|Tarte aux Fraises (French Tart)|
Every Tuesday I choose a different friend to be my tutor for a day: I select one of their original recipes, I make the recipe following my friend's instructions, I snap a multitude of pictures, I scarf down as much as my belt-line will permit - and then I share everything I love about my friend's recipe. Read more about the details for Tuesday Tutor
Smiley's Kitchen blog. Ismael was one of the first blogs I discovered last year when I returned to blogging after a year's hiatus. Ismael blogs from the heart and shares real food made to be eaten, not just photographed. Every time I drop by Smiley's Kitchen, I'm reminded of why I started blogging - to share what we've learned with others in our own style and voice.
Ismael is fairly private about his personal life, so I'm honored that he has agreed to a feature and agreed to share some personal things about himself. For me, every time I learn something new about a blogger I enjoy following, I feel just a little bit closer to that person. Sort of like learning fun little secrets about a long-time friend that deepen the friendship even further. So take this opportunity to start a friendship with Ismael and Smiley's Kitchen.
About the Author: Fun Facts
- "Working full time and working on a food blog can stretching myself a little thin, but you know what? I think it's really rewarding seeing what you have accomplished and the fact that others appreciate what you have created in the kitchen. Makes my grandmother proud."
- "I really do love to travel. While traveling, it's nice to try new food that I may have never thought had existed or at least I knew of it, but now I get to try it. Tripe soup anyone?? :)"
- "Am the oldest of 3, but come from an extended family of over 150. Yes, we are that big!"
- "Have a recent interest in working with my hands, hence cooking, but have taken up fishing, home remodeling and the outdoors."
- "Have an inner lesbian in me, so I tend to like music from angry females such as Fiona Apple, Mazzy Starr, Amiee Mann, but do love Sarah Mac, Adele and, much recently, Regina Spektor."
|Next comes sugar...|
|...and kosher salt.|
|Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. You could also make this crust using|
a food processor which would speed up the process considerably.
|Add the cold cubed butter to the flour. Now comes the fun part...|
|...With a pastry cutter or fork, work the butter into the flour. This will take about 3-5 minutes.|
|You will end up with a course mixture with butter about the size of large peas.|
|Add two large egg yolks...|
|...and work them into the flour until the mixture is about the size of small peas. I'm not sure|
the purpose of the egg yolks as I have never used in pastry dough before, but Ismael's recipe
called for them so I followed his instructions precisely.
|Working in the ice water will take about a minute...|
|...and you will end up with a lumpy cluster of bits of dough.|
|Use your fingers to pull the dough together and form a flattened disc. Do NOT kneed or work|
the dough or you will end up with a tough crust.
|Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours (or overnight).|
|Next split one vanilla bean. My bean was very dry so I also scraped out the seeds from inside|
the bean to ensure the vanilla flavored the cream sufficiently.
|Add the milk and vanilla bean to a small pot and heat the milk almost to the boiling point|
This takes about 6-8 minutes depending on how high you set the heat
|While the milk heats, you will have just enough time to make the thickener for this cream.|
It starts with 5 large egg yolks...
|...approx 1/2 cup granulated sugar...|
|...3 Tablespoons corn starch...|
|...and 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour. Whisk these ingredients vigorously until combined|
and smooth. This will take a minute or two and at first you will barely be able to move the whisk.
|As you continue to beat the mixture, it will gradually loosen and turn smooth and free of lumps|
|Keep whisking in the milk until you have a smooth mixture without lumps.|
|Strain the mixture back into the pot over medium heat. Straining helps to remove any bits|
of flour or corn starch or egg that didn't remain smooth
|Whisk the mixture vigorously while heating to prevent the cream from sticking to the bottom|
of the pan or from clumping. Bring the mixture to a boiling while continuing to whisk.
|It will take about 8-10 minutes of heat and whisking to reach this consistency. Keep whisking.|
|This looks thick and this is where I stopped, but I recommend letting the mixture thicken|
further to avoid having the cream run later when cutting the tart.
|I passed the final pastry cream through a sieve again before chilling. It helped remove tiny|
lumps that whisking could not break up.
|Let the pastry dough warm at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling. This will help|
keep the dough from cracking when rolling.
|Roll out the pastry dough to about 1/8 inch thickness|
|This recipe creates enough pastry dough for approximately 2 pie pans or 1 really big tart|
|To transfer the pastry dough to the tart or pie pan, roll the dough up around your rolling pin|
|Trim off the extra bits. In my case, there was a lot of extra dough...|
|...enough for another small pie. So I gathered up the bits and wrapped them in plastic wrap.|
I froze the remains and will use for a future pie.
|Once the pastry crust is cool and the pastry cream is cold, you're ready to assemble the tart.|
I used chunked strawberries because they're in season near me, but you could use any fresh
berry that's cheap and in season.
|First add the pastry cream. Due to my issues with the crust, the pastry cream was barely|
contained by the pastry shell.
|Next add the berries. If you're quite skilled, I'm sure you can achieve a design far more captivating|
than mine. I was a bit impatient to get to the eating part =)
Thoughts while scarfing...
- My favorite part of this dessert (due to the issue I encountered with the crust) is the pastry creme. It's packed with vanilla flavor, divinely smooth, and is satisfyingly rich without overwhelming the palette with fat (which tends to occur when using heavy cream). I've never attempted pastry cream before, but after learning this easy and delicious version, I'll definitely be whipping it up again.
- The next time I make this tart, I will blind bake with a filling such as oats to prevent the sides of the pastry from collapsing and gathering into the base of the crust. That simple change should solve all of the issues I encountered and result in a far flakier and more tender crust.
- I really enjoyed making the pastry crust by hand - it was surprisingly satisfying to work the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter. Normally I use a food processor to make pastry dough which speeds up the process considerably. Unfortunately, due to my baking issue with the crust, I can't render a fair verdict as to which method produces the flakiest crust...
- Really let your pastry creme thicken until you can barely stir it before chilling otherwise it will run terribly once you add it to the pastry crust. I always get impatient (and nervous) when thickening custards, curds and creams, so I tend to remove it too early from the heat. And thus my pastry cream runs...
Other Must-Try Recipes from Smiley's Kitchen
Maybe pastry cream isn't your thing. But I guarantee you'll find something wonderful from Smiley's Kitchen. Check out these delicious posts and tell me you're not inspired!
|Chicken Tortilla Soup|
|Lamb Meatballs w/ Tzatziki Sauce|
|Bourbon Bread Pudding|