STRIPED BELL PEPPER TART
2 cups unbleached flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons Crisco
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup light cream
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 cup reduced pepper puree (recipe follows)
1/3 cup grated pecorino Romano cheese
1/3 cup gruyere cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon hot paprika or cayenne pepper
Red pepper puree:
2 pounds red bell peppers
1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow or orange bell pepper
Blend together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the cold butter and Crisco until the mixture is mealy in texture. Stir in the egg yolk, egg and lemon juice to make a soft dough. Dust dough with flour and knead it lightly by hand for 30 seconds. Wrap tightly in wax paper and refrigerate 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the chilled dough, dust lightly on both sides, and roll it out between layers of wax paper into an 12" circle. Remove the top layer of paper and turn the dough into a false-bottomed 11" tart pan. Gently tuck excess dough into the vertical edge of the pan. Proceed to fill and bake:
Whisk the ingredients together well. Set aside.
Red pepper puree:
Halve peppers, remove stem and seeds. Steam them until tender, about 20 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and puree. Reduce mixture until the puree begins to stick to the pan. You should have about 2 cups. Add 1 cup of cooled puree to the custard.
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees, or as hot as your oven will go. Place whole peppers on a lightly oiled or nonstick sheet cake pan. Roast the peppers until they are browned all over, turning them as needed to avoid burning. Place the whole peppers in a paper sack to cool.
Remove skin and stems from the peppers over a Pyrex pie plate to collect the juices. Remove seeds and lay peeled peppers on a cutting board. Add the pepper juices from the roasted peppers to the puree. Trim the pepper pieces and cut into uniform strips.
Lay strips of pepper in the pastry-lined tart in rows 1-1/2" apart, alternating the colors. Pour on enough of the custard to barely cover the strips.
Make a second set of strips at 90 degrees to the first set. Repeat with custard. Repeat this process a third time.
Bake in the 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 375 degrees and bake another 20 minutes, or until the custard is firm and the crust lightly browned. Serve warm but not hot or at room temperature.
Yield: 8 entree servings; 10-12 appetizer servings