Tag Archives: tart

Blueberry Tartlets with Yogurt and Lemon

Blueberry Tartlets with Yogurt and Lemon – recipe by Lynda Balslev

Go ahead, indulge yourself. These gorgeous blueberry tartlets are rich and creamy, fragrant with lemon, bursting with fruit and not-too-decadent. Why? The luscious filling is 100 percent yogurt, not cream cheese or mascarpone. The trick is to choose a full fat Greek-style yogurt. It’s thick and silky, with a tang that perfectly offsets mellow, inky blueberries. The crust is a traditional graham cracker crust, which, yes, has brown sugar and butter (as any self respecting graham cracker crust should). So these tarts are just a little bit wicked, but it’s a dessert after all, and what’s wrong with being a little wicked anyway?

Blueberry Tartlets with Yogurt and Lemon

Makes 1 (10-inch) tart or 6 to 8 individual tartlets

Crust:
10 ounces graham crackers (or sweet digestive biscuits)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Filling:
2 cups whole milk Greek-style yogurt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar (or honey)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 cups blueberries
Lemon zest for garnish

Heat oven to 350°F (180°C). Combine the graham crackers, sugar, cinnamon and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until crumbly. Add butter and pulse until the crust is blended and beginning to stick. If using a tart pan, dump the crumbs into a 10-inch tart pan, pressing with fingers evenly over the bottom and up the sides. If using individual tart dishes or ramekins, divide the crumbs between 6 to 8 ramekins and press the crumbs evenly over the bottoms and up the sides. Transfer to a baking sheet. Bake in oven until crust begins to turn golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a rack.

While the crust is cooling, whisk the yogurt, sugar and lemon zest in a bowl. Pour the yogurt into the cooled crust, smoothing the top. Dot the yogurt with blueberries. Garnish with lemon zest. Refrigerate until serving, up to 4 hours.

Blood Orange Crostate with Salted Caramel Sauce

~ Blood Orange Crostate ~

When it comes to baking, I like my desserts messy. This is not to say that I like dirty dishes or wayward, disfunctional stand-mixers. It means that I like desserts that are free-form, imprecise and often referred to as “rustic.”  Thank goodness for the generations of country kitchens which devised homey, family-style and fabulous tasting desserts. Often involving fruit and usually containing folksy and forgiving words such as crumble, slump, crisp and fool, these desserts revel in imprecision, delightfully embracing dribbles, lopsidedness and even mistakes. Sure, some technique is involved, but the overriding rule is a relaxed unfussiness with a big helping of simplicity. Bring on the mess.

Which brings me to these slightly dissheveled crostatas (actually, I believe that’s crostate in the plural). Citrus is rampant in the markets right now, and with that comes the ruby blood orange. Sweet and tart, yet more complicated than the run-of-the-mill navel, this fruit has a unique flavor which borders on murkiness. If an orange can brood, then it’s the blood orange. I must have been in the mood for brooding when I stuffed a brown bag full of them, with the plan to make a dessert for a dinner this weekend. Scanning the web for inspiration, I found this recipe on the Kitchn, and, right away, I knew these crostatas were the dessert for me: brilliantly hued, cute as can be, and appropriately messy in a rustic free-form kind of way. I tweaked the recipe a bit to my taste and included a salted caramel sauce as an accompaniment.

Blood Orange Crostate with Salted Caramel Sauce

Makes 8 – 4 inch crostatas

For the crust:
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut in cubes
1/2 cup sour cream

For the filling:
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 blood oranges, skin and pith cut away, sliced crosswise, seeds removed
2 navel oranges, skin and pith cut away, sliced crosswise
1 egg beaten

Make the crust:
Combine flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Briefly pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse to achieve a crumbly consistency. Add sour cream and pulse a few times until the dough just begins to stick together. Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Whisk mascarpone, 3 tablespoons sugar and vanilla in a small bowl to lighten and combine.
Remove dough from refrigerator. Divide into 8 equal portions. Roll out each portion in a circle about 6 inches in diameter and 1/4-inch thick. Place a tablespoon of mascarpone in the center of the dough, spreading it slightly, while keeping one inch clear around the edge of the dough. Place a navel orange slice in the center. Dot with blood orange sections. Sprinkle the oranges with a little sugar. Fold the exposed edges of the dough in around the oranges, shaping and pinching to create a rim of crust. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat this process with remaining dough. Brush pastry dough with the egg and sprinkle the dough with a little more sugar.
Bake crostatas until crusts are firm to the touch and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remove and cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with a spoonful of the remaining mascarpone cream.  Drizzle with Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe below).

