Tag Archives: tart

Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onion Tart

Ever since I cleaned out  my fridge for Thanksgiving, I’ve been obsessive about keeping it neat and orderly. Same with the freezer – I’m committed to using all my leftovers and lost frozen-foods before they go bad. We all waste so much, the least I can do is try…

So that’s why I took a leftover disk of pate sucree out of the freezer to thaw recently. I had made the pate sucree for my pear frangipane tart, so the crust was a bit sweet, but it turned out perfectly with the lemony goat cheese and caramelized onions in my savory tart.

I looked at a few recipes before starting, using lots of cues from Ina Garten (if you have to make your own crust, check out her recipe). Here’s how I did it…

Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onion Tart

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 recipe tart crust (most make enough for 2 crusts – you’ll only need one here)
  • 8 oz. your favorite goat cheese (plain or herbed)
  • 2 T basil, chopped (or any herbs you have on hand)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c. milk or cream
  • S&P
  • EVOO
  • 1 onion, any color, sliced

Preheat oven to 350 F. Roll dough out to fit your tart pan and pat into place. Place buttered foil on dough surface and fill with pie weights. Bake 10 minutes, then remove weights and prick dough all over with fork. Return to oven and bake another 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside to cool a bit.

Meanwhile, saute onion with a drizzle of EVOO and S&P until browned at the edges. Add a dash of balsamic vinegar, if you have it, and mix to combine. When caramelized to your taste, spoon onion into bottom of tart shell.

In food processor, mix goat cheese, milk, eggs, herbs, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Pour mixture over onions in tart shell.

Bake 25-30 min, until custard is set. Cool another 10 minutes, while you make a simple salad of winter greens and more balsamic vinegar.

Slice and serve!

Yummy. This is not only a delicious vegetarian dinner entree, but we enjoyed it for breakfast, too. The crust is so buttery and perfect, even if its first purpose was to hold a decadent confection.

Here’s to tarts made with “real” crust! Enjoy, friends xoxo


Easy French Apple Tart

Here follows the response to my craving for something apple-y. This simplified version of a French apple tart is so easy, you can do it if friends unexpectedly stop by for dessert.

Simply layer apple slices on a sheet of pastry, dot with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Then you bake, brush with preserves and slice! It’s a pretty elegant semi-homemade sweet.

Easy French Apple Tart


  • 1 sheet of thawed puff pastry, rolled out to 10×10-inch square
  • 2-3 apples (Granny Smith or Pink Lady are good), peeled, cored and sliced thin
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • Half stick unsalted butter, diced, chilled
  • Pinch cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. apricot preserves mixed with 2 T water

Preheat oven to 400 and line baking sheet with parchment paper. Lay pastry on sheet, then layer with overlapping apple slices. Sprinkle sugar over, then a pinch of cinnamon. Dot with butter. Bake 35-45 min. until the apples are caramelized in spots (their sugary juices will leak out and burn, just to warn you!). If the pastry puffs up in one area, as mine did, just poke it with a knife.

Heat preserves with water in a small saucepan until melted, then brush over the entire tart.

When done, loosen pastry away from the sheet and cut into squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wasn’t that easy? Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Strawberry and Pistachio Tart

Glorious spring days, where the grass seems to glow electric green and the daffodils trumpet a louder yellow … just makes you want to kick off your flipflops and get elbow deep in buttery pastry, silky egg cream and vibrantly red strawberries.

Adding smoky green pistachios creates a texture and color contrast that I loved in this traditional strawberry tart recipe. It offers a bit of earthy crunch to the super sweet filling.

The recipe is for smaller tartlets, but I made it in one large tart pan, which turned out fine. Just don’t expect your pieces to come out clean – the pastry cream is all goopy, like a thick pudding. Reading the reviews, the crust does indeed get quite hard to cut through with your fork –  which I think is good, because the crust needs to stand up to the soft custard inside.

