Grandma Natalie’s Cranberry Relish


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My Sicilian grandmother didn’t know from Thanksgiving, but she was a great cook and her cranberry relish is the best I’ve ever tasted.  It is sweet, sour, crunchy and fresh.  It’s a welcome counterpoint to all the heavy Thanksgiving foods: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes etc.

There were no food processors back in the day so she used her cast iron, hand cranked meat grinder and sausage maker to grind the cranberries.  Now that my grandmother has passed away, I am asked to bring the relish to every   Thanksgiving dinner and it is my pleasure and my honor.

  • 12oz pkg fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup diced apple
  • 1 juicy navel orange
  • 1/4 cup diced celery heart
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (toasted or raw)
  • pinch of sea salt
  • A few grindings of black pepper
  1. Wash and dry cranberries.  Place in the work bowl of a food processor with the blade attachement and chop course.  My grandmother had a hand cranked meat grinder which she used on a medium grind for this purpose. You can also use a stand mixer if you have a grinder attachment or simply chop by hand.
  2. Place cranberries in a bowl and add the sugar, walnuts, apple, celery, salt and pepper.
  3. Zest the orange with a micro plane and add half or all to the cranberries.  How much you use is a matter of preference. I use half the rind
  4. Supreme the orange (my grandmother never did this) over the bowl of cranberries to catch the juice.  Cut the orange slices in half and to the cranberries.  In the picture, I have the oranges in the work bowl but don’t process them in there or you’ll get orange mush.

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5.  Let macerate for a few hours.  The sugar will break down the cranberries and make them juicy and a bit softer.  I recommend using the full amount of sugar.  If you find it too sweet you can add some lemon juice but it needs the sugar to break down the cranberries.

Carpaccio of Beef from Lucca

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My husband and I love to travel and one of our favorite places is Italy.  One year we had the good fortune to stay with a friend of my mother in law in Volterra, famous for its alabaster.  Ido graciously lent us his home and moved in with his daughter for the week.

Ido’s home was set in the Tuscan hill side amid peach and olive trees, grape vines and an assortment of vegetables.  The house was rustic with terra-cotta colored plaster walls and tile floors.  I distinctly remember chasing spiders out of the shower. All the beds in the house were cast iron with metal springs.  The dining room table was composed of several planks of wood pegged and doweled together and it was surrounded by tippy little chairs with rush seats. However, we rarely ate in the dining room.  There was a little patio on the East side of the house where we took our breakfast and in the evening we went to the patio on the West side of the house and had dinner, watching the sun set and eating Edo’s fresh peaches, soaked in his home made Chianti with a little sugar and lemon juice.

Every day Ido would drop buy bearing a small gift: some potatoes he’d just dug up, those amazing peaches with skin so thin and crisp and flesh so sweet and juicy that it was like biting into a Creme Brûlée with the crack of the sugar and then the unctuous silky cream.  Ido made his own wine, olive oil and peach preserves.  The peach preserves were lovely and had a distinctive flavor I had not tasted before. I sat him down one day and asked him to reveal the secret of the preserves.   “Well”,  he said.  “I macerate the peaches in sugar and lemon juice overnight.  Then I put everything in a big pot and boil it until it thickens.  Unfortunately, I’m usually doing several things at the same time and it usually burns.  But, I just scrape it up and put it in jars”. So, what was the secret of Ido’s peach preserves?  He burnt it and what I was tasting was caramelized sugar.  

Ido spoke a bit of French but often mixed it with Italian, creating new words and phrases.  For example, he would often say” Va bien” in response to our query, “ How are you”.  In Italian one would respond “ Va bene ” and in French one would respond “ Ca va bien”, thus Ido created the new phrase “ Va bien” which we still use with great affection when we speak of him and the enchanted week we spent in his home. 

The recipe I’m going to give you is not from Ido, but it is from Lucca, not to far from Volterra and certainly in the style of Ido: excellent ingredients prepared simply. Dinner was served in the garden of a farmhouse which was up a winding rode in the hills of Tuscany.  I remember two items from the meal.  One was an appetizer of thinly sliced pieces of Lardo.  The other a lovely carpaccio of beef.  I had never seen carpaccio of beef done with anything other than raw meat so I was happy to see that this was cooked, rare but not mooing. 