Salted Caramel Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons European-style unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt

While you are making the caramel be very careful, as the mixture will be extremely hot. Make sure that all of your ingredients are in place before you begin, since the sauce will come together very quickly. Use a high-sided heavy bottomed pot, since the caramel will foam up as it cooks. Be sure to use the best quality unsalted butter that you can find.

Add the sugar to a heavy-bottomed pot (3-4 quart) over medium-high heat. Cook until the sugar melts, whisking occasionally and swirling the pan to ensure even cooking. When the sugar is the color of dark amber, remove the pan from heat. Add the butter, taking care as it will foam. Stir until it’s melted into the sugar. Pour in the cream (it will foam again) and whisk until smooth. Add the salt. Cool the sauce completely. Makes about 1 cup. Store in a mason jar for up to two weeks.

Pear and Cardamom Tarte Tatin

~ Perfectly imperfect: Pear and Cardamom Tarte Tatin ~

By now you may have noticed that I am a huge fan of tarte tatins.  Tarte tatin is an upside down fruit tart, traditionally made with apples. It’s named for the Tatin sisters who “invented” the upside down caramelized tart purportedly by accident in Lamotte-Beuvron, France in 1898. Legend has it that one of the sisters, due to fatigue or distraction (and we have all been there), somehow omitted the pastry in an apple tart, thereby adding it on top of the fruit in an attempt to salvage the dessert. Wouldn’t it be nice if all of our kitchen disasters yielded such successful results?

Tarte tatins are a lovely way to showcase seasonal fruit. Homey and rustic, they ooze caramel and fruit. Best of all they are beautifully imperfect. Once you get the hang of making the caramel and the final turnout of the tart onto a plate, tarte tatins are an unfussy and pleasing dessert – and in my case, they are irregular, uneven and all the more charming for that.  I use a sour cream pastry which creates a crumbly, cookie-like crust. As the tart bakes in the oven, the caramel from the fruit filling will bubble up in spots through the crust. Fear not: The crust will continue to bake, and when the tart is finished and cooling, the wayward caramel will harden and coat the crust like a candied apple. How can anyone resist this?

Pear and Cardamom Tarte Tatin

I like to serve this with lightly sweetened whipped cream spiked with a spoonful of pear brandy. Serves 8 to 10.

Sour cream dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/3 cup full fat sour cream

Tart:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
6 large Bosc or Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and halved
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten to blend, for glaze

Prepare the dough:
1. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of food processor and pulse to blend. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is pea-sized. Add the sour cream and pulse until moist clumps form.
2. Gather the dough into a ball, and then flatten and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (The dough may be made one day ahead and refrigerated until use, or frozen for up to one month. Allow to defrost in refrigerator overnight before using.)
3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling out.

Prepare the tart:
1. Place the butter in the bottom of a large oven-proof skillet with sloping sides. Sprinkle the 1 cup sugar evenly over the butter and pan. Cook over medium heat until the butter melts, the sugar is partially dissolved, and the mixture is bubbling, about 2 minutes.
2. Arrange the pears closely together, cut-side up, in a circular pattern in the skillet. Cut the remaining pears into quarters to fill in the spaces. Mix the 1 tablespoon sugar, the cardamom, and nutmeg in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Increase the heat to  medium-high and cook until a thick amber colored syrup forms, turning the skillet to ensure even cooking, about 25 minutes.
3. While the fruit is cooking, preheat the oven to 425°F. Roll out the pastry on parchment paper to a round shape slightly larger than the skillet. Slide the paper onto a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator until the syrup is ready.
4. When the syrup has colored, remove the skillet from the heat and lay the pastry over the fruit (work quickly because it will begin to melt from the heat of the pan). Cut 3 to 4 slits in the pastry and brush the pastry with some of the egg glaze.
6. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the tart is deep golden brown and firm when tapped, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and cool on a rack 1 minute.
7. Cut around edge of skillet with a metal spatula to loosen the pastry. Place a large plate over the skillet and, using oven mitts, invert the tart onto the plate. If any of the pears or caramel are stuck in the pan, remove with the spatula and spread on top of tart. Cool the tart slightly before serving and serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

Nectarine and Plum Tarte Tatin


~ Nectarine and Plum Tarte Tatin ~

Here’s another dessert post, making that two in a row. I am being greedy, but it’s summer, and the fruit is impossible to resist right now. The farmers’ markets are teeming with stone fruit. Their tables are stacked with teetering towers of peaches, nectarines, apricots and early plums. I bring home bags stuffed with fruit only to return with more the next day. It really isn’t a challenge to slurp through the bounty, but when there is a little too much, the older fruit is quickly transformed into a baked dessert.

