holidays & recipes: mixed berry tartlet with crème anglaise pastry cream

holidays & recipes: mixed berry tartlet with crème anglaise pastry cream Today is Earth Day. Hopefully, like New Years, everyone is making a resolution. Maybe you will resolve to recycle or use your car less or grow an organic vegetable garden. Hopefully, everyone will do a good job of sticking to that resolution. One year I made an Earth Day resolution that my family railed against. I decided that I was going to become a vegetarian and, therefore, everyone would become a vegetarian. As you can imagine, in a household of men who were accustomed to eating meat, this went over like a lead balloon. I had an epiphany during early spring of 2008. I was trimming chicken for dinner. It is well known throughout my family that I abhor touching raw meat. I don’t like the way it smells or feels. This is odd for someone that loves to cook and even odder for someone who enjoys a good burger, steak or roasted chicken. I was standing in my kitchen, trimming the chicken, when it had occurred to me that I was a big ole’ hypocrite. I asked myself this question: “If I had to kill the chicken, would I do it?” The answer was “no”. So, if I, theoretically, had to kill the chicken and I know that I wouldn’t, than why would it be okay if someone else did it for me? This thought stayed with me, when on Earth Day of 2008, I informed my family that we were going to become vegetarians. Their reaction went something like this: “WHAT?!!! What are we going to eat? WHY?!!” The “why” went beyond my own disgust with handling raw meat. I knew that omitting meat, particularly red meat, would be healthier for our bodies and it would also be healthier for the environment. I was aware that the beef and poultry industry was not good for our environment. The inhumanity of the industry is also horrific. I explained these facts to my family. Not eating meat would be better for everyone, us and the animals as well as the environment. I don’t think the men heard a word of what I was saying. They were muttering, whining and humphing. I believe that one of the three said something like “I’m going to get a t-shirt that says ’meataterian’.” My family, despite griping and whining, gave it a whirl. The whirl lasted almost a year. My resolution to become a vegetarian faded slowly as concessions were made: I agreed to cook meat on holidays, then once a month, then on Fridays…” I think they humored me, led me to feel safe and then went on a very sneaky attack, slowly destroying my defenses. Before I knew it we were eating meat again on a regular basis. My 2008 resolution was a failure. I’ve learned my lesson. Lifestyles do not change overnight. I expected my family to embrace my resolution. I realize, now, that I went about it the wrong way. I forced them to go cold turkey. I’ve decided to have a go at the 2008 resolution again. I’ve modified my goals. Instead of becoming vegetarians I am introducing my family to the term “flexitarian”. Flexitarian is a recently coined term. It describes someone who eats a mostly vegetarian diet, but on occasion, will eat meat (organic, local meat purchased at my local butchers). I think my family will be more receptive to this idea. Or…wait...Have they already become flexitarians? You see, I’ve adopted the tactics of my “enemy”. I’ve slowly omitted meat as a staple of our diet. I’ve decreased the amount enough to be significant, but not enough for them to notice. And, since ignorance is bliss, this might be the Earth Day resolution that sticks. I thought about doing a veggie recipe, but instead my sweet tooth took over when I started to see the season’s first fresh strawberries and I made this delicious little raspberry and strawberry tartlet. You might say I’m a “sweetarian”.
Mixed Berry Tartlet with Pastry Cream Tart Dough (Martha Stewart) Ingredients 1 teaspoon salt 2/3 cup ice water 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 5 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces Directions 1. In a small bowl, mix together salt and water. Keep very cold until ready to use. 2. Place flour and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse briefly until mixture forms large crumbs. Add the salt water mixture and continue pulsing until dough has just formed but is not smooth. 3. On a lightly floured work surface, evenly divide dough. Form each piece of dough into a disk about 1 inch thick. Wrap each disk with plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours and up to overnight. 4. When ready to use preheat oven to 350 degrees. 5. Roll out the dough. Cut circles large enough to accommodate your tartlet pan. With the dough left over, roll into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate. 6. Use the second disc to continue. 7. Once you’ve used the second disc repeat step 5. Depending on how many tartlets you will make, you can save the remains of dough, making into one disc and freezing for future use. Or, you can repeat the process once the dough re-chills in order to make more tartlets. 8. Place tartlets in the oven and bake until golden brown. If the dough begins to bubble on the bottom gently (and carefully) poke the bottom with a fork to release the steam. The holes will more or less close up while it finishes baking. 9. When finished baking, cool tartlet shells completely before filling. Crème Anglaise (Pierre Herme) 2 cups whole milk 1 plump, moist vanilla bean , split and scraped 6 large egg yolks 1/2 cup sugar 1/3 cup cornstarch , sifted 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened and cut into 3 pats (1 3/4 ounces) Directions: 1. Bring the milk and vanilla bean (pulp and pod) to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cover the pan, turn off the heat, and allow the milk to infuse for at least 10 minutes or for up to 1 hour. 2. If the milk has cooled, it will need to be reheated now. 3. Whisk the yolks, sugar, and cornstarch together in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Whisking constantly, drizzle one-quarter of the hot milk over the yolks. When the yolks are warm, whisk the remainder of the milk into the yolks in a steadier stream; remove and discard the pod (or save it to make vanilla sugar). 4. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, bring the mixture to the boil. Keep at the boil—still whisking energetically—for 1 to 2 minutes before pulling the pan from the heat and pressing the cream through a sieve into the small bowl. Let the cream sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the butter. Cover the cream with a piece of plastic wrap—press the wrap against the cream—and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. You can speed up the chill by putting the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water. (Keeping: Covered tightly with plastic wrap, pastry cream can be refrigerated for 2 days. To smooth the chilled cream, whisk it for a few seconds.). Assemble Tartlets 1. Fill cooled tartlet shells with the crème anglaise. Place berries of your choice on top and serve immediately. 2. If not serving immediately do not place berries on top. You can refrigerate the filled shells for a few hours* and then right before serving place the berries on top. Note: I don’t like leaving the tarts filled for too long. I think this is tastes best when freshly assembled. It is fast and easy to assemble so try to do it right before serving. If you have all your components ready it won’t take long to assemble.
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  • April 22, 2012 at 9:16 am //

