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Author Notes: One of the first signs of spring's arrival here in the Middle East is the appearance of gorgeous, chubby, sweet shrimp with glistening blue tails. I can never resist them. They seem born to dance with the other late winter/early spring flavors that show up in the same weeks, like the last bitter oranges and the first baby bok choi and wild thyme. And so this tart, that attemps to bring them together, brininess, freshness, citrus, sweet, and a little between-the-seasons mystery. —nogaga
- 1 cup organic, sifted flour
- 2 1/4 ounces butter
- 2 1/2-3 tablespoons whole milk
- 5 shallots
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons citrus scented oil
- 1 bunch baby bok choi
- about 14 raw shrimp, 12 of them peeled and deveined
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed szechuan pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon bitter orange syrup
- 1 egg
- 3.3 ounces heavy cream
- 1/3 cup creme fraiche
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla essence
- Make the crust, either in a food processor or by hand. Cut the cold butter and pulse it into the flour and 1 teaspoon salt, adding the whole milk as necessary until it hold together. Form into a ball and chill at least half an hour.
- Turn oven on to 400 degrees. Peel and cut shallots into eighths. Toss with one tablespoon citrus-scented oil and one tablespoon balsamic vinegar, fold into a aluminum papillotte envelope, and roast for about 20 minutes.
- Clean, de-grit (mine came with accompanying snail, see photo) and finely chop bunch of baby bok choi. Steam with one tablespoon balsamic vinegar until fully wilted about five minutes.
- Mix raw shrimp with 1 tablespoon citus-scented oil, crushed szechuan peppers, thyme, and bitter orange syrup. Salt to (This can me made my making ap a standrad 1/2 sugar 1/2 water syrup and ading bitter ornage peels.) Heat skillet or pan with one tablesoop citrus-scented oil until it begins to smoke, and first place un-peeled shrimp on it to sear. About 15 seconds later, add the marinated shrimp, cooking very quickly, about 30 seconds in total on both sides. (It wil continue to cook in oven.)
- Energetically whip the egg till frothy slowly adding the heavy cream, lastly adding the creme fraich and vanilla.
- Roll out crust (I used a nine-inch metal pan lined with baking paper using Amanda's elegant method of slicing the corners.)
- Place caramelized shallots, bok choi (squeezed dry) on lowest layer, adding the peeled shrimp and lastly pouring the custard over it all. Fold overhanging crust over the tart, towards the center.
- Bake at 400 degrees for about 1/2 hour. Allow to cool before serving.
- Garnish with reserved, unpeeled shrimp
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Late Winter Tart (Sweet or Savory)