The Artist, the Cook, and the Gardener (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2013) is a lavishly illustrated, sumptuous collection of recipes celebrating the enduring connection between art, cooking, and gardening. Divided into four chapters and inspired by the seasons, artists, cooks, and gardeners alike will find tips, recipes, and painting projects centered on seasonal food pairings. The excerpt below comes from the section “Sweets: The Fall Garden.”
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When we paint strawberries, I gather the berries from the garden along with some of the leaves and blossoms. We grow plump strawberries and also have several Alpine strawberry plants, which bear smaller fruit with an intense fragrance and flavor. Our soil is perfect for growing these beautiful, little berries. I mulch the plants with pine needles that I gather from the base of our large Ponderosa pine tree. Berries love pine or oak mulch at their feet; it keeps their soil acidic, cool, and moist.
These strawberry tartlets are simple to make and the pastry shells can be prepared up to two days ahead. If you don’t have 12 little tartlet pans, use the number you have and make the tartlet shells in batches. I like to serve two tartlets per person.
Makes 12 (3-inch) tartlets; serves 6.
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar
5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
1/4 cup ice water
3/4 cup strawberry jam or preserves
1 cup heavy whipping cream
12 strawberries (approximately 1/2 pound), stemmed and hulled
Sift flour, salt, and sugar together in a bowl. Add the butter and shortening and cut them into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle the ice water over the dough and blend it in to make a workable dough, mixing lightly with a fork.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and, using the heel of your hands, spread the dough away from you several times. Scrape up the smeared dough into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
Unwrap the dough, place it on a lightly floured surface, and pound it a few times with a rolling pin to soften it. Roll it out to 1/8 inch thick. Line 12 (3-inch) tart pans with the dough, pat dough into place, and trim off excess dough, pressing dough against the edges of the pans. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove chilled tartlets from the refrigerator and prick the dough on the base and sides with a fork. Line each tart pan with a piece of foil and fill with dried beans or pastry weights. Bake for 10 minutes, just until the dough is beginning to turn golden. Remove from oven. Remove weights and foil, and then continue to bake tartlets until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes more. Let cool on a wire rack. Finally, remove cooled tart shells from pans. If not using right away, tart shells can be stored for up to 2 days in the refrigerator in a sealed container.
Spoon the strawberry jam or preserves into a small saucepan and heat over low heat for 7 to 10 minutes. Do not boil. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a small bowl to separate the strawberry syrup from the pulp. Add 2 tablespoons of hot water to the syrup to thin it slightly. Let cool. Reserve the strawberry pulp in another bowl and let it cool.
In a large bowl, whip the cream to stiff peaks using a whisk or electric mixer. To assemble the tartlets, spread each cooled tartlet shell with 2 teaspoons of the reserved strawberry pulp. Spoon a dollop of whipped cream over the filling in each tartlet. Place one strawberry atop the cream. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the reserved strawberry syrup over each tartlet. Chill the tartlets in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of The Artist, The Cook, and the Gardener: Recipes Inspired by Painting from the Garden by Maryjo Koch, published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2013. Buy this book from our store: The Artist, the Cook, and the Gardener.
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