Posts Tagged ‘tart’

Giftmas Crostata

We hosted a small Thanksgiving dinner at our house this year. One of my friend brought her very own home made cranberry sauce. And quite a lot of it too.

It’s a delicious, spicy, citrus-y cran relish really and my mind immediately went to what else I could do with a surfeit of the stuff.

Well, make a cranberry and pear crostata for Giftmas, of course.

Kate’s Crostata, now in permanent rotation on the baking menu.

Since this is the season of giving, all y’all might have some Giftmas money burning a hole in your pockets, might I ask you to consider making a donation to Scarleteen? They’re halfway to their goal in fundraising, and it really is a damned shame that the best sexuality education site on the whole of the interwebthingynet has to struggle to make ends meet, and is run nearly single-handedly (thank goodness for well-trained volunteers) by a woman who is the most passionately dedicated person I have ever met.

So please, hit that donate button and give a little to an invaluable resource.

Consider yourselves nagged.


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Apples, Again

It’s that time of year, of course, for making wonderful things with apples. One of my favorite baking blogs to read is Confessions of a Tart. Great pictures and inspiring recipes. A few days ago, she posted this apple tartlet recipe which I knew instantly I had to try. I mean, how could I not?

Obviously, I need more practice at this one to get the ratio of apples to ricotta correct. But it was a fun and quick recipe to whip up on a cold, cloudy autumn morning, while contractors were tearing out my bathroom (finally!). I had to slice the apples very thin, as I was using a big old Mutsu. Next time, definitely more apple, even if I have to slice them paper thin like this.

Irene wasn’t kidding when she said her house filled with the scent of baking apples and vanilla. Right now, ours is redolent with the same.

Thanks, Irene, for hosting such a great site! Also, your chocolate cupcakes were a big hit here at the house a few weeks ago.

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Crust III: Crostata

Blueberry peach crostata, infused with vanilla, using the other half of the tart crust we made the other day.

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All right, so technically speaking, we should use a pâte à croûstade, but Tante Julia says that the pâte brisée fine is appropriate for quiche as well. And she is The Final Word on these matters…

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And yes, of course I’ve had a taste already, and it’s fantastic. Thanks, Clotilde!

(This makes up for my slightly less than brilliant execution of her chocolate caramel tart a few days ago.)

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When Cynthia and I lived together before, the area we worked in was thick with wild raspberries. As soon as she’d park the car, she’d wade hip deep into the bramble to pluck and eat as many raspberries as she possibly could; on the way in to work, on the way home, on the way to or from lunch, or even if we were stuck in traffic due to a bridge raising. She’d come back to the car with a berry smeared smile of raspberry bliss.

So when I saw one of the vendors at yesterday’s famers’ market selling black and red raspberries by the half pint, I knew what had to be done.

A crostata is essentially, a rustic Italian tart. Once you have your tart/pie crust made (and really, make up a batch — they’re always a double batch — you can keep it in the fridge or freezer and you’ll have some ready for any fresh fruit emergency), a crostata is one of the easiest things you’ll make.

I’m not a huge fan of the traditional cinnamon/allspice/nutmeg seasoning of fruit. I mean, I’ll do it, but it seems so … predictable. Once I made my first tarte Alsacienne, which uses no spice, just lovely vanilla custard and apples, I was hooked on pairing fruits with softer flavors.

After rinsing the berries, I let them soak for awhile in a quarter cup of sugar, a tablespoon of flour (I don’t have any corn or tapioca starch!), a squeeze of lemon, and a healthy splash of vanilla. I divided my tart crust into four equal-ish pieces and rolled them out to rough six inch circles.

Once a healthy dollop of berries have been added to the center, quickly fold the edges up, leaving a hole at the center. This was a little more tricky with berries due to all the berry juice rapidly running in all directions, unlike say peaches would do.

Give the tarts a wash with a beaten egg, and sprinkle generously with granulated or raw sugar.

Fresh from the oven is the best way to eat these (and they really should not be refrigerated, eat them up the same day), either with ice cream or crème fraîche, or they’re lovely on their own.

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Tarts and Pies, Oh My

Last week, I attended a tarts and pies class at the fancy cooking shop near my house. In two teams, we went through the stages of rolling out tart/pie crust (pre-made by our instructor the night before), slicing strawberries and apples for a crumble, slicing peaches for a crostata, and heating cream and milk to melt semi-sweet chocolate for a ganache.

Since I was busy with assembling the peach crostata while the rest of my team was making the ganache, I decided that the first recipe I’d try at home was the one I only observed. Besides, if it worked well, I’d use it for our birthday cake in two weeks (Cynthia and I share a birthday — er, off by a day).

The pie crust recipe our instructor gave us was titled “The Perfect Pie Crust” a boast which always makes me look askance at any recipe. But, indeed, it was the perfect pie crust. Even without a food processor (I mean, I have one, but it’s little and only good for pestos and small batching hummus), it came together perfectly under my pastry blade and rolling it out was a dream.

Here’s a little hint: if you really want to enjoy making pies and tarts, get a good rolling pin. In class I finally had the opportunity to try out different rolling pins, and I’ve been longing for one of these or these, but due to the cost, didn’t want to buy one until I was sure. After rolling out two crusts in class, I was sure that the two pound 20″ heavy Rock Maple straight pin (dude! He used to make his own drumsticks!) was meant to be mine. I didn’t have to worry about my crust exceeding the length of my pin nor did I have to struggle with stupid handles which have long since lost their center. And since it isn’t tapered, it’s easier to roll out a nice even crust (which, I might add, I was complimented on in class). It’s amazing how much easier it is to make things when you’ve got proper tools.

ANYway, yesterday’s chocolate ganache tart came together like a dream. I am not kidding. The milk heated at just the right speed, the chocolate melted perfectly, and the volume of ganache almost matched the volume of the tart shell. My only quibble was that I wasn’t able to reduce the bubbles from the beaten eggs and ended up with a few tiny bubbles all across the surface of my tart.

Just look at that flaky crust!

After serving a garlic scape pesto on pasta for dinner, I whipped some cream and at Cynthia’s suggestion zested a lime to sprinkle on top.

And for a good five minutes there was nothing heard ’round the table but yummy noises.

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