Lemon Curd Shortbread Tart.

Whenever I visit my cousins in Denver, we do A LOT of cooking and baking together. I’ve been here for 3 days and we’ve already made so many good things. I wish I had photographed our dinner a few nights ago, elote chicken salad, but I spaced. I did manage to write down the recipe, though, so it’ll make it up on the blog someday. This afternoon, we wanted something sweet and tart, and lemon curd came to mind right away. This recipe is a team effort between my cousin Summit and me; she made the shortbread crust and I made the curd. The curd is exactly what you’d expect: tart, sweet, deliciously lemony. And the crust was a nice surprise, a bit denser than we thought it would be but still a really nice shortbread (it was everyone’s favorite part!). A warning for those who try this recipe themselves: as soon as our tart came out of the fridge, a feeding frenzy ensued. Be prepared.

Lemon Curd Tart | KellyintheKitchen | Ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, ground almonds, flour, water, parchment paper

INGREDIENTS

for the curd:
1 1/2 sticks (12 tbsp) softened butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs, and 4 egg yolks
1 1/3 cups fresh-squeezed lemon juice

for the tart shell:
1/2 cup finely ground almonds (or use almond flour)
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp sugar
8 tbsp cold butter
3-5 tbsp cold water

DIRECTIONS

Start with the curd. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. One at a time, add the eggs and then the yolks, stirring to incorporate between each addition. Once all the eggs are incorporated, stir another minute or two until creamy and smooth. Then, add the lemon juice and stir. Don’t freak if everything is separated and curdled-looking! You’re doing it right.

At this point, I started the tart shell. Stir together the ground almonds, flour, and sugar. Then, use a fork or pastry cutter to cut the butter into the dry ingredients, until the mixture resembles slightly clumpy sand. Add the water one tablespoon at a time–you want to use as little water as possible to hold the dough together. Once it holds without crumbling too much, transfer it to whatever you’re using to bake the tart. We used a cake pan lined with parchment paper, but this would be adorable in a traditional tart pan, too. Press the dough into the pan and then refrigerate for at least an hour.

While the tart shell refrigerates, cook the curd. Pour the lemony mixture into a saucepan and heat over low, stirring occasionally, until the curd is heated through and the mixture is uniform (i.e., no separation). Now, turn the heat up to medium and stir constantly for about 10 minutes, until the curd is thickened and beautifully glossy.

Lemon Curd Tart | KellyintheKitchen | Ingredients: butter, sugar, eggs, lemon juice, ground almonds, flour, water, parchment paper

Turn off the heat and transfer the curd to a bowl. Press plastic wrap right onto the top of the curd (this prevents a gross skin from forming on top) and let it cool to room temperature. Then, move it to the fridge to cool all the way.

Back to the tart shell. When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 400 F and use a fork to poke a few holes in the base. Ideally, you’d set baking weights or dry beans inside the shell on a layer or parchment, to weight it down while it cooks and keep its nice shape, but we didn’t have this and obviously everyone survived. If you’re using weights, bake with weights for 8 minutes, remove the weights, and finish for about 10 minutes. If you’re going naked (without weights) like we did, just bake for about 15 or so minutes until the shell is set and browning. Let it cool.

Okay, the final step is assembly. Take your cooled tart shell and your beautiful cooled lemon curd. Pour the lemon curd into the shell. Smooth the top. And if you can bear to wait, it’s probably a good idea to refrigerate for another hour or so, now that everything’s assembled. But if you can’t wait to dig in, that’s okay, no one’s judging.

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Once it’s cooled and fully set, you’re good to go. I definitely recommend serving this with whipped cream or ice cream. Keep refrigerated so the curd holds together nicely. Yum. And thanks for being my co-baker, Summit!

Spinach and Tomato Tart with Bleu Cheese.

