Strawberry Cream-Cheese Tart

July 3rd, 2017

I know I just posted here a few days ago. I hope you’re not getting sick of me! I thought readers might like to make this festive tart for the Fourth of July, however.

The recipe has a number of steps so technically it takes a lot of time. Most of the time is spent waiting for portions of the tart to cool, however, so it’s not hard. The only thing you have to bake is the crust—and that can be done early in the morning or late at night so you won’t heat up the house too much in this warm season.

And the tart is a definite showstopper. I tend to make it the day before I serve it.

Yes, you may use a store-bought pie crust, but this one isn’t hard. You may also use lemon juice instead of key lime.

As I point out in the video below, if you want to be particularly patriotic, you may put a few blueberries on top of the tart.

Happy Independence Day!

The Tart

Ingredients:

for the tart shell:

1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1-1/3 cups flour
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla

for the filling:

1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup key-lime juice

for the topping:

2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons key-lime juice
4 tablespoons cold water
3-1/2 cups halved strawberries, divided

Instructions:

Begin with the crust. In a mixing bowl cream together the butter and the sugar until they are just blended. Add the flour and the salt, and stir until the mixture seems crumbly. (It will be dry.)

In a small bowl whisk together the egg yolk and the vanilla; drizzle this mixture over the flour mixture. Combine until the flour mixture is evenly moist; it will still be crumbly.

Grease a 9-inch tart pan. (You may use an 8-inch pie pan if you’d rather, but the tart is just beautiful.) Place the dough in the pan. Press it evenly over the bottom and up the sides of pan. Prick the bottom of the crust a bit to keep it from puffing up too much.

Put the crust in the freezer, uncovered, for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes or until it is golden brown. Cool it completely before filling it.

To make the filling beat the cream cheese until it is soft and smooth; then beat in the condensed milk and the key-lime juice. Spoon this mixture over the cooled crust, and refrigerate for several hours before proceeding.

Finally, make the topping. In a heavy saucepan whisk together the cornstarch, the sugar, and the salt. Slowly whisk in the liquids. In a bowl, mash 1-1/2 cups of the berries. Add them to the cornstarch mixture. Let the mixture sit in the saucepan for 1 hour to juice up.

At the end of the hour bring the berry mixture to a boil, and boil it for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove it from the heat and let it sit until it reaches room temperature. Stir in the remaining uncooked berries.

Spoon the topping over the tart filling. Refrigerate the tart until you are ready to serve it. Garnish with additional strawberries and mint leaves if you wish. Serves 8.

And now the video….

Tinky Makes Strawberry Cream-Cheese Tart on Mass Appeal

Strawberry Salsa

June 30th, 2017

Rhubarb has just about gone by in my neck of the woods so I am in deepest mourning. Fortunately, strawberries have arrived to take my mind off my grief.

I had never made strawberry salsa before trying it this season—but I’m glad to have it in my repertoire. I love salsa, and I hate waiting for tomato season to make it! This version is easy to put together, looks spectacular, and tastes fabulous.

Naturally, I made it this week on Mass Appeal and discussed the reasons for seeking out strawberries here and now. They make the perfect Fourth of July treat in New England.

Both hosts on the show called themselves “salsa purists” (particularly Danny New, who recently arrived in our state from Florida) and were skeptical about strawberry salsa. This condiment won them over, however.

Convincing the Skeptics

The Salsa

Ingredients:

the juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less, to taste)
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
3 to 4 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
a handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups strawberries, chopped fairly small

Instructions:

In a bowl stir together the lime juice and the salt. Stir in the pepper, the onion, and the cilantro; then add the strawberries.

Refrigerate the salsa for a couple of hours for maximum flavor. Serve with tortilla chips, over chicken or fish, or with crackers and cream cheese. Makes a little over 2 cups.

And now the video:

Tinky Makes Strawberry Salsa on Mass Appeal

Nantucket Rhubarb Pie

June 26th, 2017

It took me a while to figure out whether to include this recipe in my forthcoming rhubarb cookbook. It’s based on a popular cranberry recipe that isn’t actually a pie, more a cross between a cookie and a cake. I think it’s called a pie because it’s baked in a pie pan—but I really have no idea. I just know that it tastes good and comes together in no time at all. I really don’t need more information than that!

When one makes the pie with cranberries, those little red gems rise toward the top of the pie and make pretty bumps on the surface. Rhubarb is wetter and therefore heavier than cranberries so it doesn’t actually rise; consequently, the rhubarb version of the pie is less attractive than its fall cousin.

Taste always trumps appearance for me, however, so I decided to give readers the opportunity to try this delectable combination of sweet and sour. And of course I prepared the recipe on TV!

