For the love of Berry.
I don’t think that there is anything much better than a really red, juicy and sweet strawberry.
Or tomato, or nectarine for that matter.
I love summer.
And I love that fruit actually tastes sweet during this time of year.
Imagine that, fruit tasting sweet?
What I really hate, is living through those dark months, when all you yearn for is a little color and sweetness, and you are lured, when you scan the produce aisle, to those somewhat faded Tomatoes, Peaches and Strawberries. What a let down it is to actually take a bite, expecting the flavor to come pouring out, when in fact, it barely trickles. It almost isn’t fair that the stores even stock these items. They taunt you, tease you and NEVER please you. I think for this very reason, I love the idea of working with the season’s bounty in cooking and in pastry. Why use apples in the summer, when you can use berries…why? At the restaurant, local seasonality is something that is prided upon. When those fruits and veggies are in season here, we are getting them in at full force. Even if Strawberry season is here today and gone tomorrow. We get them in by the flat. If they aren’t featured with the Artichoke Gelato (see below..) they are spun into their own frozen delight, or served alongside a lemon tart, for added color, and you guessed it, sweetness.
Since you never do know when those NW Strawberries will be gone, I decided that I wanted to show them off, and make an open faced Strawberry Tart.
For this, I took 4 pints of Strawberries. I picked out all the best looking ones, washed and hulled them and set them aside. To the rest, I also washed and hulled them and then cut them into halves and quarters. I threw them in a saucepan and added ¼ cup of sugar, zest from one half of a lemon, a heaping Tablespoon cornstarch, a teaspoon of vanilla, a pinch of salt…and something that I didn’t add, but wish I had, a little dash of Vin Santo. (I love adding this to just about anything..) I cooked these berries until the mixture thickened, then set it aside to cool.
Before adding them to the prebaked and cooled tart shell, I brushed the shell with a coating of white chocolate, although I think that milk of dark might even be tasty. This adds somewhat of a barrier to the tart shell, by sealing it so that the moisture doesn’t make the shell too soggy. It also adds another dimension to the tart tasting experience…yum.