Put the milk to boil with the vanilla in a small saucepan on low-medium heat. Then slowly add the rest of the milk and stir.
In the meantime, combine the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch. Once the milk is at boiling point (don’t let it boil over or you’ll have spilled milk!), remove from the heat. Add just a little milk to the egg mixture to temper the eggs (slowly increase the temperature so the eggs don’t cook), and stir.
Return to the saucepan and place on low heat. Stir constantly with a whisk for about 30-60 seconds. Once it thickens, remove from the heat. Let the cream come to room temperature or close.
This is essentially a standard pie crust recipe. It can be done by hand or in the food processor or mixer. Cut the butter into cubes and work them into the combined flour and salt. I like to use a whisk because I don’t own a pastry cutter. Whatever works best for you. Once the mixture resembles a course meal, start adding tablespoons of water until the dough starts coming together. Start with 4 tablespoons and if it’s still falling apart, add more. Don’t work the dough too much; just until it forms a dough. Make a ball with the dough and flatten into a disc.
Refrigerate for 20 minutes (or freeze for 5-10 if you’re pressed for time) and then on a floured surface, roll it to about a 10” round, by extending from the center out and then rotating about 90 degrees and repeating. This method ensures you get an even round. Make sure the round is well-floured. Fold in half and transfer to the 8” tart pan or pie pan, whatever you prefer. Form the dough into the pan and form the edges how you’d like them. On both, let the dough extend a half inch outside of the pan so that when it baked and shrinks, you’ll still have a good edge.
Refrigerate again for 20 minutes (or freezer method for less), and then cover with foil, add pastry weights or dried beans so that the dough does not rise, and bake for 18 minutes at 400 degrees fahrenheit. Then, remove foil and weights and bake for another 14 minutes, until golden. Let cool.
Then, simply spread the cream onto the tart crust, sprinkle with lemon verbena if you have, and then arrange the halved strawberries in a spiral, starting at the crust and making your way in. Enjoy!