping busy getting ready for the next school year. I've done a couple weeks of beginning band camps- starting a room full of beginners on any instrument is always a fun time. We also added a dog to our little family. His name is Bingley (yes, after the character in Pride and Prejudice.) Bingley is about 2 years old and is just the biggest sweetheart. He is my new helper in the kitchen, stays by my side the whole time I'm in there, although I suspect he is hoping that I'll drop something as much as he is enjoying being near me. 

My new kitchen assistant. Love this dog!

I knew almost immediately after reading this month's challenge that I was going to use the cornmeal for a savory tart with summer veggies. It just sounded too good to pass up the chance to make! This was delicious, although the crust didn't work out exactly how I thought it would. The crust slid down the sides of the pan, but it still turned out okay. I'm glad that the challenge was cooking with cornmeal because I hadn't really ever thought about using cornmeal. My mom always used it when she made fried chicken, but I was not aware of the multitude of recipe options with cornmeal. I'll definitely be using it again!

Doesn't look like much on the plate, but it sure tasted delicious!

Savory Summer Tart
(adapted from Williams Sonoma)

Cornmeal crust:
1 cup flour
¼ cup cornmeal
½ tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
8 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces
3 Tbs ice water, plus more as needed

1. In a food processor, combine the dry ingredients and pulse until combined (4-6 pulses). Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the ice water and pulse 4-5 times. The dough should hold together but not be too sticky, if it is crumbly or not fully combined add more water, 1 tsp at a time, pulsing twice after each addition. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and shape into disk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. 

2. Preheat oven to 425℉. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 13 inch round. Transfer to a 10 inch cast iron pan, pressing the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan. Fold under the overhanging dough and flute the edges. Prick the sides and bottom of dough, refrigerate for 10 minutes. Transfer to the oven and bake 12 minutes, pricking the pastry with a fork if it puffs up. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. 

Tart Filling:
4 bacon slices, diced, cooked and fat reserved
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and cut into ¼ inch strips
2 ears of corn, kernels cut off cobs
4 oz green beans cut into ½ inch pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch chard, ribs removed and leaves cut into strips
1 ¼ cups half and half
3 eggs
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

3. Reduce oven heat to 375℉. To make filling, in a large skillet over medium high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat. Add the onion, bell pepper and corn kernels and cook until the vegetables are just starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the green beans, salt and pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. 

4. Warm 1 teaspoon of bacon fat in the pan. Add the chard and cook until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the bowl with the onion mixture. 

5. Whisk together the half and half, eggs and salt and pepper. Stir in the bacon, cheese and vegetable mixture and pour into the crust. Transfer to the oven and bake until a knife inserted into the center of the tart comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.


  1. Love the tart. Love the dog. Love YOU! :)

  2. Your tart looks gorgeous! And Bingley looks like a sweetheart :)

  3. Talk about a meal in a skillet! Fabulous looking tart! Love the cornmeal crust! Cute kitchen mate you have there.

  4. Looks delicious. Your new dog is so cute.

  5. I love using cornmeal - this tart with all its fresh summer veggies looks great!