Summer Tarts

This week I went tart crazy! I had an opportunity to cook for a friend who had surgery recently and who also happens to have a gluten intolerance. I cooked a full meal of stuffed bell peppers and rice, and for dessert I made these fruity tarts. The crust is gluten-free and made with almonds, walnuts, and cashews. It’s nutty, crunchy, and more flavorful than a traditional pastry crust in my humble opinion. The filling is passion fruit pastry cream.

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You are probably familiar with passion fruit which can be found in juices, desserts, teas, and much more. This tropical fruit tastes a little bit like guava, but less intense, and it has a bit of tartness like kiwi. Growing up in El Salvador I became familiar with a few different kinds of granadillas, which is a general name for any fruit that resembles passion fruit. It looks like a maraca and it has pulp and seeds inside. I’ve been looking for fresh passion fruit to photograph and add to this post without much luck. My quest isn’t over yet though. But for now, frozen pulp will have to do. You can find it in Latino grocery stores. If you can’t find it, you can use actual juice that has passion fruit in it.

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I meant to make mango tarts to compliment the tropical flavor of the passion fruit, but my mangoes were not ripe enough, so I had to improvise and use other fruit I had in the fridge. As a cook you have to improvise all the time and make things work with what you have available. It’s impromptu experimentation that leads to new discoveries. My inspiration for part of the recipe was Pati Jinich’s Mango Tart, especially the apricot and wine glaze.

Passion Fruit Tart

Nut Crust:

1 ½ cups mix of nuts like walnuts, cashews, pistachios, or pecans (peanuts are fine if you’re not allergic)   
1 cup almond flour (or grind your own almonds)
¼ cup maple syrup or honey (sugar is fine, too)
1 egg
¼ cup cold butter, cubed (½ stick of butter)

Passionfruit Pastry Cream:

½ cup milk (I had 2% in the fridge)
¾  cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-5 egg yolks (I used the leftover yolks from this Swiss Meringue Recipe)
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup thawed passionfruit pulp or juice

Fruit:

Any fruit you have available such as strawberries, mango, canned mandarin oranges, berries, kiwi, etc.

Glaze:

½ cup apricot jam
½ cup white wine or orange liqueur (you can use sub orange juice)

Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350F. Grind the nuts in a food processor. Next, add the rest of the crust ingredients and pulse until the mix gets crumbly. You do not want a ball of dough.

Use mini tart pans with removable rings. This mix makes 8 4 inch tarts or 1 large 10 inch tart.

Press some of the nut mix into the bottom and up the sides of each tart pan. Bake the crusts on a large cookie sheet for about 15-17 minutes or until slightly golden. Allow to cool completely in the pans.

You can work on the next two steps while the crusts are baking and cooling:

Glaze: In a small saucepan, combine the apricot jam and wine. Mix to fully dissolve and simmer on low-medium heat until it reduces and becomes syrupy. This will take about 10 minutes. Cool and set aside. It thickens up a bit more when it cools.

Passionfruit Pastry Cream: In a bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Measure the milk and cream in a measuring cup and add the egg yolks. Whisk to combine the egg yolks and milk. Add the milk and egg mixture to the the sugar and cornstarch and whisk to combine. This is the easy method. No need to heat the milk first to temper the eggs.

Pour the cream mixture into a saucepan and set over medium heat and mix consistently with a wooden spoon until it thickens.  Add the passionfruit pulp at the end and stir the cream a little more to incorporate into the cream. Cool and place in the fridge until ready to use.

To assemble your tarts, begin by filling the crusts with a couple of tablespoons of cream. Arrange the fruit on top however you wish. Have fun with the process. If making 1 large tart you may want to arrange sliced fruit in a circle starting from the edges and working your way towards the center.

Brush the fruit with the glaze. Refrigerate the tarts overnight to set. Gently remove cooled tarts from the tart rings before serving.

Light & Easy Peach Tart (Gluten Free)

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You Need:

Nut Crust 
Filling: About 2 cups of peach yogurt or greek yogurt mixed with a little honey (for 8 mini tarts)
Sliced peaches or plums
Glaze: ¼  cup honey & ¼ cup orange juice (no need to cook or reduce)

Follow the steps above to make the crusts for 8 tarts. Allow the baked crusts to cool to room temperature.

Fill each tart with yogurt and top with peaches and/or plums. Brush with honey/orange juice glaze. Sprinkle with some crushed nuts and refrigerate for about 30 minutes before serving.

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Rellenos

Rellenos are stuffed vegetables dipped in egg batter, fried, then cooked in a light tomato sauce. Salvadorians make rellenos out of any vegetable like green beans, potatoes, squash, peppers, etc. They are so good, and often stuffed with cheese or meat. The tomatoey sauce pairs perfectly with rice. Here is a recipe for two types of rellenos. I decided to make vegetarian rellenos de papa and rellenos de güisquil.

Güisquil or chayote can be found in Latino or international markets, although some conventional grocery stores may carry them as well. It is known as chayote in Mexico and mirliton in Louisiana. It tastes sort of like squash but with a crispy texture. To prepare it, you must first peel it because the skins are too tough to eat.

