Easter Dessert: A Tart to Dazzle

What better way to usher in Spring than with a luscious and colorful fresh fruit tart?  This recipe will fill a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. (8 servings)

Ingredients

Dough for pastry crust:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 T superfine sugar

1 t salt

4 T butter

4 T Crisco

1 egg yolk

ice water

Procedure:

1. Place flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor with metal blade in place.  Pulse just until mixed.

2. Add butter and Crisco in 1-tablespoon pieces and egg yolk.  Process until only pea size pieces of fat remain.

3. Distribute 3 tablespoons ice water over mixture and process just until mixture holds together when pinched between fingers.  Add a little more water if necessary.  Don’t let a ball form.

4. Place dough on a lightly floured surface.  Press heel of hand into dough and smear outward several times (frissage). This will incorporate fat and make dough less likely to break when rolled out.  Form into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a half hour.

5. Roll out tart crust to a 12-14 inch round and fit into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.

6. Gently fit dough into edge of pan without stretching.  Cut overhang with kitchen shears outside the rim to give the sides a little extra dough.  Chill in refrigerator or freezer for a half hour.

Blind Baking the Shell

7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line pastry crust with a large coffee filter paper or parchment paper.

8.  Fill to ½inch with pie weights or dried beans.  Bake in lower third of oven for 15 minutes.

9. Take out pie weights and filter paper.  Prick bottom of shell in several places to prevent it from puffing up.

10. Place back in oven for 12 to 15 minutes more until fully baked and lightly browned.  Cool in tart pan on a rack.

strawberry rhubarb pie

Pastry Cream

Ingredients

½ cup milk

4 t flour

2 T sugar

Pinch salt

2 t powdered gelatin

1 egg

½ t vanilla extract

½ cup heavy cream, whipped

Procedure

11. Heat milk in a small saucepan. Place flour, sugar, salt and gelatin in a heavy saucepan and stir together.

12. Mix in the egg with a wooden spoon until a smooth paste is formed.  Slowly whisk in the hot milk.  Place the saucepan over medium heat, whisking until mixture becomes a thick custard.

13. To aid cooling, place mixture in a small bowl and allow to cool to room temperature.  Stir in vanilla. Fold in the whipped cream   Spread custard over pre-baked pastry shell.

orange tart

Arranging the Fruit Topping

14. Now you can get those creative juices flowing and decorate your tart with the fruit of your choice. Choose what you love and what’s fresh in the market. Plums sliced into wedges, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, ripe mango cut into uniform shapes.  The list goes on.

15. Start at the outside rim and work your way toward the center, overlapping where necessary and voila!  . .  a beautiful fresh fruit tart.  Leave as is or glaze as follows:

16. Melt 4 oz. apricot preserves in a small saucepan.  Strain through a sieve.  Loosen with a little water or liqueur, if necessary.  With a small brush, apply to fruit.  It will win you kudos either way.

Fresh Fruited Holidays

fresh fruit kebobs with celery seed dressing

By Victor Ribaudo

just picked strawberries

I love the Spring Holiday season.  Whether I’m seated a friend’s Seder dinner for Passover, or my family’s Easter celebration, there’s a sense of renewal and rebirth that only this time of year can offer.  Gastronomically speaking, that inevitably spells fresh fruit to me.

When invited to Passover dinners, I’m very conscious of what’s Kosher and what’s not. So to play it safe I bring a nice Kosher wine as well as a fresh fruit tray.  Everyone loves the freshness of fruit at the end of the meal, before coffee and desserts are served.  As for the Easter menu at my Mom’s home, we also include fruit in the offing.  Fruit is fresh and colorful…very much like Easter itself.  And we find interesting ways to incorporate it into our recipes.

