Meyer Lemon Tart – I’m in Love!

I hereby confess to an open fondness for fruit tarts. Free from the tyranny of top crust making and lower in calories by that very lack of an upper crust. They can be as fancy as you wish or humble and rustic when limited time is an issue. Full of ripe berries, nuts and caramel, of custard, of apples, pears or plums. Pretty much anything that can be pied can be tarted. In my house there is a running teasing argument as to pie or tart. I am of the tart persuasion and he is of the pie love affair. So he calls my tarts pies with great delight and I snicker at his silly ways. Either way it is a win win.  Tarts can be useful too when you have limited amounts of filling material; a 9 inch tart doesn’t take that much to fill it to an acceptable level. My old-fashioned 10 inch aluminum pie tins take more than twice that amount to be considered appropriately full. Don’t get me wrong; I adore pie in so many versions it could be considered an obsession but this post is all about the tart. 

This is a Meyer lemon masterpiece of a tart. I bought a bag of 6 Meyer lemons for less then $3 at Lidls and they were lovely looking. For your edification I will advise that a Meyer lemon is like a lemon but also like an orange; in fact, it is a species created from both, sort of. Actually, to be technical it is half mandarin orange (those sort of flat small tangerines) and half citron which is a genetic parent of the common lemon. Meyer lemons were introduced into the US in 1908 and they are sweeter than lemons, slightly deeper yellow and rounder than a lemon.  The juice is a tad darker and the skin is tasty enough to be extremely sought after by many chefs. Okay, enough on the ancestry of my beloved Meyer lemons. Just know that they are no common citrus and that  you can buy them in many grocery stores locally. Please do not attempt this tart with any sort of regular lemon; it must be made with Meyer lemons as the normal lemon’s white pith is way too bitter and even the juice isn’t sweet enough for this treat.

This tart uses every part of the lemon except the seeds. I make a lemon jam that is similar in this respect. So when I made this tart it did remind me of my lemon jam only more roasty yet zingy somehow and the crust’s flaky texture really amplified its charms. I made mine in a 9.5 ceramic tart pan. You could make it in a 9 inch one and make a hand pie or two out of the spare filling.  I saw the recipe on someone’s fb post and made a few changes and threw one together this past weekend since I already had the lemons and was intrigued by how it uses the whole fruit. Definitely a keeper of a tart. You could make it with a regular pie crust and regular flour in filling if you are not gf.  Enjoy!

unbaked filled tart; see how pale it is!

 Meyer Lemon Tart

Ingredients:

One GF tart shell; prebaked about 10 minutes at 375 degrees:

Crust:

1 c plus 2 Tbsp. brown rice flour mix (King Arthur basic gf blend)

2 Tbsp. sweet rice flour

1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Directions:

Mix dry crust ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and lemon juice.  Mix briefly until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 10-15 minutes. Roll out and line a 9.5 tart shell. Prick surface with a form in many places to keep it from puffing up. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Let cool at least 10 min before filling.

Filling:

5 Meyer lemons

1 cup sugar plus 2 Tbsp. divided

1 medium to large egg and 1 egg yolk

A pinch of sea salt

2 Tbsp flour (I used my King Arthur Basic GF Mix)

8 Tbsp. butter melted and cooled for 5-10 minutes

Directions: cut up the lemons into halves, quarters then eighths, remove seeds. I got over 5 cups of chunks. Put all the filling ingredients into a large food mixer and pulse until it is a coarsely chopped yet cohesive filling. Just don’t completely puree the lemon chunks; you want a bit of size difference not a puree.  Pour into the tart shell and sprinkle with the 2 Tbsp of sugar. Then bake at 325 for 20 on the bottom shelf of your oven. Turn heat up to 350 and bake another 30 minutes. I think I could have left it in for a few more; the filling should darken a bit and crust will be nicely browned. The filling should be jiggly but will set as it stands. Chill for several hours and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Or by itself. Enjoy!

Mom’s Beef Pie

I am feeling the need for comfort food, stews, meat pies, and thick soups. In that vein of wanting, I recently made a beef pie. This was my mom’s recipe and she made it exactly the same every time it was served but I didn’t have her exact recipe. I knew how it should taste and I reconstructed it to the best of my taste buds and skills. I did something a tiny bit crazy; I added carrots for flavor and color. Mom is gone, almost three months as of now. I am not sure but think she would have enjoyed my modern version complete with gluten free crust and carrot slices.

It has potatoes and onions in it plus the big carrot I cut into half rounds. The topping is a flaky pie crust. It is like a meat stew cooked on the stove top and put together with the crust and just baked long enough to make a perfectly browned and delicious top crust. I bought a big sirloin steak and cut it in one-inch strips and then into 1-inch cubes for uniform pieces of meat. You can buy precut stew meat if you like. I have to say I loved how it was more uniform when I cut the cubes myself. Better quality control in my opinion.

