Category Archives: Pies and Tarts

Asparagus Ricotta Galette

BakedOnce local asparagus shows up, you know that flip flops and a chilled glass of rosé can’t be too far behind. This tart is a splendid way to showcase asparagus, Post-Asparagus Stinky-Urine Disorder, be damned.one sliceMild, milky ricotta is the ideal partner for asparagus. They complement each other perfectly. Ricotta can be a bit bland, so I added  lemon zest, lemon juice and red pepper flakes to ramp up the flavour. Some grated Gruyere cheese and a beaten egg add some heft to the filling.

For the dough, I decided to use Kim Boyce’s Rustic Rye Dough, from her book Good to the Grain. The hearty rye dough stands up quite well against asparagus’ strong flavour.

This dough takes a bit of time and needs several hours to chill. If you don’t have the time or the inclination, I think that this tart would still be very delicious using my go-to simple Galette Dough.making rye dough 1Rye flour, all purpose flour sugar and salt are sifted. Cold butter is worked in with your hands. Ice water and cider vinegar bring it all together.making rye dough 2Once the dough comes together, let it rest in the fridge for about an hour, then roll it into a rectangle, and fold the rectangle into thirds, like a letter. This is similar to the process of making puff pastry. The dough gets rolled and folded two more times and is then chilled for an additional hour. You can make the dough and the filling components a day ahead and then just assemble and bake before you are ready to eat. making rye dough 3making rye dough 4I decided to roll the dough into a rectangular shaped tart, but feel free to to roll it into a circle. I have a strong aesthetic sense and I prefer the linear way the asparagus line up in a rectangular tart.

To punch up the flavour profile even more, I spread the tart with a pistachio pesto (recipe from Anna Jones’ A Modern Way to Cook.)  Whole grain dijon mustard or a jarred basil pesto would  be good substitutes.Spreading pistachio pestoSpreading ricotta fillingThe border of the tart just gets folded over the filling. No need to be too precise or precious about it. It’s supposed to be rustic. galette ready for ovengalette cut upThis would be great as a light lunch or dinner, or cut up into smaller squares and served for aperitivo with a freezing cold glass of Prosecco, on the dock. (I have big plans for this tart!)3 plates

Click here to print recipe for Aspsaragus and Ricotta Galette.

Click here to print recipe for Rustic Rye Dough or here to print recipe for Galette Dough.

galette with a glass of wine

Spiced Lamb Hand Pies

rectangular pies for dinnerHappy Pi Day! Did you know that March 14 is Pi Day? Somehow a day that honours a mathematical symbol is feted with the baking of a pie. I’m okay with that. I have always loved math. Algebra and geometry made sense to me. Calculus, not so much! I could never understand its application to real life. Here at salt and serenity we’re going to mark the day with a savory little hand pie, made with ground lamb and a combo of spices that will leave you feeling very joyful. SpicesFood that you can eat with your hands is always more fun, and these flaky little pies are as charming as they are delicious. Redolent of Morocco, the scent of cumin, coriander and cinnamon will perfume your kitchen.Round pieRectangular pieI made a dairy-free pastry, using refined coconut oil (refined coconut oil has almost no scent). You could of course use butter if you wish. I added a bit of cornmeal to the all-purpose flour for a bit of a crunch. You could make them rectangular or round. Just make sure to cut a few holes in the top crust so that the steam can escape during baking and they don’t explode.brushing border with egg 1Sautéed onions, frozen peas and corn were added to the filling for a welcome sweet vegetal hit.filling on bottom half 1crimping 1cutting circleslamb vent holesfilling on bottom half 2crimping 2round pies for dinner

Click here to print recipe for Lamb Hand Pies.

wrapped hand piesRound pie broken

Wild Blueberry and Corn Galette

A slice with tea 2Galette is French for “Lazy Ass Pie.” No, not really. It actually refers to a free-form tart. Pies are a lot of work. There’s all that stress about making the crust and rolling it out without cracking. Plus, I suck at crimping. But a galette is supposed to be rustic. Rolling the dough into a perfect circle is  not required, in fact, it is frowned upon. (Well, I frown upon perfect circles)

Wild blueberries have arrived and sadly, they’re only here for a few short weeks, so I take advantage of the short season and work very hard at eating my weight in wild blueberries during the month of August. This recipe would certainly work with regular blueberries, but you may need to add a bit more sugar, since wild ones are so much sweeter. You could also use frozen berries. The PC frozen wild blueberries are excellent, as are Trader Joe’s brand.

OK, let’s make a lazy ass pie galette. Start with the filling. Mix blueberries, tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch), sugar and lemon juice. Filling ingredientsNext we tackle the topping. This corn crisp topping was the genius idea of Bon Appetit Magazine. I saw it in their July 2016 issue, and I knew I had to try it. Such a fun idea to combine blueberry and corn in a dessert. Start with a traditional crisp topping of flour, sugar and butter. Add a touch of cornmeal for added crunch. corn topping_2Then cut in fresh corn kernels. Topping done. cutting corn off the cobThe dough comes together very quickly in the food processor. No need to chill it. Just roll it out right away between 2 sheets of parchment paper, to avoid any fuss. rolling dough between sheets of parchmentTime to assemble.

