In my world, ’tis the true season of giving right exactly now, when friends share the bounty of their gardens and the lovely jams, syrups, salsas, booze, and pickles made to stretch summer and fall into winter.
My own garden is planted primarily with heirloom tomatoes (thanks to the amazing Heidi Skoog, she of Serious Jam and Bastian Skoog florists), which I’ve been eating while picking, slicing for BLTs, and roasting for soup. Depending on how many I end up with over the next week or so, I may press my friend Laurie Jesch-Kulseth, who writes the food blog Relishing It, for tips on making salsa. She brought me a jar as a hostess gift awhile back and in the confusion of post-party clutter, I lost track of who it was from. A few days later, when the family popped the jar and dug in, we were all thrilled by the hit of bright summer heat in the middle of winter. In order to properly thank the cook/gift-giver, I had to ask on Twitter who had brought me such a generous homemade treat…Laurie answered that it was She, Giver of Salsa and Smiles.
If you too find yourself buried in tomatoes, be sure to check out the One Tomato Two Tomato blog, written by forager/pickler/canner extraordinaire Tammy Kimbler. She’s even (gorgeously, per Instagram stalking) making tomato wine! Love.
And if you find yourself with a giant box of just-picked pears, like I did courtesy of my friend Scott Pampuch, consider throwing together this tart. I’ve been meaning to adapt this crust to be gluten-free for awhile and a bounty of firm-juicy pears provided the perfect opportunity. I find that recipes that require very little wheat flour—crepes, popovers, and nut cookies/crackers/tarts—are ideal candidates for tasty gluten-free baking. This crust’s flavor and texture is derived primarily from ground almonds (and butter!) and is pressed into the pan (not rolled). Prepared with sorghum flour, the crust turned out as nutty and crisp as your favorite holiday shortbread cookies. (It goes without saying that it’s quite lovely prepared with wheat flour as well.)
Scott and his family spent a whole day picking pears courtesy of Linda Newman, in Watertown, Minn., and another whole day delivering them to lucky friends. I spent very little time throwing this tart together and figure I came out quite nicely as I scarfed down a large, warm piece doused in honey whipped cream. (For the record, inspired by my friend Molly McNeil and her Minnesota Peach Farm pears, with input from Tim Niver of The Strip Club Meat & Fish via Twitter. As you can tell, I so love social media for ideas, recipes, and tips. I also soaked a mason jar stuffed with peeled, diced pears in gin for a few days. Pear gin! Hurray!)
Try this crust with your other favorite fresh, juicy fruits as well—think cherries, peaches, apples, plums, figs, or blueberries for year-round tartiness.
Pear Tart with Almond-Thyme Crust and Honey Whipped Cream
Adapted from a recipe in Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
Photo by Stephanie Meyer
heaping 1/2 c. whole raw almonds
1/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. sorghum flour
1/4 c. tapioca starch
1/4 tsp. xantham gum (or substitute 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour for the sorghum/tapioca/xantham combination)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. minched fresh thyme leaves (more leaves for garnish, if you like)
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) butter, melted
1/4 tsp. pure almond extract
1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract
pear filling (below)
honey whipped cream (1 c. cream, 2 Tbsp. honey, 1 tsp. vanilla)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Spread almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 7-9 minutes, watching carefully, until almonds brown lightly and are fragrant.Transfer nuts to a food processor, add sugar, and process to a coarse meal. Add sorghum flour, tapioca starch, xantham gum, salt, and thyme and pulse until combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and add melted butter and extracts. Stir with a spoon until mixture comes together into a dough (add a bit of water if needed).
Using your fingers, press the dough into a buttered 9-inch fluted tart pan, pressing the sides first and then the bottom, to form an even crust.
Turn oven heat down to 350 degrees. Prick the bottom of the tart shell with a fork, and line it with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Fill the lined tart shell with beans or pie weights, and bake 20 minutes, until shell begins to brown lightly around the edges. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack. Once cool, lift the paper and beans out of the tart.
Fill the shell with the pear filling (below). Using a rubber spatula, smooth the pears into a flat surface. Return the tart to the oven and bake 1 hour, until the pears are tender, juices are bubbling, and crust is dark golden brown. Let the tart cool for 15 minutes before slicing. Slice the tart into wedges and serve warm with honey whipped cream.
3 Tbsp. butter
1/2 c. honey
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 lbs. firm pears (a bit yielding but not mushy), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in honey and brown sugar until melted, then stir in cinnamon and nutmeg until combined. Gently stir in pears, coating them in the syrup. Cover pan and heat until pears give up juice and the juice simmers, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat and cool for 10 minutes before adding to tart crust.