Friday, August 31, 2012

Browned Butter Blueberry Tarts

A few months ago I finally got around to reading a book that's been on my bookshelf for, well for a ridiculously long amount of time considering it was a non-fiction book about baking. I had picked it up for $1 at a used book store and it had a giant sticker over the author's name, so I didn't pay too much attention to it. The book was Confections of a Closet Master Baker (and I guess it has now been re-published under a new title for some reason: My Life from Scratch, but from I can tell only the cover image and title changed). Anyways, the author's name is Gesine Bullock-Prado, which still didn't ring any bells until a good long way into the book at which time a lightbulb went on over my head: that's Sandra Bullock's sister! Huh. That's kind of cool. What was even more awesome about the book was the easygoing writing style, the not-sugar-coated stories (despite the high volume of actual sugar involved), and surprisingly the wonderful recipes included in the book. I have quite a few of them bookmarked for future experimentation, but as is my nature I had piled that book back onto the great big pile of things I still need to do and promptly forgot about it again for way too long.

Browned Butter Blueberry Tarts Unbaked

A little while ago I had decided to clean out my freezer and among all the other odds and ends I had found some leftover tart dough from a quiche I had made for Mother's day. Apparently it keeps extremely well if wrapped up tightly and stored in the back of the freezer. I had a pint of blueberries sitting in the fridge (there were two but I hoovered up the first one like popcorn) and all I needed was a recipe to put the two together. I did a quick search and found Dessert First Girl's blog, with review for Gesine Bullock-Prado's cookbook: Pie It Forward! Her post was about the blueberry brown butter tarts from the book and they looked and sounded like just what I was looking for, so I used my crust scraps, whipped up her tart filling and made mini tartlets that I grabbed straight from the oven, tossed into a box and brought with me to an impromptu family brunch. I believe one comment was "This is the best thing I've ever put into my mouth!" I'll chalk that up as a success and Gesine's book is now back at the top of my todo pile.

Browned Butter Blueberry Tarts Baked

Browned Butter Blueberry Tarts
Recipe adapted from Gesine Bullock-Prado via Dessert First Girl  
For the crust I used the leftovers from here, but you are also welcome to make the crust from Dessert Girl's post.

2 large eggs
1/2 cup (100 g) sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup (30 g) flour
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter
1 pint (340 g) blueberries

- If you're using up dough leftovers like I was, let the dough defrost in the fridge overnight. Flour the counter and roll out the dough to about 1/4" thickness. Cut out circles of dough to fit into mini tart pans, press it in and dock the bottom with a fork. Let the prepared pans rest in the fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350F. (Otherwise just use your own crust and pre-bake it like I did).
- Fill your tart pans with parchment paper (I like to crumple it up so that it fits into the pans better) and pie weights/beans/rice and pre-bake for 15 minutes or just until the bottoms no longer look wet. In the mean time, make your filling.

- Combine eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk together.
- Sift flour over the mixture and carefully fold in.
- Place butter in a medium saucepan and melt over medium-high heat until melted. Continue cooking until butter has lightly browned and begins to smell nutty. Keep a careful eye on it because once it starts browning it can burn really quickly and become unusable. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
- Pour browned butter into egg mixture and whisk to combine.
- Divide blueberries among the tart tins. Pour the butter mixture over the berries until they are just covered.
- Bake tarts for 20-25 to minutes, until the top crust is browned and filling is bubbly.
- Let it cool completely before removing from the tart tins or you'll end up burning your hands. Ask me how I know that.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mojitos on a Whim

Mojito Process

This morning one of my lovely co-workers brought me a bouquet, which basically made my Monday. Not just any bouquet, mind you, she brought me a bouquet of mint she'd picked from her garden that morning. Now I don't know what this means for you, but for me that means the day will end with a mojito!

Mojito Fixins

All day long the mint sat on my desk smelling heavenly and completely erasing any work related stress and when I got home I had a quick dinner, whipped up a mini batch of mint simple syrup, ran around and did some small chores around the house while it cooled, and before I lost all light I mixed up a nice tall frosty mojito for myself, heavy on the lime. I highly recommend it!


Simple Mojito
makes 2 (or one huge one if you're a lush).
I know this isn't rocket science and quite a few people will either not want a recipe or have an even better one, but this made me so happy today that I just wanted to share with you my way.

3 limes
rum (I used Bacardi)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Big bunch of fresh mint
club soda or tonic

1. In a small saucepan combine sugar water and a good handful of torn mint leaves. This isn't really an exact science, you just want all the leaves to be submerged so don't put in too much. Bring to a simmer and stir until all the sugar is dissolved, then turn off the heat and let it infuse and cool for at least 15 minutes.
2. Roll your limes across the counter a few times pressing hard to break down the insides and juice them.
3. Drop a few mint leaves into the bottom of your two glasses and bash them with a muddler, fork, rolling pin, or any other blunt object you may have on hand. Beat the crap out of them, just don't break the glasses.
4. Fill the glasses about half full of ice, top with two shots of rum, one or two shots of your mint syrup (depending on how sweet you like it), a shot of lime juice and a splash of club soda or tonic. Stir.
5. Stick a sprig of mint in there to make it pretty, find a straw and a chair in the shade and enjoy.

* Save any leftover simple syrup for next time...or for round two :D
Mint Simple Syrup