I made a dairy free version of the galette last weekend for some friends. I used chilled coconut oil in both the dough and the topping and it was fantastic. The coconut oil was only detected (and rejected) by one friend, but I suspect he’s a super tasterBlueberry Corn Galette 2

Click here to print recipe for Wild Blueberry and Corn Galette.

slice of galette

 

 

 

Roasted Strawberry Lemon Meringue Tartlets

Tart 2I recently attended a food photography workshop at The Urban Element. The class was taught by two very gifted Montreal food photographers, Ariel Tarr and Valeria Bismar. Together they run The Illuminated Table.

I have been experiencing blogging fatigue, struggling with what to write about and feeling like I’m stuck in a rut with my photography and food styling. The opportunity to attend this workshop came at the perfect time. It was great to connect with other like-minded food obsessed women.

I came away feeling inspired to step away from my comfort zone and change my camera angle. (I rely too heavily on the top down shot) Watching Ariel and Valeria maximize the available natural light galvanized me to abandon my artificial lights and set up next to the window.Tart 1jpgPartially eatenI also left with some great new food blogs and Instagram accounts to follow. Food blogger Katie was there at the suggestion of her mom. Wish my kids listened to my suggestions!! Denine, a photographer and teacher of photography at Algonquin College was there to pick up a few tips about food photography. Food blogger and cooking show host Eva,  and cooking teacher and blogger Maria were both looking to hone their photography and food styling skills.

The workshop was mostly hands on, with lots of opportunity to practice the new skills we were taught. In the afternoon session we had the chance to style and shoot a gorgeous lemon meringue tart. With local strawberries just coming into season, I was inspired to create a  strawberry lemon meringue tart. The genius idea of roasting the strawberries, to intensify their natural sweetness and juiciness comes from this Bon Appetit recipe.Roasting StrawberriesYou could of course make one large tart, but I have mini tart pans and I love to use them any opportunity I get.dough fot tartsTart ShellsTime to build the tartlets. A tart lemon filling is topped with sweet and juicy roasted strawberries. I filled my tarts with a lemon cream, but I strongly suggest you fill yours with a lemon curd. The recipe that follows has detailed instructions on how to make a lemon curd. A curd is much more stable than a cream and as a result, the tarts will not get soggy within a few hours. putting strawberries on tartsI put the meringue in a piping bag fitted with a star tip and greatly amused myself making different designs. You could also just spoon it on, but then you won’t have as much fun. To brown the meringue I used a kitchen torch, because it’s so satisfying and just a bit dangerous to play with fire. (I know, I live on the edge!) If you don’t have one, a minute or two under the broiler will achieve the same result.tarts on wooden board 1Tart with black background 1

Click here to print recipe for Roasted Strawberry and Lemon Meringue Tarts.

3 tarts

Tomato, Corn and Two Cheese Tart

tarts 625 sqWhen the farmers market stands begin to overflow with corn and tomatoes, I add them to everything I make. Lightly dressed arugula gets topped with sautéed corn and tomatoes and garnished with some buttery diced avocado. Peaches and Cream Corn and Blondkopfchen mini tomatoes weave their way into fritattas and onto tortilla chips gussied up as a salsa. Tiny tomatoes bursting with sweet acidity mingle with basil and plump sweet corn kernels. Tossed with some hot penne pasta and chunks of creamy buffalo mozzarella, it makes for a very happy summertime dinner.

I know that for many folks, biting into a freshly boiled, buttered and salted ear is a summer ritual eagerly anticipated all winter long. When all those sweet little kernels explode in your mouth, it’s bliss for them. But I am among the, mostly silent, minority who do not like to eat corn straight off the cob. It gets stuck in my teeth and I just want to run for the floss. Yes, very un-Canadian/American of me, I know. But I am ok with that. I am perfectly comfortable being mocked when I cut my corn off the cob.market freshWith my abundance of corn, tomatoes and scallions, I decided to make a tart.  Chef Christine Cushing’s buttermilk pastry, studded with fresh thyme makes a perfect base.pastry mise en placeRolling out the dough between 2 large sheets of parchment paper is a foolproof way of handling pastry.rolling between parchment paperLine the pastry with some parchment paper and fill with pie weights to blind bake the tarts. I buy dried chick peas that I reuse for this purpose only. This will give your pastry a head start so that your finished tarts do not have soggy bottoms.pie weights 2Delicious hot or at room temperature (they were even great reheated the next day) these little tarts are a very special way to celebrate the bounty of summer. Once everyone has a bite of these, you will be forgiven for cutting the corn off the cob.

Click here to print recipe for Tomato, Corn and Two Cheese Tart.

close up tart