Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Early Fall Raspberry Tart

I sure do enjoy our Lady Food Blogger Parties! This time around we grilled pizza, sipped cold drinks under a backyard tent and listened to the musical stylings of a local high school band as they practiced across the street. There were many delicious treats, but being pregnant, I stereotypically zeroed in on Cindy’s homemade dill pickles. I ate three, and could have eaten three more.

Below is the recipe for the Early Fall Raspberry Tart- my humble contribution to the evening. Regrettably, I forgot to take a picture before it hit the serving table. It disappeared quickly…a good sign.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (one box), thawed
8 ounces Mascarpone Cheese
8 ounces (give or take) Lemon Curd- recipe follows
2 T powdered sugar
1 egg yolk, beaten
2 T milk or cream
2 pints raspberries

Prepare Puff Pastry Crust
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out pastry sheet (still folded) to an 8-by-14-inch rectangle. Use a sharp paring knife to score a 3/4-inch border around pastry (do not cut all the way through). Carefully transfer pastry to a parchment lined baking sheet.

NOTE: Alternately, you can create a more narrow tart with a higher border by trimming ¾ inch all the way around, then replacing the strips on the outer edge of the rectangle (trim to fit), building up a higher edge. Just make sure that you carefully brush the outer edge of the pastry before pressing on the strips—that will help glue the strips to the base of your tart and it makes for a more formal presentation.

2. Avoiding the ¾ inch perimeter, pierce the pastry all over with a fork. Combine egg yolk and milk/cream, and then carefully brush over the pastry. Avoid letting any egg wash touch the parchment or baking sheet- it will glue your pastry to it and make it more difficult to move later.
3. Bake for 15-20 minutes until browned and puffy. Midway through baking, use the back of a spatula to press down on the middle of the tart, deflating it a bit so that it doesn’t rise nearly as much as the outer edges. Once pastry is done, remove from oven, deflate the middle again, let cool 5 minutes, and move tart shell to a wire rack to cool completely.

While tart shell is cooling, combine Mascarpone cheese, lemon curd and powdered sugar, stirring until smooth. Use more or less lemon curd to suit your taste. Refrigerate until you are ready to fill your tart.

1. Once tart is completely cooled and you are nearly ready to serve the tart, place tart shell on your serving platter.
2. Use an offset spatula to spread filling into the middle of the tart.
3. Cover the middle with raspberries; you can pile them in, creating a more rustic look, or arrange them neatly in rows for a more classic French effect.
4. Get your piece first before your guests devour it all.

Lemon Curd

I’m not going to give you the impression that I always make lemon curd from scratch. Dickenson’s brand Lemon Curd is just fine if you can find it (in the jam and jelly aisle alongside the other Dickenson’s jams). Last time I needed it, however, Kroger only had some other imported brand that was $8.99 for a jar. Hell no. I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for lemon curd instead. It is crazy good, and honestly only took about 20 minutes to make.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Lazy Sunday

There are times when one just needs something rich, sweet, and comforting. There are also times when one is suddenly gifted with a dozen perfect croissants from Ann Arbor’s Croissant Shop. They are crisp. They are fragrant. They melt in your mouth. Two or three can be consumed more quickly than one would like to admit.

What to do with the remaining pastries to avoid plummeting into a complete shame spiral? The answer: freeze them, and then turn them into Baked Croissant French Toast the next time you have friends over for brunch. Puffy, golden, delicious. Have yourself a hearty portion- with no regrets.

•6-8 plain croissants, cut in half lengthwise
•6 eggs
•1 1/2 cups whole milk
•1 1/2 cups half-and-half
•1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
•1 teaspoon vanilla
•2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
•1 orange, zest of
•1/4 cup packed brown sugar
•1/2 cup white sugar
•1 pinch salt

1. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish. Arrange the croissant halves in the baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, half-and-half, nutmeg, vanilla, Grand Marnier, orange zest, 1/4 cup brown sugar, white sugar and salt. Pour this mixture over the croissants. Cover the baking dish and chill until all of the liquid is absorbed, at least 2 hours or overnight.

2. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until puffy, golden brown, and set in the middle.

3. Serve with: warm maple syrup, homemade preserves (I used my own blueberry-lime jam), or a dusting of powdered sugar and a squirt from a lemon wedge.