Mom’s Beef Pie

Ingredients

1 lb. top sirloin beef cut in 1-inch cubes

1/3 cup white rice flour (if making it for non-celiac just use all purpose flour)

1 Tsp. paprika

½ Tsp. sea salt

¼ Tsp. black pepper, freshly ground

1-2 Tbsp divided mild olive oil or other frying oil

1 large onion chopped coarsely

2 beef bullion cubes (Herb Ox are gf)

1.5 lbs. of russet potatoes cut into ¾ inch dice

1 cup of carrots; cut in ¼ inch half rounds

Directions: Mix the flour and spices on a plate or sheet of wax paper, roll the beef cubes in the flour blend until coated. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in large frying pan. Add half the cubes spaced out so they will properly brown; turn as the side browns and remove once browned on 3 sides, brown rest of beef cubes same say; add more oil as necessary. Add back all cubes, add ¼ onion bits and enough water to reach the top of the cubes in a single layer. Add beef bullion cubes; cook 30 min on low so the mixture bubbles adding more water as it evaporates, do not let it run really low on water.

Meanwhile, peel and dice the potatoes, cut up a big carrot or 2 medium carrots. Put potatoes in salted cold water. After the beef has cooked in its broth for at least 15-20 minutes start the potatoes in their own saucepan covered with salted water and add the rest of the onion and the carrot pieces to the beef simmering in the pan.  The make the crust and refrigerate it for 5-10 minutes while you wait for the potatoes to be done.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. When potatoes are mostly done (use a fork to test) drain the potatoes, you should save the potato water for adding as needed to thin the gravy or for other cooking. Once the meat is tender and carrots close to cooked add the cooked potatoes to the mixture; taste and salt if needed and add potato water to make the sauce not too thick (or too thin). Roll out the pie crust to fit the top of your casserole. Pour the hot beef mixture into a low oval baking dish or whatever you plan to make your pie in. Add the crust on top, crimping the edges and cutting a few gashes to allow steam to escape. Bake in hot oven, center shelf until the crust is light brown; 20-25 minutes. Don’t let it get really brown; a nice golden brown is perfect. Let rest 5-10 minutes before cutting into it. Enjoy!

Crust:

1 c plus 2 Tbsp. brown rice flour mix (King Arthur basic gf blend)

2 Tbsp. sweet rice flour

1 Tbsp. granulated sugar

½ tsp xanthan gum

¼ tsp salt

6 Tbsp. cold butter cut into 6 chunks

1 lg egg

2 tsp fresh orange or lemon juice

Directions:

Mix dry crust ingredients in bowl of stand electric mixer.  Add butter and mix until crumbly and resembling coarse meal.  Add egg and lemon juice.  Mix briefly until it comes together into big chunks.  Shape into a ball with your hands. Put it on a crust sized piece of wax paper (14 x 14 inches more or less), flatten the crust ball some; put on top of it another piece of wax paper and chill it all in your fridge 10-15 minutes while the beef filling cooks and  you heat the oven. 

Thumb Print Cookies 2.0 GF and Fabulous!

As children we each had our favorite cookies to make, this was traditionally my next older brothers’ to bake but once grown up I began to make them ‘cause they are addictively tasty.  I love it made with apricot jam, you can used chopped slivered almonds instead of walnuts for that version.  But, any flavor good quality jam will work, pick what you like.  I used two flavors this time; homemade peach jam and some store bought but excellently flavored raspberry jam. Like getting two cookies out of one batch of dough.

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xmas cookies 002

A few  Christmases ago a dear friend gave me a new cookbook “Gluten-Free Christmas Cookies” by Ellen Brown.  I have tried several recipes and all were fantastic including this one, I swapped the candied red and green cherries for jam, but you can go old school and use those freaky candied cherries. It is made with cornstarch and white rice flour; not a flour blend but you should be able to find rice flour in a gf flour department or in a Chinese grocery store. Every grocery store has cornstarch. Use the jam you like to put on your toast!

Jam Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients:

1 ½ cup white rice flour

1 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar

½ cup cornstarch

1 tsp. xanthan gum

1 tsp. cream of tartar

Pinch of salt

2 sticks unsalted butter sliced into thin slices

1 lg egg

1 Tbsp. whole milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup finely chopped walnuts

½ cup jam; raspberry, peach, strawberry

INSTRUCTIONS: Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl food processor, steel blade, blend briefly.  Add butter to work bowl and process off and on until it resembles coarse meal.

Combine egg, milk and vanilla in a small bowl; whisk. Drizzle into the work bowl, pulse about 10-12 times until it forms a stiff dough.  If it doesn’t come together, add more milk a tsp. at a time. I added a tsp. more of milk to get the dough to form up.

