Tuesday, September 6, 2011

What a weekend!

I had been worried that a Labor Day weekend in the Catskills might have been painful, or rainy, or both, but if you didn't know Irene had struck just a few days earlier, you might not have noticed her aftereffects. The flooding had receded, the sun was out and the farmers' markets were in full swing. It turned out that the only painful part was having to leave, knowing that work and city living and school would be on the other side of the long weekend. 

There were oysters, steaks, sausages of all sorts -- and the wonderful thing about vacationing with food-industry people is that there is no pressure to impress them, because they're going to do it all. There was blue cheese in the eggs at breakfast and an insistence on perfect tomatoes that were so ripe they looked like they would split their seams. There were more sausages and meats than we could finish -- we didn't even get to the pork chops. There was a hike around a lake whose name I have now forgotten, ghost stories in a thunderstorm, which I have NOT forgotten, and an illicit swim in a closed park. If ever you have a chance to go to the Catskills, go! 

Thinking I should do more than laze in the hammock and eat other people's cooking, and since nobody had claimed the task of making dessert, I made peach pie one night -- though my cousin, who works in the front of the house here and here had swoop in and rescue the crust -- and a berry tart the next night. What's better than fresh raspberries and fresh blackberries, with a couple big spoonfulls of black currant jam? It's bittersweet, like the final days of summer.

Farewell Summer Tart
Crust is adapted hardly at all from Jamie Oliver's The Naked Chef

For the crust, which makes two crusts and needs at least two hours total before you can get down to baking it:
1 cup and 2 tablespoons of butter
1 3/4 cup powdered sugar
a bit of salt
4 egg yolks
1 pound flour
1/4 cup chilled cream or milk

For the filling:
2 pints of raspberries
1 pint of blueberries
1/4 cup currant jam (or you could use any other jam, depending on your mood)
1/4 cup brown sugar (or more, or less, depending)

1. Make the crust first; cream together the first three ingredients, then quickly work in the yolks and flour until it comes together. Add the chilled cream and form into a thick log. Wrap with saran and pop in the fridge for an hour.

2. Remove dough from the fridge; it should be very firm and easy to slice with a knife. If it's not, put it back and wait a bit longer. Otherwise, slice as thinly as possible, and with the rounds, line your tart pan and press together the seams. Put the lined pan into the freezer for an hour. Then bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

3. Make the filling by placing the berries in a saucepan and turning the heat onto low. Add the jam and stir; add the sugar.

4. When the crust is baked and the filing has simmered into a delicious amalgam of berries, fill the crust and serve right away, while it's still hot, or later on, after it, and you, have had a little rest.

And now it's 11:23 p.m., time for a second almond cookie and some hot tea, time to grind the coffee to speed caffeine delivery to the veins tomorrow morning, and then it's time for bed. Goodnight!


  1. What a beautiful post! The tarte looks great.

  2. Aw, thank you so much! It's almost the end of berry season...I keep wondering, what will be the perfect winter sweet this year?