Fresh Fruit Tart, Revisited

This is the same basic recipe from Fresh Fruit Tart. I made a few slight changes and I used farm fresh strawberries.

We went camping and the campground is just down the road from a farm market. This farm makes the best jams and jellies, and also makes fruit wines. Those are surprisingly interesting and rather good. No grapes allowed. Last year was cherry, this year is blueberries and apple. And it is not at all the Boone’s Farm Apple Wine from high school!

20170618_232216046_iOSI am thrilled! I made the perfect pre-baked tart shell. I thought the previous crust was a bit greasy with 10 Tablespoons of melted butter. So this time I used 8 Tablespoons and melted it in a small skillet. Even though it did not brown it was more cooked than simply melting it in the microwave. I made sure I pressed the sides to the top rim of the Pyrex pie pan and again baked it on a rack in a rimmed baking sheet, 30 minutes at 350 F.

The most labor intensive part of this dessert is cutting the fruit. I cut about 1/2 quart of strawberries in halves. These strawberries are sweet and very red. None of those white cores to cut out like supermarket strawberries.

For the custard I used a combination of lemon and lime zest and the juices from one each. The original recipe calls for 7 teaspoons but I did not bother to measure. I also used 1 cup mascarpone cheese instead of the 3/4 cup in the recipe. This carton of cheese was firmer than the first one I used.

Letting the crust cool completely takes patience. I wanted to go ahead and make the cream filling but patience is a good thing. The no-cook custard-y filling must be poured into a completely cool crust.

I did not artfully arrange the berries. I put them in concentric circles just the way the Cook’s Illustrated article said made it difficult to cut the tart without cutting the berries too. Oh well! As I was putting the berries on the tart I remembered one is supposed to glaze the tart with apricot jam mixed with a teaspoon of the lime juice. I still don’t have apricot jam. But I do have this fabulous Black and Blue from the farm market made with blueberries and blackberries with crushed fruit in it. Yum! I put about 1/4 cup into a Pyrex ramekin with a bit of the citrus juice and nuke it for 30 seconds. I brush this on quite heavily and the top now looked darker than the bright red berries. I also brushed a bit around the crust. This goes into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill.

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Hubby declares this the best tart ever (or yet); I don’t remember exactly.

  • crust is crisp and slightly sweet
  • the custard-y filling is not too sweet; it is creamy yet set
  • the farm fresh berries were fabulous
  • the heavy glazing with the other berry jam added flavors to the fruit topping

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Fresh Fruit Tart

Okay, folks, I really, really, intended to follow the recipe to the “t” but just didn’t. What can I say?

Cook’s Illustrated July/August edition has a test-kitchened version of the fruit tart, you know, the kind you see in the bakeries each summer when the berries come into season. The kind on a layer of pastry cream or pudding. This new and improved version is supposed to stay together when cut in filling and crust. Hubby thinks this type of fruit tart is a great thing so I intend to make this. It has a pat-in-the-pan crust and a no-cook filling. Sounds easy to me.

I traipse off to the store to buy mascarpone cheese and white baking chips. Yes that’s what is in this, along with lime juice and zest. I’m cheap and just was at my local chain grocery so bought blueberries and strawberries which were less expensive (by a lot!) than raspberries and blackberries. No fresh peaches so I didn’t use those either. I forgot that kiwi makes a nice edition too, so just blueberries and strawberries for us.

The recipe is simple enough. It calls for using freshly sliced peaches to make an edible slicing guide. Good idea. It added lime to the filling to give it oomph. And the white baking chips hold the cheese filling together without cooking.

  • 1 1/3 cups flour (I read this wrong and used 1 1/2 cups.)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter (can be browned in a skillet, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes. Watch carefully as it can burn.)
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tablespoons water (apparently browning the butter cooks off a lot of liquid which is needed for the flour to hold the crust together.)

So I make the crust, almost exactly. I did not brown the butter to give it a nutty taste. I melted the butter, added the water, the flour mixture, and patted it into a 9 inch Pyrex pie pan. The tart pan I have does not have a removable bottom and is about 12 inches in diameter. I thought that would be too big. Now, thinking about it, it might have worked anyway. And I may not have needed to add the whole 2 Tablespoons of water.