  • 1 lb Eye of round roasted rare and sliced paper thin
  • One 5 oz bag arugula
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • Hunk of Parmesan Reggiano
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper 
  1. I buy my eye of round at Whole Foods in the deli department. They usually have a nice rare piece and are very happy to slice it. Ask them to slice overlapping pieces onto wax paper and when they have filled up one sheet, put another piece on top and repeat, filling that sheet with overlapping slices. This way, the slices of meat don’t all stick together. 
  2. Dress the arugula with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the vinegar and a pinch of sea salt.
  3. Arrange 1/4 of the slices around the edge of the plate, leaving the inside empty.  Place a handful of arugula in the center of the plate.  With a vegetable  peeler, peel large pieces of cheese over the arugula.  Sprinkle the meat with some grindings of pepper and drizzle with the rest of the olive oil. 

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Candied Fruit (adapted from Chef Pierre Herme)

 

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  • 5 navel orange
  • 1000 grams (4 cups) water
  • 470 grams (2 1/3 cup) sugar
  • 60 grams (1/4 cup) fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 10 black peppercorns, preferably Tellicherry
  • 1 star anise
  • pulp from one moist vanilla bean
  1. Place a large pot of water to boil. I use about a 6 quart pot.
  2. Cut off a thin slice from the top and bottom of each fruit so that you can see the flesh.
  3. Working vertically from top to bottom, cut 1” slices of peel off the fruit including a thin slice of the flesh.
  4. Place the peels in the simmering water and boil for one minute.
  5. Empty peels and water into a colander.
  6. Fill pot with fresh water and bring to a simmer. Place peels in water and simmer one minute. Drain peels. Repeat this process 2 more time for oranges and lemons and 3 more times for grapefruit peel which is really bitter. The simmering process accomplishes two things. It removes the bitterness from the peels and it opens the pores of the peel so they can absorb the sugar which candies and preserves the fruit.
    Place the rest of the ingredients in a pot and bring to a simmer. Add the peels, cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours until peel is translucent and tender. Remove pot from the heat and let it sit out in the counter for 24 hours, covered. At that point, the peel can be placed in jars, with enough of the syrup to cover the peels or the peels can be drained and left on racks to dry. I have jars in my fridge that are about two years old and they still taste amazing. Eventually the syrup tends to crystallize but I simply wash off the syrup and use them. For this dessert, I would take some of the peel, put it on a rack and let it dry for 24 hours. Stick the remaining peels in the fridge for something else down the road. You can dry them and dip them in tempered chocolate, chop them up and use them for fruitcake, use them for a Casatta Siciliana or cannoli. These peels are so much better than anything you can buy. You’ll always want to have them on hand. This preparation also works well with grapefruit, lemons, kumquats and Michigan Sour cherries. You can change the spices, or use no spices at all, and the cooking time will be far less for the small fruits.

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Caramelized Walnuts

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Caramelized nuts are a staple, in my opinion.  They can be used in pastry applications and also in salads.  They’re easy to make either with a dry caramelization method or a syrup.  I love the ease of just throwing a bunch of sugar in a pan and caramelizing it but for the nuts, I’ve had more success with using the method below.  For some reason, I seem to get a smoother coating over the nuts.  The ones in the picture I did with the dry pan method.  As you can see they’re a bit gloppy  although still delicious.

  • 200 grams of room temperature walnut halves
  • 70g (1/3 cup) superfine sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  1. Place sugar in a small pot and moisten with the water.
  2. Place pot on a low flame and swirl the pan by the handle until the sugar is completely dissolved and liquid is clear. Bring syrup to a boil. Dip a heat proof pastry brush in cold water and wash any sugar crystals off the sides of the pot. Cook until the syrup reaches 248 degrees Farenheit.
  3. Pour in all the walnuts at once and stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to coat nuts with the syrup. The syrup will turn white and crystallize on the surface of the nuts. Keep stirring until the crystals melt and turn a light brown.
  4. Pour the nuts out on parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  5. Try and separate the pieces after a few minutes.

Earl Gray Ice Cream Cakes

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My family loves Earl Grey tea and begged me to try and tackle an ice cream cake with that flavor.  Earl Grey tea is a black tea flavored with Bergamot, a citrus fruit. I love the combination of Earl Grey and chocolate.  It also works well with other citrus fruits and with nuts, particularly walnuts.  So I thought a moist walnut and chocolate cake would be a nice base for the cakes.  If you don’t want to make a cake and prefer something crunchy, you can make a chocolate cookie crust.  Or, you can do none of the above and just scoop some in a dish and eat it plain or drizzled with sauce

