Tarting up February!

mmmm, CRUST!

I like to think I know myself pretty well, in terms of food-type oddities and  proclivities. As such, I know that February irritates me. It’s such a bleh month in the middle of everything, and there is a distinct lack of interesting produce. I’ve already gone nuts over squash, waaaay back in the fall… I love sweet potatoes but I eat them all the time anyway…and there is a depressing amount of fruit available. As in, local and seasonal fruit, if you please (Besides, strawberries in winter just look sad. All pale and anemic. I would much rather eat them in the summer, thankyouverymuch).

BUT.

I discovered a solution to this problem.

Waaay back in September, over Labor Day weekend, I procured some fresh peaches (thanks, Dave Lakey!). I fought the urge to eat them immediately, and instead sliced them up and threw them into the freezer. All neat and nicely labeled, I was determined that they would remain in there, until the dead of winter (aka February), when nothing grows and I was itching for some summer fruit. Genius, clearly.

Over the weekend, when I spent a bit more time thinking about/researching/drooling over pie and tart recipes than actually thesising, I realized the time for peaches had arrived! And oooooh was that a good decision…

THIS. Is what happened.

peeeeachesss!

Fresh peaches in February! Can you ask for anything better? It’s like summer in a bite. And a healthy bite, no less! The crust has healthy fats from olive and canola oil, and the custard is made with yogurt instead of cream. And fruit is the most important part! It’s totally justifiable to have this for breakfast.

okay, so the pictures of this weren't super fantastic... but the crust was beautiful! clearly my favorite part.

Peach Custard Tart

Crust is slightly adapted from the Garden of Eden blog, and the custard is adapted from Eating Well, here. Makes one 11” tart.

For the crust (most low maintenance tart crust EVER):

  • 1.5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1/4 c canola oil
  • 2 tbsp milk of some kind (I used plain soymilk)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a bowl, stir together flour, salt, and sugar (no need to sift). In another small bowl, whisk together olive and canola oil, milk, and vanilla extract until combined. Add liquid into dry, and gently stir until just combined (be careful not to overstir). Gather this up and plunk it down into your tart pan (in the absence of a tart pan, a pie dish is fine)… then flatten the dough on the bottom and up the sides by pressing gently with the flats of your fingers (this is the fun part!). Try to get it to an even thickness all around and up the sides, about 1/8″.

messy, but delicious.

For the filling!

  • 4-5 peaches, sliced (mine were frozen. I ran them under cool water until I could separate them into slices, but didn’t defrost the completely to prevent peach mush)
  • 3/4 c turbinado sugar
  • 3/4 c lowfat plain yogurt*
  • 3/4 c milky beverage (soymilk again for me)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp organic cornstarch
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

*The original recipe called for greek yogurt… but Kira and I, being the frugal/practical types that we are, decided to try it with regular yogurt, since that was what we had on hand. Excellent decision, as it turned out deeelicious. Either type is fine!

This is ridiculously easy: dump all the above ingredients in a bowl (except peaches), and whisk until smooth. See? Easy.

I told you the crust was pretty!

Preheat the oven to 400. Arrange the peaches around the bottom of the crust (they don’t have to look pretty). Pour the custard over the top, and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cover the edges with foil to prevent excess browning (I did a rather ineffectual job, but I like the rather caramelized edges, so… not a big deal!). Reduce oven temperature to 350, and pop it back into the oven for another 40 minutes to an hour. Mine was done at about an hour and 10 minutes—I checked it at 40, and then put it back in for 15 minute intervals. You want a knife to come out clean when inserted into the center. Let cool before eating, about an hour and a half, to make sure the custard has time to set.

This is EXCELLENT cold. In fact, I think it might be better cold the next day, once the flavors have had a chance to get to know each other. It is also excellent with a blob of vanilla ice cream, of course.

uh oh... evidence!

Tart-tastic Antioxidants!

mmm, antioxidants!

I’m feeling less than creatively humorous today…It must be on account of all of the holiday sweets I’ve been consuming lately. Oops. Whatever, that’s not stopped me from baking like a crazy! Really, does anything ever stop me? … Correct answer: No.

BUT.