As I mentioned in our last blog, ham is very often featured as the centerpiece of the Easter spread.  And nothing complements it better than fruit.  My Mom does a great pineapple in butter rum sauce, studded with plump raisins.  She discovered it at a diner, of all places.  They wouldn’t offer her the recipe, so she deconstructed it on her own and came up with something spectacular.  It’s basically a Bananas Foster, except with pineapple.  Really nice ladled over slices of smoky ham.

flaming pineapple

I, on the other hand, take pineapple rings and grill them on the backyard barbecue.  Simple, really.  Just coat the fresh rings with sugar and grill until there’s a nice caramelization happening.  It’s usually the first “grill” of the season, which excites me because it sort of ushers in warm weather celebrations for us all.  A delectable counterfoil to the saltiness of the ham.

apple pie

Pineapple is just the beginning of our fruit forays for the Holiday.  Instead of mint jelly for my lamb, I opt for beautiful compote of fresh fruits.  While some fruits are not really in their season, there are still plenty of choices out there.  Mango, for instance.  You may also want to investigate a dried fruit compote recipe, which is actually a Passover favorite for many families.  I really like what fruit does for lamb.  And for those mint and lamb lovers, you may include a few sprigs as you prepare your compote.

skewered fruit

Of course, your holiday salad can incorporate any number of fresh fruits.  I like the taste of fresh strawberries or raspberries and feta cheese in my salad.  I dress it with olive oil and lemon juice.  Greek inspired, I find this salad complements my lamb in a gyro sort of way.  Orange slices, accompanied by toasted almond slivers, is another salad favorite of mine.  I usually go Asian and dress this one with sesame oil and rice vinegar.  Of course, fresh green grapes in your salad are always a welcome sight.  An interesting tartness balances out the other ingredients well.  Really, there’s no end to the fruit and salad possibilities.

Now on to the holiday finale.  In true Italian fashion, we serve fresh fruit before coffee and pastries and the like.  We will often offer appropriate cheeses and nuts as well.  When desserts do arrive, there is the Pizza di Grano, of course (an Italian cheesecake with wheat berries).  However, there are often fruit pies to be found as well.  Blueberry, strawberry and cherry are my preferred choices.  I must admit, though, that fresh fruit tarts are really what I long for this time of year.  Depending on what looks good at your fruit stand, you can let your culinary imagination run rampant here.  Be creative, make lovely designs and have a ball.  We asked Phyllis for her favorite recipe.  Try it.  It’s fabulous.

cheese plate

Fruit makes it lively.  That’s my motto.  Just what we all need this time of year, as hints of milder, longer days and happy celebrations are all around us.  After a long winter, we’ve all earned it.  Enjoy!

Photographer Bill Brady

(Strawberry rhubarb pie by sweetpaprika)

Written by Victor Ribaudo

Blog syndicated at the datingsymbol.com

The Unsinkable Apple Pie

The classic American pie often displays an empty space between the top crust and the apple filling because the apples sink considerably in the baking.  Of course, there is the crumb topping, but my favorite part of a pie is a rich flaky crust.  I have experimented and tweaked the classic recipe and, I believe, improved on it not only by eliminating that empty space by partially cooking down the apples to begin with  and straining off excess juice, but also by using an instant tapioca thickener, 3 varieties of apples, candied ginger and Calvados.  The tapioca perfectly thickens the filling leaving it neither runny nor dense. The variety of apples and the candied ginger add a complexity of taste and the Calvados gives it just the right kick.

Ingredients:

Dough for bottom crust:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 T superfine sugar

1 t salt

4 T butter

4 T Crisco

1 egg yolk

ice water

Repeat ingredients for top crust.

3 Golden Delicious apples

3 Macoun apples

3 Granny Smith apples

¾ cup sugar

juice and zest of 1 lemon

4 pieces candied ginger, cut into a small dice

1 t cinnamon

¼ t freshly grated nutmeg

2 T instant tapioca

¼ cup Calvados

2 T butter

egg wash of 1 beaten egg yolk

1 T turbinado (raw) sugar

(Continue reading the Unsinkable Apple Pie . . . )

Apple Flower


Pastry dough

1 ½ cups flour

1/2 t salt

2 T  sugar

6 T unsalted butter cut into ½-inch dice

2 T Crisco

3 – 4 T ice water

 

Make pastry dough. Place flour, salt and sugar in food processor bowl.  Pulse to mix.  Place butter and Crisco around bowl and pulse until mixture resembles coarse corn meal.  Sprinkle 3 T ice water around bowl.  Pulse briefly.  If mixture has not begun to come together add 1 more T ice water. Mix again until dough will stick together.  Stop processor. Take out mixture and pat into a round disk on top of a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap around disk and refrigerate for at least ½ hour.

