Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Valencian Orange Tart


The New Spanish TableI just got the most fantastic Spanish cookbook, The New Spanish Table, by Anya Von Bremzen. The photo of this tart was so stunning, I had to make it first thing. I love her writing - friendly and entertaining, she tells all kinds of great stories about modern Spanish chefs and culinary history. I love the fascinating combinations of spices - saffron, rosemary, oranges, almonds, paprika. She makes amazing food accessible, even including shortcuts and substitutions so the recipes are not too fussy, yet focusing on the little details so that the result is spectacular. I've been interested in Spanish food for a while, but all the cookbooks I've seen before seem to call for multiple impossible-to-find ingredients, or tons of seafood, which just isn't plentiful here. And, unlike other Spanish cookbooks, this book also includes lots of great, fresh vegetable recipes!

As gorgeous as this is, it's not really difficult to make. We had a pile of juicy Valencia oranges from LPO, store-bought pie crusts in the freezer, and Wilkin & Sons marmalade in the fridge, so I had everything I needed. It's important to use thin-skinned oranges like Valencia or blood oranges, instead of thicker-skinned varieties like most Navel oranges. You could even mix in lemon slices!

4 medium-size, thin-skinned oranges or lemons
2 1/2 cups orange juice
1 cup + 2 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs grated orange zest
2 tsp orange flower water (optional)
1 cup best-quality orange marmalade
Pre-made pie crust

Preheat oven to 400F. Scrub the oranges well, and cut a thick slice off each end. You can grate the orange zest you need from these end slices - it's just about enough. Slice each orange in thin rounds about 1/8 inch thick (it's not easy!) I didn't try it, but I wonder if the mandoline would work well for this.

Mix juice, sugar, zest and orange flower water (if using) with 1 cup sugar in a wide pan, and bring to a boil so that the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat to low and simmer the orange slices in this liquid for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bake the pie crust: cover it with aluminum foil and fill it with pie weights or set an identical pie plate on top to hold the crust down, bake for 25 minutes, then remove the weight and bake 5-10 minutes longer. Turn the oven down to 375F. Let the crust cool completely before filling it.

Let the orange slices cool in the liquid, then drain well and pat dry (this is important, otherwise the tart will be too liquidy.) Cut each slice in half. If you're like me, and can't bear to throw away this delicious liquid, you can boil it down to make syrup! Or you can even reduce it to the point where it's thick enough to use in the recipe instead of the marmalade. Of course, it takes longer if you want to do this. Spread the marmalade in the bottom of the crust, and arrange the orange slices in overlapping concentric circles on top.

Bake on center rack of oven 30 minutes, until the oranges are lightly browned. Heat the broiler. Sprinkle the top of the tart evenly with sugar. Broil until the sugar is caramelized, 4-7 minutes, being very careful not to let the top burn!
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