Nectarine and Plum Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin (an upside down caramelized tart) is a beautiful way to showcase stone fruit. The fruits’ sweet tanginess melds beautifully with the caramel, while their orange and crimson mottled flesh intensifies in a vibrant, richly colored filling. I used a combination of nectarines and plums, because that’s what I had.

Serves 8-10.

For the Sour Cream Pastry:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/3 cup full fat sour cream

Nectarine and Plum Filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut in 4 pieces
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
4 large nectarines, quartered, pits removed
4 plums, halved, pits removed
1 egg, beaten to blend, for glaze

Prepare Pastry:
Combine flour, sugar and salt in bowl of food processor. Pulse to blend. Add butter and pulse until butter is size of peas. Add sour cream and pulse until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball, flatten and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. (Can be made one day ahead; refrigerate until use. Pastry dough may also be frozen up to one month in freezer before rolling. Allow to defrost in refrigerator overnight.) Remove pastry from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling out.

Prepare Tart:
Arrange butter in bottom of large oven-proof skillet with sloping sides (preferably cast iron.) Sprinkle 1 cup sugar evenly over butter and pan. Cook over medium heat until butter melts, the sugar is partially dissolved and the mixture is bubbling, about 2 minutes.  Arrange nectarines and plums closely together in an alternate fashion, cut-side up, in a circular pattern in the skillet. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Set skillet over medium-high heat. Boil until a deeply colored syrup forms, turning skillet to ensure even cooking, about 30 minutes. (Due to the juices from the fruit, the syrup will be more red than brown. Check for doneness by tasting a little of the syrup – be careful, because it will be very hot. If it has a caramel flavor, then it’s ready for the oven).
While the fruit is cooking on the stove, preheat oven to 425 F. Roll out pastry on floured surface or parchment paper to a round shape to fit size of skillet. Remove skillet from heat. Lay pastry over fruit. Cut 3-4 slits in pastry. Brush pastry with some of the egg glaze. Bake tart until pastry is deep golden brown and firm when tapped, about 30 minutes. Remove tart from oven and cool on rack one minute. Cut around edge of skillet to loosen pastry. Invert the tart onto a platter, using oven mitts. If any of the fruit is stuck in the pan, remove with a knife and arrange on top of tart. Cool tart slightly before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature with dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Golden Onion Tart with Gruyère and Thyme

This tart is a vehicle for caramelized onions. It’s also inspired by an appetizer I ate years ago in a Swiss auberge overlooking the Lake of Geneva. It’s been so long, I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but I do remember the onion tart. It was simple and rustic, just like the half-timbered dining room with its roaring open fire where we tasted it. Sweet, rich and minimal, this tart was perfection in its simplicity. Today I make a version of this memory while we enjoy another view from our California home. I like to serve it in small slivers with glass of wine before dinner.

Golden Onion Tart with Gruyère and Thyme
Serves 8 to 12

For the dough – adapted from a recipe by Alice Waters:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut in 1/4 inch cubes
3 tablespoons ice water

Stir flour and salt together with a fork. Toss in butter. Work the butter into the flour with a fork or your fingertips until it resembles coarse meal, with some pieces of the butter apparent. Sprinkle in the water while stirring with a fork until the dough comes together, adding another tablespoon of water if necessary. Form into a ball and flatten. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour

For the filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons port wine
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces finely grated Gruyère cheese
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, plus extra for garnish
1 egg, slightly beaten

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a deep skillet or pot. Add onions and salt. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown, soft and squidgy, about 30 minutes. Add port wine and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Remove onions from heat and stir in the pepper. Cool slightly.
While the onions are cooling, roll out the dough to fit in the bottom and up the side of a 10 inch round tart tin. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the bottom of the tart. Spoon onions into the shell and spread evenly. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon thyme over the onions. Brush the exposed crust rim with the egg wash. Sprinkle the tart and crust with the remaining cheese.
Bake in a preheated 375 F. oven until the crust is firm and golden and the onions have turned a rich golden brown, without blackening, about 30 minutes. Remove and cool slightly. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature garnished with thyme sprigs.

