Thursday, February 4, 2010

Blood Orange Tart

“If I see everything in gray, and in gray all the colors which I experience and which I would like to reproduce, then why should I use any other color? I've tried doing so, for it was never my intention to paint only with gray. But in the course of my work I have eliminated one color after another, and what has remained is gray, gray, gray!”
-- Alberto Giacometti 

I think God hired Giacometti to paint the city.   About this time of year I start going a bit daffy.  Giacometti's paintings are like January in Vienna. A hazy, impenetrable gray dome pushes down on a gray, wet and usually cold city.  The buildings, already mostly gray, take on a paler hue from the strange lighting.  And after three months, everything starts to blur into another - the sky, the sides of buildings, the sidewalks, even the people.  Summer tans are replaced by pale faces hidden under black or gray jackets.  Even the food starts looking a bit the same - white cabbage, parsnips and those pale poor imitations of a tomato the grocery store tries to sell you.  

Gray is the color of ashes and metal, the color of mourning and repentance.  Some sources list it as a solid, conservative, dependable color full of wisdom and intellect.  It's also an expectant color.  A color of change to come.  A foretelling that dawn is breaking, spring is on its way, it's the transition from black to white.   

View from the East bedroom in my apartment.  
I know, I know, really bad Feng-Shui to have gray in the East. 
Those are my dead flowers from summer and my dirty windows.

This time of year, I start pouring over seed catalogs stretching the limits in my imagination of what is possible to grow on 4 windowsills.  I gaze at photos of reds, deep blues, bright happy yellows.  Yes, gray makes me look forward to spring or maybe gray is just a bit too conservative for me and I need something a bit wild in my life. A bit of pizazz. Drum roll please - Enter winter citrus - the blood orange!

Filled not only with Vitamin C, to keep that nasty scurvy at bay, AAARGH!, but also  anthocyanin, which has antioxidant and mild antibacterial properties.  Best known are blueberries for anthocyanin, blood oranges are extremely healthy for you.  They also show up in grocery stores about this time, just when you are about to shave your head and paint it orange just to have another color to look at, or maybe that's just me. They are tangy and bitter more like a grapefruit than an orange.  Many varieties look just like a regular orange, but when you peel them a deep, orangy-red is revealed.  Definitely the antithesis of conservative, dependable gray. 

I must not be the only one who finds January, well so, gray. This lovely tart has popped up on a couple of food websites and blogs recently and I just had to make it. It was a moment of unstoppable desperation.

I will admit, this isn't the healthiest way to consume blood oranges, but it sure is delicious. It has a sweet and flaky crust, which counters the moist, chewy tanginess of the oranges.

So here's my take on this recipe.  I will give a bit of a warning.  It's not a quick or short recipe and it is messy.  There's nothing all that complicated, but it takes a while.  This is one to serve for special occasions or to cook on a free Sunday when the weather isn't all that inviting to go outside. And let's be honest, when is it in January?

You'll need a super sharp knife for this because you are going to supreme - best pronounced with a French accent...suprème...don't you feel more sophisticated? I do. - a whole lot of citrus. Yep, that's right you'll be removing the pith and releasing those individual segments.  It's a pain, but worth it. If you've never supremed before - which I hadn't - this is a great recipe to learn.  You'll have lots of citrus to practice.  I had juice EVERYWHERE!  Wear an apron and enjoy making a mess and having squishy oranges between your fingers as only a child can.

Here's a jazzy video about how to supreme citrus and eat the segments with chopsticks.

Here's a second one to learn how to do everything to an orange you'll ever need to know, at least in the world of cooking.

You'll first be making the pastry bottom, whose calories we all know go straight to the bottom.  The original recipe called for the dough to be mixed in a food processor. I found it to be a bigger hassle than help, but if it works for you, go for it.  I prefer to mix the butter in with my finger tips.

The original baking instructions were a bit unclear as to whether the tart goes directly on the oven rack or not.  I baked it on a cookie sheet, the juice ran out and made everything soggy, so I ended up having to move a hot tart from my hot cookie sheet onto the hot oven rack - it was interesting :)  I recommend leaving the frozen tart on a small piece of parchment and setting that on your rack.  You'll want to put some foil down below to catch drips.

I also found the cooking time to be a bit over the top, but I have a small oven.  Watch your tart closely starting at about 50 minutes.

Serve with a caramel sauce.  I used the caramel sauce posted on Lottie+Doof, but I only made half of the amount listed there and had tons of caramel left over. 

Blood Orange Tart, adapted from Food&Wine 
Notes: Cooking time may be a bit much, watch the tart closely. Feel free to substitute white sugar for cane sugar.
Prep time: 45 min + 4 hours in freezer
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 min

125g/1 cup all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for dusting
5 tablespoons demera or cane sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
115 g/½ cup/¼ lbs. unsalted butter, chilled & chopped (for the pastry dough)+
1 tbs/15g  unsalted butter, for the oranges

3 tablespoons ice water
7 blood oranges + 1 lemon
1 free-range organic egg yolk mixed with 2 tablespoons of water

Caramel Sauce, for serving (see below)

1. In a large bowl mix well the flour, 2 tablespoons of the sugar, baking powder and salt. With your fingers work half of the butter (¼ cup/55g) into the flour mixture until it has the texture of coarse cornmeal. Then add the remaining half and work it until the pieces are approximately pea-sized. Sprinkle the ice water onto the flour mixture, lifting with a fork to let the water wet the flour below. Mix with your fingers. Stop handling when the crumb is moist enough to form into a ball.  Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, incorporating any left over pieces.  Knead quickly and form into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. 

2. Meanwhile, slice both ends of the lemon and the lemon peel away, removing any pith.  Thinly slice the lemon cross-wise, into small round slices. Remove any seeds. Repeat the process with 2 blood oranges. 

3.  Segment, or supreme, the remaining oranges. Set aside the citrus segments and slices.

4. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out on a floured surface to an 11-inch/28 cm circle. Transfer the dough to a small piece of oven-proof parchment paper and put it back in the fridge for 15 minutes. 

5. Take the dough & paper out of the fridge and arrange the segments on the center of the pastry.  Leave approximately 2-inch/5 cm all the way around. Dust the segments with 2 tablespoons of sugar and dot the segments with the remaining butter.  

6.  Fold the edges of the pastry up.  Most of the segments should be visible. Brush the dough with the egg wash.  Layer the lemon and orange slices over the segments, overlapping slightly onto the dough.  Sprinkle the entire tart with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. 

7. Freeze the entire tart until solid, minimum 4 hours.   

8.  Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F.  Place oven rack in the center position and place a baking/cookie sheet lined with foil in the lowest position to catch any drips. 

9.  Take the tart directly from the freezer and place it with the parchment paper on the oven rack (don't put it on a baking sheet or it will get really soggy).  Cook for 1 hour and 15 min or until dark, golden brown. 

10. Cool the tart on a cookie rack & serve with Caramel Sauce.

Caramel Sauce, from Lottie + Doof
Notes: Can be kept in the fridge.  Poor hot caramel into a heat-proof container. Reheat by placing the container in a bath of hot water over low-heat.  When adding the cream to the hot sugar, it will have a tendency to spatter and spurt, be careful!

Cooking time: 10 min

200g/1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons salted butter
125 ml/½ cup whipping cream

1. Melt sugar in a large, heavy pot, stirring often. 
2. Add the butter in the sugar, melt and stir to combine. 
3. Remove the pot from heat and slowly, very carefully add the cream.  Stir to combine until smooth.  If some of it has hardened, you can put it back on low heat. 
© 2010 Nicole

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