This recipe is inspired by pickles. When I told my friend Louis that I was going to make this, he said ewww. And he still didn't like it after it was done. But I did. Here's why I made it. I wanted to make something sweet and refreshing with the cucumber. Lots of people had already done mint combos with the cucumber, so I didn't want to do that. And then I opened the fridge door, saw a jar of dill pickles in the fridge and it hit me. Not the door, but the idea. So here it is. Hope you enjoy. Note: you can use any sweet tart shell. I got my recipe from http://www.davidlebovitz.... It's a pretty interesting recipe and trying it was another reason for wanting to make a tart. I won't reprint the recipe here, since it's not my own, but the filling is! Note 2: Louis now claims to like it, but I'm incredulous. —whatsjohneating
cucumber, 1 diced, seeded, but unpeeled and the other for garnish at the end
Combine milk, dill, cucumber, and half of sugar in a saucepan and heat on medium-low until cucumber is very soft and its flavor has seeped into the milk or about 45 minutes, stirring fairly frequently so the milk does not burn. Remove dill after about 20 minutes.
Strain milk and cucumbers through a couple layers of cheesecloth into a container and when the cucumbers are cool enough to handle, wrap them up in the cheesecloth and give them a great big squeeze until all of their juices have run into the milk. You have captured the essence of the cucumber.
Separate your eggs and reserve your whites for another kitchen scheme (I made a quiche/soufflé thing). Combine your yolks, the rest of the sugar, the flour, and the salt and give them a nice whisk in a mixing bowl. Now you are going to temper your eggs in preparation for their mixture with the hot milk. Whisk the yolks fairly vigorously as you slowly, at first, pour in the hot milk. When about half of the milk is added and the yolks are feeling pretty warm, you can go ahead and throw everything back into the saucepan (which is free from any vegetable remnants).
Finally, continue whisking as you heat the ingredients to near boiling. It will start out pretty thin, but as it heats it will begin to thicken, and then it will start getting really thick and probably hurt your arm. Persevere for another minute and your cucumber dill pastry cream will be nearly complete.
At this point, or earlier, if you prefer, you may add the green food coloring and lemon juice. I found that the lemon juice gives the cream some nice brightness. I wish that food coloring wasn't necessary but I found that the cucumber greenness only absorbed slightly into the milk. If you wanted to go for a more rustic feel you might try grating some of the cucumber skin directly into the cream. Or, if anyone has a nifty way of capturing the color from the cucumber skin, please share!
And now, the final step. Allow the cream to cool slightly and then pour into your prepared tart shell, spreading it evenly to fill the shell. Garnish with cucumbers, of course. Refrigerate the tart until it is ready cold. Then enjoy. I liked this very much for dessert and also for breakfast with coffee...Yes, it pairs very well with coffee.