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.
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.
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.
Sliced strawberries &almonds mixed in with sugar and cornstarch is the easiest filling.
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.
Warm from the oven…..
….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.
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
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.
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.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Roll chilled dough out onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper into a rough circle about 15″ across.
Lift dough lined parchment paper and place on a sheet pan. It is okay if the dough hangs over the edges.
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.
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.)
When I was in elementary school in West Tennessee we had a “real lunchroom”. There were home cooked, seasonal meals for lunch every day. The ladies who cooked wore simple white uniforms with nets covering their hair. There was a cafeteria line and you could see into the kitchen in the background with all the food prep and cooking going on.
Peanut Butter Cookies appeared as a dessert for our school lunches at about the same time as we were studying George Washington Carver and his peanuts. For years I actually thought he invented the peanut! I remember a black and white photo of Mr. Carver in one of our school books standing in the middle of a field of peanuts. I took to calling these school cafeteria cookies “George Washington Carver Peanut Butter Cookies”.
This mental collision of a particularly loved food (peanut butter cookies), being able to watch the ladies cooking in our school kitchen every day and the awareness that the legume in the cookie I loved so much were directly connected to a botanist at the Tuskegee Institute down in Alabama was just the first of many such childhood food epiphanies.
On “George Washington Carver Peanut Butter Cookie” days I would attempt to swap my real food for someone else’s cookie. There were always a few friends who did not like peanut butter. On a good cookie swap day I might have up to 4 to eat later on. They were worth giving up my homegrown tomato slices or creamy mashed potatoes for. Those cookies set the bar very high. I have looked for that cookie since and have never found anything even close. Divine is what they were with just the right amount of crisp edges and softness in the center.
These little gluten-free cookies are very peanut buttery and crispy (I wish they were a bit softer, but I will work on that). They have sated my quest for a while. This recipe is based on one I made for a client recently for an editorial photo shoot. It is gluten-free and very easy.
Easy to mix….1 inch balls…
… the traditional “fork marks”!
Ready to bake.
Bob’s Red Mill Golden Flaxseed Meal instead of flour.
Sprinkled with a bit of sanding sugar ready to eat still warm from the oven.
There has not been a time in my life that I do not think of Mr. Carver whenever I eat anything with peanut butter. I wonder if he liked peanut butter cookies and what he would think about making a cookie “gluten-free”? Did he have Peanut Butter and Jelly on white bread for lunch while diligently working in his lab or surveying the fields upon fields of peanuts that helped to change the way we now eat?
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a couple of baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Whisk together the egg whites & sea salt in a bowl until frothy.
Into egg whites stir peanut butter, raw sugar, brown sugar & flaxseed meal. Mix well. Batter will be stiff and may appear to “seize”, but just ignore this and mix until ingredients are well incorporated.
Using a tablespoon measure, shape batter into balls and place about 2 inches apart on lined baking sheets.
Using a fork, make criss-cross marks on each ball pressing slightly to flatten.
Bake 20 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are lightly browned. Sprinkle cookies generously with sanding sugar & cool on a wire rack.
I, for one, love late fall. It is not the anticipation of the Holidays, nor all the hoopla that goes with them, but the foods. Pumpkins for pies & cakes, winter squash, deep reddish-brown sweet potatoes, the aroma of sage…it is finally time to crank up the oven again and bake.
These pumpkin scones I made around Thanksgiving week last year. Recently I pulled out my recipe to make them again. They are easy, seasonal and have some of my favorite baking ingredients for this time of year.
Pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and a pinch of cardamom. Kerrygold butter and white whole wheat flour.
A really good quality crystallized ginger from The Ginger People. This really pushed the flavor over the top of goodness.
The dough is enough to make 2 rounds or 12 scones.
Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt & spices.
Add butter chunks and with your fingers or a pastry blender work the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. Stir in the chopped crystallized ginger.
In another bowl whisk together the pumpkin and eggs.
Add pumpkin mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until a dough forms.
Using your hands form the dough into two balls & then flatten both slightly.
Line a baking sheet with parchment & lightly flour. Place dough rounds on pan.
Flatten and shape each dough round into a 6-7 inch circle, each about 1″thick.
Brush the top of each one with cream. Cut each dough circle into 6 wedges.
Sprinkle tops with sanding sugar & pumpkin seeds. Chill 30 minutes before baking.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Right before baking drizzle tops with half the maple syrup. Bake for about 25 minutes or until scones are golden brown. Check doneness by sticking a toothpick into the center…if needed, bake another 5 minutes.
Drizzle hot scones with the remaining maple syrup. Eat warm.
Notes: These scones could be made with Butternut Squash and use Pecans or walnuts or dusted with cinnamon sugar. Teresa Blackburn, Food on Fifth