Friday, August 29, 2008

A Summer Tart and a Confession


So I heard this pathetic story once about this woman who was delaying starting her second child on solids. Here he was, already six months old, fueled solely by breast milk, while his older brother, the first born, had started the mashed banana and rice cereal at the tender age of five months. Finally one day, this poor child's mother decides to stop stalling and bite the bullet.
So she picks a few carrots from her kitchen garden, (no pesticides for baby) peels and slices them and puts them in a pot with just a little water to steam them until tender. At least that was the idea, only she forgets about them completely and they scorch horribly. In fact they are black and the pot requires some serious work to return it to it's normal state. The mother decides she can put off starting solids for another day, maybe two.

A good start to homemade baby food? I think not! (She did recently turn 30, which is pretty old so we could attribute her absent mindedness to that. )

.....OK, OK, so that happened to me today. Yes, I'm a big fat loser!

Sure I once used to control the timing of a fine dining professional kitchen and now I can't even make baby food without burning it beyond recognition. What gives??

Oh well, there is no rush, Mateo can't quite sit up yet and you can tell just by looking at his chubby thighs, he's doing just fine on mama's milk!
Starting solids with the second baby is certainly anti-climactic compared to with the first child. I couldn't wait to cook for Noah--and then he spat out (or vomited) virtually everything I sent his way except yogurt.
Of course, that rejection eventually became the inspiration for this blog. (Just read "What's in a name?", my second ever blog post for the full story and to see a cute picture of Noah as a chubby baby in the infamous high chair...)

Making my own baby food is going to be a piece of cake the second time around, though. It's all been done before and is so familiar--just like this fresh fruit tart that has already made a few appearances on this blog in different guises.
I can't help it, I love this dessert so much!


This tart usually comes together when collection of fresh fruit that is fast ripening on my counter starts waving at me and I check my freezer for leftover pie dough. Not a very glamorous start, but what makes it extraordinary is the creme patissière.

Speaking of baby food, I think my mother started me off on pastry cream. Forget the rice cereal, she was probably spooning the cool, vanilla custard between my toothless gums to get me started on this road as a foodie. How else can I explain my infatuation with it, eating it right out of the fridge with the door open?
"It's a childhood thing, you know. My mother....." (and here I gesture helplessly as I dip my spoon in for another taste.)

So this tart was some left-over whole-wheat quiche dough (can't remember how I threw that together), classic pastry cream, and as you can see, fresh figs, raspberries and cherries. You can use whatever fruit you have on hand or love very much. I glazed some of the fruit with a little crabapple jelly, warmed up until it was runny, and then brushed on the cherries and figs.
That's it!

Here is my go-to recipe for pastry cream, republished. Better make a double batch, because it pretty amazing poured warm over some sliced bananas and you may want to try that. Right now.

Pastry Cream

(from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)

2 cups whole milk
½ cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split in two
4 large egg yolks
¼ cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, ¼ cup sugar, vanilla and salt. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining ¼ cup sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about ½ cup of the hot-milk mixture into the egg mixture. Continue adding milk mixture, ½ cup at a time, until it has been incorporated. Pour mixture back into saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove vanilla bean, scrape pod with the tip of a knife to remove seeds. Add seeds to custard and discard bean.

Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add butter, and beat on medium speed until butter melts and the mixture cools, about 5 minutes.
Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

17 comments:

RecipeGirl said...

Wow, Mateo is that old already?? Seems like just yesterday that I remember you announcing the birth!

The tart is lovely and that pastry cream sounds just decadent and delicious!

Emiline said...

It's a pretty tart! I'm jealous of your figs.

Too bad about the carrots. Hey, it happens. I scorched some fries the other day.
Frozen fries from a bag, that is.

Cheryl A said...

Pastry cream seems like a perfectly suitable first food - especially when it's the 2nd kid and we are less paranoid! Good luck with starting solids.

Bellini Valli said...

Pastry cream could be considered a solid food for Mateo:D

Fearless Kitchen said...

The tart looks great. The pastry cream certainly sounds like a better baby food than carrots - but I've never liked carrots, even when I was that small :)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

What fun it will be when your children are old enough to enjoy a beautiful tart like this! It could happen any time -- kids' taste buds are so unpredictible.

Lunch Buckets said...

The tart looks gorgeous. And feeding carrots to babies? Over-rated :)

Kate / Kajal said...

oh dont be so hard on yourself Aimee:) its aint that bad ...and to top it up you've got here such a gorgeous tart :) like you mum did wisely, just feed you child some pasty cream :) i'm sure its way better than pureed carrots !!!

Michele said...

I so agree with you about pastry cream. In fact, with a lot of fruit tarts, I could just about lose the crust and topping altogether and just spoon out the cream. But yours looks beautiful. And it's nice to see one natural and unglazed.

My Sweet & Saucy said...

I feel you...I love pastry cream with delicious fruit!

LyB said...

I remember "someone" wanting to steam string beans in a marguerite and forgetting to put water at the bottom of the pot. The smell was horrible! I wish I'd had such a gorgeous fruit tart to console myself with! :)

hot garlic said...

What a gorgeous tart! I'm glad you have reposted it again since I didn't see it previous times anyway. I just love tarts.

You have so many great and beautiful recipes, great blog!

The name of your blog is so cute and clever. And I have toddlers too, so trust me, I know why you named it as such!

Deborah said...

Oooh, I want baby food recipes!! It will be awhile until I need them, but I'm hoping to make my own baby food after breastfeeding. And this tart looks amazing.

Aimée said...

Hi Recipe Girl- Yep, time flies! Soon he'll be getting on that school bus and I'll be drowning my sorrow in pastry cream.

Hi Em- Thanks. Burnt fries. Ew.

Hi Cheryl- Thanks for the vote, I'll let you know how it goes.

Hi Valli- I'm glad you think so!

Hi fearless kitchen- I'm with you on that one, but my baby doesn't need to know that!

Hi Lydia- Right now Noah won't eat raspberries but blueberries are da bomb. Whatever!

Hi lunch buckets- Sounds like you've made a few. Babies that is.

Hi kate- Thanks for stopping by and lending your support. I feel better already.

Hi Michele- A warm welcome to you. Would you like a slice of tart?

Hi Melody- we must be the majority here, eh?

Hi Lyb- AhA!! You weren't pregnant at the time were you? Because that doesn't count!!

Hi Hot garlic- Thanks for stopping by! Hope you find something to commiserate over with me!

Aimée said...

Hi deb- good for you! I'm hoping Mateo will be my gourmet...so I'll pass along any tips I have.

Emeline said...

Oh the baby food will be sooooo different with No. 2! Trust me! Luca went straight to finger foods- no purees, or barely any. He was so jealous of everyone eating big hunks of food that he felt left out. Thank god- no blender cleaning for this mama... at least not for a bit!

Cookie baker Lynn said...

Maybe I would enjoy camping today if my parents had packed along tasty treats like you did. Everything we ate was dehydrated nastiness. May I have one of those s'mores, please?? (Picture Bambi eyes here.)

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