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Author Notes: Ever wonder what to do with all that tasty brine left over from the sauerkraut you make during the winter? I recently discovered Michael Field’s recipe for “Chlodnik,” a Russian buttermilk and sour cream soup that’s flavored with sauerkraut juice. It may sound strange, but it’s delicious. And if you don’t make your own sauerkraut,. the juice from a good natural sauerkraut (the kind that comes in jars, not cans) works nearly as well. So I asked myself, how can I put this really tasty combination in a pie? When thinking about the great savory winter tarts I’ve eaten over the years, the Russian Vegetable Pie from “The Vegetarian Epicure,” by Anna Thomas (introduced to me by my housemates in college) immediately came to mind. The layering of hard cooked eggs over cream cheese is inspired, indeed, and works perfectly with the sauerkraut-flavored cream I wanted in my savory tart. If I were making this for vegetarians, I’d leave out the bacon and use some sautéed mushrooms instead. Feel free to use whatever cheese you like on top. I chose Dubliner because its sharpness is almost sour, so it goes well with the sauerkraut-flavored cultured cream in this. Plus, for some reason, it goes perfectly with fresh dill. If you wanted, you could sprinkle some buttered bread crumbs on it. What’s nice about this tart is that even though it has cream and eggs, it doesn’t have a custard, so it cooks fairly quickly. We had it for dinner, but it would also be a natural for brunch. Enjoy!! - AntoniaJames
Makes one 9-inch tart
- One savory tart crust, blind baked (See note below.)
- 5-6 medium chard leaves
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons sour cream
- 3 tablespoons sauerkraut juice
- 1 tablespoon Wondra flour (or cake flour)
- 3 ounces cultured cream cheese
- 2 hard cooked eggs, sliced
- 3 slices natural bacon, cooked and cut into 1” pieces
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill (or more to taste)
- 1-2 ounces Dubliner or other similar cheese, coarsely grated
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut the stem portion out of each chard leaf and finely chop the stems. Then coarsely chop the green leaf pieces.
- Melt the butter in a heavy skillet and add the onion and the chard stems, along with a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent. Remove it from the skillet and, over medium heat, wilt the green pieces of chard, stirring briskly for two or three minutes. Drain off any excess liquid from the pan.
- Mix together in a small bowl the sour cream, flour and sauerkraut juice.
- Smear the cream cheese on the bottom of the tart shell. Then layer on the sliced hard boiled eggs, with pieces of bacon between the egg slices.
- Pour over the sour cream and sauerkraut juice, then sprinkle on the dill. Grind pepper over it, if you want.
- Next, scatter on top the onions and chard stems, followed by the wilted chard leaves, and finally, the grated cheese.
- Bake for 30 - 35 minutes in the top third of the oven, checking after 15 minutes to make sure the crust isn’t browning too much. Depending on how warm your ingredients are when they go into the crust, it could take up to another 15 minutes. (My ingredients were all at room temperature and it was ready after 30.)
- Enjoy!! ;o)
- N.B. I used a cream cheese crust for this, which was somewhat decadent, but perfectly suited for the filling. Following the ratios compiled by Uwe Hestnar. a now-retired chef-instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, and described by Michael Ruhlman in his book, "Ratio," I substituted 4 ounces of cultured cream cheese (no stabilizers or starches, and with a lovely buttermilk-like tang) for four ounces of the butter I'd otherwise use. I referred to Susan Purdy's method, however, described in "As Easy as Pie," to work with the fats at room temperature. Then I chilled the dough for well over an hour; the crust turned out splendidly. ;o)
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Late Winter Tart (Sweet or Savory)