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I was thrilled when I went to the market and saw fresh blueberries on the counter. Spring is almost here! I had a box of cream cheese, and a can of sweetened condensed milk, and some frozen lemon cubes. I also had a chocolate cookie crumb pie shell sitting in the pantry that I needed to use up. Blueberry Cream Cheese Lemon Tart sounded like the way to go.
This pie is actually good for you. I put turmeric in it to increase the yellow color. Turmeric is a root in the ginger family, that makes things yellow and has a very mild peppery flavor. In the laboratory, the active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has been shown to have anti-cancer properties. The herb has been used in Asia for centuries for its healing properties. It’s also a great way to give a nice yellow color without using artificial color, which some people, like my son, are allergic to.
If you are wondering about the lemons, I have a friend who gave me a whole bag of lemons from his tree. I squeezed them all, and put the juice into ice cube trays. I also froze the skins to put in the garbage disposal to keep it fresh smelling.
Lemons also react with milk products. If you add lemon to cream, it immediately starts to thicken, and so does sweetened condensed milk.
I happened to have that chocolate wafer crust sitting around in my pantry. But, you can use whatever crust you want. The Stove Top Cooked French Sweet Tart Dough would be wonderful, as well as a Graham cracker crust would also be perfect.
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My neighbor who generously gave me the apples to make Apple Pancakes, Apple Stuffed Wontons, and Franks with Apples, surprised me again and brought me fresh figs.
Figs are amazing fruits. Figs are among the richest plant sources of calcium and fiber. They have been cultivated for thousands of years, even before wheat. Figs dated 9,200 years ago were discovered in the Jordan Valley in a house in the early Neolithic village of Gilgal I by a team of researchers from Bar-Ilan University in Israel and Harvard University.
Figs are mentioned in the Bible many times, beginning in Genesis, Chapter 3, verse 7 where Adam covers himself with a fig leaf. Jesus even curses a fig tree in Mark Chapter 11, verse 12 and Mathew Chapter 21, verse 19. I guess there was only one unfortunate fig tree, it has a bevy of other cultural and historical references. A whole chapter is devoted to it in the Qur’an. Sura 95 of the Qur’an is named al-Tīn (Arabic for “The Fig”), as it opens with the oath “By the fig and the olive.” Buddha achieved enlightenment under the bodhi tree, a large and old sacred fig tree. In Greek mythology, a crow angers Apollo having been tempted by a fig. In modern times, we have wonderful Fig Newtons.
The journey to this tart was one of discovery. I had not cooked with figs before, let alone made a fig tart. My only exposure to figs was the ubiquitous Fig Newton cookie. With that in mind, I wanted something that was sweet, but not too sweet, and with a cookie type crust. I also found a French Tart Dough recipe to which I made major changes, and my Stove Top Cooked French Sweet Tart Dough turned out to be perfect for my Blue Cheese Stuffed Fig Tart with Balsamic Honey Glaze.
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This has got to be the easiest way to make sweet tart dough. It makes a dough that is almost like a good cookie, just delicious! My food processor is in very poor health, like not working, might be able to be fixed. So, I needed to find a way to make tart dough without using the food processor. I found a recipe at David Lebovitz that looked promising – it required melting butter in the stove. Hey, it’s summer time in Glendale, California, and I didn’t want to make my house any hotter if I could help it.
I figured that I could melt the butter on the stove top, and use the Kitchen Aid mixer to actually make the dough. I was right, it worked out perfectly. This will be my go to recipe for sweet tart dough from now on. Because of the caramelization of the butter and sugar, the crust had a slight caramel flavor and color that was perfect for my Blue Cheese Stuffed Fig Tart with Balsamic Honey Glaze.
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There was a wonderful tip from America’s Test Kitchen that I’ve been doing for quite a while, only not as efficiently. To protect iced cakes from plastic wrap, I’ve been sticking the top with toothpicks. America’s Test Kitchen uses spaghetti noodles – they’re more plentiful, and easy to break for whatever length you want.
So, when I decided to make my pie today, and didn’t want it getting over burdened with plastic wrap, I took linguine noodles, stuck them in, covered my pie, and stuck it in the refrigerator. Now it won’t pick up any bad smells, or have any of it come off with the plastic wrap. There’s a bunch of other transport tricks at America’s Test Kitchen.
Spane liked the Balsamic Strawberry and Blueberry Trifle so much that he asked me if I could make it again. There were fresh raspberries and blueberries on sale at the market, but I didn’t want another trifle, I wanted a tart.
Apple Cream Cheese Mystery Tart
My friend, Cathy, invited me to a potluck Christmas party, but, what a party. This was a party for the Sisters in Crime, a group of women mystery writers. We were treated to the published authors reading from their newest books.
When we originally talked about this, I was going to make Scrambled Burger Quiche, but I never made it to the store, so there I was with another mystery on my hands – what could I make that would be simple, quick, and stunning with what I had on hand.
I looked in the refrigerator and saw I had a package of cream cheese, 4 apples, eggs and Panko bread crumb topping left over from Cranberry Brown Betty. Amber had made a wonderful Gorgonzola Pear tart for Thanksgiving, and that was what gave me the idea to make this tart. Mystery solved! Apple Cream Cheese Tart coming up!
A few weeks ago, I bought a package of dried apples at the local Armenian store, just to have as a snack for Spane. It’s beginning to get cold again, so I’ve been thinking about baking. I already made Apple Brown Betty that turned out a little too brown because I should have removed one of the racks in Bertha. I thought of making a Chocolate Cake with Mocha Frosting, but it got too hot to do that. So, today, I’m still thinking about baking something when I remember about the dried apples.
I also had one single pie crust left over from when I made the Scrambled Burger Quiche.
Chef Farion was visiting today, so I laid the apples and the pie crust on the counter, and I said, “I’ve got this and this. What do you think?” He gave me the inspiration for a Crostada .