Blueberry Frangipane Tart

I really believe that if you’re going to become excellent at anything, from baking to baseball, you’ve got to be willing to try new things and make some mistakes.  My success and confidence in the kitchen has come from years of practice and experience and yes, I’ve had my share of failures.  As Einstein said, ‘anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.’  This is how we learn.

I had wonderful blueberries.  I had pie crust already made.  I knew it would be tricky to combine them with frangipane in a tart the way I wanted to, but decided to proceed nonetheless.  Frangipane is a sweet filling made from almonds, butter and eggs, and it’s one of my favorite treats.  It must be baked, and it really needs to be exposed to the heat (not buried deep in a pie) in order to puff up and brown a little.  I did everything right in this recipe, almost.  I made sure to blind bake my crust.

I didn’t cover the frangipane completely with blueberries.  I baked until bubbly in the center.  However,…. it needed 5 more minutes!  The edges were perfect with crisp and flaky crust, but the center was not.

If I make this again, I think I’ll put the frangipane on top of the blueberries and let the berries peek through instead of vice – versa.  At any rate, my husband LOVED this tart and said the amount of sweetness was just right.  Served with lightly sweetened whipped cream, it really was good despite it’s imperfection.

Blueberry Frangipane Tart

Adapted from The New York Times Cooking

1 pie crust –  Here’s an old post with a recipe you can use.

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1/2 cup ground almonds (almond flour)

2 teaspoons all purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 stick butter

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

  • Roll out the dough, chill and blind bake.  For more information about blind baking click here.
  • Mix the almond flour, all purpose flour, sugar, almond extract, egg and butter really well.  Spread into the pre-baked shell.
  • Place the blueberries on top, making sure to leave some frangipane filling peaking through.
  • Bake at 375 F for 35 to 40 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven.  If the crust becomes too dark around the edges, cover with a ring of foil and continue baking.
  • Allow to cool at least an hour before slicing.
  • YUM!

Here’s an old post about the first time I made a Pear Frangipane Tart.

 

Tarte Tatin

Here’s a classic French recipe I’ve never made before.  I’ve seen the upside down apple tart made on cooking shows many times but never bothered to try it at home.  Yesterday I was watching my very favorite television show:  The Great British Baking Show and Mary Berry made her Tarte Tatin in the master class series.  She made it look so easy and gave several great tips for success.   I love the simplicity of the ingredients.  All you need is apples, crust, and a little sugar.

I got up off the couch and went to my best reference book for French classic recipes and techniques, Jacques Pepin’s Complete Techniques.   I used his recipe for pate brisee (pie crust) and followed his instructions for parts of the recipe and Mary Berry’s tips for other parts.  Tarte Tatin has been reinterpreted so many times it’s impossible to say what the ‘real’ or ‘original’ or even ‘the best’ technique might be.  Here’s what I did:

Tarte Tatin

1 pie crust – here’s the link to the recipe I use most often.  You could use a store bought puff pastry for this recipe.

1/3 cup white sugar

1/4 cup water

6 cups apples – sliced thin – This could be anywhere from 6-8 apples.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Get out your pie dish so it’s in arms reach.

Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat.  Do not use a non-stick pan when making caramel.  Bring to a boil and keep boiling until it turns a golden caramel color.  Pour the caramel into the pie dish and immediately swirl by tilting the pan to cover the entire bottom of the dish.  I struggled with this step because my caramel hardened too quickly in my cold pyrex dish.  Oh well, I pressed on.

Set the pie dish aside and allow the caramel to cool completely.  Meanwhile, slice the apples evenly and thinly.  Choose one or two good looking apples to use for the bottom of the pie. Place the first layer of apples on the cooled caramel in a nice design.  Remember, this will be inverted and the bottom will become the top; you want it to look pretty.  Fill the rest of the dish with the remaining apples.  It’s okay if the apples come above the top of the dish a bit because they will shrink as they cook.  Place the rolled out pastry or pie crust over the apples.  Tuck in the edges all around the dish.  Cut a small vent hole in the center of the pie.  Place in the hot oven for 45 minutes to an hour.  The crust should be golden brown.  When you take the dish out of the oven, let it cool for about 5 minutes.  To ensure a caramel top that’s not too runny, carefully hold a dish towel over the crust while you pour the juices into your caramel saucepan from earlier.  Next, invert the tarte onto a plate.  Now, add 2 Tablespoons of sugar and heat to a quick boil.  Pour this caramel sauce over the finished Tarte Tatin and serve just warm.  The finished tart was intensely apple flavored and super delicious.  The caramel is subtle and emphasizes the taste of the apples.  The crust was crisp and buttery.  Total success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Egg and Tomato Pie

Is it a quiche?  Is it a tart?  Let’s call it what it really is:  egg pie.  My version has eggs but no cream, so it’s not really a quiche.  I like plain eggs in a pie crust and find creamy quiches too rich.

You will need to plan ahead a little for this one, but it’s not hard and well worth it.  First, roast a head of garlic as seen here.  You can do this an hour before assembling your pie, or you can do it a day or two in advance.  Next, pre-bake a pie crust until it’s lightly brown.  You can use frozen puff pastry instead if you don’t like to make your own.  This is called blind baking.  You weight the crust so that it keeps it’s shape while baking and is ready for filling.  I learned about this the hard way 6 years ago. 