Scandinavian Classic Baking and a recipe for Desert Sand Cookies

When Pat Sinclair asked me if I would like a copy of her newly published cookbook, Scandinavian Classic Baking, I didn’t hesitate to accept. She reached out to me after she read an article I wrote on Danish Open Face Sandwiches for NPR – perhaps recognizing another kindred spirit when it comes to Scandinavian cuisine. Well, she got that right.

Since the book arrived, I have pored through it – that is, when I have had a chance to read it. This book has struck a nostalgic chord in our entire family, with everyone vying for a look and tagging favorite recipes. And there is something for all of us:  soft, yeasty cinnamon rolls drizzled with almond icing, cardamom scented breakfast buns, Swedish pancakes with lingonberries and ginger-spiced pepperkakor cookies – to name but a few.

This book is beautifully and thoughtfully compiled, with an authentic collection of recipes representing all of the Scandinavian countries, accompanied by lovely photographs by Joel Butkowski. The recipes in the book are clear, concise and approachable, splendidly representative of Scandinavian cuisine, which is typically unpretentious and uncomplicated. Many of the recipes are supplemented with side bars packed with informative tidbits on Scandinavian culture with tantalizing photos of landmarks and people, elevating this compact book to the cocktail table.


Swedish Apple Pie, simple and pleasing. Luckily I snapped a picture before the family devoured it.

Last weekend we ticked a couple of recipes off of our long list. Since my daughter was helping, she chose to make Desert Sand Cookies and Swedish Apple Pie. As we baked, we chatted about Denmark. We spoke of family, friends and places we look forward to visiting on our next trip.  We spoke of holidays and some of our favorite foods. I thought of the traditions that are passed down through generations through recipes, and how these recipes keep memories alive while connecting us as a family. In our well traveled family life this has been exceptionally important, as we mindfully strive to remember our roots and the different countries in which we’ve lived.  Now we have a little extra help from Scandinavian Classic Baking.

Desert Sand Cookies
adapted from Scandinavian Classic Baking by Pat Sinclair

The key to these simple butter cookies is the browning of the butter, which gives them their unique and delicious flavor, typically found in Danish Butter Cookies.

Makes 24 (1 1/2-inch) cookies

1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Brown the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the butter begins to foam, stir constantly until it turns a deep golden brown. Watch it carefully at this point, because the color will change quickly. Cool to room temperature.
Heat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Add the cooled butter and vanilla to the sugar in a medium bowl and stir until evenly mixed Add the flour and mix to form a dough. Shape the dough into 1 1/2 inch rounds. Place on baking sheet and press a crisscross pattern with a fork. (Dip the tines of the fork in a little flour if it sticks.) Bake 10-12 minutes or until set; they will not brown very much in the oven. Cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. The cookies are fragile until cool.

In Season: Apple Tarte Tatin

Tartetatin

Fall season means baking with apples, and one of my favorite ways to bake with apples is to make a Tarte Tatin. I have posted this recipe before on TasteFood, but, dang, it’s so good, I have to post it again. The method of making a Tarte Tatin is classic to which this recipe stays true, except in its use of a sour cream based pastry which I discovered years ago in Bon Appetit. The pastry is delightfully easy and quick to make with crisp and flaky results. So far, this season I have made at least 4 Tarte Tatins. With each rendition, they have gotten even better, and I would like to share a few small tips with you to ensure delicious results.

Tarte Tatin is an upside down fruit tart. Traditionally, apples are used, however pears, apricots, nectarines and peaches work well, too. The beauty of using apples is that they are firm and do not release too much liquid while cooking and remain relatively intact. To start, the apples cook in boiling butter and sugar until the liquid caramelizes. Cook the caramel until it turns a deep amber color. It shouldn’t be too pale, nor should it overcook since it will quickly burn. Be sure to keep an eye on the caramel as it cooks, rotating the skillet to ensure even cooking. Once the right stage of coloring is achieved, remove the skillet from the heat and quickly top the fruit with the pastry. The pastry will begin to melt from the heat of the skillet, so be efficient, using a knife to push the pastry down between the sides of the skillet and the apples. Pop the skillet in the oven and bake until the pastry is a deep golden brown. It should be firm when tapped.