The crust gets baked in a 350 F oven for 30 minutes, turning half way through. It is also baked on a wire rack placed in a rimmed baking sheet. Let cool completely. Note to self: this may be the way to bake pies in the future.

I cored then cut supermarket strawberries in half and washed 1/2 pint of blueberries. The glaze is supposed to be made from apricot preserves but when I opened the jar, I found that the little bit left was not fit for human consumption. Into the compost bucket with it! All I have now is dark jellies. I consult with Hubby and we agree that I can use the dark jelly for a glaze since I am using berries anyway. We have a wonderful berry preserve from a local farm and it is made from blackberries and blueberries. Cook’s calls for 1/3 cup. I use about 1/4th.

Meanwhile for the filling.

  • 1/3 cup white baking chips
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (I bought and used whipping cream because I would have more uses for the remainder in the pint carton.)
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest plus 7 teaspoons juice (This supposedly needs two limes. Well, the zest from one lime was a tablespoon and the juice was a few teaspoons at best. I figured the extra zest would make up for the juice and only used one lime. After all, one needs them for Lime Rickeys and G&Ts!)
  • 6 ounces mascarpone cheese at room temperature. (I used 8 ounces because that was the size of the small tub that I found at the grocery store.)

I really did have every intention of following the recipe exactly. But as you can see from my notations above I did not.

Melt the baking chips with the zest, a pinch of salt, and the cream. Do this in the microwave for ease. It took less than a minute to melt it to a smooth consistency. Now add 1/3 of the mascarpone and whisk. Then add the 6 teaspoons of lime juice and the rest of the cheese. Whisk til smooth and pour into the completely cooled crust. Arrange fruit as desired.

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Melt the preserves with a little lime juice (this teaspoon came from a jar) and carefully glaze the fruit avoiding the crust. Well, this is easier said than done. As mentioned above I had a dark glaze and there were gaps between the fruit. This is to be put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

 

So did this new improved tart meet its goals? Yes it did. Life is too short not to eat dessert when it looks like this. I admit it is not as pretty as the ones in the bakery or the picture in Cook’s Illustrated. But it is in my kitchen ready to eat. And the crust and filling did not break apart or ooze out when cut. Yay! I see no need to let it sit out for 15 minutes before cutting, either. Also farm fresh strawberries will be tastier than supermarket berries. I will have to look out for some next time I pass a farm market or stand.

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Lemon Pudding Cake

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This dessert recipe I found many years ago on allrecipes.com. In fact it was 2010 when I printed it out so maybe that is not so many years ago. The recipe is still posted here. I did not make too many adjustments so as not to mangle the results.

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (I juiced one lemon and topped it up with jarred lemon juice to make 1/3 cup.)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (this was 1/2 the zest from the aforementioned lemon; I froze the remainder for future use.)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour (I did not sift. I figure if I whisk the flour in the container and then spoon it into the measuring cup lightly without packing, that is close enough.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I did not have cow’s milk except for half-and-half. So I used 1/2 cup half-and-half, 1/2 cup almond milk which emptied the carton, so I topped it up with 1/2 cup cashew milk. I thought it was necessary to use the half-and-half for the fat content.)

Beat together egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon zest, and butter until thick and lemon colored. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add this alternating with additions of the milk.

Beat egg whites until stiff. Blend egg whites into the batter on low speed of electric mixer. I am so glad I have two bowls for my KitchenAid mixer. I used one bowl with the paddle attachment for the batter and the other bowl with the whisk attachment for the egg whites.

Pour this into an -inch square pan. Heat oven to 350 F. This bakes in a bain marie: place a 9 x 13 inch pan in the oven with hot water. Put the square pan in it and bake for 45 minutes.

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We ate this warm from the oven. The sauce/pudding formed under the sponge thickens up as it cools so it is good warm or cool. The birthday girl had a second helping and declared it good! 🙂

Pi day

March 14th is pi day. “The number π is a mathematical constant, the ratio of a circle‘s circumference to its diameter, commonly approximated as 3.14159.” The definition here is from Wikipedia. Two years ago it was a more authentic pi day!

In honor of scientists and mathematicians everywhere I have baked a pie.

