Blue Goose Italian Prune Tartlets for the First Day of Fall

IMG_8826

It is an afternoon of dramatic lighting, rain and thunder.  Much needed cooling temperatures and a bowl of Blue Goose Prunes for baking simple tartlets.

They sit in an old metal bowl as  the light slowly dims seeming to have an inner glow.

DSC_1158

I am enchanted with the texture and flavor. Somewhat like a plum but not…smaller and more oval, just a bit dryer in texture but every bite as sweet.  I do think they will be wonderful baked in a simple crust.

DSC_1194A rare sight is a bag of fresh prunes in my local grocery.  Why is this? It seems this particular and specifically grown Italian prune, which is not eaten dried but fresh,  has a short growing season and is pretty uncommon in the Southern USA. A good reason to try these beauties while I have the chance.

DSC_1168

Cut in half and easily pitted….tossed with dark brown sugar & Ligonberry liqueur I leave them to macerate for about 20 minutes.

DSC_1175

Some whipped cream cheese blended with lemon zest and a bit more brown sugar.

DSC_1179

See how beautiful the flesh of the prunes are after their soaking? I am using some thawed, frozen homemade pie dough, rolled out and cut into squares, with a smear of the cream cheese mixture before adding a 5 prune halves.

DSC_1180

I gathered the dough up and around the fruit and then drizzled the leftover juice from the bowl of fruit into and over each tartlet. Ready to bake on a parchment paper lined sheet pan…..

DSC_1185

25 minutes later….warm, juicy fruit in a crispy, not soggy bottomed, crust!

IMG_8829

Finished with a  dusting of powdered sugar..

Blue Goose Italian Prune Tartlets

DSC_1191

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Blue Goose Italian Prunes (or any other fresh prune or plum)rinsed & patted dry
  • Pie crust dough for a double crust pie (homemade, refrigerator crust, frozen)
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup Ligonberry liqueur (or any not too sweet fruit liqueur)
  • 8 ounces whipped cream cheese at room temperature
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. Half and core the prunes and place them in a mixing bowl.
  3. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the dark brown sugar and the Ligonberry liqueur over the prunes and toss well. Set aside for about 20 minutes for fruit to macerate. Toss with a spoon a few times during this time.
  4. In a small bowl blend the softened whipped cream cheese, remaining 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, lemon zest and juice together until spreadable.
  5. Meanwhile roll out pie crust dough on a lightly floured surface into a large rectangle. Cut into 6 squares. Each should measure about 6 x 6 inches more or less.
  6. Smear an equal amount of the cream cheese mixture in the middle of each square and top with 4 or 5 prune halves. Gather the dough edges up and around the fruit mixture to create a pouch with an open center. Place each one on the prepared sheet pan not touching.
  7. There will be some sugared fruit syrup left in the bowl where the prunes were macerating so pour this evenly into the openings of each pouch letting some run over the outside of the dough.
  8. Place sheet pan in the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until tartlets are golden brown and crisp on the outside with a bubbly fruit center.
  9. Remove pan from the oven and let cool for about 10-15 minutes before serving dusted with powdered sugar. These are also very good the next day cold or at room temperature.

Teresa Blackburn       http://www.foodonfifth.com     http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com

“Tiny Blood Orange Curd Meringue Tartlets to Celebrate Lunar Eclipses”

blood orange

If not for heavy low clouds full of moisture I would be able to see the Blood Moon tonight. There is a deep wet darkness between me and this eclipse of red. If you are one of the lucky ones and you do indeed see it and take a photo would you send me one? In the meantime I will share with you a short & sweet recipe that celebrates this auspicious occasion.

“Tiny Blood Orange Curd MeringueTartlets”

DSC_6572

Here is what you will need to make the Blood Orange Curd: 5 eggs, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup freshly squeezed Blood Orange Juice, 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1/2 stick butter cut into small pieces, 2 tbsp grated Blood Orange zest.

To Make Curd:

1. In the top of a double boiler or a heatproof glass bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water whisk together quickly the eggs, sugar, Blood Orange juice & lemon juice.  Using the whisk stir mixture for about 10 minutes constantly.