Finding a chocolate cake recipe proved tricky. I didn’t want something too rich, like a brownie.  I thought about using my favorite chocolate butter cake recipe but butter cakes don’t like to be cold. They get hard and dry with refrigeration and I wanted to be able to assemble the ice cream on top of the cake and freeze the whole thing. So I started trying chiffon cakes which use oil instead of butter.  Oil doesn’t freeze so I figured the cake wouldn’t freeze hard. One recipe by Rose Levy Barenbaum in “The Cake Bible” caught my eye.  Apparently when her mother gave  her the recipe she told her the texture was perfect even right out of the freezer.  So I gave it a shot but it didn’t have a deep enough chocolate flavor and the texture was too fluffy so  I tried again, adding another 25 grams of cocoa powder and that seemed to do the trick. It had a deeper chocolate flavor and the texture improved as well.

This recipe makes about a quart of ice cream.  The number of cakes you get depends on the size of your molds. 

Earl Gray Ice Cream Cake Componants

  • Earl Gray Ice Cream
  • Chocolate walnut chiffon cake
  • 1/2  cup Caramelized walnuts ( see my post on Caramelized nuts)
  • 1/4 cup chopped candied orange peel (see my post on candied fruit)
  • 1 cup Bittersweet chocolate sauce

Chocolate/Walnut Chiffon Cake

  • 38g (7 Tablespoons) Cocoa powder
  • 88g (6 Tablespoons) water
  • 87g  bleached cake flour
  • 187 (3/4 plus cup 2 tablespoons)superfine sugar
  • 1/4 salt
  • 1 tsp  baking powder
  • 1tsp vanilla
  • 80.5g (3 Tablespoon) walnut oil
  • 27g (1 Tablespoon) Canola oil
  • 3 eggs separated (55g)
  • 2 egg whites (150g)
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Wisk together flour, salt, baking powder and all but one tablespoon of sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl pour 3/4 cup of boiling water over the cocoa powder.  Wisk until smooth.  Wisk in egg yolks, oils and vanilla.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the chocolate mixture in the middle
  5. Beat for 1 minute until smooth and glossy.
  6.  In a clean, grease free bowl beat egg whites at medium speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar. When egg whites are at soft peaks add sugar in a slow stream. Raise beater speed to high and beat to whites to stiff peaks.
  7. With a balloon wisk fold one quarter of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen up the batter.  Fold in the rest of the whites just until blended.
  8. Pour batter gently into the sheet pan. Keep the bowl close to the pan so your not deflating the batter by pouring from a great height.  Even out batter with an off set spatula.
  9. Bake for 13 minutes until a tooth pick crumbs out with a few moist crumbs attached to the toothpick.  image
  10. Cool to room temperature.
  11. Cut to fit the bottoms of your molds.
  12. Freeze the rounds, separating each one with parchment paper.

Earl Grey Ice Cream

  • 3 Tablespoons Earl Grey loose tea (I like the Earl Gray Royal from the Tea House which I buy on line. It has real pieces of dried bergamot as opposed to bergamot oil. I think it makes a difference).
  • 400g (2 cups) whole milk
  • 300 g (1.5 cups) cream
  • 50g (1/4 cup) glucose
  • 150g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 100g (5) egg yolks
  • 1 tsp commercial stabilizer pereferably Cremodan 30 (optional but recommended)
  1. Wisk together stabilizer, if using, and sugar.  Place milk, cream and glucose in a pot and wisk in sugar.
  2. Bring to a simmer and stir in tea leaves. Remove from heat, stir in loose tea and cover. Let steep three minutes
  3. Strain dairy through a fine mesh sieve into a clean pot.  Press firmly on tea to release as much flavor as possible. Discard tea leaves.
  4. Wisk egg yolks in a heat proof bowl. Stir about 1/4 cup of the base into the egg yolks to temper them and gradually wisk in the rest of the base.
  5. Place mixture in a clean pot and stir constantly on a medium low flame.  Cook the mixture at least until 145 degrees to pasturized the yolks. When the mixture coats the back of a spoon and you can draw a line down the center of the spoon’s back and the edges don’t flow back together, the base is done. I’ve seen a lot of ice cream books say you need to cook the mixture until 180 degrees but I don’t think that’s necessary.
  6. Strain once again through a fine mesh sieve to get rid of any particles of yolk.
  7. Chill overnight in a covered container.

Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce

i halve other hot fudge and chocolate sauces but this one is good for this dessert because it’s a little thinner and has a more de,I ate chocolate flavor

  • 8 oz fine bittersweet chocolate ( not chips but callets are fine.  For this sauce I like Callebaut semi sweet chocolate callets)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup glucose or corn syrup (I prefer glucose as it’s not as sweet and is more viscous)
  1. Chop chocolate into fine pieces and place in a heat proof container.
  2. Place glucose and cream in a pot and bring to a simmer.
  3. Pour hot cream over chocolate.  Cover and let sit about five minutes.  With a wisk, start from the center of the bowl and gently mix together the chocolate and cream, widening the circle as the mixture begins to amalgamate.  The purpose is to get a smooth mixture without air bubbles.
  4. Refrigerate until needed but warm it up before using.

Assembling

  1. Freeze whatever molds you are using whether it’s silicone or a stainless steel loaf pan or ring. I love, love, love silicone as the ice cream pops right out.  If I use a loaf pan, I line it with parchment paper. I prefer it to plastic wrap, which wrinkles. Of course, you can go commando and not use a liner but then, in order to unfold, you need to blast the mold with a blow torch or dip it in hot water. Too messy!
  2. Churn the ice cream and fill the molds.
  3. Take the cake and presss it gently on top of the mold. When you unfold, the cake will be your base.
  4. Freeze at least 6 hours
  5. Unfold and plate.  Garnish with toasted walnuts and candied orange peel.
  6. You can garnish with other sauces as well: fresh oranges poached in orange marmalade and fresh juice, rhubarb compote perfumed with lemon or orange zest.  Anything with citrus will work. Just don’t use too much or it will overwhelm the flavor of the tea.  In the top photo I used some pink grapefruit which I poached for a minute in some of my blood orange marmalade and a bit of fresh juice. If you don’t have blood orange marmalade hanging around strain some Seville orange marmalade, thin it with a bit of fresh juice until you have a saucy consistency and throw in some supremed orange segments.  Easy, peesy.

 

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Deconstructed Banana Split

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I love ice cream, almost more than anything. Almost any dessert can be enhanced by a scoop of gorgeously silky cold ice cream.  A crisp, a tart, a pie, even a cookie is better with a bit of ice cream especially if the dessert your pairing it with is hot and crunchy. Cold, hot, creamy and crunchy is irresistible.

I recently purchased an ice cream book called ” Hello, My name is Ice cream “, by Chef Dana Cree. Its a wonderful book, laid out in a logical way with clear instructions.  She is very thorough in her discussion of the science of ice cream with useful information on stabilizers, emulsifiers and other elements necessary for turning out silky ice cream.  She goes over the variety of frozen desserts: sorbets. sherbets, Philadelphia and custard style ice creams.  At the beginning of each chapter she gives you what she calls a blank slate recipe. This allows readers to create recipes beyond those that Chef Cree has offered.  For me, that’s the best kind of book because it allows me to create.

Chef Cree’s recipe for banana ice cream is amazing and has inspired a few iterations.  I have spun it and added a thin stream of melted bittersweet chocolate at the end so I get a banana stratiatella. I have served it with a rum caramel ribbon and a fudge ribbon. But the prettiest plate I’ve done is a rif on a banana split. I love the flavor of bananas in a banan split but not the incorporation of banana slices.  This banana split has banana ice cream as the base, scooped up into three little scoops and each served with its own sauce: caramel/rum, bittersweet chocolate and fresh strawberry.

A word about ice cream machines.  I use an ancient Simac Gelataio Boy.  It churns ice cream in about 15 minutes. The day it dies will. be a sad, sad day for me. It has a built in compressor which keeps the base chilled while you are churning it.  Since my Simac was manufactured, they EPA made it illegal to use this particular type of freon in non commercial ice cream machines, or so I was told by Simac.  I had purchased another Simac  a few years ago with a removable bowl, thinking it would be easier to clean and I did not like it. It didn’t get as cold and took longer to churn the ice cream. Therefore, the ice cream was not as creamy. I can’t recommend another built in compressor machine. Perhaps Lussino or Lello or another Italian company.

I also have a freestanding Cuisinart  unit where you need to chill the bowl before you use it. For some ice creams they may be interchangeable but for at least one of my ice creams, the Simac gives it a much better texture.  So, I used the Simac for this banana ice cream and I don’t know how it will turn out with the Cuisinart.  Let me know if you try it. The advantage of the Cuisinart is that if you freeze multiple bowls you can make several quarts of ice cream. My Simac heats up so I can do two batches and then I have to let it cool down before I can use it again. Yep, I need a commercial ice cream maker. I just don’t happen to have 10k lying around.

