Friday, August 20, 2010

my fresh berry birthday tart.

What a lucky girl I am.

We headed down to Medford earlier this month to attend Andy's 10 year high school reunion (!) and do a little birthday celebrating.

My friend Jess is a pastry chef, as I have mentioned before, and she made me a fantastic fresh berry tart. I don't usually say this, but O.M.G.

Who gets from-scratch cupcakes and a berry tart all in one week? Again, I'm lucky.

We also went wine tasting, and visited a new tasting room out in the Applegate that was seriously amazing. It was probably one of the best places I've been to, as far as atmosphere and friendliness of the staff. We will definitely be recommending Fiasco to our friends and visiting again when we go back down. Soon.

Try making this tart with all the late-summer berry bounty!

Fresh Mixed Berry Tart

Serves 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma


1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 egg yok, beaten with 2 Tbsp. heavy cream

Vanilla Pastry Cream:

3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

4 cups mixed berries (she used blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries)
powdered sugar for dusting (optional)


Position rack in lower oven, preheat to 425 F.

In a food processor or bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt and pulse or combine with fork/pastry blender to mix. It should resemble a coarse meal. Add yolk mixture until dough holds together when squeezed. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead a few times into a ball. Shape into 5" disk, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 mins.

While the dough is chilling, make pastry cream: Beat sugar, flour, cornstarch and egg yolks on medium speed with a mixer for 2-3 mins until thick.

Combine milk and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to simmer. While stirring, add half of the milk into the just-blended sugar mixture until combined. Then, pour the sugar mixture back into the pan with the remainder of the milk and increase to medium-low heat. Cook, while whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and bubbles, 1-2 mins. Scrape sides and corners while whisking to prevent scorching.

Pour pastry cream into clean bowl and cover surface with parchment paper. Let cook to room temp, then refrigerate for 1 hour.

On a floured surface, roll out dough into 11-inch round. Transfer into 9-inch tart dish and trim edges. Line pastry with parchment paper, fill with pie weights, rice or beans and bake for 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temp to 350. Remove pie weights and paper, and poke holes in bottom of crust. Bake until crust is golden, 15-20 minutes more. Cool for 1 hour.

To serve, spoon pastry cream into crust and arrange berries on top to your liking. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

new uses for old things.

I love the "new uses for old things" feature in Real Simple magazine.

This month's were great!

use a marshmallow as frosting...

and a bundt pan as a roaster...


Recipes to try:

Roasted Chicken with Gravy from the Nourishing Gourmet


The Search Results of "roast chicken" at


Any recipe on Cupcake Bakeshop. And for those of us (me) who don't take the time to follow recipes things correctly, read her post on tips and tricks to baking cupcakes. Then make the chocolate cupcakes and try out the marshmallow trick!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Fill In the Blank Friday

Birthday'd that end up upside down?

Lauren and I share August as a Birthday Month, which we agree, is the best birthday month out of the year!

1. Birthdays are: a celebration! Planning a birthday party, especially for family or friends, is so much fun. And gifts are enjoyable to give but very awkward to receive.

2. My favorite birthday memory was In high school, when my family drove up to see me for my birthday while I was at summer camp at Lake of the Woods. They brought me a beautiful little cake and I got a new sweater from American Eagle. I felt so loved.

3. A birthday tradition I (or my family) has is going to tea. We started the tradition when I was 14 or 15 and went every year until, sadly, the little tea room closed. We found another one, though, but it's just not as good. We still mourn the loss of that little tea room.

4. If I had to choose one birthday meal to eat for the rest of my birthdays hence forward, I would choose A proper high tea. But we're having BBQ ribs tonight at my parents house for my family birthday celebration, so my answer might change. To go from high tea to ribs is quite a switch though!

5. My birthday is on August 10th. See "birthday picnic" post for what we did!

6. If I could take a birthday trip I would go somewhere I haven't yet been...and somewhere not on our fall European I'll say Greece!

7. The best gift I've ever received for my birthday was a baby sister. She was born on August 1st but I pretty much count that as my 13th birthday gift. And she turned 13 this year!

Mason's Birthday

My dear friend Jessi's son turned ONE last week.

I can't believe it...I feel like I was just back home sitting with her family in the hospital waiting room and doing a mini counted cross-stitch of a teapot to help pass the time.

That's one thing I've learned from the births I've been fortunate enough to attend. Even when labor is "moving quickly," it's still s-l-o-w, especially when you are so excited to meet the new little person!

Mason is hilarious. He will be just like his mom and dad - so funny that I usually end up laughing through tears.

Jess put together a barnyard-themed party with so many creative ideas: bales of hay, salad served in toy wheelbarrows, candy in tin pails, etc. She's also a pastry chef and created a cow-themed chocolate peanut butter (although I had to eat around the PB) cake that tasted divine.

How did I get such creative friends?

He enjoyed the tissue more than the gifts.

Oh, and he got his first drum set.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

birthday picnic.

I turned 26 yesterday, and the highlight of my lovely day was a dinner picnic in Laurelhurst Park.

We decided to meet by the duck pond, but walking down the path, we saw the area cordoned off with metal fences and, to our sadness, the pond was completely drained! No water, no ducks...just a big mud puddle. I'm slightly relieved though, because last time we were there, signs posted all around the pond warned of toxic algae. Even despite the signs, a group of park-goers pulled out some fishing gear and cast into the murky waters. The murmurs I caught going around the lawn included, "crazy!" and "can't they read?!" I don't think they ever caught anything, and if they did, it probably had two heads.

So we went a little further and spread the blanket on the edge of another lawn, surrounded by giant trees, with enough room for our good friends' two kids to ramble and play. And plenty of room for the ladies to relax with their wine and the guys to get a game of bocce ball going.

Out of the picnic basket (and bags) came prosciutto and turkey, assorted cheeses, a seedy baguette, rice crackers, two bottles of wine, fruit and vegetables, and cupcakes!

Jericho being a good big brother.

Lily doing what she loves best - eating!

Chocolate coconut spelt cupcakes and almond vanilla spelt cupcakes with huckleberry frosting. In the words of Tiffany, "TDF!!" (To Die For)

You can find the recipe for the cupcakes on Jen's blog. Tiffany made them, and she just subbed spelt flour for wheat flour and omitted the almond meal, using almond extract instead.

Which brings me to what I should have asked for for my birthday...

I could have really used this today. I wanted to take a cupcake with me when Andy and I went out for coffee this morning, and it would have been so much better to have had a custom case instead of a lame little tupperware.

And I don't really know what the purple hairy frosting is on the above picture...sadly, the Cup A Cake people need some major restyling.

So celebrating 26 was just how I wanted it: low-key and centered around food.

A very good day.

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