A Sweetheart for Me and a Simple Jam Tart for You
Simple Jam Tart
I looked over at my husband a few evenings ago as we sat in our usual places after dinner in front of the television — he in his chair, ever present laptop casting a blue white glow on his handsome mug, and I pressed into a corner of the sofa, pillows wedged beneath me, iPad screen black and lacking my attention. I’m not sure what urged me to bring it up, but I told him to not worry about Valentine’s Day, to not bother with running to the store for a card or flowers — that I didn’t need a day created to sell cards to remind me he loves me. And then I had to confess I’d forgotten I had already purchased a card for him last week and watched him fake a pout and I laughed over the whole thing. We’ve celebrated “us” quite a bit in the last couple of months and I’m currently planning our trip to Paris and Germany for later this spring, so Valentine’s Day seems to have been lost in the shuffle.
I have spent the day thinking about all of the years that have passed, the photos I’ve taken of special treats, cards I’ve saved, meals I’ve made. Many, many years. I remember helping my boys fill out the little cards for classmates — and not just some classmates, but all of them lest someone get his or her feelings hurt because after counting, one may find another has more valentines. I remember spreading craft supplies across a big dining room table. Glue, scissors, construction paper, glitter, doilies — and the whole family working to help our youngest make his valentines for his Kindergarten teachers and friends.
I can even remember giving and receiving valentines myself in elementary school. There were no rules about making sure everyone got one then and so we just gave them to whomever we wished. Sometimes there was an unexpected message written on one or two of them stating I like you, do you like me? and then once realized, a quick glance across the classroom to catch the sender’s eyes gazing hopefully in one’s direction caused cheeks to burn with embarrassment.
I’ve been feeling very sentimental about many things lately, and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it is all of the old photos I continue to work on that bring up so much of what has been poignant about life and living. Or maybe it is just that I have a memory that doesn’t let much slip past, and like one may settle down into a comfy chair to watch a favorite movie again, I have days where I wallow in all of my favorite memories, mulling them over, keeping them close to my heart.
They make me smile.
And so tonight on this day that causes so many mixed reactions from everyone, I will fry beignets with my sweetheart — after we’ve walked our laps around the neighborhood, and after we’ve had a bowl of cauliflower soup and a salad. And then we’ll sit on the sofa together, our feet propped up on the piano bench I’ll drag into the room, snuggle under the plush throw I keep downstairs for chilly nights, and share a few warm beignets and homemade strawberry jam while watching television. I won’t have to twist his arm to get him to watch Notting Hill with me for the tenth time. He’s a pushover.
For you, I’ve got a simple jam tart I made without much of a recipe.
All it takes is a small ball of dough of your favorite pie dough recipe. I always seem to have some leftover and frozen. It thaws pretty quickly and I roll it then press it into one of my tart pans with a removable bottom. I make sure the dough is pressed into the fluted sides and prick the bottom with a fork, then line it with parchment and fill it with dried beans and pie weights to blind bake it. If you don’t have a favorite pie crust, then this one is excellent and you can find out about blind baking there, too.
But don’t get too fussy about it — clearly I didn’t. My crust pulled away from the tart pan quite a bit, but that didn’t matter since I wasn’t filling it with anything that might ooze or slosh over the edges.
A mixture of mascarpone and goat cheese — cream cheese works well also — and a bit of milk to lighten it so you can spread it on the blind baked crust before popping it back in the oven. You’ll need to keep an eye on it to make sure it’s only barely beginning to tinge gold in places.
For the jam, if you’ve got fresh or frozen fruit and sugar, you can use the microwave or stove top to cook it down into a quick jam that only takes about 10 minutes and some cooling time, like in this recipe where I used blueberries and sugar plums. The jam you see in the photos is a combination of berries I bought too many of and couldn’t keep up with so put them in the freezer — mostly strawberries. Usually when I freeze berries, I spread them on a baking sheet making sure they’re dry and not touching one another. When they’re frozen, I scrape them into a plastic bag, press all the air out of it and put it in the freezer.
Once the tart and jam are reasonably cool, I spread the jam over the cheese layer and slice into it because I have to sample it, don’t I? It’s good. It really is.
Now you could just use a packaged pie dough, one of those flavored cream cheeses I see in the deli case and your favorite jam from the fridge and you’ll still have a very nice, easy tart to enjoy with a good book and a hot cuppa, or share with someone who matters to you. Either way, it’s pleasant.
As always, thanks much for reading. And happy mid-February to you.