So Many Apricots…Part I

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My obsession with apricots reaches a fever pitch about this time every year.  Apricots from warmer parts of the country start to flood the warehouse stores here in the Northeast. So, on a recent trip to Costco, I gifted myself a flat of darling pinky, peachy, fading to that glorious luminous orange color stone fruit. I was determined that they would not turn to a slag heap in the fridge, where I stashed them when I thought they were ripe.

I wanted to make a tarte, but decided to add a twist by making a frangipane filling versus the traditional custard. Frangipane is a stiffer, almond based filling, popular in Europe, especially in tartes with berries. Frangipane is a shade under marzipan in it’s consistency. More flow than mold consistency.  I hadn’t had it in a million years, and faced with a gloomy but humid outside/air conditioned inside Saturday afternoon, I knew I could run the oven for a while without totally heating the house beyond recovery. The tarte starts with a short crust, easily formed in your food processor with flour, sugar ( a little), salt, ice water and very, very cold butter cut into teeny, tiny pieces. Blend in the food processor until the dough is shaggy and turn it out onto a floured board. Just knead it a bit until you can form a dough, then flatten into a disc and wrap in plastic and stick in the fridge to keep while you make the frangipane. I had enough dough to fill a traditional  removable bottom tarte pan, plus my two personal size pans that I bought in France. Remember only roll out the dough and fill the pan once the dough is chilled and the frangipane is ready to go.

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You can use slivered almonds to make the base of this sticky cream substance but because I keep it in the house for macarons, I used almond flour ( just ground up almonds). So a lot of the work was already done. To the almonds you will add sugar, salt, egg yolks, butter and vanilla and almond extract. Because I was making an apricot tarte, I used apricot extract to bump up the fruit flavor.

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Roll out your crust and trim the edge. Using a fork, pierce the dough on the bottom. Freeze for ten minutes while you preheat the oven.

MAJOR BAKING SECRET ABOUT TO BE REVEALED!  I recently learned that if you freeze a pie shell or tarte dough before baking, the dough will not shrink and pull away from the pan when blind baking! It’s magic!

Anyway, blind bake the frozen or deeply chilled shell for about 12 minutes until it’s just set. Fill with the frangipane.

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Next , I cut the apricots into twelves, each half had 6 slices. This allows them to lay more evenly on the frangipane. I probably could have snuggled a few more pieces in but decided to leave well enough alone. Sprinkle the top with sugar and bake at 425° for about 40 minutes or until the frangipane rises a little and turns a little bit brown. Let cool completely before you slice and you can add fresh whipped cream on top for a real treat.

 

 

Just another Meatless Monday…

Uses up a good amount if your summer garden bounty. I started by blind baking a pie crust for about 10 minutes and then layered summer squash and zucchini slices in overlapping layers. Because the veggies will shrink up, better to have the slices tightly packed.


I whisked an egg and a couple of teaspoons each of cream and creme fraiche together and then pored it evenly under the veggies. 


I topped the tarte with a little shredded mozzarella and put the whole zucchini as it were back into a 425 oven for 30 minutes.


Let the tarte sit for ten minutes before you slice. Add a green salad and you have a simple summer supper and/or a meatless Monday option!

Tiny Tarte

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I knew I bought those ring molds in Paris for a reason! Saw this easy peasy clip of a tiny taste that can be whipped up in about 20 minutes as an add on for salad, or a more substantial appetizer.

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Peel and slice 2 small onions and sauce in butter with any fresh herb you might happen to have. I used the tarragon I had left from a previous recipe. You also need to add about 1/4 tsp of sugar and let the onions really caramelize in the pan. Move them so they don’t stick.

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Roll out a premade pie dough sheet or puff pastry sheet ( shown here) and use either a ring mold or round cookie cutter to cut the bottom and tops.

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Leave the ring mold in place and add the sautéed onions and the tiniest bit of shredded cheese end of your choice like gruyere or swiss. Top with the second disk of dough and remove the ring mold.

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Brush the top with egg wash and bake in a 400° oven for about 20 minutes or until the top crust browns nicely. The onions will mostly stay inside, but are easily coached back into place with a fork. Use a spatula to slide off the baking tray and place on plate or salad the has been pre dressed!

 

Why, you little tarte….!

     
I bought these cute little tarte molds while we were in Paris last fall. I got them, of course, at Dehellerin, the bastion of culinary supply houses with a Byzantine system of peruse, probe, procure, purchase and package. You can have a birthday while you wait in one of three stations needed to get out the door. But I digress…

  

I blind baked the dough for about 15 minutes  

Then I filled the shells with a mixture of beaten egg, cream cheese, and goat cheese and some seasoning.some I topped with zucchini and some had sun dried tomatoes and oily black olives. The dough was scraps from another project, so I pieced them together like a crazy quilt. Popp them back in a 350 oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is set. You can place the veggies on before the 2nd bake.

  
 Very Provençal! I cut the tartes on the diagonal and used them to top a plate of mixed spring greens with olive oil, balsamic and some fresh salt and pepper. Lastly I added some capers, because you can never have too many capers!