Recommended for a crowd…

Strawberry and Pistachio Tart


  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 tablespoons cold shortening
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 2 cups Pastry Cream, recipe follows
  • 2 pints whole strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 1/3 cup apricot jelly
  • 3 tablespoons shelled pistachios, roughly chopped

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a small bowl and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Put the flour mixture in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and shortening and pulse about 10 times, or until the butter is in the size of peas. Add the ice water and process until the dough comes together. Dump on a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, make pastry cream:

Pastry Cream


  • 5 extra-large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 cups scalded milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch.

With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Don’t be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle; switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick, like pudding. Stir in the vanilla, butter, and heavy cream. Pour the custard into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold.

While the pastry cream chills, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Roll out the dough and fit into your tart pan with removable side. Don’t stretch the dough when placing it in the pans or it will shrink during baking. Cut off the excess by rolling the pin across the top the pan. Line the tart shell with a piece of buttered aluminum foil, butter side down, and fill with dried beans or rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and foil, prick the bottom of the shell all over with a fork, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Before serving, fill the tart shell with the pastry cream. Arrange the berries decoratively on top of the cream. Melt the apricot jelly with 1 teaspoon of water and brush the top of the tart. I love the way it looks like a star burst!

Sprinkle with pistachios, if using, and serve.

Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Tomato Tarte Tatin

I never paid much mind to the whole tomato fruit/vegetable debate.

Like most people, I only eat tomatoes in a savory environment, which makes it seem more like a vegetable. The following recipe proves how tomatoes can blow your mind – becoming a wonderful dessert. Bon Appetit’s tomato tarte tatin reveals tomatoes as a sweet and supple fruit, cooked in bubbling caramel and flavored with vanilla. All atop a puffed pastry.

The magazine description of this recipe says, “This dessert is a revelation. As the tomatoes cook in the caramel, they become sweet and tender but retain their clean, fresh flavor. Prepare to be blown away.” I dare you to resist a testimony like that.

My stomach didn’t want to accept that I would be eating tomatoes cooked with caramel and vanilla. But I am telling you – they tasted like sweet plums! The Bon Appetit description was dead on. Spectacular.

Tomato Tarte Tatin


  • 1 3/4 lbs. plum (or Roma) tomatoes (8 large)
  • 3 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed, corners cut to make a rough circle
  • Lightly sweetened whipped cream

Preheat oven to 425. Bring large saucepan of water to boil. Cut shallow X in bottom of each tomato and blanch until skins start to peel back, 30 seconds. Remove to ice bath.

Peel tomatoes, half, core and remove seeds.

Spread butter over bottom of 9 1/2-inch cast iron skillet. Sprinkle sugar over, then arrange tomato halves, rounded side down and close together, in the skillet.

Place skillet over medium heat and cook until sugar and butter are reduced to a thick amber syrup, 25 min. Remove skillet from heat and immediately drizzle with vanilla. Top with pastry round, tucking edges in with a knife and pressing close to the tomatoes. Cut 2-3 small slits in the pastry and slide it into the oven. Bake until pastry is deep golden brown, about 24 min. You will smell the vanilla and caramel – it’s wonderful.

Cool tart in skillet 10 min. Cut around sides to loosen pastry and place large plate over the top. Invert with oven mitts, allowing tart to settle on platter. Carefully lift off skillet – many tomatoes may stick, so gently peel them off and place neatly on the tart.

Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

I honestly can’t believe this recipe works. I doubted it up until I took the first bite, and then we were oohing and ahhing over it. I recommend you serve this to your hard-to-impress guests. Enjoy, friends! xoxo

Wine-poached pear tart

No kitchen is complete without Julia!

I have a theory, after reading Martha Stewart Living for many years, that she has simplified her gourmet recipes. I call it the Rachael Ray effect – modern cooks want great-tasting meals without all the gourmet techniques. And then Julia happened. Oh, Julia. Julia, Julia. After a certain blog-turned-book-turned-movie came out, who hasn’t been attempting Julia Child’s wonderful pastries and roasts in their so-not-French kitchens? I must say that Julia was not writing for the at-home cook. Or at least not the modern cook, who wants easy, healthy and fast recipes dumbed down to a 4th grade level.

