Monday, June 27, 2011

Meatless Monday: Graham Crackers and an Easy & Beautiful Strawberry Tart

Greetings!  It's Monday, and since I just wrapped up a little yoga and the hubby is dealing with dinner, I have a few moments to share two easy recipes that I made this weekend and that I think you'll like.
It's a little bit of a cheat to do sweet stuff for Meatless Monday, but both of these were easy and delicious and I think you're really going to like them.
First up, Alton's graham crackers.  Graham flour is a whole grain flour that gives these crackers their name, though they're much better described as biscuits.  This is Alton's recipe, but my photos and instructions.
Note: Alton insists on using weights rather than volume measurements, so I followed suit.  If you don't already have one, a kitchen scale (my favorite) is well worth the investment, even if you don't run a bakery.
Graham Crackers
by Alton Brown
8 3/8 ounces graham flour
  • 1 7/8 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 3 ounces dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes and chilled
  • 2 1/4 ounces molasses
  • 1 1/2 ounces whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Begin with your dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  I used Bob's Red Mill graham flour, which you shouldn't have too much trouble finding.  
DSC02509Pulse your dry ingredients until they're well combined, and then pulse in the butter until the dry mix has the texture of cornmeal.  (If you've ever made shortbread, this process will seem familiar.)  
Then, add the remaining ingredients and process until they combine.  Knead together just to get it into a dough ball.

DSC02515Roll it out to half an inch thick, moving and flipping the dough so it doesn't stick to your board.
DSC02516Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Put the dough between two layers of wax paper and roll it out very thinly.
About 1/4 in. thin.  You don't want it thicker or your crackers will be soft, thinner and they'll be brittle.
DSC02546Score into squares or cut with a biscuit cutter.
DSC02547Either way, poke holes in the top to allow steam to escape, otherwise you'll get bubbles.
I baked at 325 for 20 minutes and they were perfect.  Alton calls for 350 but some commenters recommended the lower temperature for more tender crackers.  
DSC02589The crackers will have great spice and flavor, and are much healthier than the traditional graham cracker from the grocery store.  It goes without saying that these make amazing smores.

This weekend, I also made an easy strawberry tart.
I chose Dave's crust because it was incredibly easy and fast, and I wasn't in the mood to deal with keeping butter cold and rolling out a fussy dough.  If you're in a similar mood or just want to try something different, this crust method is a simple alternative to traditional pastry crust.  The pastry cream is easy and a great technique to have on hand for a quick and simple dessert.

Strawberry Tart 
French Tart Crust
by Dave Libovitz

3 ounces unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
5oz, or 1 slightly-rounded cup flour
 Take the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt and put it into the bottom of an oven-proof bowl.  Place in a 410 degree oven for 15 minutes.

DSC02549Add the flour and stir quickly until everything comes together.
DSC02552Press into the bottom of your tart pan.  Again, I was feeling super lazy and didn't even push the dough up the sides.  Prick the bottom of the dough with your fork.  Bake at 410 for 15 minutes or until it's brown around the edges and cooked through.
DSC02554Once it's cool, fill with

from Epicurious

2 cups milk

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise (I used 1 tbsp. liquid vanilla)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pinch salt

  • Heat the milk + 1/4 c. sugar in a sauce pan until boiling.  
  • While it's coming to a boil, beat the six yolks and remaining 1/4 c. sugar in a bowl.  Once they're light and fluffy, add the flour and salt.  
  • After the milk mixture comes to a boil, take it off heat and let it cool a bit.  
  • Then add a little of the warm milk to the yolks, stirring constantly.  If you don't stir or fail to let the milk cool enough, you'll end up with scrambled eggs.  Slowly incorporate half the milk mixture into the yolks.  Once you've done this, return the pot of milk to medium heat and add the yolk/milk mixture.  Stir constantly and cook over medium heat for a full minute.  It will become very thick.  Strain this mixture and cool in the fridge.  (You've just made vanilla pudding!)

DSC02551Before putting the cream into the fridge, let it cool and press a layer of plastic wrap on top.  If you don't, the cream will develop a thick skin on top.
DSC02555Once the filling and the tart are cool (I did this the next day) get out your fresh strawberries and offset spatula.
DSC02556Slice them thinly.
Spread the pudding onto the tart crust.
DSC02561Nice and thin.  You might not use it all.
DSC02566Begin layering on the strawberry slices.  You can combine any thinly sliced fruit you have on hand.
DSC02568As you keep layering they'll start to stand up.
DSC02570I always save the rounded edge pieces for the middle of the tart because they don't layer as nicely as the slices.
DSC02572You can stop there, or you can brush on a thin layer of honey mixed to spreadability with just a little water.  This gives the tart a really nice sheen, but be sure not to use too much or it'll end up watery and mushy.
DSC02574See? Shiny.
DSC02578Easy. Pretty. Delicious.0
DSC02579Not that you'd ever have to worry about it, but this tart does not keep well, so serve it to a crowd that you can count on to eat it all.
It comes together really easily and looks quite impressive on any summer table, so give this tart a try.
See you later this week, all!

2 comments: said...

My God, that's beautiful! Why can't you live closer so I could enjoy the fruits of your labor!??

Annapet Santos said...

Wow, how gorgeous! I cannot wait to make this once the strawberries come in. The weather has made produce quite late this year. Everything seems off in the garden. Thanks for sharing!

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