Archive | tarts

Change, Rituals and a Go-To Recipe for Pate Brisee

Last Monday was Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year, according to a publicity campaign from a travel company. This pseudoscience was based on a formula including factors such as weather conditions, debt level (i.e. debt from the holidays, I assume vs ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and the feeling of a need to take action. Needless to say this is rubbish. Any day could be really bad for anyone, just as it could go stupendously well for another.

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Ground frost from our New Year’s Day walk in the park.

My Monday was very busy and long, given a rare 16-hour workday, but not depressing in any way. While it has kept me indoors, it didn’t deter me from enjoying and appreciating the generous amount of sunshine we’ve been getting this week.

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Grass and dried winter leaves in the backyard; slithers of sunshine through our fence.

Of course, all this sunshine reminds me of Spring’s not-so-distant arrival. I get a little anxious, I’ll admit. I stop in my tracks to think about what I might have forgotten to schedule or do, or what I should have done or should be doing by now. I ruminate on these things in the morning when everybody’s out the door, and find comfort in a fresh cup of coffee. I never realized how a simple ritual such as this could be so calming. Being the only coffee drinker in the house, it’s one of the few things only I (get to) enjoy. Sure, cleaning that little French press each time could be a drag, but the whole process is pretty grounding. Coffee pun, unintended.

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And then there are the seasonal food-related traditions I look forward to, like making silky smooth Meyer Lemon Curd.  My winter liquid gold. Getting Meyer Lemons from California is not the most 100-Mile diet-friendly choice out there, but this is one of the few guilty pleasures I allow myself. It sure brings a sunny welcome to long cold days.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not a New Year Resolution kind of person. Instead, I stick with a word–a mantra, if you will–to guide me through the year. Can you guess what it is this year?

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An effort to simplify and declutter.

We have been doing our own “eating down the fridge” meals to clean up, too. Roasting vegetables and putting them in a sturdy buttery crust elevates their almost-forgotten state. When I have to foresight to do so, I pre-make pate brisee dough for freezing. It lasts for a couple of months frozen and is a lifesaver both for savory and sweet dishes.

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You couldn’t tell, but we also pre-roasted the vegetables a week before we baked this:

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Do enjoy this recipe. Go crazy with it!

Tart Shell (Pâte brisée) recipe and Vegetable Filling "Template"
Author: 
Recipe type: Dough
Active prep time: 
Cooking/Baking time: 
Total hands-on & cooking/baking time: 
Serves: 6 to 8
 
A great all-purpose and sturdy tart shell to hold savory and sweet fillings, plus a "template" for creating your own vegetable tarts.
Ingredients
For the Tart Crust
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons ice cold water
For the Tart Filling
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups roasted vegetables, cooled
  • ¼ cup and 2 tablespoons (or 6 tablespoons total) plain or herbed goat cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons heavy or whipping cream
  • salt and pepper to taste, depending on how seasoned your cheese and vegetables are
Instructions
Preparing the Dough
  1. Combine flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 5 times.
  2. Add the butter cubes and mix until the texture of the flour resembles coarse sand, with some pea-sized pieces.
  3. Sprinkle ice cold water a tablespoon at a time on the dough and pulse. Continue to process until it more or less forms one mass and the pieces stick together.
  4. Transfer dough onto a cold work surface or kitchen counter and roughly shape a 6-inch disc. Tightly cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
  5. Unwrap dough and place on your work surface that is lightly dusted with flour.
  6. Roll out the dough using a rolling pin, down to ⅛-inch in thickness thickness, creating a 12" to 13"-diameter disc. If the dough is too cold and stiff to roll out, leave it on the counter for 5 minutes or so, until it becomes more pliable.
  7. Carefully pick up the rolled dough and drape over the 9" x 1" tart pan (with removable bottom), without stretching. Gently pat the bottom, corner and sides to make sure the pan is fully covered. Trim the edges of the dough about ¼" from the top of the pan. Fold the extra dough into the sides touching the pan, top flushed to the top edge of the pan. Gently press the sides into the curves of the tart pan to secure the dough into the fluted sides. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Partially Bake the Crust
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line the top of the crust with a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill the bottom with pie weights, uncooked beans or rice to keep the crust flat when baking.
  2. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the weights and the aluminum or parchment sheet. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes more, until the dough starts to turn light brown ever-so-slightly at the edges. Take out to cool on a wire rack while you prepare the filling.
Assemble the Tart
  1. Whisk the eggs, heavy cream, 2 tablespoons of goat cheese, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper together. The cheese doesn't have to be fully disintegrated; small pieces can be left in the mixture.
  2. Spread the roasted vegetables on the cooled crust, then pour the custard mixture over the vegetables. Dot the top of the tart with torn pieces of the remaining goat cheese. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the custard is set and the top of the tart is golden. Allow to rest in the tart pan perched on a cooling rack for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Notes

Prep Time does not include time for roasting vegetables

Planning Ahead: I must warn you that you cannot start this at 6:00pm and expect to have dinner in an hour. There are many things you can do ahead of time. The tart shell can be prepared and partially baked beforehand, just make sure to cool it before wrapping in plastic film for storing in the fridge (if using the next day) or in the freezer (for up to 2 months). The tart dough can also be pre-made and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Another option would be to freeze the unbaked crust in the pan and bake it directly from the freezer--just remember to add 5 or so minutes to the baking time.