Most of the time, I like recipes that are quick and easy, require minimum dish-washing, and have an ingredient list that’s more like a haiku than a novel. Most of the time. But every once in a while, I am overcome with a sort of culinary patience and concentration that allows me to make a recipe like this one. There are a few separate characters in this play: the tart shell, buttery and crumbly-good; the creamy filling, eggy and spicy; and the veggies themselves, that make this whole thing totally worth it. So if you’ve got a good 2 hours or so and you really want to spoil yourself with something rich and beautiful, this is your guy. Of course, you can always use a store-bought tart crust, which would cut the prep time down, well, a lot. Either way, this dish combines the best of the tart and quiche worlds into one mega-brunch food.

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for tart shell:
12 tbsp cold butter, cubed
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
water, if needed

for filling:
4 cups fresh spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
1/3 cup ham, cut into lardons, or strips
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp dried parlsey
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp dry mustard powder
3 small tomatoes, de-seeded and sliced
crumbled bleu cheese, to taste, for sprinkling (feta or goat cheese would be delicious here, too)

Just the Recipe Link: Spinach and Tomato Tart with Bleu Cheese

DIRECTIONS

Get the crust going first. In a food processor, blitz together the butter, olive oil, salt, and pepper until the dough is the consistency of wet sand. You’re looking for the dough to just hold together, so check to see if it does. If it’s a bit too dry, add a splash or two of water at a time and pulse the food processor until the dough reaches the right consistency.

Turn the dough out on to a sheet of wax paper. Form it into a flat disc, wrap in the wax paper, and refrigerate for at least half an hour.

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While the dough chills, get the fillings going. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1 minute, careful not to let it burn.

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Add spinach. It will look like a ton of spinach, but it will cook down a lot.

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Cook the spinach, stirring, until nearly wilted. Turn off the heat and continue to stir until completely wilted.

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Put spinach in a bowl lined with paper towels or a washcloth (it will stain green, so use one you don’t care about).

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When it’s cool enough to touch, squeeze as much liquid as you can out of the spinach. I usually start with my hands and then realize that I can get more liquid out if I squeeze it between two dishes. Once you’re satisfied that you’ve gotten enough water out, set aside.

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Heat the same pan over medium high and cook the ham, just to give it a bit of color on each side. Set aside.

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Finally, cook the onions. They’re best cooked last because they can soak up all that flavor goodness leftover in the pan after the ham! Add a bit of olive oil and cook until softened. Set aside.

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When 30 minutes have passed, take the tart dough out of the fridge. Let it sit 5 minutes before you roll it out on a floured surface. Then roll it to the general shape of the pie dish you’re using (I used a spring-form cake pan because I left my tart shell at my apartment – whoops).

Drape the dough over the pan and use your fingers to press it into shape. This step always take me a while because I’m not very good at getting the dough to stay in one piece while I’m moving it! Notice how I have no photos of this; I get distracted. A good trick is to roll the dough onto your rolling pin and move it that way, but even this doesn’t make my life much easier. Look at it this way – it’s food. Who cares if your tart shell is a little uneven?

After you’ve gotten the tart shell into the pan, put it back in the fridge for 15 more minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

When the shell is chilled, put a sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough and fill the shell with dried beans, or something else heavy. When I don’t have my baking beans on hand, I use another smaller pie pan.

Bake the crust for 20 minutes, until just starting to turn golden. Remove from oven and remove the beans and parchment paper.

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While the shell bakes, mix up the liquid part of the filling. Whisk together the yolks, egg, yogurt, and stock. Add parsley, paprika, mustard powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the onions and ham, and set aside.

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Pour the filling into the baked shell. Scatter the spinach evenly over the top.

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Lay the tomato slices on top in a circular fan pattern, and top with bleu cheese. Be careful not to use too much cheese; the other flavors are delicate, and too much bleu could easily overwhelm the tart. See this picture? I used just a bit too much, so learn from my mistake!

