Monday, July 19, 2010

Fruit Tarts and Cuisinarts

Dear Inventor of the Food Processor,
You are a genius.  Your machine is squat and ugly but dang, is it a workhorse.   The blade inside could kill someone, but I guess it has to be sharp to do its job. Like blending butter I was too lazy to defrost into flour and a touch of cream cheese to make a flaky, perfectly-browned, substantial-yet-not-too-heavy crust for my fruit tart.  Seriously, it was perfection.

My uncle gave your machine to my mom about 25 years ago, and somehow it fit right in to a 1980s kitchen (like I said, it ain't pretty).  She used it to make "cuisy gravy" as well as delicious desserts and probably some other things I can't remember.  She warned me about the blade.  I used to lick it anyway.  Probably cut my tongue more than once.

Now it's mine.  I knew all the usual tricks one could do with a food processor, but not until this tart came out of the oven did I understand just what this little machine could do.  So thanks, Inventor, for helping me make fabulous desserts that I don't even have to break a sweat preparing (omg, can you imagine cutting frozen butter into flour BY HAND? As if!). 



Rustic Fruit Tart (adapted from Moosewood: New Classics)
The recipe calls this a plum tart, but I added nectarines, peaches, and strawberries.  Oh, and it's fabulous with a little dollop of whipped cream on top!
Use cold ingredients to achieve flaky pastry, and be sure to let the dough rest in the refrigerator while you prepare the fruit.  I used Tofutti fake cream cheese to reduce the dairy, and it worked quite well. 
1 1/3 cups unbleached white flour
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup chilled unsalted butter
1/4 cup chilled cream cheese
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp ice water

1 1/2 pounds (about 5 cups) fruit
2/3 cup sugar (use less if you use sweet fruits)
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp grated lemon peel

1 egg, optional

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. Mix flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl or food processor.  Cut butter and cream cheese into 1-inch pieces and incorporate them by hand, or by pulsing in food processor until they are the size of peas.  Mix in lemon juice and ice water until mixture begins to form a dough.  Shape into a ball, flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until ready to roll out.
3. Slice fruits into 1/2-inch wedges and put in a bowl.  Add sugar, cornstarch, and lemon peel and mix well.  Set aside.
4.  Lightly flour your rolling surface, rolling pin, and the dough.  Roll from the center out into a 14-inch circle, flipping and rotating directions as you go.  If dough seems too sticky or soft, refrigerate for about 10 minutes.
5. Transfer dough to prepared baking sheet or pie plate.  Arrange fruit in concentric circles, starting at center of dough.  Leave about 2 inches between edge of fruit and edge of dough.  Fold dough over fruit to make a border (center will be open).  For a pretty golden sheen, whisk egg with a tablespoon of water and brush it on pastry dough.
6. Bake for 15 minutes.  Then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes.  Crust should be browned and juices bubbled up.  Cool on rack for 30 minutes.  Serve while still warm.

Pomegranate plums (the darkest fruit pieces in the tart)

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