When I tasted the fresh picked berries from "The Farm", I fell in-love. The berries were fresh-picked, organically grown and sweet-- no sugar needed! I thought that $2.50 a basket was very reasonable.I knew that these berries did not deserve to be baked. I had bookmarked Ina Garten's Strawberry Tart recipe, after watching her make it on a recent show.
I liked the idea of a shortbread crust, a pastry cream filling and fresh strawberries-- glazed with melted apricot jelly. Ina made this dessert as individual tarts (and I don't own tart pans that small), and garnished them with pistachios. I love pistachios, but I usually don't keep them on hand.
I decided to make the pastry cream one day ahead, so it would chill properly.
Egg yolks, milk (I had 1% milk and half and half, so I used half of each...and it worked), corn starch, sugar, salt, vanilla and unsalted butter. After creaming the eggs and sugar, I added the corn starch. I slowly added scalded (not boiling) milk. Fortunately, I've bonded with my microwave so I know how long to heat the milk. This was slowly added to the eggs, sugar and cornstarch and then moved onto the stove.
Now, Ina's instructions say to cook the pastry cream between 5-7 minutes, until it thickens like pudding. Ha! It took 14 minutes, thank you very much. I had to carefully adjust the burners to get some action going-- otherwise, I might've been there a lot longer.
At last! The pastry cream (really, I considered this to be a pudding) thickened up, and I added the butter and vanilla. Ina Garten adds cognac, but alas, I don't drink much hard liquor (except for vodka with cranberry juice). I debated adding amaretto, which I do keep and enjoy on occasion. I decided to go "plain".
I placed plastic wrap directly over the pastry cream and put it into the refrigerator to chill.
The tart crust was next. Flour, sugar and salt was whisked together and placed into the freezer for 30 minutes-- the colder the better to make great crusts!
In my food processor, I added the dry ingredients and then pulsed unsalted butter and shortening until the size of peas. The ice water made the crust come together. I gently patted the dough into a disk and put that into the fridge; and then we went to see Pixar's new movie "Up", which we enjoyed.
It was early evening when we returned home, so I decided to blind bake the crust. I wish had pictures to share, but I was tired and lazy. Sorry about that...
I will say this-- I have finally conquered the art of rolling out pastry dough, using 1/4 turns to prevent the dough from sticking. Like a pro (and this is a first for me), I successfully lifted the dough onto my rolling pin and laid it across the tart pan.
I used buttered foil, face down and filled the crust with beans and blind baked it.
It shrank! Arrrrrrrrrgh. I did exactly what Ina said to do, but I'll have to work on that.
On to the next series of photos, which I took tonight.
I filled the crust with the chilled pastry cream, sliced strawberries in half-- and glazed them with apricot jelly that was melted with a little water. It's not fancy, but it was good!
I was happy with this recipe, but I think I'll try it a little differently next time. Using this recipe, I think I'll make a deconstructed version of this as a parfait, and make shortbread cookies to garnish this with. By the way, my husband picked fresh olallieberries from our garden and added these to it. He had two pieces.
I think that the pastry cream, alone, is a delicious way to enjoy fresh berries of any kind. I'll have to buy a small bottle of cognac, because I think it would give the pastry cream a little bit of extra "zip" (and maybe myself in the process).
Both of my boys gave this five stars. It's a bit of work, so I'd spread this over two days. Once again, Ina presented a great recipe.
What's next for strawberries? Strawberry rhubard pie. Homemade strawberry jam. Strawberry sorbet... I'll think of more. Stay tuned!