Sunday, March 3, 2013

Tort Milanese

Tort Milanese.. Yummii. I saw it when I was watching the Michel Richard video for puff pastry, and I knew I have to make this.. If for nothing else than for the gorgeous colors of the layers. I eat with my eyes :).. However the truth is that I fell in love with it because of the grilled bell pepper. I just LOVE grilled pepper..
The family said the taste was good, but complained of me making too American food :D, as this, in their opinion, was a typical pie. You see, I'm doomed not being allowed to make anything but Hungarian dishes to please the whole family, or maybe Finnish for the kids.
I agree, is not very typical Hungarian to have all these flavors combined in a a pie, but it looks great for a cold/light warm starter, or one of the dishes if you entertain and don't want to serve warm meals or cook on the spot. It is very filling, can be the main dish of a buffet.

Ingredients for 8 (I guess 10 is better guess for people with our appetite :) )
~500 - 600 g puff pastry
2 large red bell peppers, grilled, peeled (though the recipe says 1 pepper, IMHO you need at least two peppers to have a properly covered layer of paprika)
450 g spinach, saute (instructions below)
6 scrambled eggs (instructions below)
ham (~150 g - 200 g), I used smoked beef pastrami, but the smoked flavor is not needed if you are not a huge fun of it like me :). Use pork ham, turkey ham, or none at all for a veggie version.
Swiss cheese, ~150 g- 200g
1 egg for top spread / gloss
20-22 cm tort form (I have a 26 cm only and prepared regular amounts of spinach & egg, which resulted in not so thick layers, but it was OK.., if you use the smaller one you'll have nicer separated layers)

450 g (1 pound) fresh spinach
2-3 tsp olive oil
2 cloves fresh garlic
0.5 - 0.7 dl cream (5-7 tbsp)
some butter (1 tsp) for the spinach
spices: fresh ground black pepper, salt (1/2 tsp)

Saute the garlic in 2-3 tbsp olive oil, add the washed and squeezed spinach. Add a humpy tsp of butter,  and add couple of dashes of cream, 5-7 tbsp.

Scrambled eggs
6 eggs 
1 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
few leaves of tarragon
pinch nutmeg

Heat the oil, lightly mix in the eggs (it looks nice if you can see stripes of white and yellow instead of a homogenous light yellow), at very low heat mix in the chives, parsley, sprinkle with salt, (optionally black pepper), nutmeg. Remove from fire before it is hard, will have time to bake in the oven and is better if juicy.

Grilled paprika
If you have gas cooker grill the paprika, if not then put the oven to broil at high temperature, and turn to both sides after skin is black. Put the paprika in cold water, remove skid, and cut the paprika in 4 slices for easier handling.

Puff pastry
Roll out the 2/3 rd of the puff pasty dough in about 35 diameter. Grease a 22 cm tort form with butter. Roll out the though in about 35 cm diameter circle, arrange the dough nicely in the tort form, so that it overruns the side of the form with just ~2 cm not to fall back in the form. Roll out the remaining 1/3rd in a 25-26 cm circle, same size as your tort form + 05.-1 inch extra, and place on a plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate both.

Prepare spinach, scrambled eggs, grilled paprika and cool all. When they are ready and cold, start assembling the tort.
Preheat oven to 175 C, 350 F.
Mix the 1 extra egg with a bit of water, and put aside.
Remove form from fridge with the puff pastry and start layering the filling. Spread half of the scrambled eggs, followed by half of the spinach, ham, cheese, paprika, remaining spinach and remaining scrambled eggs. Cut the extra dough if needed (leave ~2 cm - 1 in), tuck in the extra dough on top of the filling, use the egg mixed with water to spread a little on the dough.
Cover the top with the puff pastry circle prepared for the top. Cut the edge of the bottom pastry, and kinda glue the top to the bottom dough by pressing gently down the sides.
When the dough stick firmly together make a cross shaped cut in the middle, to let the steam leave while baking.
Decorate the top with shallow cuts, without cutting through the pastry.
Put the tort in the oven and bake for about 1 hour and 15 to 30 minutes.
Remove and let it cool for 3-4 hours. If you cut it too early the layers will fall apart. Enjoy!

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