Saturday, August 04, 2007

Blueberry Almond Tart

Gabrielle, the angel who introduced Mike and me, is my only friend who would call me on a Friday in late July and say “I just threw a roast in the crock pot. Come over for dinner.” I just adore this woman!

I hurried home from work, threw together a blueberry tart (more on that in a minute) and went over there to gorge myself with Gab and her lovely man Damien over comfort food. In addition to the roast, we had sauteed mushrooms, mashed potatoes, peach cobbler, and this tart. "Not a vegetable on the menu," Gabrielle said proudly, shoulders thrown back in the pose of a defiant child. It is not that I advocate avoiding vegetables. On the contrary, the rest of this blog should convince you that I am a veggiephile (if that can be considered a word) and would normally work on convincing you to eat many of them.

There are those times, however, those hot summer days when all the rules are thrown out the window. These are the times when we indulge in the things our parents told us not to do, including veggie-free meals with three desserts (did I mention there were chocolate covered cinnamon cookies as well?) for three people.

I was lucky enough for this to be the eve of my 29th birthday as well. The perfect occasion to celebrate with two inspiring, creative friends and think about all the opportunity and possibility for the next 29 years and beyond.

I have been wanting to try a recipe out of a cookbook I just got: Perfect Light Desserts by Nick Malgieri and David Joachim. This book brags that these light recipes contain real butter, sugar, flour and eggs. Amen, I say. Of course, on short notice, I didn't have all the ingredients necessary to make one of the recipes in its full glory. In addition, I'm not one to leave a recipe well enough alone, so I used the pastry cream from the raspberry tart (the gorgeous one pictured on the cover of the book) and added ground almonds, my own little touch. Blueberries instead of raspberries and we had ourselves a blueberry almond tart!

The blueberries in this tart were only made sweeter by the fact that I picked them myself with two of my friends and their little boy the weekend before. They hold up so well in the fridge, they tasted like I had picked them that day (plus there was all that extra love in there from the handpicking).

Blueberry Almond Tart (loosely adapted from Perfect Light Desserts)

Since I made this after work in a big hurry, I chose to use a store-bought roll-out crust (no shame in that, people). If you have a favorite crust recipe, go ahead and use that, but you can always take cheaters' route and do what I did (It's the hot-days-of-summer - you're entitled!)

1 roll out crust, or crust of your choice, rolled out

1 cup fat free milk
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
2 Tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
1/2 cup blanched toasted almonds, chopped very finely

1-1/2 pints blueberries, rinsed, dried and picked over

powdered sugar for finishing

Turn the pastry dough into a tart, quiche or pie plate. Press it gently into the pan and pinch the edges. Pierce the bottom and sides of the dough with a fork. Bake according to the directions for your particular dough, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

In the mean time, make the pastry cream. Combine the milk and half of the sugar in a small pan. Bring to a boil over low heat. In a small bowl, mix the rest of the sugar with the flour and combine well. Whisk the eggs into the flour mixture. When the milk boils, pour about a third of it into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Pour this mixture back into the milk mixture over low heat. Whisk constantly until the mixture returns to a boil. Cook 20 seconds longer and remove from heat.

Add the vanilla, butter, Amaretto, and almonds. Refrigerate this mixture until cool.

To assemble, spread the pastry cream in the bottom of the crust, top with blueberries and sprinkle with powdered sugar

(Serves 8)

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