These simple tips, with a little practice and finesse, will transform apples, butter and sugar into a squidgy and caramelized fruit dessert. I can’t think of a more rewarding practice – can you?

Tarte tatin

Apple Tarte Tatin
Serves 10-12

For the Sour Cream Pastry:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/3 cup full fat sour cream

Apple Filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut in 4 pieces
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and halved
1 egg, beaten to blend, for glaze

Prepare Pastry:
Combine flour, sugar and salt in bowl of food processor. Pulse to blend. Add butter and pulse until butter is size of peas. Add sour cream and pulse until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball, flatten and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. (Can be made one day ahead; refrigerate until use. Pastry dough may also be frozen up to one month in freezer before rolling. Allow to defrost in refrigerator overnight.) Remove pastry from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling out.

Prepare Tart:
Arrange butter in bottom of large oven-proof skillet with sloping sides (preferably cast iron.) Sprinkle 1 cup sugar evenly over butter and pan. Cook over medium heat until butter melts, the sugar is partially dissolved and the mixture is bubbling, about 2 minutes.  Arrange apples closely together, core-side up, in a circular pattern in the skillet. If necessary, cut remaining apples in quarters to fill in the spaces. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Set skillet over medium-high heat. Boil until a thick amber coloured syrup forms, turning skillet to ensure even cooking, about 30-40 minutes.
While the apple mixture is cooking on stove, preheat oven to 425 F. Roll out pastry on floured surface or parchment paper to a round shape to fit size of skillet. Remove skillet from heat. Lay pastry over apple mixture. Cut 3-4 slits in pastry. Brush pastry with some of the egg glaze.

Bake tart until pastry is deep golden brown and firm when tapped, about 30 minutes. Remove tart from oven and cool on rack one minute. Cut around edge of skillet to loosen pastry. Invert the tart onto a platter, using oven mitts. If any of the apples or caramel are stuck in the pan, remove with a knife and arrange on top of tart. Cool tart slightly before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature with dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Heirloom Cherry Tomato Tart


Tomato Tart

Heirloom Cherry Tomato Tart
updated from the TasteFood archives, because it’s on the menu tonight:

Early September brings beautiful tomatoes, their sunny colors cheerily keeping autumn at bay, reminding us that summer is not yet finished.  Sweet, juicy, sunkissed heirlooms, early girls, and cherries promise to bring a little sunshine to our dinner plates while the days grow shorter, cooler and crisper.

This Tomato Tart is an easy, light dinner for a busy weekday night that takes advantage of the kaleidescope of cherry tomatoes falling in our gardens and showcased in the market. The tart’s ease of preparation is, in part, due to the usage of store-bought frozen puff pastry dough.  I confess that as much as I try to homemake everything, homemade pastry (unless made well ahead of time and frozen) doesn’t conveniently figure into a spontaneous week night meal.  Fortunately, high quality frozen pastry dough is available in many stores.  I buy mine at Whole Foods, and while the price is not cheap, I see it as a break-even when considering the cost of the ingredients and time I would need to make it myself.  However, if you do have time on your side (lucky you!) and would like to make your own pastry, one of my go-to recipes for quick puff pastry is from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Pie and Pastry Bible.


Heirloom Cherry Tomato Tart
Serves 4 as a light meal or 6-8 as a side dish

1 sheet (11 oz./300 g.) frozen puff-pastry dough, thawed
1 1/2 pounds (750 g.) cherry tomatoes, multi-colored if possible, halved lengthwise
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspons fresh marjoram

Prepare tart:
Preheat oven to 400 F. (200 C.)
Roll out dough to 1/4″ thickness on a lightly floured surface.  Pierce dough all over with a fork, leaving a 1 inch border intact.  Transfer dough to a parchment-lined baking tray and refrigerate 15 minutes.
Bake in oven until lightly golden, 12-15 minutes.  Remove from oven, but do not turn off heat.
Arrange tomato halves, cut-side up, on crust, leaving the 1″ border clear. Drizzle tart with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Return to oven and bake 15-20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.  Remove tart from oven, and transfer to serving platter.  Garnish with fresh marjoram (or basil) and serve immediately.

For a complete rustic meal serve with a wedge of soft, runny Camembert or Taleggio cheese, thick slices of pain paysan and a salad of mixed seasonal greens.

