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Bake & Broil

August 31, 2009

Farmer's market bounty

After a week with wilting temperatures in the 100s, I knew this weekend would not be one for running around, or for doing work outside. So I hit the local farmers market Saturday morning early to find the raw material for an indoor project that would satisfy my need to create something, would be fun and would give me a sense of accomplishment. There weren’t as many vendors as on most Saturdays but there was still lots of great produce on offer. My fave succulent vendor, Mike Dignan, was there and I couldn’t resist picking up a few things from him. He’s always got a terrific assortment of colorful plants at great prices. Produce-wise, what really caught my eye were the organic nectarines and fresh blackberries. The nectarines were perfectly ripe, not too soft, and the blackberries being sold by Patricia were huge, really plump. I threw in some blueberries and several baskets of cherry tomatoes (in a hot spectrum of colors from yellow to orange to red) and called it a day — it was already getting really hot!

nectarines sliced

Sliced nectarines

Our neighbor, Susan, had invited us for a light dinner Saturday evening so I set my market materials aside while I tracked down a recipe I had made in the past with much success. The recipe for a rustic tart, or crostata, appeared in the July 2002 issue of Bon Appetit. I liked this recipe because it was super easy to make, looked and smelled fantastic, and was really delicious. I tracked it down on, reacquainted myself with the shopping list and resolved to make 4 tarts the next day. (Side note: Susan’s dinner was great, her son and his girlfriend were there from Paris, and we had fun. There was even a floor show!) Sunday, in an effort at heat-beating, we completed the shopping and the bake-a-thon began with pastry making and fruit prep. The picture above shows about 8 pounds of nectarines I sliced for the tarts, pretty sunny, right?


Two of four finished crostatas

Fast forward several hours and I had to ask myself: was it really worth turning on the oven when it’s already hot enough to bake outside? I had to answer yes! The tarts were just as good as I’d remembered making them in the past. The pastry was flaky and golden (among other ingredients, it includes orange zest and polenta), the fruit was sweetly fragrant and tender and the overall effect was rustically pretty. These days not a lot of cooking takes place at the Rancho as work (and the getting to and from) takes up my time, so I was proud of my efforts. I bestowed the finished tarts on locally hospitable friends (Susan of the night before; and Kiran and Sheeba of a couple of memorably spicy, home-cooked, feasts), sending one home with my sister, Julie, for my Dad and brother in law. So far the reviews have been wonderful!

If this post inspires you to try the recipe for yourself, you can find it here.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sheeba permalink
    August 31, 2009 5:04 am

    Reuben Reuben……..Thank you for sharing the tart with us… was simply & utterly delicious, we wolfed down 2 slices as soon as Paul left. The crust was perfect, the polenta gave it a nice crunch,nectarines juicy,all in all perfection indeed!!

    Congratulations on the blog….I was hoping to hear you describe the tart since I love the way you use words…reading your blog gives me that satisfaction:)

    Kiran & Sheeba.

  2. Elizabeth permalink
    August 31, 2009 7:25 pm

    Yes, I agree: You have a great way with words. Wow, the photos are gorgeous; I love the rustic looks of the tarts. It looks as if it would fit in as a dessert at Chez Panisse in Berkeley (they too favor the simple, rustic look).

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