cranberry walnut cream whole-rye tartlets

Cranberry Walnut Cream Whole Rye Tartlets | A Brown Table

Let me just start this post by saying, that if you enjoy a buttery and nutty flavored pastry then this tartlet recipe is for you. If you like the taste and flavor of rye flour then you will enjoy this pastry. 

I've been practicing making several different types of classical pastries at home but using whole grain based flours. They make a richer and more flavorful pastry base though they can be tricky to work with depending on the type of flour being used. In this pâte brisée recipe, rye worked just fine, I stuck with the , I did work as fast as possible and keeping things as cold as possible to get the butter mixed into the flour and keep gluten formation as minimal as possible. I used a little bit of vodka to provide the alcohol necessary to prevent gluten formation. 

Cranberry Walnut Cream Whole Rye Tartlets | A Brown TableCranberry Walnut Cream Whole Rye Tartlets | A Brown Table
Cranberry Walnut Cream Whole Rye Tartlets | A Brown Table
Cranberry Walnut Cream Whole Rye Tartlets | A Brown Table

Cranberries have a natural tart and bitter flavor. I used sugar and red wine to balance the tartness but there was still the stubborn issue of its bitterness. Adding more sugar would be an obvious choice to hide the bitter taste but the filling would get too sweet and I didn't want that. Walnuts on the other hand, take away the bitterness and also make one rich and creamy cranberry filling (This cranberry walnut cream is delicious by itself and I think it would also be perfect as a holiday dip served with a little cheese on the side).

Cranberry Walnut Cream Whole Rye Tartlets | A Brown TableCranberry Walnut Cream Whole Rye Tartlets | A Brown Table
Cranberry Walnut Cream Whole Rye Tartlets | A Brown TableCranberry Walnut Cream Whole Rye Tartlets | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips when preparing these tartlets,

  • The trick to working with an all butter pastry crust such as the pâte brisée is to prevent gluten formation as much as you can and to get all that butter mixed into the flour as fast as possible. Ideally, pâte brisée is prepared by incorporating the butter into the flour with your fingers but a food processor really cuts back the time required to mix in the butter and also reduces gluten formation by reducing the amount of heat generated. 
  • To prepare ice-cold water, I take one or two ice cubes and dump them into about 1/2 cup of cold water and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then I use the necessary amount of ice-cold water from this mixture.
  • If you find the taste of an all rye flour pastry too intense, you can use an half and half mixture (5 ounces each) of all-purpose and rye flour. Everything else will remain the same.
  • Marble and stainless steel surfaces are great to work pastry dough on. They stay cool and reduce the chances of the fat from melting and reduce gluten formation.
  • Walnuts are a great way to get rid of the natural bitterness of cranberries and give a rich and creamy finish.

Cranberry Walnut Cream Whole Rye Tartlets | A Brown Table

cranberry walnut cream whole-rye tartlets

yields: six 6 inch tartlets

whole-rye flour pâte brisée

ingredients

2 1/2 cups (10 ounces) whole-rye flour + a little extra for dusting

1 teaspoon kosher sea salt

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled

2 tablespoons ice-cold water 

1 tablespoon vodka, ice cold

1. Attach the dough blade to the bowl of a food processor. Place the flour, salt and butter in the bowl and pulse for a few seconds until the dough begins to form small crumbles. Pour in the water and vodka, and pulse until the dough is comes together. There should be no visible flecks of butter, it should be completely combined into the flour. Remove and transfer the dough to a clean surface and bring it together to form one large disc. Do this quickly and to reduce the chances of melting the butter with the heat of your hands. Wrap the disc tightly with cling film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to overnight. 

2. After chilling the dough, unwrap and divide it into 6 equal parts. Take one part and wrap and keep the rest in the refrigerator. Using a scant amount of flour, roll out the dough into a 0.5 cm thick circle with a rolling pin. If the pastry begins to get too soft, place it on a sheet of parchment paper and refrigerate for about 5-10 minutes until slightly firm. Line a six-inch tartlet ring with the pastry and trim the edges using a rolling pin. Smoothen the top surface of the edges with your fingers. Freeze the pastry for at least 30 minutes before baking. Prepare the remaining five tartlets similarly. (At this point, you can also prepare all the tartlets and freeze them for 30 minutes, then wrap them with cling film, place them in an airtight container and return them to the freezer until ready to use).