Roll out to a 12-inch round.  Place in a 9-inch pie tin.  Crimp edge.  Place aluminum foil and pie weights in shell and prebake 12 minutes at 400 degrees.    Take shell out of oven and remove pie weights and aluminum foil.  Prick shell with a fork to prevent the bottom from rising and return to oven.  Bake until dry, about 5 minutes.  Cool.

Apple filling

5 large yellow delicious apples

juice of ½ lemon, divided

1 cup sugar, divided

4 T apricot preserves

2 T butter cut into ½-inch cubes

 

Peel and core apples with a round corer.  Slice apples in half vertically. Slice apple halves thinly into half moon shapes.  Sprinkle apples with lemon juice and sugar as you work.  Chop end pieces and one whole apple into a dice.  Mix dice with 1 t lemon juice, 1 T sugar and 4 T apricot preserves.  Spread this mixture in bottom of pie shell, but leave excess juice behind.

 

Arrange apple slices on top of mixture starting at the outside edge, overlapping them.  For the center, peel and roll up a 10-inch long and 1 1/2 –inch wide strip of apple cut from around the circumference of an apple.  Dot top with butter and sprinkle with 1 T sugar.

 

Bake in the center of oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Then lower heat to 350 degrees and bake for 45 minutes or until edges of apples are browned and juices are bubbling up.

 

 

A Pretty Peach Tart

I came away from the Muscoot Farm Market yesterday with beautiful peaches and a pint of raspberries.  Hmmm. A tart came to mind.  This morning as I assembled my ingredients, I noticed that half the raspberries had disappeared.  I had  to work fast.  This is a variation of my “Peach of a Pie” post of  August 7  but easier.Peach Tart

Peaches

Tart dough

1 ½ cups flour

½ t salt

½ cup sugar


8 T butter cut into a small dice

4 T ice water



Filling

6 large ripe and fragrant peaches

¼ cup instant tapioca

½ cup sugar

pinch of salt

Juice from ½ lemon

2 T butter cut into 8 ½-inch cubes

Pulse flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Add butter.  Pulse briefly.  There should still be bits of butter visible.  Add ice water around bowl and again, pulse briefly, just until dough holds together when pressed between your fingers.  Don’t let a ball form.

On work surface, press dough outward with the heel of your hand.  Pat into a round, wrap in plastic and chill for a half hour.

Roll out dough into a 12-inch round. Drape into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Chill in refrigerator for 20 minutes.

While tart shell is chilling, cut a small cross in the stem end of each peach, dip peaches one or two at a time into a pot of simmering water for 1 ½ minutes.  Let cool.  Peel off skin.  Slice into half-inch wedges.  Add instant tapioca, sugar, salt and lemon juice. Mix.

Pour half of peach mixture into tart shell..  Arrange remainder of peach slices into an attractive pattern.  Dot with cubes of butter and fresh raspberries.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  Turn heat down to 350 and bake another half hour or until mixture bubbles up and crust is golden brown.

The white nectarine version

The white nectarine version, this one an upside-down tart

A Peach of a Pie

IMG_1375IMG_1471

Is there a more enticing fragrance than a dead ripe peach?  Perhaps a fresh peach pie baking in the oven?  And right along  with apple pie, it’s the quintessential comfort food.  Here it is, no corners cut, with a crumb crust for more complex flavor and texture.

Peach Pie with Crumb Topping

Crust:

1 ½ cups flour

¼ t salt

1 T sugar

8  T unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes

4 T ice water

Pulse flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Add butter.  Pulse briefly.  There should still be bits of butter visible.  Add ice water around bowl and again, pulse briefly, just until dough holds together when pressed between your fingers.  Don’t let a ball form.