What pie did you make? I made my “go-to” Betty Crocker pumpkin pie.

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This is similar to the recipes one finds on the backs of cans of pumpkin:

  • Prepare pastry for 9-inch pie
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 2 cups canned pumpkin
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or 1 teas cinnamon, 1/2 teas ground ginger, and 1/4 teas ground cloves)
  • 1 2/3 cup evaporated milk

Mix all ingredients and pour into pie shell. Bake 425 F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F for 45 minutes. Test for doneness by poking the near middle with a knife. It should come out clean.

Let cool and eat. Top with whipped cream if desired.

Ginger Cake

We are expecting a blizzard. I’ve already been given a snow day from work. Hubby will work from home so he’ll be no fun at all!

My kitchen is a mess; I wish I had a housekeeper every other week to do the baths, the kitchen, and the floors. Would be nice; not going to happen! Meanwhile it is good that we are not allergic to dust or pet hair. We will do a super cleaning when the grand-kids are coming down.

Dog doesn’t like his standard dog food anymore. He used to like it just fine. We buy his dog food at the pet store. It is for the mature dog. We made the mistake once of buying a specialty human grade dog food. Now he’s trying to hold out for the good stuff!

So after taking our cable box back to the cable store and coming home with a new one (but less monthly cost!) we spent three hours setting this thing up. And we now only have 45 channels but we don’t miss many of the previous 300+ channels we had. So we found a few things to watch and are being careful not to binge watch too much because when all the episodes are gone, they’re gone. Then what will we watch?

But that is not what this essay is about.

There was plenty of time during the rest of the weekend to putter around the kitchen but I did not. It is cold out there, my kitchen, and I do have heat in my house. I heated water for tea, took a beautiful teacup down from the shelf above the sink, and poured in the water. Hubby heard the fine porcelain crack from across the room and then the water came pouring out. Oh no! So learning my lesson, today I have warmed the teacup before making the tea. And a nice cup of hot tea with lemon goes very nicely with ginger cake.

By the time dinner time on Sunday rolled around and Hubby was fixing twice baked potatoes and in charge of cooking the salmon, I needed something to do. I flipped through one of my UK published baking books and found this ginger cake that I had been wanting to bake. It is entitled Preserved Ginger Cake but I did not have a jar of preserved ginger. I have crystallized ginger and since that is for the garnish I figured it would be just fine.

This is baked in an 8 inch round pan, not a 7-inch square pan that the recipe called for. Be sure not to use a 9 inch pan or it will be as flat as a pancake. Prepare the pan with parchment paper and cooking spray. Preheat oven to 325 F.

  • 4 ounces butter
  • 1 1/2 cups self-rising flour; make this by using 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder per 1 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk; I used half-and-half.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in the mixer bowl. Soften the butter for 30 seconds in the microwave. Mix butter with the dry ingredients. Put the eggs, corn syrup, and milk in a separate bowl and whisk together. Mix everything together until smooth. Spread in the prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes. Let cool a little and then turn out onto plate.

For the topping I used 1/4 cup powdered sugar and a tablespoon of lemon juice to make a small amount of glaze. I let the cake cool some but not completely. I poured on the glaze and then snipped a piece of crystallized ginger around the top. Warm ginger cake was a nice treat.

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Not as pretty as the picture in the book.

Dark. Chocolate. Eclairs.

Dark: this is the glaze on top.

Chocolate: this is the filling.

Eclairs: this is choux pastry.

Oh my! This is chocolate. For some reason I did not think that the pastry cream would be that chocolate-y. Sometimes my brain does not seem to process the information as well. Or I imagine it to be one thing and go with that thought!  After all the pastry cream has two types of chocolate in it! I think I looked at the picture and imagined the pastry as the filling. As I was making these I was debating as to whether or not to include the chocolate glaze on top. These deserve to be eaten with a cold glass of milk.

I decided to make the King Arthur Flour February bakealong recipe.Here is the link, February: dark chocolate eclairs.

Their recipe said to pipe these into 5 inch strips and it would make 12-18 eclairs. Well, I piped into 5 inch strips, had to pipe a strip along side to use up all the pastry, and this made 24 for me. The whole in my pastry bag could have been bigger.

