Rustic Blueberry Tart

Normally I ignore my Saveur subscription. It was free with some other long-forgotten magazine bought on eBay and it seems like it's been coming here forever. I usually like one article and maybe one recipe, and everything else will seem to have lamb or artichokes or, I don't know, something else offensive, like Kraft skim milk singles.

(I kid. I just like the idea of someone from Saveur reading that and shrieking.)

But I was having malaise (prettier to say than "sleep crankies and work grumpies") so Mike was reading the highlights of the magazine, trying to cheer me up with plans for big cooking adventures. He did get excited over an Indian dish, but then he made a "hmmm!" noise and spoke these words:

"Rustic Raspberry Tart?"

Mmm. The recipe fits this issue's theme, "butter," just the kind of topic that will get me to renew my subscription. The devils.

(Hold on a sec.)

Okay, I just checked. My subscription expired in November. Hark the doo-doo doo-doo's! This recipe was meant to happen!

One thing I found a little odd was the way they specified Kerrygold butter. I can understand it suggesting the use of, say, butter from grass-fed cows over grain-fed cows, but brand-specific? But maybe that's Saveur, being all particular and elite and not afraid to name names.

We went to Fresh & Easy (of course!) for the Kerrygold and the berries. Raspberries were a little dear, but blueberries? On sale! $2.50 for 8 oz, then $1.74 when I went back the next day. Not bad for winter in the produce-bare desert.

This is blurry-but-beloved F&E:

And then of course it all sat in the fridge for a week, long enough for me to open the magazine and look over the recipe for myself. The recipe in the middle of an ad for Kerrygold. *Gasp!* An advertisement? Not a sanctioned celebration of butter from the experts at Saveur? Oh goodness. Oh well. On we go!

I won't worry about sharing the particulars as the recipe is available for free online in the Kerrygold Cookbook. (Click "Desserts.")

First, I washed the rolling pin and pastry cutter bought just for the occasion (and the fantasized occasions to come).

Pre-Wash

You can't really see it, but the rolling pin has a stupid bit of plastic on the end where I couldn't get all of the tag cut off. I tried, I did, and I'll tell you this: Target owes me a new X-acto knife. Seriously. That plastic isn't coming off.

I set the recipe out for easy OCD checking and re-checking.

The Recipe

I washed the blueberries with filtered water. The filter doesn't have enough magic to make the water taste good, just less scary, so we still drink bottled water.

Washing the Blueberries

Now here we have a BONUS: a deleted scene from the Cooking of the Tart! (Over-processed in Photoshop to impress upon you the rareness of what you are seeing.)

Lady Sybils

I realize that true ramekins are ceramic, so what do you call these? "Little dishes meant to hold the ingredients so that when you're ready to actually assemble stuff it all feels so breezy." Yeah, okay, that can be its Indian name, but I'll just keep calling them ramekins.

What you see above is the part where I carefully measured out a quarter teaspoon of salt and indulged it in its own ramekin. The salt is hidden in the back, behind the sugar and cornstarch that I soon realized should've been combined in one ramekin. This is the same salt that I covertly threw away when I also realized that I'd bought salted butter. Shhh. Forget any of this artful but useless prep ever happened.

But, no regrets, if only because the salted butter has the prettier wrapper:

Pure Irish Butter

I cubed the butter and stuck it into the freezer for a few minutes, because even I know that COLD is KEY when it comes to pastry. Now I was ready to, for the first time ever-ever, use a pastry blender!

Ready to Blend

Um.

I'm Doing It Wrong

This did not go as expected.

Heather mentions on Flickr that she uses the food processor. Erm. Heather, cover your eyes for a sec.

(Food processor? Was I supposed to have a food processor? Maybe I can trade two of our three blenders for one? I better not mention the empty space where the flour sifter has yet to go...)

So I stopped, Googled how to use a pastry blender, and got back on the horse, now with a less floury saddle. Poster slogan for newbs: "Think guillotine, not whisk."

A little egg yolk and ice water later, we came to the part I was so excited about. I remember exactly where I was the day I found out about the trick of rolling dough between floured sheets of plastic wrap. I was sitting in front of the computer.

Pleasure Between the Sheets

Knowing this technique changes everything! I bet I make a pie before the month is through. It's just so easy.

All Flat

Now to flop it onto parchment.

On the Parchment

And add the two cups of berries, no closer than two inches from the edge.

The Recommended Berries

Okay, you see what's happening here? You see that big berry at 10ish pm? Trying to lead everyone across the border and close to the forbidden edge? Watch:

The Berry Division

First, I snatched away a good handful of his followers. Respect the crust! Berry/crust iniquity ends with me! (Who's in charge now, berry boy?)

Let It Snow

And then, much like the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz, I doped the remaining berries into submission with three tablespoons of ultra fine baking sugar (cut with cornstarch, don't tell). Look at their little O-mouths. The masses are content.

Folding up for beddy-bye:

Nestled Up

I don't have a pastry brush (Oh no! Too late to tell Heather to close her eyes again. Sorry!), so I "finger-brushed" the dough with egg white. Then I lightly sprinkled the remaining sugar/cornstarch on the outside. Then I admired the way I redefined "lightly sprinkled."

Sprinkled, er, Lightly

And into the oven it goes! (Not pictured because my oven is not currently available for photographic events.)

Meanwhile, I noted the recipe would want me to run a spatula under the tart when it came out. So, I decided to use the 20 minutes while the tart cooked to choose a spatula.

Spatula City

Our other four spatulas are in another cupboard. Really.

Sure enough, leaking did happen. I'm glad the recipe acknowledged this as normal or I'd have entertained self-pitying thoughts about ever making tarts again. There is probably a medication I should take for such thoughts. Oh wait, there is.

Leakage May Occur

So I used the spatula to separate congealing berry from crust, and then, I don't know, I just went stupid.

I got the idea that I was supposed to use the spatula to transfer the cooked tart to the plate. Yes, I know I was staring right at the parchment that makes it easy to slide Object A to Location B, but I was stuck in my spatula reverie. Quite wisely, I thought, I took two spatulas out of the drawer.

But as flakes turned into sorrowful, irreparable rifts, I realized this wasn't working.

So I tried three spatulas.

How I Got Into Mensa

Yeah. Let's not talk about how long I tried. Can I mention that it was, like, 3:30 am? (And not mention that 3:30 am is my noon and therefore no excuse?)

But at last, the damage was converted to what I hoped passed for a charming roughness, and it had come to pass that - YAY! - I made my first tart:

Charitable View

How was it? So good that, eleven hours later, a replacement had to be summoned:

11 Hours Later

Sing with me: "I made something tas-ty, I made something tas-ty, la la lala laa-la! "

Tarts are now my thing. (How long until I can justify this?)

02 March 2008 |



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