Experience has taught me that the little extra steps and attention to detail make all the difference in a perfect pie.  The crust is crunchy and flaky and buttery.  This filling is savory with a hint of mellow garlic.  We had this as an appetizer because it’s a small pie.  It would also be a great main dish with a green salad or even good for breakfast.

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Egg and Tomato Pie

One blind baked pie crust

2 roma tomatoes

1 or 2 cloves roasted garlic

3 eggs

about 1 cup sharp cheese ( I used a mixture of sharp white cheddar and romano – something very salty like feta would be good too)

salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the tomatoes and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper and let them stand 10 minutes.  This draws out some of the moisture so they behave while baking.

Spread the garlic all over the pre-baked crust.  Sprinkle half the cheese on top.  Lay the tomatoes on next.

Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper, then pour over the tomatoes.  Top with the remaining cheese.

Bake until the eggs are puffed and the top is slightly golden.  Serve warm.

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Lemon Meringue Tart

20160906_161913I saw Martha Stewart make this tart on public television and scrambled to write down the recipe.  It looked simple enough, and very delicious.  You simply assemble the brown butter cookie crust, chill it, blind bake it and let it cool.  Meanwhile, whip up the lemon curd so that you can strain it directly into the prepared crust.  While this chills, you can work on the meringue.  Martha Stewart made this beautiful pie and two others in the span of thirty minutes.20160905_122101

20160905_122921I wasn’t even able to finish this project in one day.  However, it was WELL worth it.  The crust is awesome, the lemon curd is fantastic, and the meringue is superlative.  The genius addition of a little unflavored gelatin to the lemon filling makes it hold up well to slicing.  Everything about it is just right.  I will definitely make this again.  If you think it looks good in the pictures, just imagine that it tastes even better.  The crust is tender, the filling is tart and smooth, and the meringue is fluffy and marshmallowy.20160906_155928

20160906_160854Please click through to her website for Martha’s recipe.  You will not be disappointed.

Lemon Tart With Brown Butter Cookie Crust

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Pies for a Party

What a fun way to spend an afternoon!  I’m so thankful to have a friend who gets as excited about the finer points of pie dough as I do.  We baked three pies for a family party.  Each creation had a delicious and flaky home made crust. vCheck out our two traditional fruit pies with a lattice top and one scrumptious peach and almond cream tart.IMG_8738 IMG_8739 20160708_180432 I made the dough a day in advance so it was ready and waiting in the fridge.  We rolled all the dough on a chilled marble slab and felt very fancy, very professional.  The marble came from Grandmama Clydie and kept our dough cold in a hot kitchen.

The recipe for the peach tart came from David Lebovitz, and boy was it good! Click through for his post and recipe. I also used the crust recipe he suggested for this recipe, which can by found by more clicking through from his website. This pie was was the first to go at the party. It was attacked as soon as I released it onto the table.

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I’ve been using a pate brisee recipe from Martha Stewart for all my pies lately.  You can whiz this up in the food processor and save it in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to bake.  I channel Julia Child and finish the mixing by hand on the counter for an extra flaky crust.  You can click through for full instructions, or if you’re an experienced pie baker, the proportions are:

2 1/2 cups AP flour

4 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 sticks unsalted butter – cubed and ice cold

about 1/4 cup ice water

For the fruit filling, we used Nathalie Dupree’s book Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking.   You will need about 4 cups of fruit, a little sugar and a little cornstarch.  Yummo!  This was the only picture I could snap of all three together.  As you can see, I wasn’t fast enough!

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Birthday Pie

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My husband caught me watching cooking shows… again.  It’s my favorite lazy Saturday afternoon activity.  I have a notebook filling up with scribbled recipes and instructions television.  Sometimes, no:  often these recipes come in handy and turn out great!  This pie is what he chose for his birthday this year and it was a delicious success.

Coconut Cream Pie

recipe from Martha Bakes

1 pate brisee (pie crust), blind baked

Here’s the recipe for two crusts:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

4 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 sticks butter, cubed and ice cold

3-5 Tablespoons ice cold water

  • Pulse in food processor til it holds together when you squeeze it in your hands.  Divide and shape into two discs, wrap well in plastic and chill until ready to use.
  • To blind bake:  roll out the pie dough and fit it into the pie plate.  Line the unbaked pie shell with foil or parchment paper and fill with dry beans or pie weights.  Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Remove the weights and foil and bake an additional 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Let the crust cool.

For the pie filling:

Whisk together in a saucepan:

  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

add the liquids (just a little at first to get the lumps out):

  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk ( I used 2% and some coconut milk)
  • 1 1/2 cup coconut milk (that’s one can – look for it with the Thai food in the ethnic aisle)

Heat until it’s coming to a low simmer, stirring constantly so it doesn’t stick or burn.  Separate 4 eggs and save the whites for another recipe.  Whisk in a small bowl:

  • 4 Yolks

Add a little of the hot milk mixture and whisk to temper the egg yolks.  Then add the yolks to the saucepan and cook until very thick.  Pour the hot custard into a bowl and add:

  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup shredded (unsweet) coconut

Pour the custard into the cooled pie shell and chill until ready to serve.  Top the pie with freshly whipped cream and some coconut toasted lightly in the oven.  Beautiful!

This custard was easy to make – don’t be scared!  This pie feels really decadent but is pretty low in sugar and downright healthy compared to anything you could buy.

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