Baking for the Wedding: Tarts I

My mom was asked to bake some desserts for her friend’s son’s wedding. I returned home just in time to help her.

First on the menu are fruit tarts that would make use of the abundance of berries available in the summer. We already have large boxes of blueberries picked up from our favorite berry farm in Abbotsford, and decide to add some strawberries, raspberries, and golden kiwis into the mix.

Any good tart begins with the pastry dough (pâte brisée). We make many portions and refrigerate them in plastic wrap for later use.

The dough is rolled out, cut, and shaped into individual tins. Square pieces of tinfoil and then pressed into the mold…

…to hold the beans, which act as a weight to keep the crust in shape while baking.

Ready for the oven.

The tinfoil and beans are removed after a few minutes in the oven. The tins then go back in until the crust takes on a nice golden color. We let these cool before keeping them in the fridge to be finished the next day.

Taking a break from the kitchen, we hit up a few grocery stores and head to a family friend’s orchard to pick cherries.

My parents used to volunteer here, helping to pick cherries early in the mornings. The orchard has since switched its emphasis to a customer-picks self-service.

The rows of trees are neatly kept.

I like this sturdy, solid Toledo scale.

We pick two buckets full of cherries.

When we return, it’s right back into the kitchen. Giving my parents a break, I help my friend make a light, fresh dinner. And, not that it goes particularly well with the meal, but I decide to make mushroom paté and bottle it.

The initial inspiration to make mushroom pate comes from my aunt, who likes to concoct various mixes from the many interesting food items she picks up during her travels. I enjoyed her mushroom paté made from thirteen or so different mushrooms (this one’s from Bhutan and this woodsy deep mushroom was given to me in Burma and so forth) while staying with her off and on in recent years. While I can’t find that variety here, I find some Portebello and shitake mushrooms on sale, as well as some fresh basil and rosemary. I decide to sautée an onion in grapeseed oil and butter until translucent, and then add the chopped basil and rosemary, along with salt and pepper. The diced mushrooms are then added, along with some red wine (red being the only available wine; try a drier white wine next time) until all the liquid has been absorbed. In a food processor, I put in the leftover ground pistachios from yesterday’s macarons and blend that with a block of cream cheese. When smoothly incorporated, I add the mushroom mixture, along with a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste.

I have to say… I’m adding this to my favorite snack list.

My friend’s salmon is baked with wonderful aromatics – garlic, mint, lemongrass.

A very appropriate summer evening meal.

Natalie Merchant – I May Know the Word



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