Bring on the healthy (ish) dessert! I win, I win!! Delicious AND nutritious (or hey, I can at least tell myself that, right?!). I sort of needed a break from all of the layer cakes. A short break, mind you, but a break none the less. In comes the tart! This tart is sort of a combination of a rice pudding and a tart crust, but it’s vegan! Which is awesome, as I’d like to get into more vegan baking (I find it intriguing). Besides, I LOVE rice pudding, and this definitely qualifies. It’s also really akin to a sticky rice dessert, which I ALSO LOVE (are we seeing a trend here?!), which therefore also makes it delicious.

On the nutritious side, it has a mostly minimal amount of fat in it—coconut oil is good for you, anyway! It also is made with black rice (sometimes known as Forbidden Rice, as only the emperor of China was allowed to eat it for the benefit of his longevity), which has more of the antioxidant antohcyanin than blueberries! It’s high in fiber, iron, and an excellent source of minerals. AND Kind of can’t go wrong, when I’m eating antioxidants for dessert! No wonder the emperor was so protective of his rice. But the common people have it now, so ha! Besides all that, it is a gorgeous purple color. Which makes my eyes AND my stomach happy. Everyone wins. Including the gremlins that hang out in my stomach, as we know they loooove color.

But wait. There is even more nutritionalness to be found in this dessert! The crust is made with whole grains and cashews (which contain the same oleic acid–monounsaturated fatty acid found in olive oil), and coconut oil, which is insanely good for you (the lauric acid is an antioxidant, among a million other things).

Okaaayyy. Enough with the nutrition lesson. I just really had to convince you how good this is for you… so that you’ll go home and make it. It’s fab, you won’t regret it. And then eat a slice. Or two. Or five. And revel in the fact that you’re making your body happy! It will thank you later :)

mmm, antioxidants

Black Rice Tart

From NeverHomeMaker, original here! (and their blog is fab, check it out!). Makes one tart.

For the crust:

  • 1/3 c raw cashews
  • 1/2 c rolled oats
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c coconut oil (because it’s good for youuu!)
  • 1/8 tsp/a pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp lavender (we grow our own)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For the sticky rice

  • 2 c water
  • 1 c black rice, uncooked
  • 1/3 c maple syrup
  • 1 can of coconut milk (I used light from Trader Joe’s and it turned out fine!)
  • 1/3 c unsweetened coconut flakes

Whatcha do!

Preheat the oven to 325, and lightly grease a tart pan (or a pie dish—my tart pan is in Salem, so that’s what I used).

In a food processor, process the cashews and 1/4 c rolled oats until finely ground. Add the rest of the oats, lavender and salt, pulsing to combine. I left some slightly larger chunks. Pour into a medium sized bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the coconut oil. Once melted, stir in vanilla and brown sugar, and simmer over a low flame for 2 to 3 minutes. Mine looked weirdly separated/congealed, but turned out fine. Pour the hot syrup over the dry ingredients, and combine thoroughly. Press the crust into your pan of choice, making sure to cover the bottom and go up the sides a ways. Bake for 5 minutes, then let cool. When cool enough, let it set in the refrigerator.

While the crust is cooling, start the water for the rice. When it boils, add rice, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Add coconut milk, maple syrup, and coconut flakes, and continue to cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes more. I stirred continuously (it makes for meditative thinking time, hehe), but I’m not entirely sure this is necessary—occasional stirring would likely be okay. Transfer the pudding to a bowl, and let cool. Chill briefly in the fridge before using. Once chilled, pour the pudding into the tart shell, and chill until serving. I topped mine with more shredded coconut.

It was deeeelicous! Mine had a little trouble coming out of the dish cleanly—my crust was rather sticky. Next time… more coconut oil to grease the dish. It was a bit more like a crumble than a tart slice, but ridiculously tasty nonetheless, so I wasn’t complaining ;)

Operation Release the Tart!

Finals?

What finals?

I’ve come to the conclusion (through careful analysis and methodological research) that I spend far more time baking, cooking, and planing what I’m going to bake and cook than I do actually studying. Oops. Whatever, I did well on my finals, so there! Besides, at least I know where my priorities are… food. And prohibitively (or not…apparently this isn’t stopping me) expensive active wear. As a close friend pointed out, I have been known to drop semi-ridiculous amounts on a pair of yoga pants, but there is no way on this earth that I would ever spend that same amount on a pair of jeans. Ha. Like I said, I have my priorities.

