Category: tarts

Lemon pie with Duchy Originals ginger shortbread crust (& a giveaway, too).

Lemon pie with ginger shortbread cookie crust PLUS a Duchy Originals giveaway!

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. “Lemon pie? In February?” It might seem like a warm-weather dish, but this isn’t. Trust me. Want to know why?

Because of the crust.

I mean, winter is citrus season anyway, so you can use all those Meyer lemons instead of just starting at them in that pretty bowl on your table (not that I speak from experience). But it’s really the crust. The crust is made from Duchy Originals stem ginger shortbread; meaning it’s warm & spicy. Yes, the filling is cool & refreshing, as lemon is, but the crust gives it a new spin. It’s NOT a lemon meringue pie, it’s not quite a full-on icebox pie, and it’s not just a lemon cream pie. It’s somewhere in the middle. Clowns to the left, jokers to the right.

A lemon pie & ginger shortbread cookie crust made with Duchy Originals stem ginger shortbread cookies (plus a giveaway!)

That’s the pie sans the mess o’ whipped cream I piled on it. It’s even pretty that way, isn’t it?

It’s pretty amazing. And simple. I reserved some cookie crumbs from the crust & sprinkled them on top.  You could also use some finely chopped candied ginger,  but a piece of candied lemon zest would work too.

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Peach bourbon black walnut crostata.

Peach bourbon black walnut crostata; the lazy woman's dessert.

Also known as: “The Lazy Woman’s Dessert.” No, but seriously. It’s an amazingly easy thing to make. It’s a pie without being a pie. A pie without the fancy fuss of a pie. A tart without being too perfect. You don’t even have to make a pie crust look pretty for this.

Also… literally, I had no clever puns for the title of this post. But this crostata doesn’t really need one, it speaks for itself. Fresh, juicy peaches, chopped black walnuts, a little Blanton’s bourbon with sugar & a rough-edged pie crust come together to make a heavenly dessert.

As a matter of fact… I don’t even have a recipe, really.

Peach bourbon black walnut crostata.

There was no way I was going to post this at all, actually. I made it because I received another large box of peaches & nectarines right after canning up all the rest of those gorgeous Washington State peaches. So I figured before I got into more canning, I’d bake something up. I threw it together in no time at all, totally winging it. Listen- I follow recipes for things all the time. I put up jar after jar of jams, fruit & pickles & I follow cake recipes; 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon this, 1 cup that. Sometimes I like to just go wild & crazy & throw some things together to see if it’ll work out. And it just so happens it usually does, and this time it was pretty enough visually. Anyway, I took some photos (because I take photos of everything I make- true story), and posted a little picture on Facebook & Instagram.

All of a sudden… I had a ton of requests for the recipe. Really?

Okay. Except there isn’t one.

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This little pie is the apple of my eye.

This pie is something I made after seeing a beautiful French apple tart David Lebovitz posted on his Instagram page. The apples had been cut into roses, and placed on top of a tart dough. It looked as if there was something else underneath the apples, but I couldn’t quite tell. It was stunning. The presentation alone was enough to make someone who didn’t even like pie want to dive right in.

Or at the very least it made me want to take a closer look!

As soon as I saw it, I thought it’d make a fantastic Valentine’s Day dish. Simple, easy, fairly healthy (all things considered) with very few basic ingredients… yet insanely impressive looking. It ends up looking like one of those things you learn in culinary school. And of course, I had these little tart pans I bought & never used, so I thought I’d make little individual rosey apple pies. Or tarts.

Apples contain a lot of symbolism, especially when it comes to love, sex & seduction, which make it perfect for the upcoming holiday of love. We all know what the apple really was in the Bible, don’t we?

Its association with knowledge is an allusion to the revelatory states described by some shamans and users of psychedelic mushrooms.[3][4][5] At times artists would co-opt the apple, as well as other religious symbology, whether for ironic effect or as a stock element of symbolic vocabulary. Thus, secular art as well made use of the apple as symbol of love and sexuality. It is often an attribute associated with Venus who is shown holding it.