Ingredients for 8 rellenos: 

1 large russet potato
1 güisquil or chayote
2 eggs
1 tablespoon flour (use quinoa flour for gluten-free diets)
8 slices mozzarella cheese
Good quality oil for frying

Start off by cooking the potato in salted water until it’s fork tender. Cool and peel off skin using a small paring knife. Peel the raw güisquil with a vegetable peeler. Slice both the potato and güisquil into thin slices. To assemble rellenos, place 1 slice of mozzarella cheese in between 2 slices of the vegetable. Repeat the process until you have approximately 4 or more rellenos of each vegetable.

Next, separate the egg whites and beat until foamy, increasing the mixer speed gradually until the batter is fluffy like meringue. It doesn’t matter what kind of mixer you have. My mom used to do this with just a fork back in the day.

Add the egg yolks and flour and mix until the egg batter is yellow and creamy but do not overmix. Heat about 1/3 cup oil in a pan. Dip each relleno in the egg batter and carefully slide them into the hot oil in the pan, one at a time. You may have to work in batches.

Fry the rellenos over medium heat until golden, about 1 or 2 minutes per side. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain excess oil on paper towel. Immerse the rellenos in a light tomato sauce (see recipe below) and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the vegetables are tender.

Traditional Salvadorian Tomato Sauce for Rellenos & Other Dishes:

4 tomatoes, boiled in water
1 cup chicken stock 1 garlic clove, mashed (optional)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper (any color), chopped
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Salt & pepper to taste

Cook the tomatoes in water and boil for a couple of minutes. Drain the water, place the unpeeled tomatoes in a blender with chicken stock, and set aside. Saute onions, bell pepper, and garlic in a little bit of oil. Season with oregano, salt, and pepper. Blend all of the ingredients and pour the sauce into a pan. Bring it to a boil then turn the heat to low to keep it warm until ready to use.

En Español

Los rellenos son vegetales rellenos, envueltos en huevo batido, fritos, y cocinados en salsa de tomate. Los Salvadoreños hacen rellenos de cualquier vegetal o verdura como ejotes, papas, calabacines, chiles, etc. Son muy ricos, y a menudo son rellenos de queso o carne. La salsita de tomate se acompaña muy bien con arroz. Esta es una receta para dos tipos de rellenos. Decidí hacer rellenos vegetarianos de papa y rellenos de güisquil.

En los Estados el güisquil o chayote se puede encontrar en los mercados latinos o internacionales, aunque algunos supermercados convencionales también los venden. Se le conoce como chayote en México y mirliton en Louisiana. Su sabor es algo así como el calabacín, pero con una textura crujiente. Para prepararlo, primero debe pelarlo porque la cáscara es muy gruesa para comer.

Ingredientes para 8 rellenos:

1 papa grande
1 güisquil o chayote
2 huevos
1 cucharada de harina (harina de quinua para dieta sin gluten)
8 rebanadas de queso mozzarella
Aceite de buena calidad para freír

Comience por cocinar la papa en agua con sal hasta que esté blanda. Deje que se enfríe y pelela utilizando un cuchillo pequeño. Pele el güisquil crudo con un pelador de vegetales. Corte la papa y güisquil en rodajas finas. Para formar los rellenos, coloque 1 rebanada de queso mozzarella entre 2 rebanadas de verdura. Repita el proceso hasta que tenga aproximadamente 4 o más rellenos de cada verdura.

A continuación, separe las claras de huevo y batirlas hasta que queden espumosas, aumentando la velocidad de la batidora gradualmente hasta que la mezcla esté suave y a punto de nieve como merengue. No importa qué tipo de batidora use. Mi madre solía hacer esto con solamente un tenedor.

Añada las yemas de huevo y la harina y bata hasta que la mezcla de huevo esté amarilla y cremosa pero no la mezcle demasiado. Caliente más o menos una 1/3 taza de aceite en una sartén. Sumerja cada relleno en el huevo batido y deslicelos con cuidado en el aceite caliente en la sartén, uno a la vez. Puede que tenga que trabajar en tandas.

Fría los rellenos a fuego medio hasta que se doren, alrededor de 1 o 2 minutos por cada lado. Retire con una espumadera y escurra el exceso de aceite sobre papel toalla. Sumerja los rellenos en salsa de tomate (ver receta a continuación) y cocinelos a fuego medio durante 15 minutos o hasta que el queso se derrita y los vegetales estén blandos.

Salsa tradicional Salvadoreña de tomate para rellenos y otros platos:

4 tomates, cocidos en agua
1 taza de caldo de pollo
1 diente de ajo, machacado (opcional)
1/2 cebolla, picada
1/2 chile (cualquier color), picado
1/2 cucharadita de orégano
Sal y pimienta al gusto

Cocine los tomates en agua y hierva durante un par de minutos. Tire el agua, ponga los tomates sin pelar en la licuadora con el caldo de pollo, y reserve. Saltee las cebollas, el pimiento y el ajo con un poquito de aceite. Sazone con el orégano, la sal y la pimienta. Licue todos los ingredientes y vierta la salsa en la sartén. Hierva la salsa y siga cocinando a fuego lento para que se mantenga caliente hasta que esté listo para su uso.