Category Archives: Tarts

from plum crumble . . .

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tart a-palooza

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pineapple tart bars

there’s a very famous taiwanese pastry known as feng li su (鳳梨酥).  it’s basically a shortcake like dough that’s stuffed with a pineapple paste.  the traditional way of making these taiwanese goodies, entails making a lard based dough, rolling it into 3″ diameter circles, stuffing it with pineapple paste, wrapping it up, and then fitting the little package into a 1.5″ square mold so that each one comes out uniform. Continue reading

lebne yogurt tart encounter

a few days into the new year, hubs and i wandered over to compose restaurant  (opened by a noma alum) in tribeca to check-out its bar menu.  to say that we were delightfully surprised would be an understatement.  we enjoyed our experience at the bar so much, that we made a reservation at the end of our meal to have the full ten-course experience in mid-february.  the much anticipated meal is finally coming up next week, and i’ll give a full download on the restaurant then.

i mention compose because it was there, where i first encountered the incomparable lebne tart. the barman explained to us that lebne is a type of middle eastern yogurt.   with the help of some light googling, i later learned that lebne goes by many names throughout the middle east and mediterranean region.  it is sometimes spelled lebni or labneh or laban or kefir cheese.  i don’t yet know what the regional differences are beyond the nomenclature.  the stuff itself has the consistency of sour cream or a strained greek yogurt — in fact, if you can’t find lebne in your supermarket, you can just buy greek yogurt, and let it strain overnight. Continue reading

sweet potato tart redux

i made a sweet potato tart for thanksgiving last year, and it turned out so swell that i decided to make it again.  i think it’s becoming a bit of a signature turkey day dessert of mine.  this time around, i did away with the chocolate layer, used a pate brisee tart shell, and decided to cover the entire top of the tart with candied pecans.

i wonder what iteration next year’s sweet potato tart will take?

tomato and caramelized onion tart

given my blog’s name, you’d have thought i’d have a plethora of tomato recipes on the site!  well, i finally got around to writing up a tomato tart recipe.  it was also a good opportunity, too,  to use up all the cherry tomatoes that i had been amassing in my fridge.  of course, it turned out that i was a few tomatoes shy ,but i think i had just enough to fill up the tart shell in a decent enough manner.

did i ever mention that tarts, savory and sweet, are like the perfect thing to make when entertaining?  you can make all the individual parts in advance, store them in your fridge, and just assemble and bake the day of.   Or, if you’ve got plenty of fridge space, you can just make the whole thing a day or so in advance, and re-heat.  i baked mine in the morning, and got away with serving it at room temperature later in the evening.

or, if you’re, hubs you can gobble up the leftovers for breakfast straight from the fridge.  .  .  i suppose it’s a bit like eating cold pizza for breakfast?

Tomato & Caramelized Onion Tart
(makes 1 nine-inch round tart)

Pate Brisee About half recipe here
Onions 3 medium sized onions
Butter 2 tbsp
Dijon Mustard 1 tbsp
Assorted Cherry Tomatoes 2-3 cups, washed and dried.  Remove stems and leaves, if any
Salt & Pepper 1-2 tsp each
Olive Oil 1 tbsp +1 tbsp, separately
  1. Roll-out the dough on a well-floured surface until it is about 13 inches wide and about 1/16th inch thick.
  2. Fit the dough into a 10 inch tart ring.
  3. Place the raw tart shell in the freezer and pre-heat oven to 350ºF.  When the oven reaches 350ºF, bake the tart shell for 15 minutes. Then brush on some egg white and bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven to cool.
  4. Slice onion into thin rounds.
  5. Heat butter and 1 tbsp of olive oil in a flat skillet.
  6. Add in onions and cook on low heat until the onions have caramelized.  Yes, you can do this quickly over high heat, but onions won’t release their sugars unless you do this low and slow.  It will take 25 minutes or so.  Patience is a virtue…
  7. Remove caramelized onions from skillet and mix with mustard.
  8. Spread the onions on the bottom of the tart in an even layer.
  9. Toss tomatoes with salt, pepper and olive oil in a bowl.
  10. Arrange the tomatoes on top of the onions.
  11. Bake for another 40 to 45 minutes, or until the tomatoes are puckered and slightly charred.


apple compote baklava v. 1.0

way back when in my pastry school days, chef divulged that the secret to amazing baklava laid in the usage of brown butter, rather than simply melted butter.  the caramel nuttiness of brown butter enhances the flavor of the pistachio mixture and intermingles with just about everything in between the  mille-feuilles of phyllo crust. i remembered chef’s advice, while i decided what to do with the quart or so of apple compote i had left in the fridge.  i figured i could marry the two concepts and concoct an apple compote baklava.

the baklava emerged from the glistening in golden brown hues. i could definitely smell the apples; however, the nut mixture seemed to over-power the apples in taste.  i think in the future i’ll tweak the recipe a bit more to have more apples, less nuts, and involve apple juice in the making of the steeping syrup for a truly apple-ly baklava experience.

Apple Compote Baklava v. 1.0
(makes one 9×13 inch tray, about 2-3 inches deep)

For the Baklava
Browned Butter 1 lb (4 sticks); melt butter in a sauce pan until it begins to brown slightly.  Watch the butter carefully, as it will go from being deliciously browned to bitter and burnt rather quickly.
Phyllo (Filo) Dough 1 package (16oz); i use the fillo factory brand available at whole foods.  Each sheet folded in half fits my plan perfect (13×18”)
Apple Compote 1 quart per a layer; if you want to do more than 1 layer, you need more. See recipe here.
Pistachios or Almonds 200g per a layer; i had 2 layers in my original recipe
Cinnamon 1 tsp per layer
For the Syrup
Water 2 cups (~500 ml); in the future, i might substitute the water with apple juice; and then cut the sugar down to 1 cup
Sugar 2 cups (~500 ml)
Honey ½ cup (~125 ml)
Apple 1 apple, washed, cored and sliced into quarters
Cinnamon stick 1 stick
  1. In food processor, coarsely grind up nuts.
  2. Mix nuts together with cinnamon and set aside.
  3. Brush pan with generously with butter (preferably not browned butter).
  4. Place 6 layers of filo dough on bottom of pan, generously brushing with browned butter between each layer.  (note: if you’re using 18X13 inch phyllo, cut the layers in half lengthwise, so that you have 9×13 inch sheets.  cover with a clean towel between use, as the filo dries out very quickly).
  5. Spread one layer of nuts evenly on top of 1st phyllo layer.
  6. Place 6 more layers of filo on top of nuts, brushing with browned butter between each layer.
  7. Spread a layer of apple compote (or nuts if that’s what you like).  Repeat step 6.
  8. Repeat step 7 and 6 one more time. The top layer should be comprised of filo.
  9. With a sharp knife, cut the baklava into diamonds.  Make sure you cut through the bottom of filo pastry.
  10. Bake at 350ºF for 45-60 minutes, or until golden brown.
  11. Make the syrup while the baklava is baking.  Combine all syrup ingredients into a medium sized saucepan.  Bring to a boil and allow the liquids to reduce by 1/3.
  12. Then set aside to cool.  [Remove apple and cinnamon stick when ready to pour over baklava].
  13. When baklava is ready, remove from oven and pour about 1/2 the syrup over.   Wait for 10 minutes and then pour over the rest of the syrup.
  14. The baklava is ready to eat when it has entirely cooled.