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Summer Delights

(post, Glenn Dettwiler)

Summer is in full swing and the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables are seeing themselves on tables across the region. 
The berries, ( Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries) are all out for sale or in the field ready to be picked. They all make great snack food as well as great desserts....
Here are a couple that you might enjoy..

The first dish is a fresh summer delight that is cool and refreshing. It's easy and great way to entertain using few few pantry items. Plus it looks great!

Mixed berries in a Crème anglaise Sauce...
3  tablespoons (37 grams) sugar
1  tablespoon (8 grams) cornstarch
1 1/2  cups (366 grams) milk
2  egg yolks, beaten
1  teaspoon ( 4 grams) vanilla
4  cups fresh mixed berries (such as raspberries, strawberries and blueberries)
1  pound cake - making about six  1/2" inch slices 
6   Mint leaves for garnish

1. Stir together sugar and cornstarch in 1-quart stainless steel or nonstick saucepan (do not use aluminum because the sauce will discolor). With wire whisk, stir in milk and egg yolks until well blended.
2. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Refrigerate about 1 hour or until cold.
3.  Place one pound cake slice in the center of  6 individual dessert dishes. 
4. Divide berries among 6 individual dessert dishes.and spoon vanilla Crème anglaise over berries. 
5. Garnish with small mint leaf either on rim of plate or place in the center of berries.
5. Serve immediately.

The next dish is a dessert used as an dessert for a dinner party or just for a little summer get-together.
Fruit Tart 
Fruit Tart 
At Le Cordon Bleu, one of the first things we made was this Fruit Tart. Once I returned home, it didn't take long for this dessert to become one of my favorite. This classic tart has three components, a fluted edged sweet pastry crust, a luscious pastry cream, and glistening rows of fresh fruit. It looks enticing whether you use a single fruit or a medley of fruits and berries. 

While the components of this Fruit Tart can be made a day or two in advance, it is best enjoyed the day it is assembled. The cookie-like pastry crust, which also goes by the name Pate Sucree, has a sweet flavor and a crisp texture that is the perfect vehicle for holding the pastry cream. The crust is pre baked and once baked and cooled, I like to seal the crust by spreading on a thin layer of apricot glaze. This 'sealing' prevents the filling from softening the crust over time. 

The classic filling for a fruit tart is pastry cream, or creme patissiere, which is a rich, thick custard made from a mixture of milk, vanilla, eggs, sugar, flour and cornstarch (a thickener) that is cooked on the stove. It can be made a few days in advance so the only thing you need before assembling the tart is a quick whisk to get rid of any lumps.

Of course, the first thing you notice about a fruit tart is the fruit. The fruit can be arranged in concentric circles or rows, or it can be randomly piled on the cream. There are so many fruits to choose from but it is important that the fruit looks and tastes its best. While berries, with their vibrant colors, are always popular, other fruits are nice as well. Slices of kiwi, pineapple, melon, peaches, plums, nectarines, and mango are some fruits that work well. If you like, you can glaze the fruit with an apricot glaze (recipe included) to give the fruit a beautiful shine and it also prevents the fruit from drying out. 

Pate Sucree or Sweet Pastry Crust:  
In a separate bowl, whisk the flour with the salt. Place the butter in the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, and beat until softened. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten egg yolks, beating just until incorporated. Add the flour mixture all at once and mix just until it forms a ball. Flatten the pastry into a disk, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 15-30 minutes or just until firm (can place in freezer for about 10-15 minutes.)

Lightly butter and flour, or spray with a non-stick vegetable cooking spray, an 8 - 9 inch (20 - 23 cm) tart pan with a removable bottom. Evenly pat the chilled pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Lightly prick bottom of pastry crust with the tines of a fork (this will prevent the dough from puffing up as it bakes). Place tart pan on a larger baking pan and bake crust for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and continue to bake the crust for about 15 minutes or until dry and lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely before filling. Can be covered and stored for a few days.

Creme patissiere or Pastry Cream: 
In a medium-sized heatproof bowl, mix the sugar and egg yolks together. (Don't let the mixture sit too long or you will get pieces of egg forming.) Sift the flour and cornstarch (corn flour) together and then add to the egg mixture, mixing until you get a smooth paste. 
Meanwhile, in a saucepan bring the milk and vanilla bean just to boiling (just until milk starts to foam up.) Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. (If you get a few pieces of egg (curdling) in the mixture, pour through a strainer.) Remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds, and add the seeds to the egg mixture. (The vanilla bean can be washed and dried and placed in your sugar bowl to give the sugar a vanilla flavor.) Then pour the egg mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly. When it boils, whisk mixture constantly for another 30 - 60 seconds until it becomes thick. Remove from heat and immediately whisk in the liqueur (if using). Stir in vanilla extract if using. Pour into a clean bowl and immediately cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent a crust from forming. Cool to room temperature. If not using right away refrigerate until needed, up to 3 days. Beat or whisk before using to get rid of any lumps that may have formed.

Apricot Glaze:  
Heat the apricot jam or preserves and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until liquid (melted). Remove from heat and strain the jam through a fine strainer to remove any fruit lumps.

To Assemble Tart: 
To remove the tart from the fluted sides of the pan, place your hand under the pan, touching only the removable bottom not the sides. Gently push the tart straight up, away from the sides. The fluted tart ring will fall away and slide down your arm. If you want to remove the bottom of the pan, run a knife or thin metal spatula between the crust and metal bottom, then slide the tart onto your platter.
Spread a thin layer of apricot glaze over the bottom and sides of the baked tart shell to prevent the crust from getting soggy. Let the glaze dry (about 20 minutes). Then spread the pastry cream onto the bottom of the tart shell. Place fruit randomly on top of cream or in concentric overlapping circles, starting at the outside edge. After arranging the fruit, rewarm the glaze, if using, and gently brush a light coat on the fruit. If not serving immediately, refrigerate but bring to room temperature before serving. This fruit tart is best eaten the same day as it is assembled. Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.

Please note: As a standard, baking is science! It relies on exact amounts to give a proper taste, feel and texture to food. As a result most of my recipes will (where indicated for accuracy ) be expressed in grams.. If you have a scale please try to make that your standard for measurement. If you don't have one, please get one. It will make your life much better as a baker and cook. 

Pate Sucree or Sweet Pastry Crust:
2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams) all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon (50 grams) salt 
1   cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar 
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten 

Creme patissiere or Pastry Cream:
2 cups (488 ml) milk (whole or 2%)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
4 large egg yolks 
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar 
2 tablespoons (16 grams) all-purpose flour 
2 tablespoons (16 grams) cornstarch (corn flour)
1/2 tablespoon liqueur (Grand Marnier, Brandy, Kirsch) (optional)

Apricot Glaze: (optional)
1/2 cup (160 grams) apricot jam or preserves
1 tablespoon water

3 cups (720 ml) fruit (raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, kiwifruit, bananas, plums, pineapple, melon, etc.)

Serves about 6-8 people.