Saturday, April 9, 2011

Where Did all the Fruits Go?


     Yes, the fruits. Stop thinking bad thoughts, of course I mean the fruits that come from plants and trees (note the picture of strawberries). When was the last time I had a fruit? I don't even know. Fruits just never seem to strike me as necessary grocery shopping. Veggies, always, meat, most always, and a random variety of things (kidney beans, spices, and all that) - but fruits just never seem to factor in.

     It's a good thing that DL (who is visiting from New Zealand) feels differently. He buys fruit! There is fruit in the house again! And, I have actually eaten some. Why? (I mean, there shouldn't be reason, but there is, so now I am making a question for it - don't judge.) Well, the reason is: I made it into a tart! Which also makes me sound like some awful person who hates fruit. I don't hate fruit, just in the winter – and this rainy gloomy time which feels like winter – fruits just don't feel Right the way they do in the summer. And, a lot of them just look plain sad. 

     But anyway, DL bought a huge box of strawberries. In fact, they did end up looking kind of sad because they were just sitting in our fridge uneaten and they were getting very very ripe, i.e. very soft and squishy. So, I felt the need to use some of them up. A great need which, happily enough, gave me a very good excuse to procrastinate studying for a physics quiz. And how did I fulfill this need? I made strawberry tart. Not a fancy, takes a lot of time strawberry tart, but a rustic free form one I found on The Kitchen Sink Recipes (I love this blog! Yay food blogs!).

     And, somehow, I managed to not get even one clear picture of the whole tart. So, you will have to see these different parts of it: filling, a little bit of crust, and the sauce I made from the juices left behind. I told you my strawberries were super squishy, so they oozed a lot of liquid and falling apart bits which would have left my tart all soggy. So, after putting all the firm strawberries on the tart, I used some leftover Blackberry Izze which was in the fridge (left by visitors I'm assuming - and whatever, I boiled it off so I'm sure there are no germs, stop giving me looks) and combined it with the strawberry juices and honey to make a lovely sauce. It went super well with the brownies we had courtesy DL.

     I love free form tarts. For one thing, it only took me about two minutes to mix up the dough. While it chilled in the fridge, making the filling only involved chopping up some strawberries and mixing them with a few other things. I was supposed to take my time laying the strawberries in concentric circles onto the dough, which I was supposed to have rolled out nicely so there would be a two inch space around the berries that I could crimp into perfect tart-ness. Of course that didn't happen. I did have a quiz to study for, after all - and I'm lazy. I also don't have a rolling pin, so I used my water bottle to get the dough pretty flat (but not very round) and then just kind of squished it up around the strawberries (which I just dumped onto the dough). I also forgot to egg wash the edges. Was there any harm done? Of course not. The strawberries were perfect, the dough was just slightly sweet, and overall it tasted like the kind of dessert you want to have around: light, homey, delicious, but not heavy or unhealthy in the least. Hurrah for fruits!

Free-Form Strawberry Tart
Adapted from The Kitchen Sink Recipes Adapted from Cooking Light

For the Dough: 

1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/8 tsp Salt
1 1/2 tbsp Butter, cut into Small pieces
2 tbsp Ice Water

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Mix the butter into the flour with your hands, crumbling together until there are not large butter bits left and it looks like "coarse meal." Add the ice water, a little at a time, until the dough is moist and holds together. You may need less than the 2 tbsp of water, so don't dump it all in. Then, turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead it a few times. Roll it into a ball, and place it between two sheets of plastic wrap (don't wrap it; just put a piece of wrap on the bottom and one on top). Then, use a rolling pin (or water bottle) to roll the dough into an 8'' diameter circle. Place it in the fridge inside the plastic wrap, for 20-30 minutes until it is firm and the wrap will come away from it easily.

For the Tart: 
1 cup Strawberries, Sliced
1/8 cup Sugar (my strawberries were not very sweet so I added more sugar than this, if yours are sweet this should be good)
1 tsp Lemon Juice
1/4 tsp Corn Start
Pinch Salt
1 Egg, Lightly Beaten
1 tbsp Sugar

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and heavily butter a baking sheet (or put parchment paper on it). In a medium bowl, mix the berries, sugar, lemon juice, corn starch, and salt and stir everything together. Take the dough out of the fridge and its plastic wrap, and place it on the baking sheet. Arrange the strawberries in concentric circles in the center of the dough, leaving a 2'' border along the edge. Fold the 2'' border over the berries, crimping to make sure there are no holes. Brush the dough (with a pastry brush or your fingers) with the egg, and sprinkle the last 1 tbsp Sugar over the whole tart. Place it in the oven and allow it to bake for about 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

Strawberry Sauce

4 or 5 Very Ripe Strawberries (falling apart) 
3 tbsp Blackberry Izze 
1/2 tbsp Honey 

First, slice and then mush up (with a fork or your hands) the strawberries until they have oozed all their juices and are very little pieces. Then, place them in a small saucepan with the Izze and the honey at medium heat. Stir everything together and allow it to come to a boil. Then, let it simmer until it has thickened perceptibly. Serve on top of brownies or ice cream. Yum.

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