Strawberries and Cream Tart

Gavin and I had another couple over for dinner the other weekend and as it was a low-key sort of deal, I wasn’t planning on making a dessert. When I told him that, however, he gave me a sharp look and declared that German’s expect dessert so I better figure something out. Luckily, with some sweet pastry dough in the freezer leftover from making Smitten Kitchen’s Apple Pie Cookies and Julia Child’s Kitchen Wisdom at hand, I decided upon a strawberry and cream tart. Make ahead, serve at room temp*, doesn’t need a lot of ingredients: perfect.

I won’t lie to you, I cheated a bit.. I didn’t actually make an apricot glaze – I just used apricot jam. I also didn’t use a tart pan (obviously) or glaze the strawberries. What I did was create something tasty and satisfying without feeling too heavy. It’s easy as pie. Easier actually.

What you need:
a punnet (or 2) of strawberries
pastry dough, storebought or homemade
thick double cream (Julia used Pastry Creme or Creme Patissere – too much work for me)
apricot jam or glaze

What to do:

1. Roll out pastry dough on a floured board/counter in a rectangular shape until about a quarter inch thick. Place onto a parchment/greaseproof paper covered baking sheet. Spread apricot jam over dough, keeping about 2 inches or so free on all sides. Follow with cream.. I was pretty heavy handed, although Julia says to use up to 1/4 inch! Arrange hulled strawberries in an appealing pattern. I didn’t have enough strawberries so I cut them in half. Not as pretty but just as tasty. If you have enough strawberries to put them in whole, glaze them with the apricot jam.

2. Bake in a on oven pre-heated to 190C/375F for about 30-45 minutes or until strawberries are softened, crust is toasty brown, and cream is bubbling.

3. Eat. You can either serve it warm, letting it sit for a moment to allow the cream to firm up a bit, or, like me, bake it ahead of time and serve it at room temp. Ice cream? Fabulous. Pouring cream? Divine.



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Fantastic Soup!

Let me tell you about the soup that I ate last night. It was perfect for the evening, which was cold and rainy. I had 2 cooked chicken breasts, rice, and kale in the fridge. Hence this soup made it’s way into the world.

Basically, it’s an Asian-inspired soup.. I cooked diced onions down until they were browned, added garlic and ginger and let bloom for a bit. Then I dumped in a bunch of chicken stock. Let that simmer while chopping up kale. I dumped the kale into the pot and started to flavor the broth. Heck yes. This is where the fun starts.

Step one – salt. Soy sauce is good. Adding marmite to soy sauce? Even freakin’ better. Seriously. Step two – heat. Chili-garlic sauce (rooster sauce (sriracha sauce)) to taste – I like it hot enough that you feel it but it doesn’t blow your head off. Step three – balance. Add some acid to complete the sweet(onion)/salty(soy)/spicy(chili)/sour(vinegar/lime) combo.. I used rice wine vinegar. It was good.

Once the broth was to my liking (I did a LOT of tweaks til I was happy), I added the chopped chicken breast to the broth and kale to reheat. To serve, I filled a bowl with rice and spooned the soup over the top. So freaking good. I bet it would be good with tofu. Or as an egg drop soup… Mmmm…

The times they are a-changing

Well, the weather is at least. After our week-long heat wave of 30C weather, we are now back into “normal” October weather. Grey, windy and cold. 12C today! We actually have all of our windows shut (weird for us) and I had to turn on the heat! Granted, it was only for 40 minutes to take the chill off. But still! Last weekend we were sitting outside in shorts having a BBQ! This weekend it’s all about braises and soups. I pulled my pork shoulder out of the freezer to make some pulled pork/carnitas and I had Gavin go to the butcher to get some sausages. Don’t sausages seem so wintery, especially with mashed potatoes and gravy.. Mmmm.

I feel bad for my poor tomatoes. They apparently thought that summer had arrived with all the warm weather and they sent out about thirty new flowers! Now it’s cold and I’m afraid that it’s just not going to happen. Instead, I can now just look forward to next seasons garden. I have tulip and daffodil bulbs to plant, some planters to build, and some foxes to contend with. Today, however, I am content to clean the flat and eat some of my late season peach butter. Yum!

Tinniegirl Blogtoberfest 2011

Window garden

I have had this mini-obsession with plants recently. At the office I have become the official gardener and have brought 7 plants from the brink of death to flourishing beauties. My crowning glory has been a clematis vine that I brought in and now have growing up a shelving unit near my desk. It is seriously growing about 4 inches a day, it’s amazing. Unfortunately, I have no plants at home. I keep thinking what kind I want and it’s hard because I don’t have an actual garden, just a windowsill in my room.

I think this little lovely “gardening bag” is a great idea! It’s cute, compartmentalized, and compact. And it would look lovely on my windowsill. I was thinking maybe a little herb garden.. Now I just need to figure out if anything like it is available here. The site is in German, which I can’t understand but I can ask the German’s at work.