Anyway. To illustrate this ridiculousness (no, not the yoga pants…anyone who sees me on a regular basis is fully aware that they comprise a good 75% of my wardrobe), I’ll give you the example of *the * tart. I’ve been eyeing my tart pan with a removable bottom (a genius invention, might I add) for about three months. And thinking about it, likely when I should have been paying attention to some theory or other. Thusly: Kira and I stumbled upon a tart in my La Boulange cookbook, that combined several of our favorite ingredients, and which looked like it could fly us to gastronomical heaven in about one bite.

gorgey dough

So. On Sunday, when we went grocery shopping, we bought the necessaries… goat cheese… creme fraiche… mushrooms… and BUTTER. (and hilariously ran into my painting professor, who then subsequently remembered that I bought creme fraiche, and asked  me if I was eating my way through the store. Duh. What on earth would I be doing instead?!) I have spent ALL WEEK up until today greedily awaiting the tart to be, to the point of pretending it was Thursday (aka Tart-Day), so I could make it earlier. But… I waited! Aren’t you proud? I satisfied myself with making the dough yesterday, so I could pretend to do something useful and productive besides studying. I did this after going to happy hour at the Wild Pear for a Peartini… And then I made dinner. And then I was tired, so I went to bed. Hmm. Being a senior is mildly exhausting. Teehee.

ANYWAYYY. I digress. Today was THURSDAY! TART DAY! The day I’ve been waiting for alllllll week, since my finals/semester is donezies (wheee!), and I got to make and eat this fab tart. And it was fab, believe me… Kira can attest, since after we ate it, we had to do some serious lying on the floor working on digesting. It was that good. I mean, I know it sounds a little sketchy, but just trust me. Such a gastronomical tasty win. Even better: We have TWO tupperwares of leftovers. Hellooooo, cold tart. Mmmm, you are going to be so delicious when I eat you. For every meal. Until you’re gone. At which point I will be terribly sad but probably also day-dreaming about the next gastronomical adventure. I’m just fickle like that.

creme fraiche is a beautiful thing

Tarte aux Champignons et Fromage de Chevre

From The American Boulangerie Cookbook. Makes… one tart, in an 11″ tart pan (or you could make smaller ones).

I found it easier to make the dough the night before, and then roll it out and put in the pan, so that it was ready to fill the night we wanted to eat it. Makes the dinner a little simpler.

Pate Brisee

  • 2.5 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 5 oz (10 tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4″ chunks (I happened to use sweet cream butter and it was still amazing—it was what we had around)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 c cold water
  • 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

In the bowl of a standmixer (hello Kitchenaide I LOVE YOU!) fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour and salt. Add cold butter and mix on low speed, until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs (1-1.5 minutes). Add egg, cold water, and lemon juice, and mix until large lumps form. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead with the heel of your hand until the dough holds together. Shape it into a disc, and wrap it in plastic wrap (I stuck in a plastic bag). Refrigerate for at least and hour or overnight. I did mine for an hour and then rolled it out.

On  lightly floured work surface, roll out chilled dough (this is probably sacrilegious to the baking gods, but I zapped mine in the microwave next to a bowl of water for 15 seconds, to get it a little less dry to roll out. It seemed to work, and didn’t compromise the flakiness of the dough later). Try to roll it out to about 1/8″ thickness, and carefully transfer to the tart pan. Remove excess, and prick the bottom with a fork. Cover with foil or plastic, and refrigerate for an hour or overnight (mine was overnight).

The TART!

  • 1 pound mushrooms (we used half cremini and half white button)
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 c creme fraiche
  • 8 oz log of goat cheese, cut crosswise into 1/4″ rounds (ish, mine were inexact) (we also used a honey chevre, which was aaaaa-mazing)
  • 1 chilled, unbaked tart shell

Slice the mushrooms, reserving the 12 prettiest slices for a garnish. In a large saute pan, melt butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute mushrooms until they render their juices, and then until most of the juice is absorbed. Ours had a bit too much juice, so we drained them prior to use. Season with salt and pepper and let cool.

Preheat the oven to 425. Spread 1/2 c of creme fraiche into the bottom of the chilled tart shell. Top it with sauteed mushrooms, and then with the goat cheese rounds. Garnish with the reserved mushroom slices, and then dollop (what a great word) the tart with the remaining 1/4 c of creme fraiche. Bake immediately until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling, 25-30 minutes (ours was more like 30). Let cool in the pan, on a wire rack (do not attempt to release the tart while it’s still hot… it’s a bit difficult, and may require 2 people…) (whatever. we were hungry). Serve with salad and bread, mmmmm.

