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Freezer releases a taste of summer

February 2nd, 2009 · 4 Comments · local food, recipes

The other evening, I decided it was time to remind myself of summer. I pulled out of the freezer a bag of frozen local raspberries that I bought late last summer. I opened my new cookbook, How to Cook Everything, and set out to make a raspberry tart.

I can’t say everything went entirely as planned. I broke one of my cardinal rules of baking (or cooking in general, really, when dealing with a new recipe), which is to read the entire recipe before proceeding.

Thus, it didn’t register with me until very late in the game that I probably should have thawed the raspberries. Or that I needed to chill the pastry an hour (!) before prebaking it. Or that I needed to allow extra baking time—I think—to make up for the frozen berries. Or that I would resort to sending the hot tart (no, not me!) outside with my daughter’s (not her either!) boyfriend. There, in the lovely evening air in the upper 20s F, he stood guard over the tart against the neighborhood dogs, cats, opossums, raccoons, squirrels, mice and any other possible marauders.

When he brought it back inside, it was the perfect temperature for eating. Even if it wasn’t the prettiest tart I’ve ever made, and even if it exposed my carelessness, it nevertheless tasted like a little bit of summery heaven. Ah…

Even better news is that I still have a bag full of sour cherries and 1/2 cup or more of raspberries in the freezer. Just thinking how I’ll use them makes me smile.

How do you get a taste of summer in February? Or do you lack the desire?

Here are the recipes, adapted from How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman.

Sweet Tart Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) frozen or cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if necessary
  • 1 egg yolk
  1. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the container of a food processor and pulse once or twice. Add the butter all at once; process until the mixture is uniform, about 10 seconds (do not over-process). Add the egg and process another few seconds.
  2. Put the mixture in a bowl and add 3 tablespoons ice water; mix with your hands until you can form the dough into a ball, adding another tablespoon or 2 of ice water if necessary (if you overdo it and the mixture becomes sodden, add a little more flour). [I had to add about 3 more tablespoons of water.] Form into a ball, wrap in plastic, and freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. (You can refrigerate for up to a couple of days, freeze for up to a couple of weeks.)
  3. Sprinkle a countertop with flour and put the dough on it; sprinkle the top with a little flour. Use a rolling pin to roll with light pressure, from the center out. If the dough is sticky, add a little flour (if it continues to become sticky, and it’s taking you more than a few minutes to roll it out, refrigerate or freeze again). Roll, adding flour and rotating and turning the dough as needed; use ragged edges of dough to repair any tears, adding a drop of water while you press the patch into place.
  4. When dough is at least 2 inches in diameter larger than your tart pan, move the dough into the pan by draping it over the rolling pin and moving it into the pan. Press the dough into all the nooks and crannies in the pan, being careful not to overwork it, and use a knife to cut the edges flush with the rim of the pan. [I used a metal false-bottom tart pans, and a quick run over the top with the rolling pin made for quite a nice trim.] Cover and chill 1 hour.
  5. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Prick bottom and sides of pastry shell with fork to release steam and prevent bubbles from forming. Butter one side of a piece of foil large enough to cover the crust. Press the foil onto the crust, butter side down. Weight the foil with a pile of dried beans or rice (they can be reused for the same purpose) or pie weights.
  6. Bake 12 minutes; remove from oven and remove the weights and foil. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking until crust has a nice golden brown color, another 10 minutes or so.

Simple Berry Tart

  • 1 prebaked tart crust (recipe above)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 3 cups strawberries, raspberries, blackberries or blueberries, or a mix, picked over, stemmed, hulled and sliced if necessary
  1. Rub sugar and cornstarch together with your fingers until well combined. [The back of a spoon worked fine.]
  2. Toss with about 2 cups of berries, crushing some of berries with a fork or potato masher to help dissolve the sugar. Pile berries into the tart crust, then top with remaining berries left whole (or halved if they are large strawberries, for example).
  3. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake until the fruit mixture is bubbly, about 3o minutes. [I swear mine never bubbled, even after I baked it about 10 minutes more.] Cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Joanne

    I’ve been raiding the freezer just as you are! Today I had a blackberry pineapple smoothie as part of my lunch. Pineapple from a can…and blackberries from the freezer. A few weeks ago, I made something with frozen peaches, and I’m slowly revisiting summer…

  • Janet Majure

    Ah, peaches. I’ll trade you my cherries for your peaches! I suppose that wouldn’t work, but I am envious!

  • Joanne

    Well, I admit that peaches are the one summer fruit that I think I cannot live through the long winter without. I freeze summer peaches so I can have just a couple cobblers and pies each winter. You can also buy them at the grocery store frozen. Storing them frozen’s a big old waste of energy but transporting fresh peaches is also a waste of energy in the winter. I’ve tried canning peaches and so far, I just don’t do that good a job. They are all limp and gloopy by the time we get to eating them in the winter time….that will be a goal to work towards!

  • Janet Majure

    I don’t think you need to apologize for storing frozen peaches. You got them nearby, I’ll bet, and I’ll also bet you’d be running your freezer anyway. Might as well keep it full of wonderful stuff!