Recently, I have become obsessed with tarts. Savory and sweet. Made with eggplant, red pepper, feta cheese and fresh herbs from the garden. Or asparagus and caramelized leeks, a little Burrata cheese. Perhaps a balsamic glaze. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. But this summer weather is making me crave fruit tarts. And the blueberries have arrived. Oh boy, have they arrived. They are popping up everywhere. And I challenge you to show me a better summer berry than the wonderful blueberry. They are perfect in pancakes, marvelous in muffins, spectacular in salads. Ok, I am getting a little carried away. But I can not contain my excitement when I see the little beauties in their cartons. I love to buy a huge amount of them in the height of the season. I stick them in the freezer and all winter long I pull a scoop out here a few there. And with one bite, summer comes flooding back to my senses. They freeze amazingly well. They are like little blue marbles. Fresh and frozen berries through the long cold winter, it is a treat.
I also love pies. But we have a love, hate relationship, pies and me. I love them on the page, I make them. And am usually less than thrilled with the way they turn out. Especially fruit pies. And I know what you are thinking. Pies can be temperamental. And indeed they can be. You have this idea in your head of your delicious little pie, hot out of the oven and straight to your mouth. But something is off. The crust, the filling, the topping is burnt. The fruit is not cooked. It is too mushy, it is too hard.
I think you get my point. But a tart. Ahh a tart. These problems seem to go away. The crust, cooked to perfection. The filling is just right. There is no digging and scraping that piece out of the pie dish only to have it fall apart as you place it on the plate. The tart. The tart I love.
So If you do not have a tart pan, I encourage you to go purchase one. If you are thinking about making the following recipe, and you are saying, “Oh what is the difference, I will just make it in my faithful old glass pie dish.” To this I say, please. Please. No. I promise the reward will be well worth it. You may even banish that old glass dish, but for few occasions. And you will scream hallelujah for the tart pan.
So lets get to it already. First, I made my pie crust. Do not be scared of the pie crust. It is one of those things that if you do 3000 times, you will finally get it right. But what you get before you reach that enlightened pie crust making moment is still a decent crust. One you can be proud of. Because you blended and waited and rolled and watched it fall apart as you tried desperately to place it in the pan. But you did it. And there are literally thousands of pie crusts recipes out there. Each claiming to have found perfection. The one I used is fairly easy. Does not require much baking science. And it tastes good.
Next, I took my beautiful little blueberries and placed them in a pot with some cornstarch and sugar. I know most recipes call for flour. But I think the cornstarch, here, really makes the pie. In the end, it creates this thick, almost jam like center that is silken and irresistible. I have never had the same results when using flour.
Another love of mine, limes. I am not sure what it is about them. They add more depth to a recipe than a lemon. They are zingy and tart and sweet all at the same time. So, I zested and squeezed, my tart was nearing its end.
Pour your berries into the pie crust, make the topping and slip it into the oven. Now, I know it seems like a lot of topping. But pour it all on that little tart. Because it creates this delightful crust. The almonds and the sugar and the butter all blend together and sink into the pie, which bubbles its gooey purple center and spills out onto the pan below. I love taking it out of the oven. I pick off those ooey gooey parts left behind. They are delicious.
In the end, as you place your fork into the delicious blueberry confection. A dollop of vanilla ice cream melting on top. All plump and bursting with flavor. I hope your heart has grown, for the wonderful tart.
adapted from Bon Appetit
3/4 cup (or more) sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
7 cups fresh blueberries
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
zest from half a lime
Stir 3/4 cup sugar and cornstarch together in a saucepan to blend. Stir in blueberries, lime zest and lime juice. Cook over medium heat until mixture bubbles and thickens, Stir frequently, about 15 minutes. If blueberries are not sweet enough, slowly mix in more sugar. Chill filling until cool, about 1 hour. Make pie crust while blueberries cool.
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup frozen nonhydrogenated solid vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 tablespoons (or more) ice water
Blend flour, sugar, and salt in food processor. Add butter and vegetable shortening; using on/off turns, blend until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Add 5 tablespoons ice water and mix with fork until dough begins to clump together, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Gather dough together. Flatten into disk. Wrap disk in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Roll out pie crust on a floured surface. Transfer to 10-inch tart pan. Fill with blueberry mixture
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until it forms coarse crumbs. Sprinkle on top of tart.
Bake tart at 350 degrees for about 1 hour. Let cool for about an hour prior to serving. So juices have a chance to firm up. Enjoy!
For more photos and recipe ideas, check out Corey’s blog, Intheorganickitchen.com. Visit weekly to see her latest organic obsession.