The Pie

Ingredients:

2 cups relatively finely chopped rhubarb
1-1/2 cups sugar, divided
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (optional)
3/4 cup (1-1/2 sticks) sweet butter, melted and then allowed to sit for a few minutes to cool
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions:

Generously grease a 9-inch pie plate. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the pieces of rhubarb in the bottom of the pie plate. Sprinkle them with 1/2 cup of the sugar and the nuts. Make a batter of the remaining ingredients, first combining the butter and the remaining sugar and then adding the eggs, the flour, and the vanilla. Pour the batter over the rhubarb.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Top with whipped cream. (Ice cream works well, too. Or just serve it alone.) Serves 8.

And now the video (in which I underestimate the pie’s baking time—ouch):

Tinky Makes Nantucket Rhubarb Pie

Rhubarb-Bacon Compost

June 19th, 2017

As many of you know, my next cookbook will involve RHUBARB. It’s a good thing I love rhubarb because I have been testing rhubarb recipes pretty much nonstop for the past month; I would tire of almost any other food if I had to cook with it that intensely. Fortunately, I’m still enjoying the rhubarb.

I decided to use a couple of my rhubarb recipes last week on Mass Appeal. The first one is what I call a compost. (It’s really a compote, but one of my dinner-party guests misheard me say that word, and I thought “compost” would be a fun name for this appetizer. It does generate a fair amount of compost!)

This recipe is adapted from one I found on the Wisconsin Cheese website, maintained by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. I have fond memories of spending a couple of early summers in Wisconsin with my family when my father was working on his doctoral dissertation at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. In June we feasted on three of my favorite foods—rhubarb, asparagus, and cheese.

I loved visiting the university’s dairy bar and trying various flavors of ice cream. (I’m not sure whether this eatery still exists, but I hope so; all I could find online was the agriculture department’s store, which still looks pretty terrific.). I recall—whether this is an accurate recollection or not, I couldn’t say—that milk flowed from the water fountains there. Small-child heaven!

The original compote recipe included spices, but I prefer just a few fresh herbs to let the flavors of the bacon, rhubarb, and onion shine. This compote is best eaten after it has chilled completely. It makes a delightful sweet-and-savory accompaniment to cheddar or Swiss cheese on crackers or toast. When I made it, I used local bacon from a smokehouse near my home, Pekarski’s in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. The bacon flavor really dominates here so I urge you to use the best bacon you can find. You only need four slices so you won’t break the bank!

I thought a pink hat would accessorize rhubarb nicely.

The Compote

Ingredients:

4 slices bacon
2 cups sweet onion slices
2 cups finely chopped rhubarb
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon (maybe a little more!) fresh chives

Instructions:

Fry the bacon in small pieces. Add the onion, and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until the onion starts to caramelize, stirring frequently. Add the rhubarb, the vinegar, and the maple syrup. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb softens and most of the liquid evaporates. The timing on this stage will vary depending on the toughness of your rhubarb. When I made the compote, breaking down the rhubarb took about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Stir in the herbs, and refrigerate until ready to use. Serve with cheese.

Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

And now the video:

Tinky Makes Rhubarb-Bacon Compost

Saying Goodbye

June 7th, 2017

Last week I said goodbye to my friend Seth Stutman, who has been the co-host of Mass Appeal as long as I have been appearing on the show. Seth has always been a generous host, willing to make his guests look good and display their wit—and I have come to think of him as a dear friend.

“Goodbye” might be too strong a word; I hope to see Seth again in the future! I won’t be seeing him, or appearing with him, on Mass Appeal, however. He was ready for a change and has found another job in Western Massachusetts that will display his intelligence and people skills. The new folks are lucky to have him!

I will continue to appear on the show with the lively Lauren Zenzie and her new co-host, Danny New. They are very, very young—but I don’t hold that against them! I keep hoping a bit of their youth will rub off on me. I’ll miss dear Seth, however.

On his last show, three of his favorite cooks came in to prepare party food. I made the cookies below, which my friend Janice gave me when I got my Ph.D. They may look familiar; they are a version of the infamous inauthentic but delicious Neiman Marcus Chocolate-Chip Cookies.

When I noted during the segment that the recipe made complex cookies, Seth responded that I myself was a complex cookie. Really, how could one not love this boy?

After the show, the hosts, the guests, and the production people gathered to nibble and to wish Seth well. I sang him a slightly altered version of “You Made Me Love You,” because that’s how I feel about him.

I may seem a bit TOO sentimental in the video below, but I maintain that there’s nothing wrong with a little sentiment!

The Cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup (1 stick) sweet butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
1-1/4 cups blended oatmeal (oatmeal pulverized into a powder in your blender)
1/2 cup pecans, also pulverized (optional but good)
1 cup chocolate chips
2 ounces milk chocolate, cut into small chunks

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cream together the butter and the sugars. Beat in the egg, followed by the baking powder and salt. Stir in the flour; then the oatmeal, pecans, and chocolate.

Shape the dough into balls—either 6 large ones or 12 medium ones. Place them on parchment- or silicone-covered cookie sheets, flatten them with your hand (they don’t really spread), and bake them until the brown nicely, at least 12 to 14 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for a couple of minutes; then remove them to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 6 to 12 cookies—or even more smaller ones!

And now the video….

Graduation Day Chocolate-Chip Cookies for Seth