Author Notes: I am nostalgic for the summers of my youth. In my mind, summer is carefree, filled with warm days and long afternoons turned-evenings with friends and family. In reality, summer is hurried and chaotic, trying to pin down childcare for working hours, or chauffeuring children to swimming, soccer and hula. It zips right by. I’ve never made a tartine before, but flipping through my recently acquired Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan made me realize there are ways to hold on to summer, and a tartine is one of them. This is not a quick, slather bread, add fillings and devour kind of sandwich. This is an opportunity for socializing, enjoying the company of those around you, relishing in the moment kind of sandwich. That said, you could whip the cheese and infuse the oil a day in advance, leaving only prep and making the tartines on the day of enjoying (if you do this, make sure you let the whipped cheese sit out to soften up before using). Using ripe locally grown fruits is important here – you want to taste the best of the season. You can decide to include only one kind of cheese, but I could not choose between the two. Each changes your perception of the sweet cherry tomatoes – one compliments while the other contrasts. So why not make both and savor the last days of summer. —gingerroot
Serves: 3 or more depending on appetite
ounces of the sweetest yellow cherry tomatoes you can find, preferably locally grown (about 20 tomatoes)
ounces ripe strawberries, preferably locally grown (about 4-5 strawberries)
tender leaves of curly endive or frisée, washed, thoroughly dried
ounces soft goat cheese (such as Montrachet) set in a large metal mixing bowl at room temperature to soften
ounces Fourme d’Ambert (or another mild, soft, crumbly blue cheese), at room temperature
cup plus 3 T heavy whipping cream, divided
slices whole grain country bread
Tarragon infused olive oil (see recipe below)
Tarragon-Cherry Tomato vinaigrette (see step 6)
Fleur de sel
- Prep fruits and frisée: Set a fine meshed sieve over a small bowl. Slice each cherry tomato in half, then cut each half into quarters, and carefully place in sieve. Repeat until you have cut all the tomatoes. Using a light hand and a spoon, gently fluff tomatoes, pulling from the bottom up so that excess juice drips through the sieve into the bowl. Set aside to allow juices to continue to drain.
- Hull strawberries and thinly slice lengthwise. Place slices in a bowl and set aside.
- Chop frisée and place in a bowl. You should have a heaping cup of greens.
Add 3 T heavy whipping cream to goat cheese. With an electric mixer, whip until mixture is soft and light, about a minute. Use spatula to scrape out all the cheese and transfer mixture to a small bowl (at this point, you can wash out your mixing bowl if desired or just continue with the blue cheese, as I did). Add room temperature Fourme d’Ambert to mixing bowl along with ¼ cup of heavy whipping cream. Whip until mixture is soft and light, about two minutes, and transfer mixture to a small bowl.
**Cheese can be whipped and refrigerated, covered tightly, a day in advance.
Brush one side of each slice with tarragon infused olive oil. Heat grill pan over medium high heat.
- Make Vinaigrette: Fluff tomatoes one last time over bowl. Transfer tomatoes to another bowl. Depending on the juiciness of your tomatoes, you should have between 1-2 tablespoons of accumulated juice. Add 1 Tablespoon Tarragon infused olive oil and 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar to cherry tomato juice. Whisk to emulsify. Set aside.
- When grill pan is hot, place each slice of bread, oiled side down, for two minutes. Flip bread and toast for two minutes more. Remove from pan and allow bread to cool for a minute or two (you do not want your cheese to be runny). Depending on the size of your bread and grill pan, you may be able to do all six slices at once. If not, grill in batches. Alternatively, you could also toast on a pan in a 350-degree oven for 3-4 minutes.
- Make your tartines: Spread three pieces of bread (oiled side) with whipped goat cheese, and three with whipped blue cheese. For each tartine, add a thin layer of sliced strawberries, followed by a small heap of chopped frisée and generous spoonfuls of cherry tomatoes. Top with about a teaspoon of vinaigrette and finally a sprinkling of fleur de sel. Slice each in half, if desired, as a starter for an al fresco supper. Make sure each person gets both versions. Enjoy, outside, with loved ones and a glass of your favorite white, and let summer last a little longer.
FOR TARRAGON INFUSED OLIVE OIL:
1 ½ cups extra virgin olive oil
1 large sprig fresh tarragon (mine was a 7 inch piece), washed and thoroughly dried (see photo 2)
In a small, heavy bottomed saucepan, pour extra virgin olive oil over tarragon. Most of the tarragon should be submerged in the oil (press down gently on any leaves that are sticking above the surface). Gently bring up the heat – you do not want your oil to boil, but rather evenly simmer and bubble ever so slightly. Cook for 30 minutes. Strain oil into a glass jar with a lid, discarding solids. Allow oil to cool, enough to touch the jar comfortably. Close the jar and store oil in the refrigerator until needed. Oil should keep at least a week. Use leftover oil for a lovely anise scented vinaigrette.
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