Caroline Cooks

A modest documentation of my culinary exploits.

Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Lemon and Kiwi Tart

March is here, and springtime no longer feels so distant. Truly, this has been one of the milder winters I've experienced, either because I'm living further south or because the weather's been abnormally warm this year.

Nevertheless, it wasn't until recently that the coming of spring could be sensed. Springtime has been forecasting its arrival as it always does, with fleeting, teasing moments: the wafting smell of fresh growth here, a balmy breeze there, perhaps a few golden seconds where the air is still and the sun is beating down so cozily that you're tempted to pull off that heavy wool coat and curl up like a cat in a sunbeam.

It's these transitional times that are most challenging for the seasonal cook. The spring fruits and vegetables aren't quite ready to make their debut, yet the winter squash and lingering pears seem old and tired.

But sometimes, a burst of color is all you need. Instead of filling a tart crust with Creme Patisserie and apples, I opted this time for a cheery yellow lemon curd paired with vibrant green kiwi. After all, lemons and kiwi aren't particularly loyal to any season. And a fruit tart is a classier way to greet spring than with Cadbury Eggs and Marshmallow Peeps.

shortcrust pastry (see below) blind baked in a tart pan or tartlet pans
a cup or two of lemon curd
4 kiwis, peeled and thinly sliced
(optional) apricot jam

Spread the lemon curd evenly in the cooled tart or tartlet crust. You only need about an inch of it.

Arrange the kiwi slices on top. If you prefer the fruit to be glazed, heat a couple tablespoons of apricot jam with a bit of water over low heat, and brush the warmed jam over the arranged kiwi slices.

You may have to chill the tart, so the lemon curd sets, before slicing into it.

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

A few weeks ago I got a frantic call from my sister around 1 in the morning.

"Hey Caroline...this is kind of an emergency. I feel like baking a fruit tart but I don't have a recipe."

Only we would have such emergencies.

Here is the shortcrust recipe I sent her.

1 cup flour
pinch salt
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 egg yolk
7 tbsp butter, softened

Sift the flour and salt into a mound on the work surface. Make a well in the center and drop in the sugar, lemon zest, and egg yolk. Draw in the flour from the edges to mix with the egg mixture, then add the butter in pieces. Gather into a ball and chill for at least 30 minutes.

OR zap the ingredients in a food processor until they form a ball.

Roll out the crust and line the pan with it. Prick all over with a fork and chill.

Blind bake the crust (line with paper or foil, and weights, and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then remove the paper and weights and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then brush with lightly beaten egg white and bake 5 more minutes).

Let the crust cool completely and then fill as instructed above.


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