A Mother’s Day Tennessee Strawberry Tart

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This week they arrived, plump, sweet and plentiful. Those small, round baby berries. Tennessee Strawberries. Just in time for Mother’s Day. I made this tart with the first ones I purchased after eating half the carton one-by-one.

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I have never been a big fan of cooked strawberries as in strawberry pie or strawberry cobblers. Something about the berries becoming “mushy” during the cooking process just doesn’t appeal to my palate. This tart is different. The berries stay firm and keep their color, they do not get mushy nor discolored.  It has a wonderful crispy crust that doesn’t get soggy on the bottom. With only a few ingredients it is quick and easy, beautifully rustic and will just make you, or your mother, very happy bite-by-bite.

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This is what a really fresh, ripe, just picked locally grown Tennessee Strawberry looks like up close. Not perfect, not dark red and very red inside as well as outside. They are fragrant. Here are some places you can go and pick your own berries in Middle Tennessee if you like. I am pretty happy to let others do the picking for me. These berries came from the Downtown Nashville Farmer’s Market.

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Sliced strawberries &almonds mixed in with sugar and cornstarch is the easiest filling.

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Four ingredients is all that is needed for this crust. If you are in a big hurry you can, of course, use a refrigerator roll-out dough. In a food processor my crust takes about 5 minutes to make. Give it a try.

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Warm from the oven…..

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….come on…get a bit closer…let’s have a bite. Share some with your Mom, or someone else’s Mom. Make this while the local strawberries are available…it is a fleeting season.

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Tennessee Strawberry Tart

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: very easy
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Strawberry Tart

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cold butter cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour mixed with 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp + 1/4 cup raw sugar divided
  • 4 Tbsp ice water
  • 2 cups rinsed, hulled & halved small strawberries
  • 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 egg beaten
  • Sanding sugar for garnish

Directions:

  1. For this easy crust just put butter, flour-salt mixture & 1 Tbsp of the raw sugar in a food processor and pulse just until mixture is blended. Drizzle in ice water while pulsing mixture until a dough ball forms. Remove dough from processor, form into a ball and flatten. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
  2. Place halved berries and sliced almonds in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle cornstarch & remaining 1/4 cup raw sugar over & gently toss to coat berries. Set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Roll chilled dough out onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper into a rough circle about 15″ across.
  5. Lift dough lined parchment paper and place on a sheet pan. It is okay if the dough hangs over the edges.
  6. Pile strawberry filling in the middle of the dough circle and gently fold the edges up over the filling, leaving the center open. Brush dough with the beaten egg & sprinkle with sanding sugar.
  7. Bake tart for about 40 -50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling bubbly. Remove from oven & cool tart on pan set on a cooling rack. Serve warm or room temperature. This tart was very good for a few days and the bottom crust never got soggy!

(Recipe is based on one that I did for an editorial client earlier this Spring for a photo shoot. I, of course, made a number of changes to make it more user-friendly.)

A Perfectly-Imperfect Golden Polenta & Pear Bundt Cake

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I wanted some cake, I had some polenta & pears. This is what I made.

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Three fresh, ripe red Anjou pears……..

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…and a new Bundt pan…things do not always end up the way you plan…

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…careful greasing, making sure I got into every crook, curve and cranny and the top of my cake still stuck in the pan! I really didn’t mind. I gently perched the pointed tops back on for this photo. The moist, just right sweetness, the fresh pears & golden polenta still tasted fantastic…that was really all I cared about. Life is not perfect, but delicious.

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Perfectly-Imperfect Golden Polenta & Pear Bundt Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
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Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup polenta
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 3 firm, but ripe, pears, cored, peeled & cubed
  • 2 tsps lemon zest

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a Bundt pan well.
  2. In a mixing bowl whisk together the polenta, flour, baking soda & salt.
  3. Using an electric mixer beat together the sugar, olive & canola oils, eggs & vanilla extract until pale yellow.
  4. Add dry ingredients to mixture and beat on low just until combined. Fold in the pears & lemon zest.
  5. Scrape batter into the prepared Bundt pan, gently tapping pan on counter to release any air pockets in the batter.
  6. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Remove cake from oven and cool on a rack for 20 minutes. Turn cake out onto a dish and cool completely. Serve in slices warm or room temp. This cake is so moist that is good for a few days.

A Ruby Red Rio Star Grapefruit Upside-Down Cake for Dark February Days

Rio Star Grapefruit

Hold On! Do Not Panic! This is not a giant red asteroid about to hit the earth!

It is, on the other hand, a very close-up iphone photo of a Texas Rio Star Grapefruit that I just turned into the most delicious upside down cake.

Last year about this time I was writing about Blood Oranges and baking little tartlets. This year I have turned to Texas Rio Star Grapefruits & Upside-Down Cakes.  Deep winter is the only time I can find these ruby red-orange grapefruits in our local markets.

An Upside-Down Cake is such a classic and simple, homey & cozy dessert…the perfect foil for this jewel of the citrus world.

Rio Star Grapefruit Upside-Down Cake

This recipe was inspired by  a recipe for upside-down Blood Orange Cake I saw in The New York Times, Wednesday, January 16, 2013 in an article by Melissa Clark.  Here is my version using Texas Rio Star Grapefruits .

Here is what you will need:

2  Texas Rio Star Grapefruits

1 1/2 stick of Butter  softened + 1/2 stick for baking pan

2/3 cup Dark Brown Sugar

1 TBSP freshly squeezed Lemon Juice

1/2 cup White whole-wheat Flour

1 cup Yellow Cornmeal

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

Generous pinch of Sea or Kosher Salt

1 cup Raw Sugar

4 Eggs

1/2 cup Plain Greek Yogurt

1 TBSP grated Rio Star Grapefruit peel

1 TBSP Vanilla Extract

Here is how you make this cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the 1/2 stick butter over medium heat in a 10 inch iron skillet. Remove from heat. Stir the dark brown sugar & lemon juice into the melted butter. Set aside.

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2. Slice off the top and bottom of each of the Grapefruits. Cut the peel & pith away from the Grapefruit. Cut peeled Grapefruit into 1/4″ circles. Remove any seeds.

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3. Arrange Grapefruit slices over the bottom of the iron skillet covering the butter-sugar-lemon juice mixture.

Butter Sugar Melted

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4. In a bowl mix together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder & salt with a whisk. Using a mixer, blend together in a large mixing bowl the 1 1/2 stick softened butter & raw sugar.  Scrape down side of bowl when needed. Add eggs one at a time mixing well between each addition. Add zest, yogurt & vanilla extract. Add flour mixture by 1/2 cupfuls at a time to the butter-sugar-egg mixture until well mixed. Do not over-mix.  Batter will be thick. Scrape batter into the skillet over the grapefruit slices spreading out to edges  and smoothing top of batter.

Upside-Down Cake Batter

5. Bake for about 40-45 minutes until the center is set and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake for a few minutes in the pan.

Baked Upside-Down Cake

6. Invert cake upside-down on a large plate or platter and serve warm or at room temperature.

Rio Star Grapefruit Upside Down Cake

Here, have a bite….

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This is a very moist cake, with a slight bit of crunch from the cornmeal, very citrusy and not too sweet. The colors are to die for and will make you very happy in these dark days of February.

Drink it or eat it, but get some Vitamin C however you can!

Rio Star Grapefruits