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- 1 pound puff pastry, homemade or store-bought, chilled
- 10 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsely
- 2 teaspoons snipped fresh tarragon
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Makes 6 to 8 servings. Generously butter an 8 1/2-inch springform pan. Cut off one quarter of the pastry, cover, and set it aside. Working on a lightly floured work surface (cool marble is ideal), roll out the remaining puff pastry to a round that is 1/4 inch thick. Carefully fit the pastry into the pan, pressing against the pan to get a smooth fit - don't worry about perfection, but do leave a 1-inch overhang. Roll out the smaller piece of pastry until it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut out an 8-inch circle of dough for the top of the torte and lift it onto a plate or baking sheet. Cover both the crust and the lid with plastic wrap and keep them both refrigerated while you prepare the filling. Whisk the eggs, herbs, and salt and pepper together in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat and, when the bubbles subside, pour in the eggs. Gently but constantly stir the eggs around in the pan, pulling the eggs that set into the center of the pan and tilting the pan so that the liquid eggs run to the sides and cook - the eggs should be cooked slowly and scrambled loosely, as they will cook again in the torte. Slide the eggs onto a plate, without mounding them, and cover immediately with plastic wrap. The eggs must cool before they can be used in the torte. If you want to cool them very quickly, set a layer of ice cubes over the plastic wrap; remove when the eggs are cold. Filling 6 large red bell peppers Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 1 1/2 pounds spinach, trimmed and washed 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 tablespoon unsalted butter 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg 3 tablespoons (approximately) heavy cream (optional) 8 ounces Swiss cheese, thinly sliced 8 ounces smoked ham, thinly sliced 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt, for egg wash To roast the peppers, place the peppers, whole and untrimmed, directly over the flame of a gas burner or under the broiler (if you're using the broiler, put the peppers on a baking sheet). As soon as one portion of a pepper's skin is charred, turn the pepper to char another section. When the peppers are black and blistered all over, drop them into a bowl of cool water. While the peppers are submerged, use your fingers to rub off the blackened skin. Rinse each pepper under running water and dry well. Cut each pepper once from top to bottom, cut away the stem, open up the peppers, and lay them flat. Trim away the inside veins and discard the seeds; season the peppers with salt and pepper and set them aside, covered, until needed. Cook the spinach in a large quantity of boiling salted water for 1 minute, just to blanch it. Drain the spinach in a colander, rinse with cold water, and, when it's cool enough to handle, press it between your palms to extract all of the excess moisture. Heat the oil, butter, and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the blanched spinach (if you ended up with a tight little ball of spinach after squeezing to dry, pull it apart with your fingers so that you have several pieces) and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and the nutmeg, and if you want, add a little heavy cream. Bring the cream quickly to the boil and stir so that it mixes with the spinach. Remove the spinach from the skillet with a slotted spoon or spatula and set aside. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the pastry-lined springform pan from the refrigerator and layer the filling ingredients in the following order; half the eggs (discard any liquid that may have accumulated on the plate), half the spinach, half the cheese, half the ham, and all the roasted red peppers, laid out flat, then continue layering in reverse order - the remaining ham, cheese, spinach, and eggs. With each layer, make certain that the ingredients are spread to the edge of the pan. If you haven't already done so, trim the bottom crust overhang to 1 inch. Fold the excess in over the filling, and brush the rim of crust you've created with the egg wash. Center the rolled-out top crust over the torte and gently push the edge of the top crust down into the pan, pressing and sealing the top and bottom crusts along the sides. Use your palm to pat the top of the torte down and level the crust. Brush the top with the egg wash (reserve the remainder in the refrigerator - you'll need it later) and cut a vent in the center of the top crust, taking care to cut only halfway into the dough. A classic way to vent and delineate portions, making cutting the torte easier later. You can embellish the design by etching a series of diagonal lines withing each portion, alternating the slant of the lines from wedge to wedge. Chill the fully torte for 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking. Place the torte on a jelly-roll pan, give it another coat of egg wash, and bake it for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until wonderfully puffed and deeply golden. Remove from the oven and let the torte rest on a rack until it is only just warm, or until it reaches room temperature. (The cooler the torte, the easier it is to cut it neatly.) If it fits into your schedule, you can make the torte a day ahead, refrigerate it, and serve it cool or at room temperature. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan and release the sides. The cooled torte can be kept for several hours at room temperature or wrapped in plastic and refrigerated overnight.
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