Today will be known as the day I attempted my very first Julia Child recipe. Julia’s Pear Tart, which I found at another blog. It was written long and in a confusing order. I re-worked the recipe a bit, but I must warn you that this still took me ROUGHLY FOUR HOURS. From start to finish. Perfect for the holidays, if you are looking for an excuse to spend time away from the family. Also perfect for a free Sunday morning.

Julia Child’s Pear Tart, adapted by WriteGal

Make the sugar crust:

1 1/3 c. flour

7 T sugar

1/8 tsp baking powder

5 T butter, chilled, diced

2 T shortening

1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water

1/2 tsp vanilla

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder. In food processor, add butter and shortening, pulsing, until it resembles oatmeal flakes. Add egg and vanilla until dough forms a ball. Flatten into a disk and chill until firm, 1 hour to 3 days (if making ahead).

For the frangipane (I had never used this cooking method before, so I really had to trust Julia!):

1/2 c. toasted almonds, pulverized in food processor

1 large egg

1 egg yolk

3/4 c. sugar

1/3 c. flour

1 c. whole milk

3 T butter

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

Whisk egg and yolk in large bowl (KitchenAid) until combined. Gradually add sugar and beat until  pale yellow – 3 min. Beat in flour.

Heat milk in medium pot until scalded, temper into egg mixture, then pour all into egg bowl, whisking vigorously.

Pour milk-egg mixture back in the saucepot over moderate heat. Stir slowly until mixture thickens and coagulates into a stiff paste. NOTE: You will think you are doing this wrong because you’ll scrape up big globs from the bottom of the pot. Just keep stirring until it looks like some sort of gummy paste. Mom said it was like wallpaper paste. Beat vigorously with a whisk over low heat for 2-3 min. to cook the flour. Your arm will be sore! Take it off the heat and mix in butter, vanilla, almond extract, almonds. Let cool to room temp. Cover with a buttered parchment paper to prevent a skin from forming.

It looks like peanut butter!

Now, bake the crust. Heat oven to 375.

On a floured surface, roll out chilled dough to 1/8 in. and transfer to false-bottomed tart pan (8 or 9 inches is fine). Press into corners and fold 1/2 in. over the edges. Trim excess.

Line tart with buttered foil and fill with uncooked rice, beans or pie weights. I used barley. Bake for 10-15 min. until just set and not sticky (mine took about 20 minutes, I couldn’t believe it!). Remove foil and weights, then cook another 7-8 min., or until lightly browned. Remove from oven to cool COMPLETELY.

For the pears:

2 c. red wine (I used merlot)

2 T fresh lemon juice

3/4 c. sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

3-4 rip-firm pears (Mine were totally not ripe)

1/4 c. red currant jelly or other dark preserve

In a sauce pan over medium heat, combine wine, lemon, sugar and cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile, peel, half, stem and core the pears (melon baller is helpful). When liquid is boiling, add the pears and simmer until tender. Mine took 20 min. because they were so unripe, but yours might take 8-10 min.

The pears will become a rich ruby color and your house will smell like mulled cider. Let the pears cool in the liquid for 20 min. and then drain on a rack.

Rapidly boil the liquid down until the syrup starts to bubble like caramel, 230 degrees (I used a meat thermometer). Remove from heat and add preserves, stirring until dissolved.

Now, assemble the tart!

Paint the inside of the shell with the syrup. Fill shell with frangipane, smoothing with a spatula. Cut pears and place on top.

