Ruth Reichl Said to Make These

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve only recently discovered Ruth Reichl.  Earlier this year, a friend recommended Tender at the Bone: Growing up at the Table, by the former Gourmet Magazine Editor in Chief (among many the other accomplishments including four James Beard Awards).

Actually it wasn’t so much a recommendation as it was a reference to the book the friend assumed I had already read.  Again, embarrassed.  So, in turn, I’m assuming everyone else already knows (and has known for most of her more than 40 year career) who she is.

But, just in case not: she’s wonderful.

Anyhow, in April of this year, Epicurious ran a feature by Ms. Reichl titled “I’m Ruth Reichl, and These Are the Best Recipes from my Gourmet Years.

Knowing what I had learned just before this article came out, I was ready to take her word for it and, went straight for the first of two dessert recipes featured in the article: a Raspberry Crumble Tart by Ruth Cousineau featured in the August 2006 edition.

The first thing that jumped out at me was that the recipe calls for six, yes 6 cups of fresh raspberries (that’s four of those little containers these expensive little jewels usually come in).

Looking between my tart pan and the bowl of berries, I couldn’t quit figure out how I was going to get them all in there.  Me of little faith.

The next notable thing about this recipe is that the fruit does not get sweetened.  Here are in ingredients for the raspberry filling: raspberries.  There is some sugar in the crumble on top, but none in the fruit.  Again, me of little faith.

Finally, there is the crumble.  To be clear, you could put crumble on an old sock and I’d eat it.  With enthusiasm.  But, I at least, generally think of crumble as a topping on something homey and unrefined.  On an elegant tart? Well.

You don’t need to hear it from me because Ruth Reichl already said it–but I’m going to say it anyway: trust the process.  To begin, your house will smell like everything early spring and summer hint at being: tangy, sweet and full of promise.  Then there is the tart itself, as inviting as it is sophisticated.  Sweetened only by the berries, the filling is bright, clean and gorgeous against the crumble rich crust.  Serve it with a generous dollop of real whipped cream and nobody will remember the meal (or anything else) that came before it.

Raspberry Crumble Tart

Gourmet Magazine, August 2006

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 C) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 C cold vegetable shortening (butter works just fine here if you don’t have shortening…don’t sweat it)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 to 7 TBS ice water
  • 3/4 C whole almonds (3 ounces), chopped (TMH–I used blanched almonds because I already had them)
  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 4 (6-ounces) containers fresh raspberries (6 cups)

Directions

Make dough:

  1. Blend together flour, butter, shortening, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Transfer 2 cups mixture to a bowl and drizzle 4 tablespoons ice water evenly over it (reserve remaining mixture). Stir gently with a fork until incorporated.
  2. Squeeze a small handful of dough: If it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water 1/2 tablespoon at a time, stirring until incorporated. (Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.)
  3. Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather all dough together with pastry scraper and press into a ball, then flatten into a 5-inch disk. If dough is sticky, dust lightly with additional flour. Wrap disk in plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 1 hour.

Make topping while dough chills:

  1. Add almonds and sugar to reserved dough mixture in a bowl and rub together until some large clumps form.

Assemble pie:

  1. Put a large baking sheet on oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 375°F. Roll out disk of dough into a 14- by 13-inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Fit into tart pan and trim excess dough, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang, then fold overhang under pastry and press against rim of pan to reinforce edge. Fill shell with berries and sprinkle evenly with topping. Bake tart in pan on baking sheet until topping and crust are golden and filling is bubbling, about 55 to 60 minutes (loosely cover with a sheet of foil after 30 minutes to prevent overbrowning). Cool in pan on a rack 20 minutes, then remove side of pan and cool tart completely, about 45 minutes.

Love child, definitely meant to be

Have you ever wondered what would happen if a raspberry bar was set up with  a lemon bar on a blind date?  What if they hit-it-off and shared a night of passionate abandon?  You know what I mean…made a dessert bar love sandwich.

What?  I’m the only one who has ever thought of this?  Really?

Well, let me tell you, it would definitely be something the Supremes would want to sing about. Or at the very least, something you’d want to eat.

We’ll start with a combination of flour and almond meal.

Then add in a little butter.  You know, for lubrication.

Press the dough (note, this is different from the crust to my raspberry bars but you could use that as well) into a 9X13 pan.

Bake until just golden.

While the base is doing its thing, it’s lemon time.

Lemon juice, flour, eggs, sugar and of course, zest (aren’t you glad I didn’t include a picture of zest…for once) get whisked together.

Then is slow jam time.  I mean, raspberry jam time.

Once the base is cooled a bit, add a nice layer of jam.

Top this with the lemon filling.

Into the oven.  Word of warning here–you want to almost over-bake the bars. Not quite, but, don’t worry if the top begins to turn a goldish-hue.  Let the bars cool, dust with confectioner’s sugar and you have got yourself a lemon and raspberry love child.

Yeah.  Definitely not misunderstood.  Definitely meant to be.

Raspberry Lemon Bars

inspired by Ina Garten’s Lemon Bars

Ingredients

for base

  • 14 TBS (1 stick plus 6 TBS) unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 2/3 C granulated sugar
  • 1 C all purpose flour
  • 1 C almond flour, almond meal or ground almonds
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt

for filling

  • 4-6 ounces raspberry (or other favorite jam)
  • 6 extra large eggs at room temp
  • 3 C granulated sugar (I like superfine)
  • 3 TBS lemon zest (6-8 lemons)
  • 1 C lemon juice
  • 1 C flour
  • Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees, place rack in middle slot in oven, cut parchment to fit bottom of 9X13 inch pan
  • For the crust, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • With mixer on low, add in flour and salt until just mixed.  Dough will be soft, not crumbly.
  • Press dough into pan building up the sides.  Bake 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.
  • Let cool on a wire rack 15 minutes.
  • For the filling, whisk together eggs, sugar, zest, juice and flour.
  • Gently spread thin layer of jam over crust.  Crust will still be quite soft.
  • Pour filling over jam layer.
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes until filling is set.
  • Let cool at room temp, dust with confectioner’s sugar and cut as desired.