As I’ve mentioned before, I have a little boy, Desmond, who is now 21 months old.  He and I go to a monthly attachment parenting meeting at Be By Baby, a Chicago baby store that you should really check out if you live in the area!  Our last meeting was about family nutrition, and many of the mothers brought up the concern that they have about their toddler not eating anything more than Goldfish crackers and Cheerios.  A lot of moms had really great ideas for getting your toddler to eat better foods, which was really nice for me as well because we just went through a few days of Desi not eating anything but…you guessed it…Goldfish.

One of the things we talked about at our meeting was the use of flax seed.  Flax seed has a ton of nutrients in it, and is great because you can add flax seed meal to things and your little one won’t even notice.  One of the moms in my group suggested making a smoothie with flax seed in it, so I came up with this one for Desi.  He absolutely loves it!

Fruit and Yogurt Smoothie with Flax Seed Meal

1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 banana
4 strawberries, or a handful of blueberries or raspberries
1 tbsp flax seed meal(or more…I’ve been slowly increasing the amount as he gets used to the flavor)
apple or white grape juice (used as a sweetener and thinner…use as much as you’d like depending on how thin you want the smoothie to be)

Pulse the yogurt, banana and berries in a blender a few times until the fruit has broken up a bit, then puree it on high for about 30 seconds. Add the flax seed meal and a little juice, puree for another 30 seconds or so until smooth. Add juice as needed and blend.

I serve the smoothie to Desi in a small cup with a straw, but if your little one isn’t using a straw yet, I recommend buying one of the “First Years Take N’ Toss” sippy cups (Target has them), or some other cheap sippy cup, and cutting off the end of the spout so that the thicker liquid can come through.

You can save the smoothie for a day, so I make two and save the extra for the next day so that I’m not getting the blender out every day.

Other uses for flax seed meal:

It’s good on hot cereal…Desi doesn’t even notice that I’ve been putting it on his oatmeal in the morning.

You can add it to baked goods like pancakes, muffins, or quick breads.  Just mix a couple of tablespoons in with the dry ingredients.

Add it to your granola if you make your own like I do (yes, I’m a serious hippie sometimes).

Margaux says…

Every year I make Granny’s Peach Pie at least twice.  It’s always been my absolute favorite pie, over all pies.  But every year, I say that I want a FRESH peach pie, one that celebrates the sweet, juicy, wonderfulness and deliciousness of the peach, a fruit that I absolutely adore, and that is only around for a nanosecond.  Not that Granny’s doesn’t…hers definitely has a huge peach flavor, and it is a wonderful pie (obviously, since I make it so often).  But my mom always talks about her mom’s peach pie, and how it’s like eating fresh peaches with whipped cream, and the thought of that appeals to me.

It took me so long to make this for a few reasons.  For one, I know I love Granny’s pie, and good peaches are in short supply usually, so I just stick to that recipe.  Secondly, my Grandma Major wasn’t particularly known for her pies (she made beautiful cakes, though!), and my Granny is…her pies are the best in town.

But this year I found a good source for peaches, and have been buying them in bulk weekly for about 4 weeks now, so I decided to give it a try.  I actually tried another fresh peach pie recipe earlier in July, but it was WAY too sweet and had way too much of the peach mixture that you pour over the fresh peaches.

Then my mom reminded me about Grandma’s recipe, and wrote it down for me.  OH MAN, is it good.  There’s still a few days left to get good peaches…you should definitely use them for this.  Next year, I’ll be making both Granny’s and Grandma’s peach pies, that’s for sure!

Grandma’s Fresh Peach Pie

One 9″ baked pie shell
7 peaches
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 tablespoons butter, cut into 2 pieces
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

Peel peaches by dropping them into boiling water for about 1 minute, then taking them out and gently peeling the skin off.  Crush one cup peaches.  Combine water, sugar, cornstarch and lemon in a saucepan.  Add peaches, bring to a boil.  Cook over low heat, constantly stirring, until thickened and clear..2 to 3 minutes.  Turn off heat, and add butter.  Cool slightly.  While cooling, slice remaining peaches into pre-baked and cooled pie shell.  Pour peach mixture over sliced peaches.  Chill for at least 3 hours.  Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Classic Fresh Berry Tart

August 11, 2010

Margaux says..

When I graduated college, my mom and aunt Judy took me on a trip to France: one week in Paris and one week in Provence.  It was an amazing trip, and I can’t wait to go back…Paris is definitely my favorite city, out of all the cities I’ve visited.  The food was probably the best part for me…we pretty much planned our days around meals and restaurant locations.  But one thing that has always stood out to me (besides the croissants that we had in Montmartre) was the strawberry tart that I bought on a whim in a little pastry shop around the corner from our hotel.  Whenever you get a tart in the U.S., it looks beautiful, but there isn’t much flavor.  This tart tasted like it looked.  It was absolutely gorgeous, with ruby red whole strawberries coated in a glossy glaze, rich pastry cream, and the crust was the best of all–it was buttery, slightly sweet, and crispy.  I’ve never had a tart shell like it…it was almost like it was made partly out of graham crackers or maybe brown sugar.  Anyway, it lasted only about 1 minute, and I’ve never had one like it since.