Blueberry Tart

Blueberry tart

It was impossible to resist the blueberries at the farmers market this morning. Tables were heaped with blueberries. You could choose from buckets, baskets, pints and quarts brimming with inky blue, plump fruit. I purchased two pounds, and arrived home with 1 1/2 pounds, because I couldn’t stop nibbling them along the way. Once home, my family gobbled at least another half pound before I rescued the remainder, which is exactly how much I need to make a Blueberry Tart.


Bluberry Tart – Tarte aux Myrtilles
Serves 6-8

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup  sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound unsalted butter
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl.  Cut butter in pieces into the flour mixture until the largest pieces resemble the size of peas.  Add the egg yolks and mix lightly with fingertips to incorporate and the dough is crumbly.  Press the dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9″ tart pan with a removable bottom.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.

Prebake tart shell:
Preheat oven to 375 F.  Prick bottom all over with a fork.  Line the bottom with parchment paper.  Fill liner with dried beans or pie weights.  Bake shell for 15 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden.  Remove shell from oven.  Remove parchment and pie weights.  Return shell to oven and cook 10 minutes, or until golden all over.  Remove and cool.

For the filling:
1 pound blueberries, picked over, washed, dried
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Whisk together 1 tablespoon water and cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside.
Combine 1/2 pound blueberries, sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until blueberries pop and mixture begins to thicken – about 3 minutes. Add cornstarch and lemon juice to blueberries. Simmer 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Fold in remaining blueberries.  Pour into pre-baked tart shell.  Let sit at room temperature until set, at least 1 hour.  Serve with whipped cream or crème fraîche.

Apricot Tarte Tatin

Apricot Tarte

I love the rustic presentation of Tarte Tatins. When I think of rustic desserts I think of cobblers and crisps, trifles and crostatas. I think of families and recipes passed down through the generations, and I think of the countryside, whether it’s in Europe or the U.S.  Comforting and inviting, rustic desserts are like the favorite pullover you reach for on a cold afternoon: warm, cozy, tried and true.

Rustic baking is beautiful to behold in its own imperfect way. It isn’t fussy and and is forgiving in its portions. The food begs to be shared – plunked in the middle of a farmhouse table and served to a crowd of family and friends. And it also tastes good – really good. Caramelized and squidgy, buttery and crunchy are all adjectives that leap to mind. It’s the stuff that childhood memories are made of – comfort food at its best.

This apricot tarte tatin is a twist on the rustic French dessert that features apples. Apples are not required, however, for a delicious Tarte Tatin. Any fruit that can be slow cooked in butter and sugar without dissolving will work: pears, plums, peaches and apricots.

Apricot Tatin tf

Apricot Tarte Tatin
Serves 10-12

This pastry is very easy to prepare. The finished result is crumbly and buttery, a perfect complement to the caramelized apricots. Sour cream may be substituted for the cream cheese.

For the cream cheese pastry:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/3 cup cream cheese

For the apricot filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
12 apricots, about 3 pounds, halved and pitted

1 egg, lightly beaten

Prepare pastry:
Blend flour, sugar and salt in bowl of electric mixer. Add butter and beat at medium-low speed until butter is pea-sized, about 2 minutes. Add cream cheese and beat until moist clumps form, 1 minute. Gather dough in ball, flatten and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 1 hour. (Dough may be made one day ahead. Keep refrigerated.) Let soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.

Prepare tart:
Spread butter over bottom of large oven-proof skillet (preferably cast iron) with sloping sides. Sprinkle 3/4 cup sugar over butter. Heat over medium heat until butter melts, sugar begins to dissolve and mixture begins to bubble, about 2 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Arrange apricots, skin-side down, in a circular pattern in the skillet. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar.

Return skillet to stovetop. Cook over medium heat until a thick amber colored syrup forms, repositioning skillet to ensure even cooking, 25-30 minutes.
While the apricots are cooking, preheat oven to 425 F. Roll out pastry on floured surface or parchment paper to a round shape to fit size of skillet. When the apricots are sufficiently caramelized remove skillet from heat and lay pastry over apricots. Cut 4 slits in top of pastry. Press pastry down around edge of skillet and apricots. Brush with egg.
Bake in oven until pastry is deep golden brown, 25 minutes. Remove and let rest one minute. Run knife around edge of tart. Place a large platter over skillet. Using oven mitts, hold skillet and platter together and invert tart onto platter. Cool 30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.