Martha Stewart loves tarts and so do we. Together we dreamed up this contest to celebrate her New Pies & TartsCookbook. We're thinking single-crust quiches and sweet custard tarts; tarts filled with jam, nuts, citrus, greens or other good things of the season. Our friends at MSLO are upping the ante in a big way -- go here for details.
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Simple ingredients with a couple smart twists: semolina, butter, whole milk, all-purpose flour, sugar, egg, Madeira (we used Rainwater and it was lovely).
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First thing (preferably the night before) get your custard going. Scald your milk, just till bubbles appear at the edges. Don't let it boil!
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Beat yourself some eggs, with sugar and salt. Thirschfeld is a fan of duck eggs, but chicken works too.
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The magic ingredient: Madeira, which gets added in with beaten egg, sugar and salt. You could substitute a dry port or sherry.
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Grab a buddy to whisk furiously while you drizzle in some scalded milk. Don't rush this -- you don't want scrambled eggs, do you?
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Amanda dips and sweeps the flour -- our standard measurement technique -- while Merrill prepares thirschfeld's "two-finger pinch" of salt.
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One of thirschfeld's thoughtful details: adding semolina to the crust gives it a delicious, subtle crunch.
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The semolina's toothy texture, so helpful in pasta-making, also plays nicely off of the all-purpose flour and sugar.
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Unlike a pate brisee, the butter doesn't need to be ice cold here. Thirschfeld makes it easy on us by calling for softened butter...
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... which you get to just mash in with a wooden spoon (fun!).
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... or your hands (even more fun!). You're going for an evenly incorporated, couscous-like texture.
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It should hold together when you scrunch it in your hand.
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Then you just press it into the tart pan -- no rolling or delicate transferring.
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First use the surface of your whole hand to jump-start the process.
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Then pinch it up the sides.
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And nudge it into the corners.
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Then toss it into the oven to par-bake for 20 minutes. You may want to stab the bottom a few times with a fork so it doesn't puff, but no need to fill with baking beans -- the semolina helps it stand tall.
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Voila! Lightly browned and (once it cools) ready for some custard.
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Pouring your well-chilled custard through a strainer is the ultimate test of how well you've made your custard -- it'll catch any scrambled bits.