Tag Archives: Berries

A Sweetheart for Me and a Simple Jam Tart for You

<img alt="Simple Jam Tart"/>

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.

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Easy Mixed Fruit Tarts: San Diego Food Blogger Bake Sale 2012

It’s the first day of spring and perfectly clear outside, the sun making its appearance after a much needed rainy weekend.  I’m feeling the urge to get out on my patio to start clearing away the damp leaves in my planters, trim the new growth from the vines we cut back last year, and get ready to plant the tomato seedlings I bought Sunday, but the air is more chilly than I’d like right now.  Too chilly to be outside digging in wet soil on the shady side of the house this morning.  Not too chilly to be out in the glorious sunshine enjoying a long walk, yet here I sit sifting through old photos and thinking I should get some writing done.  The words in my head aren’t ready to be put down yet, so much wanting to be said all at once crowding my thoughts and making it impossible to begin in any kind of a sensible way.  It’s annoying.

I try to get things going by dawdling around in the kitchen shining counters and finishing dishes that won’t quite fit in the dishwasher.  Making sure I have what I need to make dinner tonight so a last minute trip to the market can be avoided.  Deciding once again to put off the pantry overhaul I’ve been promising myself I’ll do.  But this morning, nothing has worked so now here I am instead, thinking about fresh fruit tarts I made several times last spring when I was trying to decide what I might make for the first ever San Diego Food Blogger Bake Sale.

The event was so successful, that this year we will be holding it again with Marie of Meandering Eats at the helm and are fortunate enough to be hosted by my favorite cookware store, Great News! in Pacific Beach on April 28th from 10-2.  If you’re not familiar with the event, you can read all about it at What’s Gaby Cooking.  Last year, $25,000 was raised nationally and this year, the goal is to reach $50,ooo to help feed hungry kids in America.  We’re hoping to double the amount we raised locally last year as well.

There are lots of ways to get involved even if you’re not a food blogger.  We have nearly 40 San Diego bakers signed up to participate this year, so the easiest thing to do is mark your calendar and plan on a visit to our sale making sure to save some time to shop at Great News! like I do whenever I have the opportunity.  Or you could make a donation which will be credited to San Diego Food Bloggers’ efforts by visiting our bake sale blog and clicking that DONATE button.  We’d like that.  Every little bit counts!  Or you can make a donation on my behalf which will also be credited to the San Diego Food Bloggers’ team efforts.

Now, what to make this year?  I made three different types of tarts last year and although I sold them all, it was a bit of a mad production the day before.  Perhaps if I cut it down to one type of tart but filled them differently.  I’ll have to think about it.  In the meantime, here is one type I baked for last year’s sale.  I’d made them for Mother’s Day and they were a big hit so I knew I could count on them again.

Fresh fruit, an unstructured crust.

So simple and satisfying!

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Rethinking Breakfast

Kefir cheese with a bit of honey and sliced strawberries on sprouted grain toast.


For most of my life, my morning routine involved waking to an alarm set to sound well before the the sun had even thought about sending its rays to brighten the black horizon outside my window.  I was ready for work in less than forty minutes and shuffling out the front door with my coffee in hand, satchel thrown over one shoulder and purse over the other.  There was rarely a thought for breakfast of any kind unless I remembered to grab a cup of yogurt I could eat in the car — not the safest decision one can make.

Although I no longer have that routine, the habit of not eating breakfast has stayed with me and I’ve had to work to remember to eat before 9am each day.  I’m rarely hungry first thing in the morning, and once I’ve had coffee, that seems to delay any hunger pangs that remind me to eat.  I get busy with my day and then don’t think about eating until I look at a clock and realize it’s nearly noon.   I’m famished by that time so reach for something with little or no thought.  A portion much too large.  Something — anything with some nice rib-sticking carbs.

Two pieces of toast with butter and maybe some jam or honey for added flavor.  A cup and a half to two cups of cereal.  A piece of left-over cake or pie.  Perhaps another of the muffins I’d baked the day before.  Left-over white rice with warm milk, butter, cinnamon, and sugar.  Lots and lots of carbs.  I will admit the toast was always whole wheat or multi-grain and the cereal the likes of Raisin Bran or Wheaties.  And thankfully there wasn’t always cake or pie sitting around, but I think you get the idea.

Clearly, I needed to make some adjustments with the first being to actually eat breakfast early in the morning instead of at lunchtime.  Next, I needed to make sure there were better options available.  That meant I had to spend more time thinking about what to put in the cart when I was at the market.

Sounds like a lot of work, doesn’t it?  It’s not.  It’s become routine in the last couple of months and I’ve noticed the more I stick with it, the more ideas I get.  Variety seems to be the key for me because I’ll stay interested.  Otherwise, I’m afraid I’ll ease back into my old habit of skipping breakfast.

What do you eat breakfast every day?

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Mixed Berry Shortcakes with Lemon Mascarpone Cream

I suppose you could convince me there is a dessert that typifies summer more than shortcake, and you might be able to string me along for a while before I came to my senses to explain delicately that, at least to me,  not much else can compete.

My shortcake memories go back years, but they always begin the same:  with a biscuit.  Not a slice of angel food cake, or pound cake.  A lowly biscuit.  One that, if you’re me,  would normally be found on a plate filled with beans, rice, and coleslaw.  That kind of biscuit.  The one that not much else can compare to when it comes to soaking up juice and binding everything together, whether it’s dessert or not.

Sure, I’ve tried a variety of recipes, combinations of flavors and ingredients, but in the end I’m only truly satisfied with that slightly salty bite of biscuit and the tart sweetness of fresh berries tempered by the richness of cream.  It’s fabulous.

Recently, my husband surprised me with Thomas Keller’s latest book, ad hoc at home.  He’d heard that the man himself would be visiting a local Williams-Sonoma so decided to wait on his lunch hour in a rather lengthy line to get Keller’s signature for me.  Not only was I touched by the gesture, I couldn’t wait to dig into the recipes.

You know what it’s like to get a new cookbook.  You leaf through the pages, savoring each possibility, wondering what might measure up to your expectations without killing yourself on the first attempt:  buttermilk fried chicken…rubbed and glazed pork spareribs…iceberg lettuce slices…No, it was the buttermilk biscuits that got my attention first.  I have to admit I did go back to the iceberg lettuce slices (you have to try his Blue Cheese Dressing), but the biscuits are what I first settled down to make knowing instantly they were destined for berry shortcakes.

Think about it.  They’re perfect for the picnic of all summer picnics — July 4th.  You make them the day before, cool them completely before sealing their crispy freshness away so you can split them and then dollop on some cream and berries that have had a chance to sit for a while to develop a lovely, syrupy juice.

There is an art to this if you want to take some time with it, and if you’d like to consider another ingredient you may never have tried before which is perfect with berries, try mascarpone.  I’m partial to mascarpone, so when I saw that Keller included it in a recipe for peaches and cream, I had to try it giving it my own spin, of course.

If you’re thinking that it may not travel well, think again.  With a few recycled jars filled and kept in an ice chest, you’ll be able to turn out the perfect summer dessert for your July 4th holiday, courtesy of inspiration from Thomas Keller, of course.

133/365:  Autograph

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Mixed Berry Bakewell Tart

Bakewell Tart 3 It’s becoming very apparent that I’m a complete failure at this business of working and trying to keep a food blog. I’m surprised, actually, because for years and years I managed to work a ridiculous number of hours and still have time to occasionally pretend that I might be Martha — sans the income, of course.  I’ve figured out that because I used to have so little time to do anything, I took quite a few shortcuts, or completely gave up what I enjoyed.

A few nights ago, I was yet again trying to explain to my very patient husband what the problem is;  I find solace in quiet activities that are often solitary in nature and often have a tangible product.  They’re things that keep my hands and mind busy and are often of a creative nature that can also be considered practical. Of course writing here packs several of those interests all into one nice product, so it makes sense that I’d enjoy it.  Unfortunately, for me it’s not very practical.

Therein lies the rub.

This would be the enormous excuse for why I’m just now getting around to posting The June Daring Bakers’ Challenge, hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart….er….pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.

Making a Bakewell Tart isn’t all that difficult if you’ve had lots of practice making pie crust.  It’s perfect with a cup of tea or coffee and a good book enjoyed on a sunny morning patio, or near a fireplace on a chilly day.  In fact, making a Bakewell Tart isn’t all that time consuming, either.  No, it’s more the time needed (and enjoyed) to read the forum at the Daring Kitchen to see what creative ideas others are using to make the experience more challenging, or to sit at my Mac on reveal day, clicking from one blog to the next, enjoying the stories and photos that accompany each baker’s experience.  I seem not able to manage both.

So here I sit well past June 27th, just now showing my tart.  It’s the first day of the July 4th weekend and the start of our family vacation time.  The sky is cloud free for the first time in more than a week and blue as blue can be.  It figures.

I’m sure there’s a lesson in this somewhere, so perhaps I’ll take my book out on the porch, stretch my legs and turn my face to the sun to doze a bit and wonder what I can do to avoid giving up something I truly enjoy yet again.

In the meantime, here’s my delicious Mixed Berry Bakewell Tart.

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