Blood Orange CurdCurd

2. Remove from the heat & pour mixture through a sieve to remove any lumps. Whisk the butter pieces into the mixture until well blended & smooth. Stir in the zest. Cover with a sheet of plastic wrap touching the surface of the curd allowing it to cool for 30 minutes.

curdBlood Orange Zest

Here is what you will need to finish off the tarts:

Pre-made/Store-bought mini tartlet shells (one or two bite size), 3-4 egg whites, 1 tbsp sugar

1. While curd is cooling place tartlet shells on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Turn oven to broil.

tartlet shells

2. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Sprinkle sugar over whites & continue to beat until glossy. Fill each tartlet shell with curd & top with a generous free-form dollop of meringue.

DSC_6558

DSC_6562

3. Pop tray of meringue topped tartlets in the oven…keeping a close eye…and brown the meringues until light golden. This should only take a minute or two.

DSC_6569

As Easter is just a few days away wouldn’t these be just the perfect ending to an Easter Lunch or Dinner? Something about these meringues reminds me of Peeps?

DSC_6571

This will be my last Blood Orange post for 2014. The citrus season wans as the fresh produce season waxes. I enjoy these “food seasons” reflecting the movements of  the earth & the moon.  Goodnight (Blood) Moon.

Blood Oranges

April Sunrise Saturday Asian Pear Tartlets

Asian Pear Tartlets

“An April Saturday at Sunrise…Asian Pear Tartlets”

Upon awakening, three Asian Pears glowing on the kitchen counter, pate sucree, dollops of butter & raw sugar cubes, drinking cups of milky hot coffee…welcome April.

I almost always get out of bed before sunrise. It is my favorite time of day. Quiet. The light is soft and gentle, a bit blue-grey with pale golden tones, especially in early April. My kitchen will be dawn-dark, then slowly…very slowly sunlight creeps in, across the tables & counters, leaving everything in its path stunningly lighted.

Asian Pears

(Notice how blue-grey the light is?)

Asian Pears

Ingredients: Rounds of Pate Sucree, olive oil, Asian Pears ripe, good butter & raw sugar cubes (or just raw, loose sugar), sea salt.

DSC_6856

There are many perks…both personally & culinarily…in my work as a food stylist. The perfectly perfect rounds of Pate Sucree (see above photo) were left over from a photo shoot job. I brought a few home for these quick & easy tartlets, freezing some for later ideas. But it is really easy to make your own. These are “round”…I could never roll out any dough this perfect, so when you make your own just let them be randomly wonderful. (see end of post for recipe for pate sucree)

Pâte sucrée is the French term for a sweet short crust pastry used to make tarts. 

DSC_6864

1. Peel Asian Pears & cut into thin wedges. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on each round of dough. Spread out with your hands. Pile pear slices in the center of each round.

DSC_6867

2. Top pear slices with a few cubes of sugar & butter. Gather edges of dough up over the fruit leaving the center open. Sprinkle each with a pinch of sea salt. I used crunchy, flakey, Maldon, my personal favorite. Place each one on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, pop in the refrigerator for 10 minutes while you heat the oven to 375 degrees.

DSC_6872

(Now…notice how the light changed in 10 minutes…tartlets are ready for the oven..the sunlight just beginning to top the trees.)

3. Bake tartlets for about 30-40 minutes until a deep golden brown. Serve hot or warm.

DSC_6882

DSC_6905DSC_6920

Because I did not have to make the pate sucree it only took about 15 minutes to make the tartlets plus the baking time. As I pulled the Asian Pear Tartlets out of the oven the sun absolutely flooded my kitchen…shafts of golden light hitting everything…a Saturday Sunrise, early April.

DSC_6926

DSC_6935

DSC_6937

Quick & Easy Pate Sucree Recipe:

A quick & easy Pate Sucree….Pulse 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour + 1/4 cup sugar + a pinch of salt together in a food processor. Add 2 sticks of cold butter cut into random pieces + 2 egg yolks and pulse unto crumbly. With machine running drizzle in 1/4 cup cream or milk just until mixture comes together to form a ball. Remove from processor. Divide dough into two balls, pressing each into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic. Chill until ready to use or at least 30 minutes. Divide into smaller balls of dough and roll out into circles about 6 inches across.

