In which the author tells you how to run your life -- or at least how to make the most of the fun parts of it.

For instance, inside these pages you will learn how to weather a mortar attack in good spirits; how to avoid booking yourself on the Internet into a bed and breakfast full of twee quilts and dusty tchotkes; and how to plan a dinner party that will stun your guests with deliciousness and style and not destroy your will to live with the amount of work you have to do to pull it off.

These are things I know firsthand, and things people who know me often ask me about (though I usually just book them into bed and breakfasts myself -- identifying ruffled death traps is an acquired skill). I am almost always right about everything (food, style and travel-related, anyway, and often many other things) and if everyone would just do as I say, dinner would taste better, cupcakes would not be dry, your parties would be more fun (for you), and mortar attacks... well, they always suck. I can't do anything about them.

*except laundry. I can't manage my own laundry, much less yours.

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Thursday, April 21, 2011

How to Make an Emergency Blueberry Tart

I normally hate cooked blueberries -- ie blueberry pie, blueberry sauce for waffles. I'll put up with a blueberry muffin or pancake if the blueberries are fresh -- but usually I find cooked blueberries tasteless, insipid, and overly involved with corn starch.

However, I am marvelous, and I needed an Emergency Blueberry Tart for a photo shoot (still no word from my director of photography if these photos do the trick) so I threw one together with the full intention of not eating them.

But boy howdy they are good.

Here's how I did it: 2 smallish bags of organic blueberries. frozen, from Trader Joe's went into a saucepan with about 1/4 c sugar -- I added a little more, maybe another 1/.4, later in the cooking. I think much depends on your personal blueberries.

I squeezed a half a lime in, put in a tiny dash of vanilla and a whisper of cardamom (have I told you how to make Norwegian waffles with cardamom yet?), and about 3 tablespoons of corn starch I slurried with a bit of water. Cooked, tasted, cooked. Cooled.

Then I made Ina's tart crust -- 2 c flour, 1/2 lb butter (I did my mom's trick, used half shortening, and added it to the food processor at different stages, so it didn't all pulse down into corn meal.) 1/4 c sugar, 1.2 t salt, a wee bit of water. I always put in too much water. Put all that in the food processor (half the fat at the beginning, and then the other half just before you add the water. You want some pea-sized chunks of fat in the crust when you roll it out. Makes it flaky.)

Then i turned it over onto a board, mushed it together quickly, divided it in two and made discs, then wrapped and refrigerated.

When the blueberries and the dough were cool, I rolled out the dough in a free form circle with lots of flour on the board to prevent sticking (I had added too much water), put the dough circle on a parchment covered baking sheet -- you must have parchment in your kitchen at all times - and then spooned on the now somewhat thick blueberry filling in the center. I folded up the sides, brushed the crust with a beaten egg for color, then sprinkled it with sanding sugar (another must in the kitchen). Into the oven at about 375 (I was totally making this up) until the filling bubbled and the crust was golden brown. Ta da! I still wont eat blueberry pie... if I am not the one who made it. Whipped cream and a shaving of lemon zest over the top, done. Took less than 20 minutes to mix up all components and about 30 mins in the oven. Make it!

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