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Banana Split Componants

  • 1 quart banana ice cream
  • Strawberry sauce
  • bittersweet chocolate sauce
  • caramel/rum sauce
  • chopped roasted almonds
  • whipped cream

Banana Ice Cream

  • 500g bananas (Roughly 4 medium bananas.  Bananas should be very ripe with mostly dark brown and black skins)
  • 300g /1.5 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 400g/2 cups whole milk
  • 50g/1/4 cup glucose syrup (one could potentially use light corn syrup but I have not tried it with this recipe)
  • 150g/3/4 cup superfine or caster sugar
  • 100g egg yolks (5)
  • 1g/1/8 tsp sea salt (Chef Cree uses 1/4 tsp but I find it a bit salty)
  • 5g/1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3g/1tsp Cremodon 30 ( this is a stabilizer/emulsifier you can buy on Amazon)
  1.  Peel and place the bananas in a 2 quart heat proof container.
  2. Wisk together the Cremodin 30 with the sugar.
  3.  In a heavy bottom saucepan wisk the sugar into the dairy and add the glucose.
  4. Place the pan over medium high heat.  Wisk the mixture and bring to a full rolling boil then immediately remove the pot from the heat.
  5. Pour the hot base over the bananas and place the container in the refrigerator. I steeped my bananas for 24 hours for a full banana flavor but you can do less if you prefer or if you are in a hurry. I would advise doing no less than 4 hours.
  6. After steeping,  pour the base, including the bananas through a fine mesh sieve. Pick out any large pieces of bananas and discard.  Gently shake or stir the remaining contents of the sieve to allow as much liquid as possible to pass through. I used very ripe bananas and some of them fell apart in the base. I didn’t want any of the loose bananas particles in the base so I didn’t mash them through the strainer.
  7. Place the egg yolks in a stainless steel bowl and wisk together.  I like using stainless steel because I find that when I add the hot milk it thickens almost immediately and shortens the cooking time. Bring the base to a simmer and pour slowly over the yolks, wisking constantly so they don’t curdle. Place the mixture back in a clean pot and cook over low heat until the mixture thickens.   Cook the mixture until it coats the back of a wooden spoon and the edges of the mixture stay separate when you draw a line down the back of the spoon with your finger.
  8. Place a heat proof ziplock bag inside a heat proof container and fold the edges back over the rim. Pour the base through a fine mesh sieve, into the bag. Zip up the bag, expelling as much air as possible and place it in the ice water bath.  When the mixture is cool take the bag out of the ice bath, add the vanilla and place the bag in the fridge and chill overnight.
  9. Pre chill your ice cream machine.  Pour the contents of the bag in the machine and churn until the ice cream has the consistency of soft serve ice cream and holds its shape.

Strawberry Sauce

  • 1 quart strawberries
  • 2 Tablespoons of superfine sugar and more to taste
  • 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice and more to taste
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Purée sugar, salt and berries until puréed.  Push through a fine mesh sieve

Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce

  • 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate ( I like Lindt 70% or Valrhona)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  1. Chop chocolate into fine pieces and place in heat proof bowl
  2. Heat cream to a simmer
  3. Pour cream over chocolate and let sit for 5 minutes. Stir gently until combined

Caramel/Rum Sauce

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup superfine or caster sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tsp dark rum
  1. Place cream in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Cover pot so cream stays warm.
  2. Place water in heavy 3 quart sauce pan.
  3. Pour in sugar and stir so sugar is evenly wet.
  4. Put pot on a medium high flame and bring to a simmer. Pick up the pot and swirl it around so the contents swirl as well.  If the sugar is not all dissolved, related the process until the syrup is clear and you can’t see crystals of sugar.
  5. Place lid on pot and raise heat to high. Let it cook for a few minutes and remove the lid. If you see sugar crystals clinging to the side of the pan, wash them off with a heat prof pastry brush dipped in cold water. The syrup will become thick and bubbly. When the syrup starts to color, pick it up and swirl it from time to time. When the syrup is a light caramel color remove it from the heat. Add the cream slowly.  Be careful it will bubble up and may splatter.  Stir over low heat until the caramel is smooth and any hardened bits are melted.  Pour into a heat proof container and let it come to room temperature.  Stir in the rum and a pinch of sea salt.