3. To bake the tartlets, place a wire rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Place the tartlet shells on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover the inner surface of each tartlet shell with parchment paper and then cover the surface with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 40 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking process. Remove the tartlets from the oven and allow them to cool completely in the tartlet rings on the baking sheet. Remove the pie weights/beans and parchment paper lining the surface of the shell. Keep at room temperature or refrigerate until ready to use.

cranberry walnut cream

ingredients

12 ounces fresh cranberries

1/2 cup red wine (I used a merlot)

1 teaspoon lime juice, fresh

3/4 cup (5 7/25 ounces) brown sugar

1 cup (4 ounces) walnuts, raw (with or without skin) (without skin will give a smoother cream)

1 teaspoon madagascar bourbon vanilla extract

1. Place the cranberries, red wine, lime juice and sugar in a large thick bottomed saucepan and heat on medium-high. Cover with a lid and cook for 7-8 minutes, stir occasionally. Once the sugar has melted and the cranberries have burst. Remove from stove.

2. Transfer the contents of the saucepan to a blender and blend for a few seconds until smooth. Clean the same saucepan and wipe dry. Remove and pass the pureéd cranberries through a sieve into the saucepan, Add the walnuts and vanilla to the pureéd cranberries and cook on medium-low for another 2 minutes with constant stirring. Remove from stove and transfer and blend the contents of the pan until smooth. Place the cranberry walnut cream in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use (You can also use an immersion blender to do both the blending steps)

Assembling the tartlets

1 tablespoon lime zest, fresh

1. Fill each tartlet shell with about 4-6 tablespoons of the cranberry walnut cream. Smoothen the surface with an offset spatula (dip the spatula in running hot water for a smooth finish).

2. Garnish with a little lime zest. Serve at room temperature. 

fig and ginger compote

Fig and Ginger Compote|A Brown Table

For the past few week, I've been feeling a bit reminiscent. Part of me misses my old life in DC, the familiar spots and friends that I spent so much time with. After seven wonderful years in a great city, where I worked my first job out of grad school, went back to grad school, made friends that I consider family, met the love of my life, got married and had many other special moments, this would obviously be a hard change. I'm extremely thankful that we were able to make the move to California and it was definitely time for a change that we both needed.

The past three months in our new home have been great, exploring new places and meeting new people but I miss the part where I could talk with my friends at any time of the day and have conversations that ranged from sensible to absolute nonsense. Not that this still doesn't happen but the three hour time difference between the two coasts makes it a little hard and requires a bit of extra planning. But, at the end of the day, I remind myself that life is full of changes and each one of those changes, planned or unplanned are important because it helps mold my way of thinking, the dual combination of the nervousness and joy of experiencing the unfamiliar that is exciting and what makes change and life fun. 

Fig and Ginger Compote|A Brown Table

I recently made this fig compote to use a bunch of figs that I picked up at the market. As much as I love figs, there is one thing about them that annoys me the most, they grow mold rather quickly if they are too overripe. This compote was my way of immediately using up those figs and making them last for a few weeks (I hate, hate, losing figs to mold, it's really aggravating because I usually can't blame anyone else but me)! 

Fig and Ginger Compote|A Brown Table

Bubbling red wine with vanilla beans is one of the most comforting fragrances that can come out of your kitchen. Fruity and floral aromas are the best when it comes to feeling relaxed. There are quite a few fall flavors in this compote, ginger and balsamic really give this a nice bump and all the flavors come together in one little jar of goodness that you can serve over cheeses or with charcuterie or pretty much anything else. 

Note: Since fresh figs can vary in sweetness, I recommend adding less sugar and then tasting the compote towards the end to see if you need more sugar. 

Fig and Ginger Compote|A Brown Table

fig and ginger compote 

yields: about 1 generous cup

ingredients

1 lb fresh figs (I used mission figs)

1 cup red wine ( used a sangiovese)

2-4 tablespoons brown sugar (you might need less)

1 vanilla bean, sliced in half

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground

1/4 cup crystallized ginger bits

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (to make this compote extra fruity, you can also use a fruit/berry flavored balsamic vinegar here, I've tried blackberry and pineapple version and they all did really well)

1. Rinse the figs under running tap water and and trim the stalks off. Slice the figs in half and place them in a medium saucepan.

2. Add the red wine and 2 tablespoons of the sugar to the figs. Bring the contents to boil on a medium-high flame, this should take about 5-6 minutes. Remove from the stove and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.

3. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean with a sharp knife and add the seeds and the bean along with the black pepper and ginger to the fig mixture and return to the stove. Cook on medium-low with occasionally stirring until the mixture thickens and reduces in volume to about half its original. This will take about 35-40 minutes. Once this is done, taste to see if it is sweet enough, the sweetness depends on how sweet the figs are so add extra sugar if needed. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and remove from stove. Cool and store in an airtight container.