The French have always been in love with Charlottes, but just lately have we begun to see this classical term popping up on American menus. Chef demonstrates how the term is very loosely defined these days by preparing two traditional Charlottes (one hot and one cold).
- 2 medium zucchini
- 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if necessary
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small eggplant, cut into eight 1/3-inch thick slices
- 4 ounces mild goat cheese, such as Montrachet
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream or milk
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, oregano and parsley
- 1/2 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained, plus 2 tablespoons of their oil
- Tomato Vinaigrette, recipe follows
Preheat the broiler to 500 degrees F.
Cut each zucchini diagonally into slices about 1/4-inch thick and about 2 1/2 inches long. Transfer the slices to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush each slice with a little of the olive oil, and season lightly with salt and pepper, to taste. Position the oven rack about 6-inches away from the flame and broil the zucchini slices for about 4 minutes, or until slices appear shriveled and golden brown in spots. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
Repeat the above procedure with the eggplant slices, brushing with olive oil and seasoning lightly with salt and pepper as before. Broil until slices soften and are golden brown in spots, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to cool.
In a small bowl combine the goat cheese with the cream, 1 teaspoon of the garlic and the fresh herbs and stir to thoroughly combine.
Combine the sun-dried tomatoes with 2 tablespoons of the packing oil and the remaining teaspoon of garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, about 2 minutes.
Decrease the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Lightly brush the insides of 6 (1/2-cup) ramekins with some of the remaining olive oil and line the bottoms and sides of the ramekins with 8 to 10 zucchini slices, in pinwheel fashion and with slices slightly overlapping one another. Place 1 slice of eggplant on top of the zucchini slices in the bottom of each ramekin.
Divide the goat cheese mixture among the ramekins, using the back of a spoon to press down and smooth the tops. Divide the sundried tomato puree evenly among the ramekins, again using the back of a spoon to evenly distribute the puree over the goat cheese. Divide the remaining eggplant slices among the ramekins and press down firmly to pack contents. Place the ramekins on the middle rack in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until just heated through. Make the Tomato Vinaigrette while charlottes are heating.
Unmold the charlottes onto plates and spoon some of the Tomato Vinaigrette around them.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped basil
- 1 teaspoon chopped oregano
- 3/4 pound very ripe tomatoes, such as roma or vine ripened, peeled, seeded and diced
In a mixing bowl combine the vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper and whisk together. While continuing to whisk, add the oil in a slow, steady stream until combined and slightly emulsified. Stir in the basil, oregano and diced tomatoes and serve immediately.
Yield: about 1 cup