After a few weeks of binge quiche-making and a brunch at Russ & Daughters, the Lower East Side Manhattan restaurant that specializes in smoked fish and Jewish tradition, I came up with this recipe. Think bagels and lox, the Sunday-morning meal of millions of New Yorkers, Jewish or not. But to say “bagels and lox” is to shortchange the dish. What you want with your bagel and smoked salmon (lox is one kind) is “the works”: cream cheese, red onions, capers, dill and tomato. And that’s what you get in this tart.
To capture the spirit and flavor of the weekend special, I did a couple of things I’d never done before for a tart: I used raw red onion, so that it would retain some of its texture (I usually cook the onion before adding it to something to be baked); I speckled the tart with small chunks of cream cheese; and I tossed in capers. As often happens, the oven’s heat was the magic ingredient, making all these firsts seem as right as the Lower East Side ritual and just as tasty.
If you’d like your tart to look like the one in the photo, cut the cream cheese into chunks so they won’t melt completely, and reserve some of the capers and dill to scatter over the top with the tomatoes.
To make the Pâte Brisée for the crust:
This recipe makes one 9- to 9½-inch crust, for a 9- to 9½-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom or a 9-inch pie pan. This is a dough ideal for savory tarts like quiches but you can also use it for sweet tarts, too, if you’d like.
Note: You can refrigerate the dough for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to 2 months. While you can freeze the fully baked crust, wrapped airtight, for up to 2 months, I prefer to freeze it unbaked in the pan, wrapped tightly in aluminum foil, with the foil pressed against the crust to create as tight a seal as possible. Bake it directly from the freezer — it will have a fresher flavor. Just add about 5 minutes to the baking time.
- 1¼ cups (170 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp sugar
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- 6 Tbsp (3 ounces; 85 grams) very cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
- 1 large egg
- 1 tsp ice water
- Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is cut in coarsely — you’ll have some pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and some the size of peas. Beat the egg and water together and add to the machine in three additions, pulsing after each bit goes in. Then whir until the dough forms moist clumps and curds — you’re aiming for a moist dough that holds together when pinched.
- Shape the dough into a disk, pat it down to flatten it and put it between sheets of parchment paper. Roll the dough out evenly, turning it over frequently and lifting the paper often so that it doesn’t roll into the dough and form creases. Roll the dough into a circle that’s about 11 inches in diameter. If you’re making a pie now, have a buttered 9-inch pan and a baking sheet at hand. If the dough is still cool, you can fit it into the tart (or pie) pan now; if it’s not, slide it, still between the paper, onto a baking sheet and refrigerate it for 2 hours, or up to 3 days; or freeze it for 1 hour, or (well wrapped) for up to 2 months. If you’re chilling or freezing for more than a few hours, wrap the dough airtight.
- If the dough has been chilled, let it rest on the counter until it’s just pliable enough to bend without breaking. Remove the paper, fit the dough into the buttered tart pan and trim the excess dough even with the edge of the pan. (If you’d like, you can fold the excess over and make a thicker wall around the sides of the tart.) Prick the crust all over with the tines of a fork and freeze for at least 30 minutes — an hour or two is better — or up to 2 months before baking.
- TO PARTIALLY BAKE THE CRUST: Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit it snugly against the crust. Fill it with dried beans or rice (which you can reuse for crusts, but not for eating). Bake the crust for 25 minutes, then carefully remove the foil and weights. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Transfer the crust to a rack (leave it in its pan).
- TO FULLY BAKE THE CRUST: Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 400 degrees F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit it snugly against the crust. Fill it with dried beans or rice (which you can reuse for crusts, but not for eating). Bake the crust for 25 minutes, then carefully remove the foil and weights. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon. Bake the crust for an-other 7 to 10 minutes, until it is firm and golden brown. Transfer the crust to a rack (leave it in its pan).
Lower East Side Breakfast Tart
- One 9- to 9½-inch tart shell made with Pâte Brisée (see recipe above)
- 1½ oz (43 grams) cream cheese, cut into small bits or chunks
- 3 oz (85 grams) smoked salmon, finely chopped (about 1⁄3 cup)
- ¼ cup (36 grams) thinly sliced red onion, rinsed and patted dry
- 3 Tbsp capers, rinsed, patted dry and chopped if large
- 1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
- ¾ cup (180 ml) heavy cream
- 2 large eggs
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
- 12 to 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F.
- Place the partially baked tart shell on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Scatter the cream cheese over the bottom of the crust, followed by the salmon, onion, capers and dill.
- Beat the cream and eggs together with the salt and pepper in a bowl until smooth.
- Pour this into the crust, stopping when you’re just below the rim. (It’s often hard to judge just how much filling a crust will take, so you might have a few drops left over.) Top with the tomatoes and very carefully slide the baking sheet into the oven.
- Bake the tart for 40 to 45 minutes, or until it is puffed and set — a skewer inserted into the center will come out clean. If the center of the tart has risen as much as the sides, you can be certain it’s baked through.
- Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and let rest for at least 15 minutes before serving — it’s best just warm or at room temperature.
LOWER EAST SIDE BRUNCH TART is excerpted from Everyday Dorie© 2018 by Dorie Greenspan. Photography © 2018 by Ellen Silverman. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.