Posts Tagged ‘tart’

Baby Chef

Pursuing one of my favourite pastimes with Baby.

Since Baby arrived my priorities, aside from taking care of her, have been getting exercise and fresh air and eating right. Just like Baby, I get grumpy and tired if I don’t eat regularly and properly. Also, it’s no secret that I love to eat and cooking is one of my favourite activities.

No surprise then that before having Baby, I was already thinking about how to nourish myself once she arrived, knowing that I’d be regularly occupied with her and, for a while at least, less mobile. The arrangement we came up with worked well and we’ve continued to prepare and enjoy satisfying meals!

For the first three weeks after her birth, the deal was that David, who was off from work, was responsible for food and making sure I ate properly. He did the cooking and didn’t even use any of the meals we’d prepared in advance. Then my mom visited for two weeks and took over the kitchen. She spoiled us with her excellent cooking and baking. She actually added to our freezer stores.

We’ve even tried some new recipes, all of which are keepers:

Last week, we started our new routine of weekly menus. It starts with a meal plan – a tried and tested tool! – using what we have on hand. We cook at least one weekday meal on Sunday, making sure there’s enough for at least two lunches (a hearty soup is easiest). Then we dip into our freezer stores for one meal per week and gratefully accept grandmaman’s offer to cook dinner on Thursdays.

The days we cook fresh, the meal is prepared bit-by-bit whenever I have a moment throughout the day.  By the time David gets home from work, it’s ready to cook. Often I’ll do the cooking myself, because it gives me a break from Baby – as much as I love her, I welcome a break by that time of day! – and the satisfaction of doing something I enjoy. We’re not cooking superheros though, and have also resorted to take-out several times in the last seven weeks.

Last night this tart, a fall favourite,  followed a meal of homemade soup. Making it was a three-day affair: I made the dough and lined the cake pan the first day, blind baked it the second, and finished the tart on the third. That’s not unusual these days – whatever it takes to get it done!

Recipe: Alsatian Apple Cream Tart

Alsatian Apple Cream Tart1 recipe pastry dough
4 apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths (use apples that will hold their form during baking; I used Cortlands)
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp sugar
1 cup cream (either 15% or 35%; the latter will give a richer, creamier result)
3 egg yolks (I’ve also made it with 2 whole eggs; using yolks will give a richer, creamier result)
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup raisins
1 pinch salt

Heat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9″ cake pan.

Prepare the pastry dough. Roll it out to 1/4″ thick and line the cake pan. Weigh it down and blind bake it for 10-15 minutes. Remove weights and continue baking for another 10 minutes until lightly coloured. Remove from oven. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

In a bowl, toss apple slices with lemon juice and two tablespoons of the sugar. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine cream, egg (yolks), vanilla, raisins, the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, and salt.

Arrange apple slices on tart shell. Pour cream mixture over apples. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until apples are done. Allow to cool slightly before removing from cake pan.

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I Love Blueberries!

Favourite blueberry tart

My favourite blueberry tart.

When blueberries turn up at the market, I’m reminded of how much I love blueberries.

More than strawberries, even though strawberries are red juicy goodness. More that raspberries, even though raspberries are like sweet-tart kisses when they are warmed by the sun and eaten directly from the bush. More than blackberries, even though blackberries sum up summer with their plump sweetness.

There’s something simple, honest and down-to-earth about blueberries. I eat them by the handful. They’re my favourite berry.

Having grown up on the West Coast, my blueberry is the large highbush one. Some might claim that that’s not the real blueberry, but for me it is. And when BC blueberries show up in the supermarket, I’m in heaven (and ignore the fact that they travelled across most of the country to get here). I stock the freezer, have some in the fridge, cook/bake with them, and eat them daily.

My mom would make this tart once a summer. It’s still one of my favourites.

Recipe: My Favourite Blueberry Tart

Slice of my favourite blueberry tart topped with whipped cream

A slice of my favourite blueberry tart topped with whipped cream. Mmmmm!

1 recipe pastry dough
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp lemon juice
1.5 lbs (approx. 675 g) blueberries
cup ground hazelnuts
Whipping cream (to serve)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Prepare pastry dough. (Usually pastry dough recipes call for a ½ cup of butter, so I keep pre-measured pieces in the freezer. I make the dough without a food processor and grate the frozen butter into the flour, a trick I picked up from one of Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s HomeBaking cookbook). Line an 11-inch tart pan (I use one with a removable bottom) and blind bake the tart crust. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.

Combine the sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon  in a bowl. Add the blueberries and toss with the sugar mixture. Add the lemon juice and mix gently, ensuring that there’s no cornstarch visible on the blueberries.

Sprinkle the ground hazelnuts over the pre-baked tart crust. Fill with the blueberry mixture.

Bake 20-30 minutes. Let cool. Top with whipped cream to serve.

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Governor Simcoe Strawberry

Governor Simcoe strawberry, the intensely flavoured ugly duckling of the bunch.

Annapolis Strawberry

Small, perfectly shaped, delicately perfumed, authentically flavoured Annapolis strawberry.

Yesterday I went strawberry picking for the third time this season. I just can’t resist the bright red berries!

Going early in the season and again later, allowed me to pick different varieties. The first two weeks, I was picking “Mira” strawberries; yesterday they were “Governor Simcoe” and “Annapolis.” The difference in size, colour, and especially flavour is striking.

The Mira strawberry is large berry (easy picking!), looks just ripe, and has a mild flavor. Governor Simcoe strawberries are small  and round, light red, and have a distinct, almost artificial strawberry flavour. I was quite surprised by its intensity when I popped the first berry into my mouth. Meanwhile the Annapolis strawberry is smaller than the Mira, but with an even conical shape and a deep red colour.  This juicy strawberry has a delicate perfume, and a rich, authentic flavour.

Now that I’ve had the opportunity to compare the three varieties and make tasting notes, I’d plan picking, jam making and desserts differently next year.

I think Mira would be best for pies and desserts, e.g. strawberry mousse or ice cream, in which they’d benefit from a touch of sugar to boost their flavour. I’d use the Governor Simcoe for jam, where looks don’t matter, but flavour is important. The Annapolis strawberries deserve simply to be piled in a big bowl and eaten like that. Annapolis would also be beautiful in desserts where the strawberry contributes to the aesthetics, like a tart with halved strawberries on top. And that’s what I made last night.

Recipe: Strawberry Frangipane Tart

Strawberry frangipane tart

Beautiful dessert with a delicate and delightful combination of almond and strawberry.

I have a notebook full of handwritten recipes that I started collecting when I was a teenager. The recipe came from the now defunct Gourmet Magazine. A quick search for “strawberry frangipane tart” on epicurious.com turned it up!

Although it calls for strawberries and raspberries, I used only strawberries. I also made a different recipe for the pâte sucrée (sweet pastry dough). I suggest adding the strawberries on top shortly before serving.

This tart doesn’t keep well, so if there’s a slice left over someone should make the sacrifice of finishing it off!

More strawberry info and ideas:

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