April is here for the blinking of an eye…enjoy it.

“Fig Tarts to Steal Your Heart”


These little easy-to-make tarts made me fall in love with fresh figs all over again.

I have shared my adoration of the mythic, Biblical and very down-to-earth tasting fig (“A Late August Four-Letter “F” Word to Savor” August 2011), but this year figs seem to be everywhere I look. Ripe, luscious, just a bit sexy figs…they really are, aren’t they? Hanging heavy from trees in my neighborhood, lovingly displayed at local supermarkets, beautiful greens, browns, purples softly shifting bruise-like colors.

Eaten raw is best for figs, just when they “give” when gently squeezed. Cut opened & sprinkled with a bit of brown sugar & sea salt.

Baked in a simple custard sprinkled with raw sugar & drizzled with honey brings out other more subtle fig flavors.

Ingredients:

Small (one or two bite size) tart shells (I bought these from the deli at Whole Foods, but you can make your own if you like)

Fresh Figs, stems removed & cut in half lengthwise

1 Egg, 1/2 cup Greek Yogurt, a splash of Vanilla Extract, 1 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice, 1/4 cup Raw Sugar whisked together in a bowl

Additional Raw Sugar to sprinkle on top before baking & Honey

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Carefully fill each tart shell with the Egg-Yogurt mixture.

2. Top each filled tart shell with half a fig, cut side up.

3. Sprinkle each little tart with raw sugar & a drizzle of honey.

4. Bake for about 12 minutes until custard is set. Remove from oven, let cool a bit before eating. Very good chilled or at room temperature. The slight crunch of the crust sets off the not overly sweet custard, fresh figs, raw sugar & honey.

The Queen of Hearts
She made some tarts,
   All on a summer’s day….


“Bloody Sweet Orange Tartlets”

Is it possible to fall in love with an orange. I think so…it happened to me. I had a short love affair with a few blood oranges yesterday. Obsessed, I posed & photographed 7 little blood oranges for a good part of my day. Whole, cut, peeled, the peel itself, juiced, all together, separately…from the front, from the back, overhead, sideways.

Don’t you just love that color….a crimson red, a sexy red, a not-a-red-flannel nightgown red. This color takes my breath away…I am gobsmacked…I am enchanted. The colors of the planet Mars via National Geographic!

I couldn’t stop at posing these beautiful orbs…I needed to turn them into delicious drinkables for later & edibles for right now. So six of my blood oranges are presently becoming “Blood Orange-cello” and Jam…..more about those at a later date, and one very special little “red planet” was turned into four tartlets.

An easy & simple recipe for “Bloody Sweet Orange Tartlets”

Ingredients:

Enough pie dough for 4 small tart pans

Raw or Turbinado sugar

4 ozs softened cream cheese

1 large egg

1 Blood Orange, peeled, pith removed & thinly sliced

How to make it:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll pie dough out into 4 thin circles & loosely fit into tart pans. Sprinkle each with 1 tsp of sugar. Place tart pans on a sheet pan & bake for about 6 minutes or until very lightly browned. Remove from oven.

2. In a small mixing bowl whisk together the softened cream cheese, 2 tbsp sugar & egg until smooth. Evenly divide filling between the 4 tart pans.

3.  Place one slice of the blood orange on top of each filled tart & sprinkle with additional sugar. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until golden brown & puffy.

4. Eat warm from the oven if you can, but these little tarts are great the next day.

A Little Blood Orange Gallery:

Just in case you are interested:

 Blood oranges’ red pigment, anthocyanin, is an antioxidant. The pigments begin accumulating in the vesicles at the edges of the segments and at the blossom end of the fruit, and will continue accumulating in cold storage after harvest. Due to its pigments the blood orange contain greater amounts of antioxidants than other oranges. Blood oranges have a unique flavor profile compared to other oranges, being distinctly raspberry-like in addition to the usual citrus notes.

Blood oranges are a source of vitamin C like all citrus fruits. A medium-sized (154g) orange also provides 28% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber. Oranges can also be a valuable source of folatecalcium, and thiamine.

Bon Appetit, Goodbye February and Hello March.