Our book group is getting worse every meeting about reading and discussing books, but we never have a problem with the food, drink, and party aspect of it all. Last night we invited all the spouses so they can more or less confirm that the whole book group concept is really a ruse designed to give a group of old friends a night out.
This time of year I'm always looking for a new dessert idea. The wonderful summer fruits are gone, my Meyer lemon tree is a few months off from delivering, and I've had enough of chocolate. A co-worker pointed me to this recipe, reprinted last year in The New York Times. I'll give it to you hear since I did a few things to simplify and reorganize it. I hate when a recipe has you use part of an ingredient in one part of the recipe, and then in the next part tells you to use "the rest." Damn it—don't make me go back to the ingredient list! Give me the amount!!
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flourPlace flour, polenta, 1 cup sugar, salt, and lemon zest in a food processor and blend. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand. In a small bowl, whisk egg, olive oil, and vanilla. Add liquid ingredients to food processor and pulse until dough forms into a ball. Form dough in a ball and wrap in plastic. Chill for at least one hour (or 20 minutes in the freezer if you're in a hurry). Dough can be made the night before.
1/2 cup finely ground cornmeal
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground zest of 1 lemon
1 stick of unsalted butter, diced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough to a 12-inch circle and press into a 10-inch removable-bottom tart pan. Trim edges.
3 cups (12-ounce bag) fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked overIn a 3-quart sauce pan, combine cranberries, sugar, and corn syrup. Stir over medium heat until cranberries release juices, about 2 minutes. Remove to a bowl and allow to cool for about 20 minutes (or place pan in a bowl of ice and water for about 10 minutes).
3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a small bowl, whisk together creams and flour until smooth. Whisk in egg yolks, vanilla, and salt. Pour over cranberries and fold together.
Place tart shell in pan on rimmed baking sheet. Using slotted spoon, add cranberries to tart shell. Pour as much remaining liquid as will fit on top of cranberries into shell. Bake about 40 minutes, until filling bubbles but is not yet firm and crust begins to brown. Cool to room temperature before serving.
I took a wrapped book for our book-themed Yankee swap (we've advanced so much from the days where someone would bring a really lame gift and pin a joint or a $20 bill to it to sweeten the pot). I also brought some homemade quince paste and some manchego cheese and some candied rosemary to garnish the tart.
I'm slowly moving into the holiday spirit. Sophie and I are off to the city today to see A.C.T.'s A Christmas Carol. Ghosts in chains! Dancing onions! And of course that grumpy old man.
If the show's not doing it for me, I can always sit and watch my daughter's happy shining face.