I am DEFINITELY making this again. As soon as I get my hands on more goat cheese.

it kind of looks like pizza. believe me, it's not.

Chiseling mortar off of a 35 foot chimney…

This is what happens when you do labor on Labor day weekend! You make things to eat afterwards, duh!

Thanks to my lovely course schedule and a little national holiday, I had a four day weekend (hoooorayyy!). I decided to take advantage of the lack of work and lack of homework (what thesis??) to take a trip up to Govy to see Carl and Suz! YAY! Little did I know going in that I would, over the course of the weekend: wash 3 cars, watch the Ducks lose to LSU (We’re just going to pretend this didn’t happen, ok? ok… moving ON!), pick a quart of huckleberries, and chisel mortar off of a 35 foot chimney, after climbing said 35 feet of scaffolding to get up there. Can you say BALLER? Yes. I thought so. Anyway, it was a super fun and relaxing (yes, you read right) weekend… ideally I’ll be repeating it in the near future. (Although if there’s snow, the chimney might be a tad out of the question. ha.) Carl and Suz are probs the best people to stay with… and Whomp kitty is suuuuper cute.

Lookin' fierce with my chisel and Carl! Working hard? Or hardly working?

 

Working hard, obvi!

So.

Let me get back to the food, which is undoubtedly the reason you put up with my blather in the first place (and the whole reason for this blog’s existence… right. anyway.)

After all the exertions of the day, I wanted dessert! And food. But I have to prioritize, right?? Suz had a bunch of Hood River peaches (aww yeeee, locovore!) waiting to be sliced and eaten, so we turned them into a rustic peach galette. It was excellent on its own, but even better with a blob of ice cream! Duh. Like when would I EVER recommend that you eat anything WITHOUT ice cream?! I’m an a la mode girl, obvi. And apparently that’s an inherited trait, since my paternal grandfather is perpetually asking for a la mode. See? It’s in the genes, I’d like to see YOU try to alter your genetics! Ha. So there!

I’m not entirely sure where Suz got the recipe, and I’m adapting it loosely here. It’s insanely flexible—use whatever fruit you have on hand that’s seasonal, or I’m sure frozen would be fine too.

Rustic style

Rustic Peach Galette

For the dough:

2.5 c whole wheat flour (in this case NOT ww pastry flour, but it makes little difference which one you use here)

1 c butter (salted)

3 tbsp brown sugar

2/3 c ice water

scant 1/2 tsp salt

Filling:

A lot of peaches. Essentially however many will fit into your tart.

Sliced almonds are nice.

Vanilla extract.

Brown sugar. Flour.

Combine flour, sugar, and butter. Cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse sand (I find that your fingers are most effective for this). Add egg and ice water, and mold into a ball. Cover and let sit in the fridge while you go pick huckleberries (or something… not to rub it in, heheh).

Slice lots of peaches. Or other fruit. Or whatever is going in the middle of your tart. Galette. Whatever.

All sprinkled

After dough has chilled a bit, roll/flatten/rustically stretch your dough out so that it’s big enough to contain your filling. I crimped the edges on mine to hold it all in, but you can make a more traditional galette and pull the edges up and over the filling if you like.

Pile your peaches in a tasty-looking heap in the center of the dough, and sprinkle with almonds, brown sugar, vanilla, and a bit of flour. Toss your filling just a bit and then sprinkle the top with more sugar and a few more almonds/vanilla. I’m not giving measurements for these because a) this tart is supposed to be RUSTIC, and b) I actually didn’t measure when Suz and I made these, and c) if I told you how to do everything it would be boring! Anyway. Sprinkle away, to your heart’s content. When you’re done sprinkling…

Place galette (s) on a lightly greased/oiled cookie sheet, and bake until juices are bubbly and the crust is golden brown. Ours were probably somewhere between 30 and 45 minutes (Sorry for the inexactness, I was off doing other fun things and not really paying all that much attention). Still. They’re delicious! Not too sweet, and perfect for breakfast or a late afternoon snack. The flavor of the peaches really comes out, so make sure whatever fruit you use is super fresh and ripe!

Enjoy your rustic galette, in all of its lovely rusticness. It’s so rustic, the recipe is unspecific. Rather nice, don’t you think? Definitely a forgiving recipe—it would be easy to play around with it.

Happy 4 day work week, YAYY!