Roasted Vegetables: You can make your roasted vegetable mix by chopping chunks of vegetables (e.g. zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, cauliflower, etc. ) and tossing them in olive oil, salt, pepper, and some herbs and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast in an oven preheated at 425°F for 25 to 30 minutes. Cool and store in the fridge (if used within 2 days) or in the freezer. This can be used in your savory tarts, mixed with noodles, or even just with some goat cheese and crackers. When pulsed in the food processor with some caramelized onions, it makes a very hearty vegetable dip.

 

Posted in baking, cheese, Meatless Monday, tarts, vegetables, vegetarian0 Comments

Lemon Curd and Shortbread Bars

Just a couple of announcements before we get to the golden luscious bars:

Aaaand…back to our regular programming…

Weeks ago I accidentally found some Meyer lemons at the Granville Island Market. I stopped dead in my tracks in disbelief. You’d think I won a mini lottery as my eyes bugged while picking up a bag. A lot of my California friends on Twitter talk so highly of these lemons, making me envy Kristina, who has a Meyer lemon tree in her backyard. I asked my Twitter friends what to do with 5 precious lemons and went with the popular suggestion: Meyer lemon curd. It’s so simple to make (check out Robyn’s method of making curd) that I couldn’t resist. That, and it was discussed like people were talking about liquid gold. To make the long story short: it was spoonfuls of zesty sunshine that I want to eat nonstop. I did manage to wean myself, leaving a little over 1 3/4 cups to freeze for later use.

Fast forward to Monday when I finally had time to think of what to make with them. What could be fitting for my pucker-inducing citrus curd? Then I remembered coming across a recipe Lemon Bars on Brown Butter Shortbread in the Tartine cookbook. I used the shortbread part and added oat flour instead of pine nuts — because I have a bazillion bags of oat flour. Don’t ask.

It ended up so incredibly good that I’m getting requests for more shortbread and fruit curd variations.

I love a good crust! The shortbread paired with an equal amount of lemon curd is a marriage of flavors and textures that is sure to be a keeper. Some people prefer thicker “filling”, but for the Meyer lemon curd, equal amounts, is perfect.

These bars are easy to make, so don’t even hesitate to make it. :-)

Get the Lemon Curd & Shortbread Bars recipe

Posted in dessert, make-ahead, snacks, sweets, tarts5 Comments

Blueberry Frangipane Tart

Who doesn’t love tart? From savory to sweet, tarts are pretty little things that seem to make its way to everyone’s hearts. I, for one, have a lifelong love affair with tarts because I used to help my mom make personal size fruit tarts for the family, and for my grade school canteen that used to sell her stuff for dessert. It would always be a treat to finish one on the way to school on delivery days. She would set them with gelatin to make them all shiny and enticing, and to prevent the tops from getting watery in the humid tropical weather of Manila. The cream custard that holds the fruit up conjures up memories of childhood for me and my brother. We’ve been bugging our mom to make some of her fruit tarts, with no success. I even got her the small tart shells from Williams-Sonoma, but nope…she still hasn’t gotten around to them. Hah.

For now, all we could hang on to, is my humble tart with frangipane filling.

One evening a couple of weeks back, I was insane enough to arrange the blueberries right side up one by one. it was worth it for the photos, even if they weren’t perfectly aligned. Who wants perfection when you can have homemade? Or so, I tell myself!

And what is it about the scalloped edges of tarts that make me all warm and fuzzy inside?

Don’t get me wrong, I love eating fresh, sweet and local blueberries as is, but it’s always nice to have some good fruit go into something baked:

Making something out of Mother Earth’s bounty is one of the simplest joys the home kitchen can produce…especially summer fruits!

Hmm…and guess what? Something exciting is coming–we’re opening up an online shoppe of our favorite goodies soon! Tick-tock-tick-tock check out the countdown on the right block! More on this later. In the meantime, click that link and be signed up for some cool prizes! Thanks for your support!

  Get the recipe for this BLUEBERRY FRANGINPANE TART

Posted in baking, dessert, fruits, tarts14 Comments