Posts tagged tart
Monday, November 5, 2012

mushroom tart

mushroom tart

How did I get from reading someone’s personal blog to making a mushroom tart from her recently-released cookbook? Well, it’s a journey spanning slightly less than a decade. Yes, it’s been that long.

I remember a friend of mine, some time ago, telling me about this blog called Smitten. “Go,” she said, “The writing is hilarious, and I think you’ll love it.” I did and she was right—the writing was punchy and pithy, and its author not only made me laugh, but recognize my own erratic life in the big city. The blog was written by Deb Rothberg, a twenty-something, and the topics ranged from suffering through horrible dates to drinking bourbon on a cold wintry night. Being eerily familiar with the former, and quite enjoying the latter, Deb Rothberg was my kind of lady.

Continue reading mushroom tart.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

pine-nut tart with rosemary

pinenut rosemary tart

TS Eliot once said April is the cruelest month, but I’d like to take his April and raise him a January. Clearly, the man hasn’t lived though a “new-year-new-you” era – he’d be singing a different tune if he had, and the prologue to his canonical work might have started out a tad differently.

pinenut rosemary tartpinenut rosemary tart
pinenut rosemary tartpinenut rosemary tart

Generally, I am no friend of January. It’s just too much pressure: the resolutions, the feeling of obligation to be better, do better, think better; the pressure of salads in a month when brown food accented with butter and a rich sauce is what I want to eat. Somehow a plate full of lettuce leaves me feeling cold and dejected. Were you to put a salad in front of me, I’d simply poke about with a fork and shove it to the side. Unless we’re talking about this salad here and that one there. But for the most part, I’m all about devouring stuffed cabbage and merguez burgers and braised short ribs. I make a terrible vegetarian in the month of January and my resolutions last about as long as it takes me to drink a cup of tea. Thus I rarely make resolutions outright. Instead, I aspire. To aspire just sounds so much more open than resolve, softer, more lenient, more forgiving. It’s not that I don’t like to set goals, but just not in January, okay? The cold is just too much for me to bear. I prefer dreaming about hibernation and fleece and flannel and soup. Or visiting sunnier cities with gracious hosts and friendly dogs. On occasion, I will daydream about walking around this cold, cloudy city, armed with a cup of coffee in my hand and a camera. But mostly, I think about palm trees and chewed up monkey toys and day hikes. I’d like more of those in my life.

pinenut rosemary tart
pinenut rosemary tart

The sheer pressure of January with its new beginnings and clean pages is so daunting, it can be overwhelming and downright depressing, right? Plus as we’re coming off the holiday season high, we might just come crashing down. There are no more festive parties, no more champagne cocktails, no festive cupcakes adorned with tiny little silver dragées. It’s back to the grind; back to reality. Work picks up almost overnight and after a 15 hour workday as you get home at 10:30 o’clock at night, you want a little indulgence and a lot more sleep. And that indulgence does not come in the form of a salad.

pinenut rosemary tart

And this is where I am not helpful. At all. I say to you, “It’s winter, indulge a bit, comfort thyself. And when spring comes around with its verdant, lush produce, then transition to salads!” Won’t that be so much more fun? Great, in-season produce when it’s warmer and you’re feeling lighter just because you’re not wearing eight layers. But for now, this tart should get you through the colder months. It’s the kind of thing you want to have company for and because this is so wonderfully rich, smaller slivers will do just fine – you won’t want a big piece on your plate. Rosemary, the quintessential herb in savory winter cooking, is the star here, with its soft fragrance accenting the caramel and pine nuts. This is very classically-Italian flavor combination here, and so perfectly wintry, you’ll feel perhaps a bit gladder it’s not summer yet.

pinenut rosemary tartpinenut rosemary tart

Gray, cold days are no time to make resolutions when our souls need comforting. Let’s make them on warmer days (if at all) and in the meantime let us have cake (or tarts) with bottomless cups of tea. It’ll pass the time quite perfectly.

pinenut rosemary tart
pinenut rosemary tart

Pine-nut Tart with Rosemary
Adapted from The Last Course, by Claudia Fleming (with Melissa Clark)

Almond Crust:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp almond flour
Pinch of salt

Pine-nut Rosemary Filling
1 cup pine nuts
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
Pinch of salt

Preparation:

To make the crust:

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar until combined, about 1 minute. Beat in egg.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, almond flour and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in two batches, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions.

