Saturday, May 22, 2010

What's Next?

I've been getting this question a lot lately. So much so that I just might scream. Obviously the thing to ask someone when they graduate college is what next? If I had a concrete answer, I may not dislike the question so much, but rambling on about lifeguarding, and wishful thinking about a move to Brooklyn in the near further doesn't really make a fantastic impression on people. Never the less, I'm sure you are all wondering the same thing and since Kate asked me the other day anyway, I might as well put the question to rest.

In June, I'll be traveling for 3 weeks through South Caucasus with a quick weekend in Hungary on my way home. After that, I'll be back in New York lifeguarding for the summer (hello tan) and looking for a real job - something with the (sustainable?) food industry, maybe a magazine or something developing/writing about recipes, basically whatever I can find. I'm also taking a web design class because there are so many things I want to do with this blog and I just have no idea how to do any of them.
Anyway, back to June and traveling because it's way more exciting than my lack of a job. I've been thinking for a little while how I'm going to handle this blog while I'm away. I will not have my computer with me, but my friend Jocelyn will. Internet, however, will be spotty. I also don't want to get too bogged down with it, so my posts will be sporadic. They will probably change from recipes to something more like a food review and of course pictures whenever I can. They may be cell phone pictures published directly from flickr, but hey, I do what I can.
Even though I have 2 memory cards, I'm going to have to dump the pictures off my camera at least once, so hopefully I'll have internet at that time and I'll post a few real pictures.
I've also added this neat little Current Location widget on the left side of this page so that you can see what city I'm in and follow my trip. I should be able to update this as well as twitter from my blackberry but, again, I'm not sure how much network coverage I will have. I guess what I'm trying to say is those three weeks will be a bit up in the air so just bare with me okay? Once thing I can promise is I will take a ton of pictures, eat lots of delicious things and share both with you when I return.
Now back to May, I have a completely unrelated recipe to share. I made this raspberry fruit tart last Saturday and it was quite a hit.
Before you write this off as a complicated tart with a fussy dough just read it through, I promise its so much quicker and simpler than you think.
I used my favorite french tart dough because it's beyond easy (read: no food processor, chilling, or rolling pin) and reliably delicious. It's recipe adapted from Paule Caillat of Promenades Gourmandes via David Lebovitz. I followed David's version exactly so I won't rewrite it, instead you can just click here

The most complicated part was the pastry cream, but really, even that was easy. I don't know why people make such a fuss about pastry cream. I did have a small panic attack when the I added the tempered egg mixture back to the heat and it became lumpy but, as soon as I took a whisk to it, it smoothed out nicely.

For the fruit you can really use any berry that you like or a combination of berries and kiwi. No apples or melon - that might be a little weird. I planned on doing mixed berries but at the last second decided on just red raspberries.
Lucky me, I had exactly 1/2 cup left of homemade red currant jelly that a friend (hi Sandy!) gave me earlier in the year. I used that for the glaze - don't you just love when things work out like that? I swear it makes my whole day.The pastry cream can be made a day or two in advance and stored in the refrigerator. Make sure to place saran-wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to keep a skin from forming. The tart shell can also be baked the day before, I stored mine in the tart pan, wrapped in saran-wrap, inside my covered cake platter. Whatever you do, do not fill and glaze the tart until you are ready to serve it. I had to put mine together about 3 hours ahead of time and it turned out fine, but I wouldn't suggest too much longer than that.

Raspberry Fruit Tart
Makes 1 9-inch tart

1 pre-baked french tart shell
1 batch pastry cream (see below)
2-3 pints red raspberries
1/2 cup red currant jelly

To assemble the tart: 
 Spread cold pastry cream over bottom of the cooled tart shell, using offset spatula or large spoon. Arrange fruit on top of the cream following a design if you like. I just filled every possible space with a raspberry.

To glaze the tart:
Bring jelly to boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to smooth out lumps. When boiling and completely melted, apply by dabbing and flicking onto fruit with pastry brush; add 1 teaspoon water and return jelly to boil if it becomes too thick to drizzle. (Tart can be refrigerated, uncovered up to 3 or 4 hours). Remove outer metal ring of tart pan, slide thin metal spatula between bottom of crust and tart pan bottom to release, then slip tart onto cardboard round or serving platter; serve.

Pastry Cream
From Cooks Illustrated / Makes enough for 1 9-inch tart.
Chalazae are cordlike strands of egg white protein that are attached to the yolks—removing them with your fingers is easy and eliminates the need to strain the pastry cream after cooking. 

2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup granulated sugar
pinch table salt
5 large egg yolks , chalazae removed (see headnote)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (cold), cut into 4 pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Heat half-and-half, 6 tablespoons sugar, and salt in medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar.

Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks in medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and whisk until sugar has begun to dissolve and mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds. Whisk in cornstarch until combined and mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.

When half-and-half mixture reaches full simmer, gradually whisk simmering half-and-half into yolk mixture to temper. Return mixture to saucepan, scraping bowl with rubber spatula; return to simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until 3 or 4 bubbles burst on surface and mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds. Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla. Transfer mixture to medium bowl, press plastic wrap directly on surface, and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours or up to 48 hours.

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