It seems like all I've been cooking when I have been cooking around here lately has been desserts, sweets, simple stuff. Mainly, because of Fran being in hospice and all the family details Alan and I are overseeing, I haven't been doing a whole lot of cooking. Big meal, feast type cooking I mean. The sort I usually do when entertaining friends. My entertaining has been a lot simpler, a movie night at our house with wine, cheese and dessert afterwards.
Oh, and then I got sick. To everyone who warned me to take it easy... Yes, you were right. With all the stress going on, I hit the wall earlier this week and have been in bed for the last four days. The last active thing I remember doing was standing out on the road in freezing rain by the side of highway 12 trying to make myself understood on a cell phone in a cell phone dead zone (yep, you AT&T) to some hospital person while wearing a Marge Gunderson hat.
Next thing I knew I was flat on my ass in bed with a temperature, sore throat and hocking yes, hocking not hacking cough. After three days of lots of herbal treatments, hot teas,and total bed rest, the fever that kept getting worse. Then my voice went. I visited the doctor. So now I'm taking an antibiotic, not something I usually do, and already feeling much better. But before it all went pear shaped around here, I did manage to do some baking. My friend Terri can't have gluten and I always amuse myself messing around with gluten free desserts for her to enjoy. So last week before any of this happened, we decided to have a movie night for some friends, Terri among them. In searching around for something to serve, I decided to take advantage of what we've got a lot of around here right now, apples, walnuts and figs. Just what was needed for a Sonoma Winter Tart, and of course, it's gluten free.
I also tried something else with this dessert. Instead of using my own mixture of gluten free flours, (see the recipe here.) I decided to try a box of King Arthur Gluten Free All Purpose Flour that I picked up at the market. I usually don't buy packaged gluten free flour, but I wanted to try it, and yeah I also didn't feel like doing the whole measuring mixing flours thing. Turns out it worked just fine and I didn't need to add any xanthan gum to this crust making things even easier. The recipe is my gluten free adaptation of an Apple Walnut Tart by Chef Patrick O'Connell.
Apple Walnut Tart with Fig Glaze
Here's What You Need:
1 and 1/4 cup of all purpose gluten free flour , plus extra for dusting.
1 stick of cold butter
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbs sugar
2 to 4 Tbs of ice water
3/4 cup of walnuts
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbs of sugar
4 Tbs room temperature butter
3 large Granny Smith Apples peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 Tbs gluten free flour
juice of 1 fresh lemon
1 tsp of vanilla
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbs of fig jam
An 11 inch tart pan
Here's What To Do:
Cut the cold butter into 1/4 inch pieces and stick them into the freezer for about 15 minutes, you want that butter CHILLED.
In a food processor gently mix together the flour, sugar and salt.
Add in the cold cold butter.
Pulse the food processor about 6 times to mix in the butter. Use the bread blade to do this. The dough should look like coarse meal with a few small pieces of butter here and there.
Keep the food processor running and add in the ice water 1 Tbs at a time. You don't want to add too much water, just enough so the dough clumps together.
Take the dough out of the food processor and shape it into a ball and flatten it.
Wrap the dough round in a piece of plastic wrap and tuck it into the fridge to chill for at least an hour.
You can keep the dough in the fridge for a couple of days if you want to get a jump on this dessert.
Make sure you take out the dough 5 minutes before you're going to work with it.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
To roll out the dough when you're ready, dust a piece of waxed paper with gluten free flour.
Place the flattened round of dough on the paper, sprinkle it with a bit more gluten free flour, then top it with a second sheet of waxed paper.
Place the rolled out dough into the tart pan, trim any extra crust to the rim of the tart pan.
Stick the tart pan with the pie crust in it for 30 minutes. Like I said, this crust has got to be kept cool.
Butter a big piece of tin foil.
Place the foil, buttered side down, into the pie crust and up the sides.
Fill the pie shell with rice, beans or pie weights.
I used dried garbanzo beans.
Pop the tart pan onto a baking sheet and bake it in the oven for about 20 minutes.
Take the foil and beans out the crust.
Poke holes in the bottom of the crust with a fork then bake for another 10 minutes.
Take the crust out of the oven and raise the temperature to 375 degrees.
Grind 3/4 cup of walnuts to a fine meal.
In a medium bowl, mix 4Tbs of unsalted butter together with 1/3 cup of sugar.
Add in an egg, vanilla and 1 Tbs of gluten free flour and beat it all together.
Fold in the ground walnuts.
Spread this mixture into the bottom of the pie crust.
Peel, core and slice 3 Granny Smith Apples into 1/4 inch slices.
Squeeze the lemon juice into the apples, add in cinnamon, and nutmeg and mix it all together.
Layer the apple slices in circles around the top of the tart...
...until the tart is covered.
Sprinkle the top of the tart with some sugar and pop it into the oven for about 35 minutes.
When the apples turn soft and start to brown at the edges, it's done.
Place the tart on a cooling rack.
In a small pan heat up 2 Tbs of fig jam. I get mine from local fig gleaning.
When the jam is melty, brush it over the cooling tart.
Serve it up with some unsweetened whipped cream and a cup of chai.
The tart was delicious, all the Winter flavors of Wine Country on a plate. And the crust perfect. I couldn't have been more pleased. In fact several people asked me if I was I sure it was gluten free. Hey, when someone has an allergy, I don't mess around. I really like the ease of the King Arthur premixed gluten free flour. For hurried holiday baking it's just the trick, and saves me the grief of rummaging though my rat trap of a larder for the various and sundry bags of odd flours I am routinely collecting. In fact my kitchen is slowly turning into a gluten free flour museum. This could help clear the decks.
I'm now getting back to recovering from whatever bug it was that bit me, I'm dreaming of a couple of interesting Indian twists on holiday dishes. With a little luck I ought to be back on my feet and back in the kitchen soon. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori