The post in which I pretend to be a food blogger
I'm going to go all "food-blogger" on ya'll here. Why? Well, I've been reading a lot of food blogs. My knitting blog consumption has dropped to almost...no, completely zero. I should really start looking at some of my old favorites again, but food blogs are so much more interesting to me right now. People that have food blogs usually have beautiful photos of the most delicious looking food. It gives me many ideas.
Also, at the moment, the state of my knitting is this:
This poor sock has sat in this state for, oh...maybe nearly two months now. All I need to do is graft the toe. That's it. Of course, then I have to start the second sock. In order to get that nice, ripply cuff I have to cast on about 300 stitches, on a size zero needle. You can understand why I am less than enthused about this. It's particularly sad because it's been at least 10 months since I started this sock. Woe to this sock, that may never see the darkness of shoe.
Since I've been neglecting knitting, I've been doing other things, such as reading more (I find that if I am doing a lot of knitting, I do very little reading, and vice versa) and cooking. D and I are doing very well on our pledge to eat out less. Yay us. Hopefully I'll be able to share some of my cooking adventures with you all as well as my knitting adventures.
As you know, today is Easter Sunday and we headed to my dad's house for Easter dinner. Everyone was asked to bring something and I said I would bring a pie. Why a pie? Because if worse came to worse I could just go buy a pie and no one would really care.
A few months ago, I received Martha Stewart's Pies and Tarts in the mail. I believe I got this because years ago I joined a cookbook club and from time to time I forget to decline the month's featured selection. As such, I have several cookbooks I never would have bought on my own, such as the Essential Jaques Pepin (complete with DVD!), a book all about grilling (we do not own a grill), and some sort of guide to backyard parties (nor do we have a backyard). This pie book, though, I felt would be useful, despite the fact that I am a wee bit afraid of pies...everyone always makes pie crust sound so difficult. You hear these horror stories about crusts gone bad, ruining an otherwise promising pie.
I looked through the book and chose the easiest recipe...Peach and Berry Tart. The appeal lay in the lack of pie crust and that the filling was essentially fruit and sugar. Easy.
I ran into my only problem when I went to the grocery store and remembered that you can't get peaches in Minnesota this time of year. I believe last year about this time I also was craving peaches and was VERY disappointed. Martha assured me in the book that this recipe takes "kindly to improvisation" so I decided to use just berries - strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Yummy.
I lined up all the actors in this little play for a group photo. I am stealing this technique from just about every food/cooking blog out there. Food bloggers love to line up all the ingredients...it's like a little roll call before you get the show on the road. As you can see, the corn meal was a bit camera shy. There are also two pints of tomatoes angling for some attention; perhaps a loaf of bread as well.
So, that was it. All the things I needed. Of course, Martha states that the cornmeal should be stone-ground, but I don't think you can find anything that fancy at Cub Foods. Some flour, sugar, an egg yolk, salt, butter, and vanilla extract. And of course, the star of the show...the fruit.
I was very excited to pull out my food processor to make the crust. The food processor was excited as well. It squealed with delight when I pulled it out of it's little hidey-hole, a storage ottoman in the living room. Yes, I store my food processor in the living room. We have a small place and my options are limited.
Of course, then I always go through the "how the heck do I put this thing together" mode before D comes over and points out that I am putting the work bowl on backwards or some such thing. But eventually, I was ready to go.
Mmmm...doesn't this look good. All the crust ingredients just waiting to be pulsed "until dough just begins to come together." What ever that means. Martha doesn't really explain that too well. Fortunately, I have watched many an episode of America's Test Kitchen where they often make dough. In addition to these shows making me very excited to finally dump little hunks of butter into my food processor, they also gave me a pretty good idea of when to turn the food processor off. Right about here:
I then dumped all this into my tart pan with removable bottom (finally! I'm using a wedding gift!) and then pressed it into place. Easy peasy I tell you. I don't have a photo of that moment. I was too anxious to get it into the oven, where it baked at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes. While that was happening, I mixed together my fruit with the sugar. And that was it for the filling.
When the crust was ready, I dumped the fruit in It seemed like it could use a bit more fruit, so I mixed up a wee bit more berries and sugar. All in all, I'd say I used about an entire 16 oz. container of strawberries and about a cup of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Back in the oven it all went for another half-hour or so.
I have to say, since the recipe called for peaches and I was using strawberries as my main fruit, I was a little worried about the timing. I checked it quite often. But it turned out perfect.
As the berries cooked, they sort of formed their own little liquidy, gel-like base which held things together nicely. Gosh. Doesn't it just look beautiful? Even better, you can either serve it warm or at room temperature, making this the perfect thing to bring to a party. It looks all impressive and like you spent a lot of time, but in reality, not so much.
I enjoyed this with some whipped cream. And how was it? Fantastic? Just sweet enough. And the crust was amazing...the cornmeal really gives it a wonderful flavor. Doesn't this look like something you would get at a restaurant (other than the poor placement of the whipped cream)? I feel so amazing.
I'd love to try this with some other fruits. I think I cranberry tart would be divine - I am picturing it with little curls of lemon zest on top. Or how about something tropical, maybe with mango and kiwi? I really think the possibilities are endless. Mmmmm...this tart may be my new go-to to bring to family gatherings.