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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The Farmers Market & Stuffed Bell Peppers

farmers market I love the farmers market at the Irvine Park. The produce is so beautiful and fresh. The fruits and veggies just pop with color. It’s nature at its best, especially because it’s edible. You also find unusual vendors and all kinds of delicious, gourmet treats, like Welsh meat pies. My daughter Bella loves sampling all the goodies at farmers markets. It’s funny how she tries new things when we go there, but at home she’s not as adventurous. It’s all about having a wide variety of choices for her. She gets to be part of the whole experience. We practice counting the vegetables and placing them in the shopping bag. We name all the items we see and she’s also starting to understand that we have to pay for things. Seasonal organic produce is full of flavor and life. One thing I love about summer and living here in Cali is that we can enjoy fresh produce almost all year round.

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Traditionally, rellenos, or stuffed vegetables, are dipped in egg batter then fried. However, here’s a healthier and quicker alternative. For typical chiles rellenos we use pasilla or similar peppers, but I decided to use these colorful bell peppers instead. I didn’t think the traditional tomato sauce was needed either. They were delicious without any sauce. Our local farmers market bounty was definitely put to good use.

stuffed bell peppers

Ingredients:

4-8 bell peppers (I only needed to make 4 so I saved the rest of the meat filling for lettuce wraps the next day)
1.3 lb ground turkey (1 package)
1 carrot, diced
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 can garbanzo beans
1/2 can green pigeon peas or gandules (save the rest to make another dish)
1 teaspoon achiote powder
1/2 cup white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Good quality oil to brown the meat
1 cup shredded mozzarella (use more if needed)

Preheat your oven to 400 F. Roast the bell peppers over a gas flame stove or grill. Place them in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Meanwhile, heat oil in a pan and add the meat, diced carrot and chopped onion. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and break up the meat. When the meat begins to brown, add the wine, garbanzos, pigeon peas, and achiote. Stir and continue to cook until the wine is absorbed.

Peel the bell peppers by using paper towels to wipe off the skins. It’s not a big deal if some of the skins are left on the peppers. Cut a T-shaped slit on each pepper with a small knife and remove the seeds carefully without tearing the bell peppers apart. Rinse the peppers under cold water and pat them dry with paper towel.

Fill each pepper by spooning some meat filling into all the cavities of the pepper. Top with shredded cheese and place them in an oiled baking dish. Bake them at 400 F for 15 minutes.

 En Español

Me encanta ir al farmers market en el Parque de Irvine. Un farmers market aquí en los Estados se refiere a un mercado al aire libre de agricultores locales. Las verduras son tan hermosas y frescas. Las frutas y vegetales resaltan con color. Es la naturaleza en su mejor momento, sobre todo porque es comestible. También se encuentran vendedores peculiares y todo tipo de deliciosos antojos gourmet, como las empanadas de carne de Gales. Mi hija Bella disfruta mucho probar todas las muestras. Es curioso cómo ella prueba cosas nuevas cuando vamos allí, pero en casa no es tan aventurera. Todo es cuestión de tener una gran variedad de opciones para ella. En el mercado, ella es parte de toda la experiencia. Practicamos contar los vegetales y colocarlos en la bolsa de los comprados. Nombramos todas las cosas que vemos y también ella está empezando a comprender que tenemos que pagar por las cosas.   Los productos orgánicos en su temporada son tan llenos de sabor y vida. Una cosa que me encanta del verano y de vivir aquí en California es disfrutar de todos los productos frescos disponibles durante casi todo el año.

Chiles Rellenos

Tradicionalmente, los rellenos de verduras se sumergen en huevo batido y luego son fritos. Sin embargo, aquí hay una alternativa más saludable y rápida. Para chiles rellenos típicos usamos chiles pasilla (guaque) o algo similar, pero decidí usar estos chiles de color en su lugar. Tampoco creo que la salsa de tomate típica es necesaria para estos chiles rellenos. Son deliciosos en seco. Sin duda hicimos buen uso de las verduras del mercado de nuestros agricultores locales.

stuffed bell peppers

Ingredientes:

4-8 pimientos (yo sólo necesitaba hacer 4 así que guardé el resto del relleno de carne para hacer wraps de lechuga al siguiente día)
1.3 libras de pavo molido (1 paquete)
1 zanahoria, cortada en cubitos
1/2 cebolla, picada
1/2 lata de garbanzos
1/2 lata de gandules (guarde el resto para hacer otra receta)
1 cucharadita de polvo de achiote
1/2 taza de vino blanco
Sal y pimienta al gusto
Aceite de buena calidad para dorar la carne
1 taza de Mozzarella rallado (usar más si es necesario)

Precaliente el horno a 400 F. Ase los chile en una estufa de llama de gas o parrilla. Coloquelos en un recipiente de vidrio y cubra con plástico. Mientras tanto, caliente el aceite en una sartén y agregue la carne, la zanahoria y la cebolla. Sazone con sal y pimienta. Revuelva y deshaga bien la carne. Cuando la carne empiece a dorarse, añada el vino, garbanzos, gandules y achiote. Revuelva y continúe la cocción hasta que se absorba el vino.

Pele los chiles usando papel toalla. No es un gran problema si algunos pedacitos de cáscara son dejados en los chiles. Haga un corte en forma de T en cada chile con un cuchillo pequeño y quite las semillas cuidadosamente sin romper los chiles. Lave los chiles con agua fría y seque ligeramente con papel toalla.

Rellene cada chile con carne usando una cuchara para poder rellenar bien todas las cavidades de los chiles. Termine cubriendo con el queso rallado y coloque los chiles en una fuente de horno engrasada con aceite. Hornee a 400 ° F durante 15 minutos.