To be in transit is to be in a state of stomach knots. For me, that is. I love the world. I love the immediacy of flight travel. It’s still magical how you can stand in the house you spent your growing years in a matter of a sleep and some frigid work day. But the whole getting there part turns me into an anxious worry bag. I am aware that all habits get increasingly habit-like (read annoying) as we get older. And everytime I worry before I fly, I am reinforcing that reaction. I know, I know. I’m going to stop. I’ll watch Ant Man and it will all be okay.
Some of my favourite stories from my childhood are of my dad, who worked in Saudi Arabia before Gayle and I were born. He always said how he never saved any money from that job because he always came back with so many presents for all the people he knew in the village his parents lived. I know this is not something he likes to brag about but he doesn’t need to because I’ve heard it from my cousins and the people he knew too. A lot of this season is about giving. We place so much emphasis on it – sometimes too much. It’s stressful but it doesn’t have to be. When you’re placed in a position to do good for someone else, take it. It’s a privilege. It’s something to feel thankful for. Not stressed.
I’m getting on a plane tomorrow and today I made cookies, cinnamon rolls, and this here tart (and now I’m writing this blog post in what has been one of the darkest days in Western Washington). I put up Christmas lights and painted the ceiling. I’m procrastinating. Clearly. I think I’m all packed but really, I’m just a confused puppy who’s pretending that the most important thing to do is finish watching all of the Jessica Jones. There is no Netflix where I’m going and that’s okay.
If any of my food blogger people reading this in the US want me to bring a delicious Indian ingredient to them when I come back, let me know. We could do a swap or something. I’ve been thinking about this for a while but I wasn’t sure if I needed to make a spreadsheet about it. Me and spreadsheets=no. I love the cashew nuts.
For now, here’s my first sweet recipe of the Holiday season. I made this for Thanksgiving because it was so easy to put together the day before. All I had to do was wake up in the morning, assemble it and bake it. It’s the best way to look fancy with minimal effort. I am all about the simplicity.
Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan and Smitten Kitchen
For the tart dough
Makes one 9″ tart or five 4″ tarts
- 190 grams (1 1/2 cups) all purpose flour
- 60 grams (1/2 cup) confectioner’s sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 130 gms (9 tbsp) unsalted butter, cold or frozen and cut into small cubes
- 1 large egg yolk
Put the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter on top of the flour mixture and pulse about 10 to 15 times to cut the butter. The butter should be the size of peas or oatmeal flakes when it’s ready.
Break up the egg yolk with a fork and add a little at a time to the flour, pulsing after each addition. Once all the egg yolk is in, pulse for longer intervals (10 seconds) until the dough forms into one single ball. You’ll hear the sound of the food processor change right before this happens.
Remove the dough from the food processor and knead very lightly just in case there are any dry flour streaks.
If using a 9″ tart pan, press the dough directly into the pan until it’s spread out evenly across the bottom and along the sides. The dough does get denser as it bakes so don’t worry if it feels too thin. But also don’t put too much force while pressing in the crust because it might cause the crust to lose its shortbread texture.
If using smaller 4″ tart pans, divide the dough into five parts (weighing about 75gms each) and repeat the same press-in technique.
Freeze the tart shells for at least 30 minutes but preferably longer before filling it and baking. You can make the shells a day or 2 ahead, cover them and keep frozen until you’re ready to use.
For the almond cream filling
- 2/3 cup blanched slivered almonds
- 1 tablespoon brown rice flour
- 7 tablespoons jaggery (coconut palm sugar)
- 6 tablespoons coconut oil at room temperature
- 1 large egg
- 1 Bosch pear, firm but ripe
- Powdered sugar (optional)
Place the almonds and brown rice flour in the bowl of a food processor and grind to a fine powder. Add the jaggery and coconut oil and grind until it forms a smooth paste. Add the egg at the end and blend it all together. Spoon the almond filling into a bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 hours.
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F and place a rack in the middle of the oven.
Remove the tart shell from the freezer and spread the chilled almond cream mixture in it.
Peel the pears and slice them in half across the length. Remove the seeds and stem and cut them cross-wise into thin slices (about 1/4″ thin) . Place the pears on top of the almond mixture, letting them overlap slightly and fan across the top of the tart (see picture). I say be creative with your designs!
Put the tart on to a baking sheet and bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the filling comes out clean. Cool the tart completely on a baking rack before unmoulding. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy with your evening tea. Or you know, the day before a long ass flight when you should be packing but you’re baking all the things instead. Choose wisely!