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Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil, season with a bit more salt and pepper if you like, and pop it back in the oven for about 25 minutes, until the filling has set. Serve immediately; also good at room temperature.

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Back from Scotland! and a Strawberry Custard Tart Recipe.

Hello again! I am safely returned from an amazing adventure in Scotland. Good whisky, otherworldly fish and chips, fun people, and gorgeous hills and sky everywhere you look—not to mention, my calves still burn with the effort (and satisfaction) of summiting Ben Nevis, the British Isles’ tallest mountain. Here are a few highlights of the trip (culinary and otherwise)…

First, some gorgeous sightseeing with my family, who hosted me for a night of authentic Scottish food and great fun!

Then in Edinburgh, my fabulous traveler friend Caroline and I met up. We had a very tasty breakfast and great cup of tea at an adorable cafe called Urban Angel (note the butter portion):

   

My first souvenir purchase was, of course, Nigella Lawson’s new book Nigellissima (which I love with every centilitre of blood in my body, despite the book’s use of the metric system).

We tried haggis

…and devoured it!

And we couldn’t say no to my favorite Irish late-night classic, garlic cheese chips:

One of my favorite parts of the trip was our visit to the battlefield at Culloden Moor near Inverness. Not only was it very moving and historically cool, but you could pretty much turn your camera in any random direction and still end up with a gorgeous photo:

Then in Fort William, we befriended an Aussie and a Kiwi, and together we climbed Ben Nevis in a rather impressive 6 hours flat! I’m pretty proud of us. Fans of The Simpsons will appreciate the similarities between Ben Nevis and Springfield’s Murderhorn (“yes, that’s it….just to the right of the one you’re looking at.”) Who needs PowerSauce Bars?

And another favorite moment was our glorious high tea at Stewart Victorian Tearooms in Glasgow. Mmmmm. Clotted cream.

It was a fantastic trip.

But my hands were itchin’ for the kitchen by the time I got home, and this was the first treat I prepared: my own birthday custard fruit tart. This tart is inspired by a custard from Laura Calder and a shell from Ina Garten, and it’s every bit as good as you’d expect a dessert from those two to be. It was super easy even though I did make the shell myself, but if you really want to streamline the whole process, you can buy a premade pie shell and simply cook the custard and top with berries. Creamy and light and a great alternative to birthday cake!

INGREDIENTS

for tart shell:
12 tbsp cold butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
water, if needed

for filling:
3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
splash of vanilla
1 scant cup Greek yogurt
pinch of ground nutmeg
2 cups strawberries, sliced
lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

First, prepare the tart shell. In a food processor, pulse butter and sugar until just combined. Add the vanilla and pulse. Then combine the flour and salt in a bowl and add in two batches, pulsing until just combined. The dough should just hold together when pressed, so if it doesn’t at this point (mine didn’t), add a few drops of water and pulse until it reaches the right consistency. Turn the dough out onto wax paper and press into a disc. Wrap in paper and let it rest in the refrigerator at least half an hour.

Take the cold dough and carefully roll it out to to the size of your greased tart tin or pie dish. Press the dough into the dish and up the sides. Put it back into the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Take the tart shell out of the fridge and carefully lay a sheet of parchment paper over the dough. Fill the parchment-lined shell with dried beans, or fit another smaller pan into the shell. This will help it keep its shape while it bakes.

Bake for 20 minutes, then remove the beans or pan and use a spatula to touch up any thin or slipping parts of the shell base or sides. Prick a few times with a fork and place it back in the oven to cook another 13-17 minutes until golden brown.

Remove shell from heat and set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the custard. Whisk together eggs and sugar. Then add vanilla and yogurt and stir until smooth.

Pour the custard into the shell through a sieve so that it’s totally smooth. Sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg.

Bake 18-24 minutes, until set. Let cool completely.

When the tart is completely cooled, arrange the strawberry slices on top of the custard. Top with a squeeze of lemon juice and enjoy! Happy birthday to me.