Lightly glaze pears with some of the remaining jelly. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

How did it taste, you ask? Very gourmet. The crust was perfectly flaky and flavorful, although some of the jelly baste dripped through and stuck to the underside. This can be remedied by simply putting buttered parchment on the bottom of the pan. The frangipane wasn’t too sweet, but had a rich nuttiness to it. The almond flavor was strong but not overpowering. In fact, the roasted almonds gave it an almost cocoa flavor, which surprised my guests to realize it had no chocolate in it. The pears tasted wonderful, just like mulled wine, and the jelly glaze was a wonderful finish. I recommend using the more tart red currant preserves because they match well with the sweetness of the other ingredients. A truly elegant dessert.

Enjoy, friends, and I hope everybody is having a happy and peaceful holiday! xoxo

Apple tart and autumn

Trail near our house - Bethabara Park

Why does it feel like autumn is over when all the leaves finally fall off the trees? We still have quite a few leaves hanging on down here, but this rain/wind storm is doing its best to remove them. This post is dedicated to some of the foliage I’ve enjoyed in my first fall in NC.

Yes, Ellie, this is the "scary trail"


Now, for the food. I made this apple tart a few weeks ago, adapting it from a Martha Stewart recipe. I made my own applesace, even, and it was pretty tasty. I think it would be even better with home-made crust. Here’s how it goes.

Preheat oven to 375. Roll out one thawed sheet of puff pastry. Smooth on a scant 3/4 c. good applesauce, leaving room for the crust. Fold up the edges to create said crust.

Layer thinly sliced apples over the top. Pick a firm, tart apple because they hold up better.

Brush the whole thing with melted butter and then sprinkle on sugar. Bake until the pastry is puffed and the apples are caramelized, roughly 25-30 min. for me, but check it at 20.

Once finished, brush on some melted jam, apricot or fig or whatever you have. Slice into pieces and serve warm.


Enjoy the end of your fall, friends! xoxo

Spooky chocolate pumpkin tart


Okay, so I know that Halloween is more than a month away. But darnit if those grocery-store magazines with all their fall/Halloween promos didn’t snare me. So now my coffee table has Martha Stewart, Country Living, Southern Living, Pottery Barn and Rachael Ray. All in orange, black and white.

A girl has to be prepared, right? This way, I’ll know which dishes to make and how to make them better by the holiday.

So, on to Martha Stewart. Her Halloween issue is one of my favorites because she always goes crazy. One recipe (among many) interested me: her chocolate-pumpkin tart. It took me around six hours, but I made it. And it is yummy nummy. The hardest part was finding canned pumpkin puree that is NOT pumpkin-pie filling. I finally found some, but it had to be organic, costing $3 a can! I had most of the other ingredients and used my turkey eggs, which worked great.

The most time-consuming part of this recipe was the baking/chilling time. The actual cooking part was easy, it just took a lot of steps. As a result, I’m not going to post the recipe here. It would take almost as much time as cooking the dang thing!

It starts out with a chocolate crust that you make with butter, cinnamon, cloves and cocoa powder (and salt, flour, sugar). You make it, chill it, roll it out, chill it again, then bake. Once that bakes, you sprinkle chopped chocolate over it, which melts nicely.


Chocolate on chocolate

Chocolate on chocolate


Next, you make a custard with creme fraiche (I used sour cream), eggs, brown sugar and spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves). Pour that over the crust and bake until set. Then you have to chill it before you make the spider-web pattern. For the web, I melted more chocolate and piped the pattern free-hand. Instead of adding plastic spiders to decorate like Martha, I piped my own little chocolate spider in the corner. I love the effect! Totally worth the tendinitis I now have in my left hand.


Then you have to chill it again, for about an hour (we watched “Mad Men”). This will make the chocolate design set like a shell. When you cut in, you get the spicy crust, then a layer of chocolate, then the pumpkin custard, then more chocolate on top. It was very chocolatey, like a pumpkin pie dipped in chocolate.


Layers of goodness

Layers of goodness

I think this tart would be great to bring to a Halloween party because it looks so festive. And it feels good to make something so pretty. Friends, don’t wait until the holidays to make delicious treats – you can always make more later. Enjoy!