I’ve been wanting to attempt recreating this tart since, but never really had the tools (no tart pan), and was a little bit overwhelmed by it.  I don’t know why…I make cakes from scratch often, and I’ve been making pies since I was about 12…but for some reason a tart seemed too daunting.  But within the past year or so, since my kitchen was remodeled and I’m baking more often again, it’s been on my mind.  Then my mom got me a tart pan for my birthday, so I started looking for recipes.  I went to my favorite source for trying something new, Cook’s Illustrated.  Their instructions are so specific and detailed for everything, so I always like to use their recipes for my new cooking endeavors.  This recipe claimed to be for a tart that tasted as good as it looked, unlike most bakery tarts, which was another reason I used it.

Since strawberries aren’t in season anymore, and the farmer’s market was overflowing with raspberries and blackberries, I went for a mixed berry tart.  It did taste as good as it looked!!  It was absolutely delicious.  The crust wasn’t the same as the one I had in France, and now that I’ve made one tart, I’m going to start trying others…but this crust was pretty perfect (nice and buttery, crispy and slightly sweet).

You definitely have to have some time on your hands to make this.  And the dough is pretty difficult to work with, so have some patience.  I had to stick it in the fridge after rolling it out because it wouldn’t come off the parchment, and then it was too stiff to roll onto my rolling pin, so I had to let it sit for a few minutes to soften again.  Also, next time I might lightly grease the aluminum foil before lining the pan with it and filling it with weights, because it was really difficult to lift out (it stuck in a few places and had me swearing a lot).  But it is all totally worth it, I promise!  Plan on making it for company, because after the first day, it isn’t as good (although it was edible…we had no problem finishing it up the next day.  :))

Classic Fresh Fruit Tart
from Cook’s Illustrated, July/August 2001

Makes one 9-9 1/2″ tart, serving up to 10

Chalazae are cordlike strands of egg white protein that are attached to the yolks–removing them with your fingers is easy and eliminates the need to strain the pastry cream after cooking.  The pastry cream can be made a day or two in advance, but do not fill the prebaked tart shell until just before serving.  Once filled, the tart should be topped with the fruit, glazed, and served within a half hour or so.

Pastry Cream
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch salt
5 large egg yolks, chalazae removed (see note)
3 tbsp cornstarch
4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Tart Pastry (Pate Sucree)
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups flour
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces

Fruit and Glaze
Fruit, unwashed
1/2 cup red currant or apple jelly

1. For the Pastry Cream:  Heat half-and-half, 6 tbsp sugar, and salt in medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until simmering, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar.
2. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks in medium bowl until thoroughly combined.  Whisk in remaining 2 tbsp sugar and whisk until sugar has begun to dissolve and mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds.  Whisk in cornstarch until combined and mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.
3. When half-and-half mixture reaches full simmer, gradually whisk simmering half-and-half into yolk mixture to temper. Return mixture to saucepan, scraping bowl with rubber spatula; return to simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until 3 or 4 bubbles burst on surface and mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds. Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla. Transfer mixture to medium bowl, press plastic wrap directly on surface, and refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours or up to 48 hours.
4. For the tart pastry: While pastry cream is chilling, whisk together yolk, cream, and vanilla in small bowl; set aside. Pulse to combine flour, sugar and salt in bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture; pulse to cut butter into flour until mixture resembles coarse meal, about fifteen 1 second pulses. With machine running, add egg mixture and process until dough just comes together, about 25 seconds. Turn dough onto sheet of plastic wrap and press into 6-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least one hour or up to 48 hours.

5. Remove dough from refrigerator, let stand at room temp until malleable. Unwrap and roll out between lightly floured large sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap to 13 inch round. (If dough is soft and sticky, slip onto baking sheet and refrigerate until workable, 20 to 30 minutes.) Transfer dough to tart pan by rolling dough loosely around rolling pin and unrolling over 9 to 9 1/2 inch tart pan with removable bottom. Working around circumference of pan, ease dough into pan corners by gently lifting dough with one hand while pressing dough into corners with other hand. Press dough into fluted sides of pan. (If some edges are to too thin, reinforce sides by folding excess dough back on itself.) Run rolling pin over top of tart pan to remove excess dough. Set dough-lined tart pan on large plate and freeze 30 minutes (can be sealed in gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic bag and frozen up to 1 month.)
6. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Set dough-lined tart pan on baking sheet, press 12-inch square of foil inside frozen tart shell and over edges and fill with metal or ceramic pie weights (dried beans or rice work just fine too). Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes, rotating halfway through baking time. Remove from oven and carefully (VERY carefully) remove foil and weights by gathering edges of foil and pulling up and out. Continue to bake until deep golden brown, 5 to 8 minutes longer. set baking sheet with tart shell on wire rack to cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
7. To assemble and glaze the tart: When tart shell is completely cool, spread cold pastry cream over bottom, using offset spatula or large spoon. (Can press plastic wrap directly on surface of pastry cream and refrigerate up to 30 minutes.) Arrange fruit on top of pastry cream, following a design on page 22, if desired.
8. Bring jelly to boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to smooth out lumps. When boiling and completely melted, apply by dabbing and flicking onto fruit with pastry brush; add 1 tsp water and return jelly to boil if it becomes to thick to drizzle. (Tart can be refrigerated, uncovered up to 30 minutes.) remove outer metal ring of tart pan, slide thin metal spatula between bottom of crust and tart pan bottom to release, then slip tart onto cardboard round or serving platter; serve.