3. Mix until the dough holds together, which you can test by pinching a small piece. Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, form it into a disk, and wrap well. Chill until firm, for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days.

4. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. On a floured surface, roll the dough out to a 12-inch round. Fit it into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim away any excess dough, then use a fork to prick the crust all over. Chill for 10 minutes. Bake the tart crust until it’s pale golden, 20-35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. (The tart shell can be made 8 hours ahead of frozen for up to 3 months.)

To make the filling:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the nuts out in one layer on a baking sheet and toast them until fragrant and golden brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool, but keep the oven on.

2. In a heavy saucepan, melt the butter. Add the sugar, honey, and corn syrup. Stir the mixture occasionally over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Raise the heat to high and boil the mixture, stirring occasionally to keep the caramel from burning, until it turns a deep amber color, 12-14 minutes.

3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the cream (stand back, the caramel may splatter). Place over low heat and whisk until the caramel is smooth. Turn off the heat and stir in the toasted pine nuts, vanilla, rosemary, and salt. Let the mixture infuse for 15 minutes.

4. Wrap the outside of the cooled tart shell (still in the pan) with aluminum foil. Remove the rosemary sprigs and pour the pine-nut mixture into the shell. Place on a baking sheet and bake until golden russet brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

lemon raspberry tart

lemon raspberry tart

“Are you and your husband doing anything special for the holiday this weekend?” I asked one of my friends the other day

“What, President’s Day? Nah, we’re going to just get a late brunch and watch TV.”

“No, I meant Valentine’s Day.”

“Oh that. Nope, not really, we’re not big on the holiday anyhow.”

lemon raspberry tart

I found it to be amusing, if not a bit refreshing. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a total mush when it comes to romance and love. I am, in fact, a huge cheeseball despite the fact that usually I like to pretend that emotions are wholly superfluous. It’s an act I like to put on – call it protective coating. But underneath that veneer of the “dash of high school bitchy” I’m actually someone who actually enjoys cavity-inducing movies like “You’ve Got Mail”. There, I’ve said it – judge me if you will.

lemon raspberry tartlemon raspberry tart
lemon raspberry tartlemon raspberry tart

And while I like the idea of Valentine’s Day, it sort of brings about the anxiety on everyone – couples and singles alike. Is your gift good enough? What if you are single on February 14th — does that make you a social outcast? What about the notoriously sub-par food served at restaurants on the day? And finally – the prices of roses are astronomical. There’s no reason to pay 5 times as much for roses on the 14th over any other day. And according to a Real Simple magazine “study”, bodega roses lasted the longest anyway, and were the cheapest as well. Just a practical tip, folks.

lemon raspberry tartlemon raspberry tart

What I do like about Valentine’s Day, however, is the chocolate craze that ensues the day after Christmas. I think that the more chocolate is sold around Valentine’s Day than any other holiday of the year. Candies, chocolates, cakes, cookies – and according to my rules of chocolate consumption – any chocolate consumed around February 14th has no calories. I know it because I feel it in my gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than in your head? You can look it up.

lemon raspberry tart

However, I am told, that some people don’t quite like chocolate. Frankly, I am not even sure these said people exist, perhaps they are a cautionary tale, or part of an urban legend, but I’ll go with it for now and pretend that this could be a reality. And while I cannot imagine ever eschewing chocolate, this lemon raspberry tart is so good, so creamy and so intensely lemony, that while eating it, I didn’t miss chocolate one bit. The tart is pure, intense lemon flavor, punctuated by the sweetness of raspberries. Enough to make you feel the sunshine and warmth even on the coldest day of the year.

lemon raspberry tartlemon raspberry tart

A few thoughts on the recipe – the recipe itself is pretty easy, though I would make the tart dough ahead of time as I’m not big on waiting around my apartment much. But in steps, it’s very achievable. My one big question while I was baking the tart – what does “set” mean when referring to the tart doneness. Is it that the center is set and the sides are slightly jiggly? Or is it that the whole tart needs to be set? If so, what level of firmness am I looking to achieve? When and how would I know I overcooked it besides burning it to a crisp? I think, and I welcome your thoughts and suggestions here – that “set” means the whole tart has to be solid and not jiggly. I would periodically check on it to make sure as everyone’s oven is slightly different. And lastly, the tart surface cracked a bit later on. Something I could have remedied with some powdered sugar, but didn’t quite think about it at the time. I’m not sure if it cracked because I overcooked it, undercooked it or because that just happens with custards. It tasted perfectly cooked to me and everyone who ate it. In fact, despite its less-than-perfect look, it was the first dessert to disappear from the New Year’s table. [Yes, I am horribly late with this post, I know.]