On work surface, press dough outward with the heel of your hand.  Pat into a round, wrap in plastic and chill for a half hour.

Continue reading A Peach of a Pie. . . .

Rustic Plum Tart

IMG_1263IMG_1240

The sweet fragrance of these luscious plums was irresistible. Not sure what kind they are.  The vendor could only remember “golden . . . something.”  Aside from just eating them out of hand, putting together a rustic tart couldn’t be simpler

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ t salt

2 T sugar

8 T unsalted cold butter cut into 1 T cubes

2 T solid vegetable shortening

4 – 5 T ice water

1 lb.  pitted and sliced plums (or a combination of apricots, peaches, nectarines, raspberries, blackberries, etc.)

3 – 5 T sugar

1 T butter

In a food processor, pulse flour, salt and sugar.  Distribute butter and shortening around bowl.  Pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. (About 10 – 12 short pulses only)  Distribute 4 T ice water around bowl.  Pulse a few times, then check to see if dough will hold together when pinched between fingers.  If not, add small amounts of water until dough forms small curds.  Empty dough onto lightly floured work surface.  Gather dough together and with the heel of your hand, smear dough against work surface to incorporate ingredients.  (It’s ok to see specks of butter.).  Flatten into disc and chill ½ hour.  Roll out into rough circle.  Sprinkle fruit with sugar at the last minute and place in middle of dough.  Dot with dabs of butter.   Fold edges over fruit and bake on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven for 50 to 55 minutes until crust is golden and fruit is bubbly. (Brushing crust with a glaze of one egg beaten with 1 T milk and then a sprinkling of sugar is optional.)

Tarte Tatin–Caramelized Upsidedown Apple Tart

IP4251789f I had to name my favorite dessert, it would hands down be tarte tatin, the dazzling caramelized upside down apple tart.  And this from a chocolate lover.  In the past I always began the tart by artfully arranging apple slices on top of sugar and butter in a cast iron skillet.  The result was delicious but unmolding was tricky.  Often some of the caramel stuck to the bottom of the skillet.

But then, on the Martha Stewart Show, I happened to see pastry chef Alexandre Talpaert of Benoit make a mouthwatering tart using a silicone straight-sided pan.  He made a dry caramel first, poured it into the silicone pan and placed the apple quarters, which he had softened in the oven first, upright starting around the rim of the pan, thus preventing the tart from collapsing. After the apples baked, he placed a baked disk of crust fitted exactly to the pan on top.  Best of all, the tart unmolded to a picture perfect work of art.

Chef Talpaert made a 7 ½ inch tart, but I have a 9-inch Calphalon silicone pan with reinforced handles which I prefer.  I bought it at Chef Central. I offer this luscious tart with adaptation to a 9-inch tart pan as well as adjustments after making it twice this week. (Continue reading Tarte Tatin . . . )

Cherry Pie with seasonal tart cherries

“Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy boy, Billy boy ?”IMG_1189

There they were, glistening like the crown jewels, in this week’s farmers’ market.  Who could resist?  I couldn’t.  Plump, dead ripe, sour cherries,  the beginning of a succulent cherry pie.  Not frozen, not jarred, not canned nor, in my opinion, not sweet cherries, but tart.  If you ever wondered how cherry pie achieved its status in American food lore. this will clarify it all.

Dough

1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ t salt

1 T sugar

6 T unsalted cold butter cut into 1 T slices

2 T Crisco

3 to 4 T ice waterIMG_1212

Pulse flour, salt and sugar in food processor until mixed.  Scatter butter  over flour mixture and pulse briefly. Add Crisco and pulse again. You should still see tiny bits of butter.  Pour 3 T ice water around bowl of processor. Pulse until dough holds together between thumb and fingers.  Add another tablespoon, if necessary, but don’t let ball form.  Place dough on work surface, pat together and press outward with heel of hand to incorporate butter into flour.   Form into a 6-inch disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least ½ hour.  Repeat this process for a second disk.

Continue Cherry Pie with seasonal tart cherries . . .

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