    Maybe you needed to do the vegetarian think in reverse, gradually introducing it then telling the family “surprise we are vegetarian” LOL
    This berry tartlet looks fantastic

    • April 22, 2012 at 12:01 pm //

      “giggles” that is funny Mike! I like that approach, I think I’ll give that a try if I approach it again.

  • April 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm //

    My daughter is a flexitarian as best I can describe her. She used to be vegetarian but the last couple of years she’s started eating a bit of meat. I like your idea of being a sweetarian. I could totally get on board with that. This tart is beautiful. I just want to reach into the screen and grab it.

    • April 23, 2012 at 10:40 am //

      Thank you Angie.

  • April 23, 2012 at 10:26 am //

    What a gorgeous tart!

    • April 23, 2012 at 10:40 am //

      Thank you Tessa.

  • April 23, 2012 at 2:56 pm //

    oh my, they look delicious…

    • April 23, 2012 at 8:27 pm //

      Thank you Baltic Maid.

  • April 23, 2012 at 6:27 pm //

    I love the idea of being a flexitarian (great word). This reminds me of a short discussion with my son (who is 21) the other day when he got upset that there was nothing to make a meal with in the fridge. I pointed out salad, pasta, etc and he said “No! Protein! There is no protein! I need a burger or chicken or slice of meat or something!” Wow! I think it was then I realized that I needed to start cooking more vegetarian dishes (complete dishes) rather than always just having veg as a side dish. That said, these tartlets are similar to what I just baked and posted on my blog although different enough that I want to now make these today. They are truly beautiful!

    • April 23, 2012 at 8:27 pm //

      Hi Jamie, isn’t flexitarian a great word? I realized that veggies should be more than an afterthought to a meal, while I like to sink my teeth into something that is protein (meat) I like that we don’t have to fit into one or the other being a flexitarian. Your sons response take me back to that old Wendy’s Commercial “Where’s the Beef”, or was it “Where’s the meat”? With that adorable gregarious granny.

  • April 23, 2012 at 11:00 pm //

    Since moving to Portugal, I’ve had to change quite a few things about the way we live that is more earth friendly including food. I think the backwards version of your first attempt to vegetarian-ize your family is a great way to do it rather than cold turkey! We’ll be practicing this felxitarianism more often once our garden starts producing and our chickens start laying :)

  • April 24, 2012 at 7:28 pm //

    I was just thinking about making a pie or tartlette! I got my mini tartlette set for a while but haven’t get a chance to use it yet!

    • April 25, 2012 at 8:49 am //

      Hi Cindy, I will have to admit something quite embarrassing, the tart is my favorite part of any tart, although I am quite smitten with anything custardy.

  • April 25, 2012 at 6:19 am //

    They look gorgeous!!! Wow!

    • April 25, 2012 at 8:41 am //

      Thank you so much for commenting Sarah = )