lemon raspberry tart

And you know you’ve done something right when no one at the dessert table even mentioned chocolate. And for a few intense lemon-filled minutes I even forgot its existence and would have even turned it down. Because lemons, at their best, are that seductive. But please, keep this secret between us. Don’t tell chocolate about it!

lemon raspberry tart

Hey, lady! Thanks for the recipe but I still want my chocolate! Well, ok. How about the following recipes to satisfy your chocolate tooth?


Chocolate Cherry Muffins

Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispy Bars
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Chocolate Cola Cake with Dulce de Leche

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!!

lemon raspberry tart

Continue reading lemon raspberry tart.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

pissaladiere

the power of sprat

We’ve barely had two days of spring, and I’ve been just itching with ideas for new projects. With the move almost behind me, I’ve focused on unpacking and settling in as quickly as possible. And I’m almost there too! Between KS and me, efficiency is our shared strong suit. And with some time on my hands while KS is in sunny Mustique next week enjoying things like the beach and fish tea, I am eager to get started with all things spring.

Like plant some herbs on our patio. And maybe a few flowers. I’ve got zero landscaping skills, but I am going to do a little research and digging on my trusty friend, the internet, and hopefully come up with some easy, cost-effective solutions. And of course, with my gardening project in mind, I’ve also shifted gears in my food cravings and consumption. My winter cravings for root vegetables and hearty stews is all but gone and my cravings are for all things fresh, crisp, spring-like.

Whenever I think of spring, I think of Provence with its fields of flowering lavender, outdoor tables with little bowls of olives and freshly baked bread with thick salted crusts. Provençal food, to me, is a real reminder of the vernal season, though I cannot justify the association.

And so with spring on my mind, and in my step, I decided to make something I’ve always enjoyed rather gluttonously, yet never attempted to make – a pissaladière. Pissaladière comes from Pissalat — a provençal condiment made of puréed anchovies mixed with some herbs and olive oil and spread on the pastry dough. I was inspired by Béa’s beautiful pictures and writing over a month ago and was looking for a perfect occasion to craft one myself.

caramelized & ready to go

I must note a few things here that might help you in your own preparation of this dish. For one, I think that the pastry dough should be made and not bought. I say this only because the store-bough version I had was lovely, but not breathtaking. Like a picture-frame that could make or break a picture, the pastry in this case was good, but not great. And so in my next take on this dish, which turned out really great, I will make my own pastry dough, recipe yet to be determined.

The onions take longer to cook than the recipe suggested. I cooked them rather slowly (as not to burn them) for about 45 minutes. And for my own, odd, taste preferences I omitted the garlic. I know, I know – you’re probably thinking you did what?!?!?!? But I’d thought (and I don’t regret making this choice one bit) that I wanted the onions, caramelized and sweet with some salt to give them edge, to be the stars of this show. And maybe the anchovies playing the supporting role.

twenty minutes away from baked bliss

A propos anchovies, another note. I couldn’t find any in our cupboards. But it’s entirely possible I didn’t know where to look (as I often miss things right in front of my very nose). But my mother did send me back to New York once, with a few Russian store goodies, including a can of sprats. Sprats are apparently little species of herring that are often packed in oil, much like sardines. I quite like them, having grown up with eating them right on thick slices or dark, Russian bread with pieces of onion.

And you know what? The sprats worked gloriously well – giving a slightly salty edge to the sweetness of the onions. And the little Niçoise olives completed the flavors quite nicely.

smelling of spring and sea

And so the three of us, KS, a friend, and myself, enjoyed this little rite of spring, sipping Riesling and enjoying the night. And though KS and I went to bed rather late, by our school-night standards, we were full and content, and delighted in good company and a favorable change in season.

Perhaps, to give Provence its due course, I should think of planting some lavender upstairs – the next best thing to actually being in Provence in the springtime.

Continue reading pissaladiere.