Pies, Tarts, and Pastries The Book

124. Berry Tart with Mascarpone Cream p.777

The recipe

I was impressed with this tart, it’s very simple, beautiful, and delicious. I’m not fond of precious pastry bag tricks, or marzipan statuary on my desserts. I prefer the natural good looks of fruit, or decoration that’s an extension of the dessert making process. I tend to bake cakes, dust them with icing sugar, and call it a day. In large part this is because I’m not fond of icing. I’ll often eat the cake out from around the icing if it’s too sweet. I’m OK with whipped cream based icings, and some butter creams, but super-sugared toppings like penuche just aren’t my thing. The beauty of a summer tart is the casual elegance, it’s effortlessly gorgeous, and usually looks and tastes better than a tortuously composed winter-time confection.

The recipe was very simple. It starts with Sweet Pastry Dough, rolled out between sheets of wax paper, and baked with pie weights. It’s filled with a whipped mixture of mascarpone, cream, and sugar. It’s then topped with strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries which have been coated with marmalade and berry liqueur. As I mentioned in the write-up for the dough, I had some problems getting it to roll nicely, but it was still quite tasty. The mascarpone cream was excellent, it added body and richness with a very subtle tang, and not too much sweetness. The berries were allowed to carry the dish, they provided the bulk of the sweetness, a nice boozy accent, and all of the visual appeal.

My only complaint with this recipe are the instructions for the berries. They’re put in a bowl, covered with melted marmalade and liqueur, and gently stirred together. I did my absolute best to stir very very gently, but the delicate blackberries and raspberries suffered for it. Next time I’d put the berries on the tart and drizzle them with the glaze. You might not get as thorough a coating as you’d like, but it’s a real shame to damage perfect summer fresh berries. Incidentally, the recipe calls for a dark berry liqueur like blueberry, blackberry, or creme de cassis. I was convinced we had creme de cassis the back of the liquor cabinet somewhere, but it turns out that belonged to an old roommate. I used Grand Marnier instead, and it was delicious. No doubt Grand Marnier is sweet, but it’s got a much more pronounced Cognac edge than many other fruity liqueurs. I welcomed that firey addition to the tart, while a more syrupy liqueur might have pushed it in the wrong direction.

I was extremely happy with this dish, it was simple, delicious, and seasonal. It hinges on amazing fresh berries, I don’t think a winter time replication with frozen fruit would work out. I’m watching giant fluffy snowflakes drifting down outside my window right now, and it’s making me long for the amazing bounty of fruit I got to enjoy in August. This is a quintessential summer tart, a thousand variations are possible, but I could happily stick with this version for the rest of my life too.

Beef, Veal, Pork, and Lamb The Book

29. Pork Chops With Onion Marmalade p.480

the recipe

I made these for a bunch of hungry hungry boys during a trip to Toronto. It was a nice change from pizza and bar food. Our dinner was a quiet moment in the midst of a rowdy weekend. We sipped wine, listened to light jazz, and enjoyed some classic comfort food. Pork chops, green beans, mashed potatoes, and apple sauce; sounds like a stereotypical home cooked meal. It was delicious.

As a side note, cooking in someone else’s kitchen is a deeply weird experience. It’s almost like looking through their medicine cabinet. They keep their pots there? Why do they need HP sauce in an industrial size bottle? Is it a faux pas to joke about the bottle of Emeril’s spice mix? It also highlights how many little things you know about your own kitchen (Of course the top left burner only gives 2/3 the heat of the bottom right). Also, I’m almost guaranteed to cut myself when I’m not working with my own knives. I’ve started bringing a few of my own things with me when I know I’ll be cooking somewhere else, but it feels a bit rude.

These chops came together easily. They’re seared first, then cooked through in a broth made from the pan juices, onions, balsamic, and red currant jelly. I admit, I cheated and just used a jelly from the fridge, it was red though. The recipe called for boneless centre-cut chops; as I was feeding a crowd I bought the super-pack from the mega-mart. Some of them were boneless, some bone-in, all delicious. I think I tripled the recipe (sextupled the linked recipe), and the liquid proportions were off, but I adjusted and everything came out fine.

The key to these was the dried rosemary. Fresh herbs are superior to dried for almost all applications. This isn’t one of them. The rosemary is with the chops right from the initial sear, so they’re contributing to the flavour from the beginning and because the rosemary ends up in the broth it’s rehydrated by the time the dish is done. The rosemary flavour permeated the whole dish. I don’t think you could have gotten this penetration using fresh, I suspect a lot of the flavour developed during the initial sear. Fresh would just have burned, but the dried stuff held up well.

These were satisfying, came together easily, and didn’t cost a fortune. They’re a winner.