Several years ago I celebrated the first anniversary of Spinach Tiger with this Almond Tart, from Lindsey Shere, where it was served at the legendary Chez Panisse for over thirty years. The almond tart is a shortbread crust, almost cookie like with a filling made from cream, grand marnier and almonds.
This week celebrates the sixth anniversary of Spinach Tiger and in because it always falls at Christmas I remade the tart with a video.
I chose this to celebrate with because it’s one of those recipes that has become a signature dessert. It’s that good.
Luscious, and not too sweet. It has become my most requested dessert from friends over the years and since this writing, and I have made it about 30 times. It’s the dessert that can be played around a bit with. I’ve made with with the addition of pears here and coconut here. I’ve included a link my recipe for a gluten free tart crust which is so good you cannot tell it’s gluten free. (this is probably something I wouldn’t have considered doing six years ago).
Over these years, I’ve honed my voice on this blog. And, six years later I can say the biggest surprise is not how much I may have influenced others to eat real, whole food and enjoy dinner with the family, it’s how much I’ve been influenced by others.
The concept of a “food voice” came to me in 2008 when I ead Thomas McNamee’s Alice Waters and Chez Panisse. I admired Alice Waters from the start, because she had perfect taste buds which made possible the success of her restaurant, taking simple, local, fresh food and turning it into startling deliciousness. Alice doesn’t believe the magic is as much in the hands of the cook as the cultivator and then the respect that cook/chef brings to that harvest. You won’t find cream in her carrot soup. You will taste carrots, because she found a way to have a relationship with the person that grew the carrots in the right soil with the right care, perfecting the perfect carrot taste.
I feel the same passion to cook the best food from scratch, where best also means sustainable, humane, local, fresh, healthy, and simple with extreme deliciousness and practical ease in a home kitchen. I grew up reaching for freshly steamed broccoli adorned with olive oil, lemon and salt. To add anything else would have broken the family food rules and assaulted the broccoli.
Food bloggers are inciting the food industry to make changes. An example of this change is the way that some food bloggers refuse to endorse unhealthy products. The sum is bigger than the parts, and I hope the trend to reshape the food industry continues.
The phenomena of food blogging tells the story no one cared to think about in 1950. Folks were content to get off the farm and into industrial society. Giant corporations took over the land and recreated food stuff in pretty boxes and put it on shelves. It felt so grown up and sophisticated to choose a Swanson TV dinner with no thought at all as to where that chicken came from or what a food factory looks like let alone what a dinner eaten on a TV tray would do to the culture.
At least two generations of people grew up never having a relationship with the origins of their food, nor being aware of the downside of “processed.” It was an era where there were convenient cooks (who grabbed the boxes and cans) and the “from scratch cooks” who often over processed the food by cooking it for hours and making it just as inedible or as radically unhealthy as their processed counterparts. The things that were supposed to be better choices, like margarine, ending up being health hazards.
Myths hit the culture, sprouting lies such as “the only thing kids will eat are processed chicken nuggets, and tater tots” or that cakes are so complicated, you need a company to pre-mix them for you, or “that the best person to chop YOUR vegetables” is someone who works for a supermarket chain. They’ll even grate cheese for you and put it in expensive plastic bags, because, after all, it’s way too hard for the home cook.
Making good food is our gift. Animals can hunt for food by killing or foraging. But, only humans can bake a souffle, make ice cream, or press olives to make olive oil. It’s one of the most spectacular aspects of the human story, and one that comes with giant responsibilities when you look at the whole picture.
But there is so much more to the story, and this is why you should come back and visit often.
In the meantime, enjoy the most delicious almond tart you will ever eat.
You can make this tart Gluten Free following the directions for the tart crust here.
I want to thank the millions of people who have visited here over the years. There are no words to say how wonderful it makes me feel to connect with you.
- 1¼ cup flour
- ½ cup cold unsalted butter cut into small pieces
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon water (you may not need)
- 1 Shortbread Tart Filling
- 1 cup cream
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2-3 drops almond extract
- 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
- 1 cup sliced raw almonds in skin
- 1-2 tablespoons salted pistachio (optional)
- Place flour, salt, sugar and lemon zest together in food processor. Mix together and add butter. Pulse processor just until a dough is formed. If you have no processor, you can mix by hand, mixing quickly to get a shortbread dough. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Use a 9 or 10 inch tart pan that has removable bottom. Butter a piece of parchment paper and line bottom of pan, leaving a little overlap on the sides, so you can easily pull away.
- Form in pan, prick with fork all over, and bake at 425 for 8 minutes. Turn heat down to 400 and bake another 4 minutes. Crust should be done at this point.
- Heat cream and sugar, in small saucepan until sugar has melted and mixture is translucent.
- Add extract, grand mariner and almonds. The optional pistachios add a bit of salt and added flavor that adds a nice touch. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, (although if you are in a hurry this is not completely necessary).
- Pour into tart shell and bake for 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees.
- During the baking process, check in at 15 minutes and tamp down any bubbles.
- Remove from tart pan as soon as possible. Allow to partially cool to remove the bottom, but do remove it before the tart cools or it will stick to the bottom. I use buttered parchment paper on the bottom to counteract, and it works perfectly.