24 July 2010

i dont make pretty desserts, i make yummy ones.

but first: 
i can't help it. i love eggs. for awhile i was careful not to eat them all the time b.c there were the reports that you shouldn't eat too many eggs for fear of high cholesterol. then i was told that that could be ignored...i'm still careful, i don't eat them every meal or everyday for that matter, but there's at least 3 meals a week that use eggs as a center piece. thursday i went to the store and wanted greens, black beans and poached eggs. so i got turnip greens, cut out the stems and chopped them. threw some oil and garlic into a pan. once hot, i threw in the turnip greens. after the greens wilted i threw in a can of black beans and a few shakes of cayenne pepper. i let it all meld together then poached two eggs, threw the beans and greens into bowl, put the eggs on top and salted and peppered it. yum. turnip greens are bitter people. bitter. they need lots of salt. probs more than i put on them....

now...the the main attraction of this post...a spanish custard berry tart. we had a cast dinner party/line thru (we have a show tonight and we didnt have rehearsal all week so we needed to make sure we remembered our lines!) and we decided to have a spanish themed dinner. we had home made paella and i made a tart. man was it good but man was it ugly. i dont think i let the puff pastry thaw enough and i, for sure, should have pulled the pastry up and over the edge of the spring form. had i done that i would have been able to attach the lattice puff pastry pieces to the other pastry. what happened was the lattice pieces fell into the berry topping and sort of sank into the tart.  i also took the tart out maybe 10 min early - it could have cooked a little longer to make the pastry a little more puffy...make sense?  it was really good, you should try it. (ps. it weighs like 5 pounds...cra-zy)

Berry Topping
(recipe adapted from about.com)
  • 2 pints blueberries
  • 1/2 pint blackberries
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
rinse fruit and remove stems. put fruit in a medium saucepan and pour sugar over.  heat to medium-high and stir to mix the sugar in with the fruit.  let berries release their juices (oh the sweet nectar found inside a piece of fruit...) stir often so that the mix doesnt burn.  reduce heat and simmer until the juice thickens and fruit cooks.  this took maybe 15/20 min. you can really use whatever berries you want, just make sure you have at least 2 - 3 cups.)

spanish custard and berry filled tart
(again adapted from about.com)
  • 2 cups berry filling (recipe above is proper amount)
  • butter to coat the pan
  • 2 sheets puff pastry (1 pkg 17 oz puff pastry)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch (i really wanted to substitute this...but i didnt)
  • 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
  • 2 egg whites
prepare the berry filling - set aside to let cool to room temp before adding it to the tart.

remove the puff pastry and allow to thaw (10/15 min). using your hands (i love getting messy when i bake/cook) coat 8-in spring form with the butter. i bet you could just use a tall pie dish too - it just has to be at least 2 inches deep. line the cake with the puff pastry, trimming the edges to fit the pan and pressing the pastry into the corners and prick the bottom w. a fork. (this is where i urge u to make sure that the pastry reaches up and over the edges of the pan).

set pan aside and second sheet of pastry until ready to cut. you are going to make a lattice top bu cutting strips 1/1 1/2 inches thick. later of course.
measure and sift flour and cornstarch to use later.
heat over to 360F (160C)
while the oven was heating, prepare the custard. pour all but 1/4 cup of the milk into a medium-size heavy bottom pan and add the cinnamon stick. bring milk just to the boiling point then remove from heat and set aside.
in a large mixing bow, beat the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns light yellow and has a smooth texture. add flour  and corn starch to the eggs and beat with a hand mixer on medium/high. add the 1/4 cup o f milk and continue to mix until smooth and creamy. 
remove the cinnamon stick from the milk. while stirring constantly, pour about one third of the warm milk into the egg mixture. once milk has mixed throughly with the eggs, slowly pour in the rest of the milk, while stirring constantly.  transfer the mixture into a large sauce pan and heat on medium, stirring continuously. bring to a boil and allow to boil for just 30 seconds, then remove from the heat immediately and pour into the spring form pan with the puff pastry crust.

NOTE: if lumps begin to form in the custard while heating, us a hand mixer on a low speed to break up the lumps. (i had to do this almost immediately but it makes it hard to realize the boiling, so pay attention!)

pour the berry topping over the custard filling and spread evenly. cut the other pastry sheet into strips about 1 inch thick and as wide as the springform and lay them across the top in a lattice pattern - or whatever you think that looks like. beat the egg whites in a small bowl. brush them over the crust.
place in hot oven in the middle rack. bake for 30 - 35 min. remove and allow to cool for at least 20 min before serving. if tart will not be eaten w. in 2 hours, refrigerate. bring to room temp. before serving.
it was fun to make this tart - it take a bit or time and focus...and if your tart turns out looking like mine (man i wish i could show it to you - it was u-g-l-y and had NO alibi) just say to yourself: i don't make pretty desserts, i make yummy ones. at the end of the day, its the taste that matters.


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