Chill the dough for 15 to 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put racks in the middle of the oven. Place chopped walnuts in a wide shallow bowl and roll 1 1/2 inch balls of dough.  Roll them in the chopped walnuts, place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Press an indent in with a finger and fill with about ½ tsp. jam.  Bake 14-15 minutes, until just firm but not browned.  They will be very delicate to the touch.  Let cool 2-3 minutes on sheet before carefully moving them to a cooling rack using a metal pancake turner. I bumped a couple and they just fell apart on the sheet; very fragile while hot.  They will solidify once they cool.  I store mine in cookie tins or Tupperware containers.  They won’t last as long as wheat flour based cookies but they get snapped up fast so that shouldn’t be a problem.  I supposed you could freeze them for a week or two if necessary.

They are not too sweet and so delicate, great with a cup of tea or coffee.  As good, if not better, then when I made them with all purpose wheat flour years ago before I had to go gluten free.  Your family will be amazed that they are gf, no one you serve them to will ever guess.  Totally tasty and fun to make with your kids! Enjoy.

This is a reposting of the same recipe I posted back in 2016. Minor text changes.

Nut Tassies….Tasty Addiction

Nut tassies are a local favorite here in eastern Pennsylvania. They look like a tiny pecan pie, about the size of one giant bite! I have eaten them at many people’s homes, heavenly delish and best made with pecans.  In all fairness, I never made them when I could still eat all purpose white flour. Perhaps it is that I was able to just snag them off a cookie plate at someone’s holiday party. Now that such was no longer a possibility, I started looking and found a great recipe on food.com, a classic tassie recipe complete with cream cheese dough pie crust and a filling almost identical to the traditional filling. And it was gluten free for folks like me…eureka!

I whipped up a batch of these gf tassies for a family Christmas gathering.  Even after chilling the dough my crust was very crumbly and with trepidation I rolled a ball a bit over an inch in diameter and it held together. Then I dropped it in my mini muffin tin and used my finger to spread it out and up the sides.  It worked and the tassies were simply delish!

As to the pecan filling, I didn’t chop my nuts really fine; left some in chunks to give a bigger texture which I prefer. The filing is so simple; chop the nuts, then dump the sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl, add the softened butter and the vanilla and nuts; stir and it is ready to spoon into the little crust cups you just created.

Here is the link to the recipe I used: http://www.food.com/recipe/gluten-free-pecan-tassies-105371

They are easy to make and totally yummy to devour.  I find it takes me 2-3 bites to down one of these treat.  Happy baking folks!

2-nut-tassies

Originally posted December 2016. Minor text changes.

Chocolate Chippers to Cheer About!

Years ago I searched for the holy grail of GF baking: home made chocolate chip cookies.  Bet you thought I was going to say some sort of bread!  That’s another post entirely.  Anyway, when I went GF almost 8 years ago I made a batch of chocolate chippers that were gf. They were rather sweet and didn’t taste all that great.  I keep looking for something that would approximate the real deal cookies I loved all my life.  Recipes I came across seemed to require that I buy weird vegetable shortenings or use Crisco. I draw the line at Crisco. Or they used odd flour blends and I feel it’s just not worth it to me to add another flour mixture just for one cookie recipe.  So I had not made chippers in years.  Missed them….desperately.  Store ones I tried were small, hard, drab in flavor and incredibly pricey. Until I went to King Arthur’s website and looked in their cookie recipes.  There it was: cookies made with the same flour blend I use and made with butter, one of my few chosen shortenings.  Glowing reviews and advice; said to make them and refrigerate a day or better yet, freeze them formed and ready to bake in a few minutes.  Comments about how much they are like Tollhouse cookies, great texture and flavor.  Bingo, this seemed so hopeful. So…Less than a week later I made up a batch; Goal scored; perfect brown sugar nutty flavor and texture; not too hard or too soft. I am a happy chocolate chip cookie lover at last! Lots of you probably bake chocolate chip cookies for Christmas so I decided to reblog this cookie so you could easily make a batch.

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When I first made them I put some in my cookie jar, closed it tightly and 4 days later those cookies (what remains) were still delicious. That is pretty long for a gluten free baked good. By the fifth afternoon my last cookie in there was getting soft so suggest not holding them for more than 4 days in a jar. A big bonus I love isthat they can be frozen ready to bake in like 12 minutes.

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This is my go to basic chocolate chip cookie recipe; none other will do. I love that I can freeze them ready to bake and in 12 minutes I have warm fresh gooey cookies!

So, if you are still looking for a great gf chocolate chip cookie look no further:

http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/gluten-free-chocolate-chip-cookies-recipe.  Enjoy!

Originally published in 2016. Minor text changes.