20170220_191714873_iosEasy choux pastry: 1 cup water, 1/2 cup butter, 3/8 teaspoon salt, 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour, 4 large eggs; bring water, butter, and salt to boil. Add flour and stir until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time until smooth. KAF instructs to let the flour mix cool for 5-10 minutes before adding the eggs. Pipe this mixture out into 5 inch logs on parchment paper. This will take two baking sheets. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes; lower the temp to 350 and bake for an additional 25 minutes. KAF then instructs to cut small slit in tops and return to oven for 5 minutes to let steam escape. Well mine did not have any escaping steam so I skipped this step. Let cool slightly and then slice in half to cool completely.

20170220_195654520_iosMeanwhile make the pastry cream. This should be made first, actually, so that it cools. 1/2 cup sugar, 5 tablespoons cornstarch, 4 large egg yolks, 2 cups whole milk, 1/2  cocoa powder, 1/3 cup chopped unsweetened baking chocolate, and 1 tablespoon butter.Bring milk and cocoa to simmer. Combine sugar and cornstarch and whisk in the egg yolks. Pour some of the hot chocolate mixture into the yolks and then return to the pan and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add butter and chopped chocolate and stir until smooth. Transfer this to a bowl, bring to room temperature, and refrigerate for about two hours. I was impatient and began assembly prior to the two hours.

Make the glaze with 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate (I used chips), 1 12 teaspoon light corn syrup (this is to make it shine), and 1/2 cup heavy cream. Bring the cream to just simmer and pour it over the first two ingredients. I just put all three in my sauce pan and brought to just boil, and then stirred until smooth. I forgot to read the instructions clearly! It worked out fine.

And the final product is….

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So I now have to decide if I will assemble all of them and refrigerate them “ready to eat” or assemble them “as needed”. Hmmmm?

Thoughts from my kitchen: this is a rich pastry cream filling. It is not pudding or whipped cream. To make these “lighter” one could use a favorite pudding or mousse. I think my Betty Crocker Cookbook has a choux pastry recipe that makes less so that would be better for just the two of us here at home. And for quick and easy just use whipped cream or a pudding mix. Jello brand is making a simple mix with no artificial flavors and preservatives now. But you must absolutely use cow’s milk and not nut milks for that mix.

 

 

Millionaire’s Shortbread and Citrus Salad

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For this weekend’s dessert bake I made Millionaire’s Shortbread from the Cook’s Illustrated magazine. I had never really heard of these. They are apparently a rich British cookie.

I selected this recipe because I actually had all the ingredients called for exactly. This is a rare thing for Cook’s recipes and my pantry. I also followed the recipe verbatim. This is very unusual for me. When cutting the bars I did get cracked chocolate so I am not sure what happened there.

This recipe is from the November & December 2016 magazine. I tried to get the link but one has to subscribe to get this recipe. I have the magazine and it is on page 14-15. It’s a possibility that I can subscribe on-line because I have a subscription to the magazine but I have no clue as to how. Oh well! That being said, I don’t know if I should actually share the recipe? It’s not really mine to share!

A tray of these will go with Hubby to work to share with his co-workers, and I will take a plate as well to share with mine. The rest we will keep to nibble on for a bit of sweet during our week.

Speaking of Cook’s Illustrated, I did make their Citrus Salad with Arugula, Golden Raisins and Walnuts. The link is here, Citrus Salad. This was labor intensive to prepare the 2 grapefruits and 3 oranges. One had to peel, take all the pith off, remove seeds and slice. I used regular raisins because that is what I had on hand. It looks really nice.

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I used green onions in the dressing instead of scallions. I dressed the fruit and then spooned it on the greens. I thought then that I could have a nice citrus fruit salad to serve with cottage cheese for lunch or breakfast on the following day. But noooo…

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • several green onions, white and green parts
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
  • a pinch of salt

The dressing was very nice. The salad was refreshing the evening I served it.But the next day the fruit tasted odd. Not good. Odd, as in maybe it went bad, odd? Next time I will keep all three parts separate and mix together only when ready to serve and only what will be eaten at that particular meal. I will make the dressing alone and use that for salads.