-Wikipedia

Rosy cheeks is commonly a complimentary term. Plus, the old saying, “the apple of my eye” clearly means that you’re looking upon someone favorably. So the apple has long been attached to the sweeter side of life… however because of that, it’s also been tied to the lure of the not-so-sweet; i.e. in fairy tales such as Snow White.

But for our purposes, let’s just keep it happy… & rosy.

“COMING UP ROSES” MINI APPLE TARTS (OR PIES…)

Ingredients:

  • 1 batch pie crust dough (enough for one 9″ circle or whatever tart or pie pan(s) you’re using)
  • 5-6 apples (Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Macintosh or a combo) cored and sliced paper thin but NOT peeled (again, amount of apples depends on pan size/amount of pans)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375° F. Press your prepared pie crust into the pan or pie plate you’re using. You can use individual pie or tart tins as I did, a full-size pie plate, a full-size round tart pan or a rectangular tart pan.
  2. In a bowl, combine the super-thinly sliced apples with the lemon juice, butter, sugar & cinnamon, tossing to coat. Put them in the microwave for 10-20 seconds to soften them enough so they bend without snapping. Using them in order of size, make roses using the slices. I found it easier with the small tart pans to start from the outside and work my way inside to the center, but with larger pans or a pie plate you’d have to start from the center coil & work outwards. For small tarts, make one rose per pan, for larger pans make as many as you can fit/as many apples as you have. If you have extra slices, roll them in little coils & stick them in between the large roses (only if you’re making one large pie or tart). Alternately, if you want to, or need to, you can make leaves out of extra dough to fill in empty spots. Just use a cookie cutter or knife to cut the shape, brush with some egg and stick around the roses.
  3. Once you’re done, bake the pie or tart for 30 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown and cooked through. Remove from the oven, allow to cool until room temperature, and serve with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar. A side of whipped cream works too.

I’m telling you, this is not as hard as it looks or sounds. Yes, it takes time. Of course it does- you’re rolling thin apple slices into rose petals! But it’s not hard. It takes some patience, though, for sure. And you might have to re-zap them in the microwave to soften them again as you go along. You want them very soft & pliable, not crisp. Basically you want them the opposite of how you’d typically prefer your apples.

You can also make these into individual apple-rose garnishes by rolling the slices in a long strip of pie crust dough, then baking it until they’re golden. Just lay the strip down, brush it with egg white, and lay the slices next to one another, facing the same way (skin side up, cut side down). Make sure that they’re slightly overlapping. Then gently start to roll it from the edge, and when it’s all rolled just use some more egg white to “seal” the pastry to itself. Then bake. I’d say on a cookie sheet, at 325° or 350° until browned. You can then use them on top of cupcakes, or on top of an apple pie, etc.

And don’t worry- imperfection isn’t a bad thing. Nothing is perfect in nature, anyway, so as long as it even vaguely resembles a rose… you’re good! Mine aren’t that perfect.

Also, I’m aware this is not apple season. But you can still get some beautiful apples at the supermarket or local fruit markets for a decent price. Or, maybe you’ve got some in cold storage that you can use. Either way, it’d be a shame to miss out on making these gorgeous little pies… tarts… whatever. A combination of different colored apples would make for beautiful roses. You could even toss some Granny Smith’s in there if you like, maybe on the inner coils. For me, one Gala apple made roughly FOUR roses that perfectly fit in my mini-tart pans, which are almost 3″ in diameter. This will vary based on the variety & size of your apples, obviously, so I’d err on the side of buying more apples than you think you’ll need.

‘Cause really, you can never have too many pommes.

 

The ‘I-don’t-like-pears’ honeyed pear tarts.

Nor’easter Athena, or Winter Storm Athena, hit New York, New Jersey & Connecticut this past week. She was supposed to be rain/slushy mix with high winds for the city & surrounding areas with light snow further inland leading to deeper snow at the far interior; she ended up being around 6 inches of snow for the city. Seriously. First a hurricane… or should I say, “superstorm;” the likes of which we’ve never seen before. And then a goddamn snowstorm. I don’t know. I give up.

