Almost 20 years ago, during one of my and my husband’s working trips to Paris, a neighbor arrived at our apartment door around noon one day with a warm Camembert and potato tart for us to sample. An excellent cook, she loved sharing her creations with others. The tart was delicious so I quickly asked for the recipe. Soon after I featured the luscious creation in one of my syndicated columns and included it in several of my cooking classes. But as time went by, I forgot about this special dish.
Recently, I looked at the recipe again and decided to prepare it for a fall lunch. However, two decades later I am watching calories more closely, so I reduced both the Camembert and the crème fraîche in the recipe by half and added accents of thyme and rosemary for extra flavor. This new re-fashioned tart was every bit as good as the original!
The savory pie, with its golden flaky pastry crust (made with purchased puff pastry), is filled with cooked sliced potatoes that are seasoned with herbs and covered with a thin coating of crème fraîche. Extra-thin slices of Camembert (with their rind) are then placed atop the tart before it goes into the oven.
When baked at a high temperature, instead of melting and oozing, the cheese becomes slightly crispy, pairing beautifully with soft creamy potatoes beneath. Served with a soup or salad, this dish could anchor a light autumn lunch or supper. What’s old is new again and even better!
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Golden Camembert and Potato Tart
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, about 9 inches square and 1/8 inch thick, defrosted in the fridge (See
1 pd small Yukon Gold or yellow potatoes (1 1/2 - to 2- inches in diameter)
Freshly ground black pepper
Generous 1/4 tsp dried thyme
Generous 1/4 tsp dried rosemary, crushed (Place in plastic sandwich bag and pound with a meat pounder or rolling pin.)
1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp crème fraîche
One 8-ounce (250 grams) wheel of Camembert cheese, well chilled
1/2 tsp fresh chopped thyme for garnish, optional
Several fresh thyme and rosemary sprigs for garnish, optional
1.Arrange a rack at center position and preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Have ready a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
2.Roll the puff pastry sheet into a thin 11-inch square. Then transfer the dough to the tart pan and press it against the bottom and up the sides. Trim the dough so that it is about 1/2 inch or slightly less above the rim of the pan. Then press the extended dough in against the sides of the tart to reinforce them. Prick the bottom of the tart all over with the tines of a fork. Transfer the tart shell to the freezer for 30 minutes while you prepare the filling.
3.In a large saucepan bring 2 1/2 quarts water to a boil and add potatoes and 2 teaspoons salt. Boil until potatoes are tender but not too soft or mushy when pierced with a sharp knife, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander until they are cool enough to handle. Then, using a sharp knife, peel potatoes and cut them into thin 1/8- to 1/4 -inch thick slices. Arrange the potato slices slightly overlapping in concentric circles in the tart. Don’t worry if some of the slices break while you are slicing them, you can piece them together and still use them. (If you have slices left over; save for another use; you can add them to an omelet.) Season the potatoes with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and with several grinds of black pepper. Combine dried thyme and rosemary and sprinkle over the potatoes. With a metal spatula (a small offset one works well), spread the crème fraîche in a thin layer over the potatoes.
4.With a sharp knife, cut the round of Camembert in half. (Save one half for another use.) Cut remaining cheese into two equal size wedges. Then slice each wedge with its rind into thin slices about 1/8-inch thick and arrange on top of the crème fraîche layer.
5.Bake tart until crust is a rich golden brown and cheese slices are slightly crisp, about 30 to 35 minutes. Remove tart from oven and cool 15 minutes before serving. (Tart is best served warm or at room temperature; however, you can bake it 8 hours ahead, refrigerate it, then reheat it in a 425 F degrees oven until hot, about 15 minutes.)
6.To serve, remove tart from pan and arrange on a platter. If desired, sprinkle with some fresh thyme and garnish with a small bouquet of fresh thyme and rosemary sprigs.
Serves 6 to 8
Market tip: A 17.3 ounce package of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry contains two 9-inch square sheets and works well in this recipe.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2023