Assemble

Place three little scoops or quenelles of ice cream on a plate and put a bit of sauce around each scoop. Garnish with fleurettes of whipped cream, chopped toasted almonds or bits of strawberry.  Or, put three scoops in a glass, pouring each sauce over the ice cream and garnishing with whipped cream.image

Michigan Grape Tarts

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I rarely buy grapes in the supermarket. While they are sweet, they have no flavor. Occasionally I find Muscatel grapes at Whole Foods and those are wonderful. For the past few years I’ve found a Michigan variety of a petite, seedless grape with a lovely, delicate flavor. I believe the variety is called Candace. Each grape is the size of a hazelnut: rosy red with touches of pale green.  Right now, I am finding these grapes in my Midwest farmers market.  Go buy some and try this tart!

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These little grapes make great tarts and provide a nice change from berries or stone fruits. You can make all of the components in advance and the assembled tart will hold up in the refrigerator for at least 10 hours.

Pate Sucree

  • 2 oz unsalted butter, softened but cool
  • 5 oz unbleached all purpose flour
  • 3.5 oz 10X powdered sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • Eight 3.5″ non stick tart shells.
  1.  Slit open vanilla bean and scrape out seeds. Place on top of the butter. Whisk together sugar and salt. Cream butter until lightened in color and airy. Beat in sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in flour  just until blended. Press dough  into rectangle about one inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or up to 3 days.
  2.  If you don’t have non stick tart pans don’t worry. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter and mix in 1 tablespoon of flour. Paint the tart shells with this mixture .
    Place your tins on a rimmed baking sheet. Line them up in the shape of a rectangle, two by two, with their edges touching.
  3. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it soften. Roll it between two sheets of plastic wrap, keeping the rectangular shape like the formation of your tart tins. Roll to 1/8″.  Peel off the top layer of plastic wrap and invert it over the tins. You will probably only be able to do 6 tins and then you can make the remaining two from re rolled scraps. Peel off the top layer of the plastic wrap. Run your rolling pin over the top of the tines. This will cut off the excess dough. Take a ball of dough, dipped in flour and use this to press the dough into the tins. It’s best to start at the center of the bottom and work your way around to the sides.
  4. Let chill at least another hour. Even better, freeze the shells and bake from frozen.  The tend to hold their shape better.
  5. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees farenheit. Bake the shells blind: line your tins with parchment paper or do what the ingenious Rose Levy Berenbaum suggests and use 3.5″ basket style coffee filters as liners. Line your tins and fill them to the top with pie weights or small dries beans.  Bake the tarts for 7 minutes on the rimmed sheets in the lower third of the oven. Remove them from the oven. The dough should not look raw anymore but it will still be pael. Try and gently remove the liners with the beans. If they stick put the tarts back in the oven for 1 or 2 minutes.  Pull them from the oven and try again to detach thenliners.   Once you remove the liners, lower the temperature to 375 degrees farenheit and bake until the shells a browned, roughly 13 more minutes. remove them from the oven and cool them in the tins.
  6. When they are cool, invert them. They should slip out of the pan.

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Pastry Cream

  • 8 oz whole milk
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • pinch of salt
  1. Pour the milk into a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Slit open the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the milk.
  2. Bring the milk to a simmer and turn off the heat and let steep for 15 minutes. Scrape out the contents of the vanilla bean and mix into the milk. Discard the bean.
  3. Wisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt until light and thick. Sift the flour/cornstarch mixture over the eggs and wisk until smooth.
  4. Bring the milk back to a boil. Temper the egg yolks with a little milk, wisk together and pour in the rest of the milk.
  5. Return the mixture to the pan and bring it to a boil, while wisking. When it starts to thicken whisk vigorously until it is thick, creamy and spreadable.
  6. Push it through a fine mesh sieve and 1 tablespoon of butter.  Flavor with
  7. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. If you need it faster, put it an ice water bath

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Glaze

  • 4 oz Apple jelly
  1. Melt apple jelly over low flame until it is completely liquified. Set aside and reheat if necessary. It should be quite liquid when it is used.

Assemble

  1. Spread each tart shell with roughly 2 tablespoons of pastry cream.
  2. Starting with the outside of the tart shell, place grapes around the perimeter. Make another circle inside that one and another until the bottom is filled. Place more grapes on top to get a mounded look.
  3. Brush a thin glaze of apple jelly over the grapes.
  4. Return to the refrigerator until the jelly sets up. Serve any time after that although I do think it benefits from ripening in the fridge for an hour or two.
  5. You can enhance the flavors of this tart with a little glass of Muscat Beaumes de Venise, a sweet wine made from Muscatel grapes.