Now you tell me there’s nothing crazy going on with climate change.

Ugh. I hate snow. This photo was taken at around 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, before an additional 4+ inches was loaded on. The worst part, though, is that there are families- incuding people I know- living without power & heat. Some of them even in damaged or compromised homes or apartments, tarps on the roof or broken doors & windows. And it snowed. On top of everything else! Did I mention I hate snow?

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Speaking of things I hate, pears & I don’t mix. I might have told you before… I just don’t like pears. I’ve tried. I really tried to like them. They’re so cute!

And they look so similar to apples, and have such a similar skin & flesh texture, that I try really hard to enjoy them. But ultimately I don’t, and I just have to accept that. I’ll never be a fan of ginger pear white tea, I’ll never like pear tarts and I’ll never, ever like eating one straight. However, I’m a sucker for fresh produce… pears and apples look so pretty together!

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But you have to know your audience. So when you’re making a dinner for people who do like pears, and you had some pears sitting around that you had bought for a great price, despite not liking them… then you come up with a dessert featuring those pears. Preferably a quick & simple dessert that doesn’t require a lot of work. Something rustic-looking, something rough around the edges, and something that I can throw together in five minutes.

So this is what I came up with. Sugared & honeyed pear tarts.

I thought of those quick & easy stone fruit galettes I made over the summer, and decided if it worked for peaches & plums, it’d work for pears too. And of course, despite it being extremely easy, and lacking an in-depth explanation… I thought I’d share it with you.

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It’s simple, really. Practically makes itself. The longest part is peeling the pears.

Get some frozen puff pastry* and take it out to thaw. Get your pears, wash ‘em and peel ‘em. Then cut them in half, and cut out the bottom core and scrape out the inside seed/core part of each. A melon baller can make this easy, but a small teaspoon works too. Remember- each pear makes 2 tarts. It’s cool to leave the stems on like I did, but you can also remove them if you want. Set the pears aside. Prepare a baking sheet by covering it with a sheet of parchment paper. Then take your thawed puff pastry and cut it into rectangles, sizing them so that the pear halves fit just right. Brush each piece with a little honey, then place your pears on top. Brush the pears with honey, and bake at 375° degrees F until the pastry is “puffed” around the pears and golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.

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Remove the tarts from the oven, then let them cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet. Remove from the sheet and plate them. Drizzle with honey, sift some powdered sugar on top, and serve with whipped cream or ice cream while still warm.

Bam. Easy fall dessert.

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Alternately, you can hollow the insides of the pears out even more and put some goat cheese or mascarpone cheese in the middle before placing them on the pastry, to make a kind of filling. Maybe add some sliced almonds, too. You can also drizzle it with melted chocolate or homemade caramel instead of honey. I like the sugar sprinkled over the top… it’s like snow.

You can use pretty much any fruit, and this is a dessert that can be made any time of year. Like I said, I did it before with sliced plums & peaches; you can also use apples. Of course it’s pear season now, but I think you still might be able to get some plums, and some apples, so use what you like. You can also cut the pastry into a pear shape, and decorate it with a puff pastry leaf at the top, to make it fancier. Or slice the pear from the bottom almost all the way to the top, cutting it into six or seven slices leaving the stem part intact, and then fan it out slightly over the puff pastry. And you can basically use any kind of pear you want, because you’re not cutting them up too much, they won’t turn to mush. If you decide to use apples, then you have to use a good baking apple (Gala, Golden Delicious, Rome, etc). But with pears, it shouldn’t matter much, so use whatever ones you like that are in season: Anjou (Red or Green), Bartletts (Red or Green; although I think they’re gone by now), Bosc, Concorde, or Forelle. I can’t really remember what mine were.

I told you, I don’t like pears.

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*You can most definitely use homemade puff pastry as well. I’m just not one for attacking people or coming down on them for not using local fruit & organic unbleached whole wheat pastry flour or for using frozen short-cuts now & then. Life is hard enough, don’t make it more complicated than it is. Pastry should be fun & delicious- not snobby enough to make you feel like you want to cry. Make it however you like! No judgment here.

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