There are plenty of good reasons to make friends with your neighbors. You can always borrow a cup of sugar, they’re conveniently close for impromptu cocktail parties or afternoon barbeques, and you can share a lawnmower. (What, not everyone shares a lawnmower with their neighbors? Well, maybe you all mow more than twice a year.)
We are lucky enough to have the kind of neighbors who, in addition to all of the benefits above, sometimes drop by with treats. Recently it was a dish of petal-pink tender baked rhubarb, barely sweet and redolent of orange zest and ginger. I know, right?
I admit to eating a few stalks straight from the dish with my fingers, and heaping spoonfuls made their way into bowls of yogurt for breakfast. But I have a new cookbook, Good to the Grain, and it has a picture on the cover of some mighty handsome little single-serving rhubarb tarts. I couldn’t resist cooking the remaining rhubarb down into a jam with fragrant strawberries and baking them into delicate and delicious free-form tarts. They’re like the biggest, best jam-filled cookie you’ve ever had. We shared them with the neighbors, of course.
Rhubarb-Strawberry Cornmeal Tarts with Ginger and Orange Zest: First make the jam filling: thinly slice 1 lb. each rhubarb and strawberries. Set aside about 1 c. strawberries for later. Combine remaining fruit with 1 c. sugar and 1-2 tsp. each grated ginger and grated orange zest in a heavy-bottomed pot. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the fruit begins to release its liquid, then uncover, raise heat to medium, and stir frequently until the mixture thickens into a jam and a spoon leaves a trail when you pull it across the bottom of your pot. (Cooking time should be 30-45 mins. total.) Taste and adjust the flavor of the jam to your liking, stir in the remaining sliced strawberries, then set it aside to cool a bit.
Meanwhile, make the tart dough by combining 1 c. fine cornmeal, 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour, 6 Tb. sugar and 1 tsp. kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add 4 oz. (1 stick) cold butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes, and mix on low speed to for a moment to break up the butter without sending flour flying. Raise speed to medium and process until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add 1/2 c. heavy cream and 2 egg yolks (this is how I ended up making that egg white frittata) and process until combined. The dough will appear crumbly but should hold together when you squeeze a handful. (If not, mix in another spoonful of cream.)
Divide the dough into ten pieces. Working on a sheet of parchment paper, use the heel of your hand to press a piece of dough into a rough 5″ circle. Spoon 1/4 c. jam into the center of the tart, folding the edges up and over to hold it. Don’t worry if the shape is irregular or if the edges crack. Pinch it right back together. If necessary, you can call them “rustic” tarts when you serve them. Repeat with remaining dough and jam, scooting the tarts together on the parchment paper as you make them so that you’ll be able to fit them all onto two baking sheets. Transfer the tarts, parchment and all, onto baking sheets and bake at 375 for about 35 minutes, or until the edges are golden-brown and the jam begins to bubble. They are equally delicious warm and at room temperature.
Note: The dough is most workable at room temperature. Either use it immediately after making it, or take it out of the fridge a while before you intend to shape the tarts.
Isn’t it like 5am right now where you are?!
Great post, and I agree it’s nice to have friendly neighbors.
Ah! I have been experimenting with setting up posts in advance to publish later. Probably 5 a.m. is a silly time to set them for! You can rest assured that if I’m awake at 5 a.m., I’m trying to put a child back to sleep and nowhere near my computer. :)
I’ve been thinking about doing something with rhubarb recently and your post (and amazing photos) have convinced me! To the shops I go!
These are very good. I love the flavor of rhubarb but not always the stringy texture–coking it into jam with the strawberries is a perfect solution for me. Or slicing it thinly, as in this cake: https://emmycooks.com/2012/04/28/rhubarb-cake-with-crystallized-ginger-crumb/ Now I need more rhubarb!
can’t get enough rhubarb, myself. or shared meals! love your flavors & so glad to have met you!
I feel the same way on both counts. :)
What a beautiful rustic tart! (The best kind!)
The title of the post is what got my attention, and the picture/recipe is what kept me reading! This looks SO good!
Thanks! I can assure you that it’s a delicious as it sounds and looks. :)
That is really pretty, Emmy. Rhubarb and strawberry is such a wonderful combination. I like how you used cornmeal, ginger, and orange zest too! Sounds so good.
Thanks! I sometimes don’t like cornmeal in baked things (like I made David Lebovitz’s jam tart recently but I need to try it again without the cornmeal). But here, with the tart shells pressed so thin, the crispness of the cornmeal is just right. Man, I’m going to have to make these again!
Ridiculously beautiful Emmy! Brightened my morning that photo! I’m with you on the neighbors – nothing like being able to pass a cup of milk or sugar over the fence! ;)
It’s so lucky to have nice neighbors like we do! I like knowing everyone when we walk down the block. Feels–well, neighborhoody. Which I think is lucky in the middle of a big city!
Looks great! Strawberry and rhubarb is my favourite fruit combination.
Isn’t it great? Although I have also developed a fondness for rhubarb and apple, rhubarb and raspberry, rhubarb and blackberry…I think there is a theme here. :)
These look gorgeous and rhubard, ginger and strawberries uum the best!
I do love this flavor combination! This is another cake I just love with rhubarb and ginger: https://emmycooks.com/2012/04/28/rhubarb-cake-with-crystallized-ginger-crumb/ Enjoy!
I think your expression sums it up perfectly. ;-)
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Oh. My. I have rhubarb in the freezer, now I just need to get my hands on some strawberries. What a great idea!
I do like making jam from frozen fruit, since the original texture is not important. Come to think of it, this filling would make a pretty amazing topping for toast on its own!
Pretty little tarts…love the ginger and orange flavors.
Thank you! I loved them too…and I wish they weren’t all gone. :)
Thank you! :)
These sound fantastic–a great spin on the strawberry-rhubarb pie I’ve been kicking around in my brain. I may just have to give them a shot…thanks for sharing!
They are great–but more work to shape than a pie! I say keep it simple. :)
these look great and I love the idea of the cornmeal in the pastry mix so must try this!. yum..l.
I don’t always love cornmeal in pastry dough, but these were super thin and crisp and the crunch seemed just right. :)