Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Mini Blueberry Tarts

The Recipe: Miniature cheesecake-like tarts baked in a mini muffin pan with a "pop" of fresh blueberry right in the middle. The tart is an easy, press-in dough (and only slightly fiddly) and the filling is as easy as can be. These make a welcome colorful addition to a tray of one- and two-bite mini desserts. And besides, right? Blueberries!

Mini Blueberry Tarts ♥ KitchenParade.com, a press-in crust, no mixer required. Super easy!

Can A Favorite Old Recipe Make the Switch from Large to Mini?

When I first adapted an old-old-old recipe from a big tart feeding eight (in generous slices, mind you) to mini tarts feeding thirty (in tiny two-bite mini tarts), I had high hopes that it would all work out. Time-wise, I'd left no wiggle room for a second batch if the first didn't work out. My notes even read, "A little fiddly so will need to be excellent."

And excellent they were!

And not even that fiddly! The semi-fiddly part is pressing the dough into the cups of a mini muffin pan. After that, easy-peasy. Just fill the tarts with a bit of sweetened sour cream that's akin to cheesecake, plop in a blueberry and bake away.

Mini Blueberry Tarts are truly special, especially on a tray of other bite-size sweets, one chocolate (a mini version of Old-Fashioned Black Walnut Chocolate Cake), one lemon (starring Brown Sugar Lemon Curd) and these, a lovely combination of creaminess and tart blueberry.

Scaling the Recipe

I intended to scale the recipe so that it would make exactly 24 tarts, that's how many cups are in a mini muffin tin. But honestly, it didn't scale easily.

So I've left it at 30 mini tarts, a good number for many occasions. If you have just one non-stick mini muffin pan like I do, then you'll need to bake the tarts in two trays, my recommendation would be 15 and 15 or something similar versus 24 and 6.

Good news? The recipe also easily halves for just 15 mini tarts.

You'll Love My Mini Blueberry Tarts For ...

... easy prep, no mixer required
... a cheesecake-like filling without the fuss of a waterbath
... their dramatic but slightly rustic look
... complementing other bite-size mini desserts
... a tiny mini dessert to finish a summer luncheon
... portion control!
... how the blueberries go "pop" when you bite in!


MINI BLUEBERRY TARTS

Hands-on time: 30 minutes
Time to table: 2 hours
Makes 30

    DOUGH
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons/4oz/112g) salted butter, room temperature or melted
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring or 94g
  • 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour, fluffed or 94g
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

    FILLING
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with a fork
  • 1 cup (200g) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup (50g) sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (or more vanilla)
  • Blueberries

PREP Heat oven to 350F/180C.

DOUGH Mix the egg and sugar with a fork in a medium bowl. Mix in the butter, flours and baking powder with a wooden spoon, even your hands, to form a soft, supple dough. Separate the dough into 15 equal pieces, each one weighing 12 – 15 grams. Gently press each piece into the cup of a mini muffin pan, shaping a tiny tart shell whose bottom and sides are roughly the same thickness. (For more detail, see How to Shape the Tart Dough, below.)

FILLING In the same bowl, whisk the egg, sour cream, sugar, vanilla and almond extract. Carefully spoon filling mixture into each tart, then top with a blueberry, it'll sink in just a bit, that's good.

BAKE until the tart shell's edges turn golden, about 20 minutes but start checking for doneness after 15 minutes. The fillings may puff up like little soufflés near the end but fall back once the tarts cool. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before gently removing the tarts from the pan to finish cooling.

STORAGE Store the tarts in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS Mini Blueberry Tarts are best made and eaten on the same day.

VARIATIONS Different fruits would work beautifully here, sour cherries, raspberries, raisins soaked in rum, mango, etc. Get creative! Just be mindful about size (experience says that blackberries are too big) and wetness (a tiny whole strawberry would work better than chopped strawberry, say) and even tartness (blueberries are perfectly tart, pineapple tidbits are not).

ALANNA's TIPS I use a "standard" mini muffin pan with 24 cups to make Mini Blueberry Tarts. It looks like this non-stick mini muffin pan, each cup holds about 2 tablespoons. My pan is non-stick and I have no trouble removing the tarts from the pan, even without using baking spray or Baker's Joy, my go-to baking spray for baked goods. To release the tarts from the mini muffin pan, I use the thin wire of a cake tester to insert between the pan's side and the tart, it helps to just pop them right out, some times I need to insert it in two or three places but really, the tarts pop right out. To halve the recipe, whisk one large egg and use half in the crust and half in the filling. Low-fat sour cream works fine, non-fat sour cream is a hideous contrivance of modern industrial food just doesn't. That said, I have the idea that non-fat Greek yogurt might well work out beautifully. I've only made Mini Blueberry Tarts with those large, fresh blueberries you find in grocery stores for a few wonderful weeks during the summer. Just one fits into the mini tarts but it's enough, a pop of juicy berry. If your blueberries are wild or small, use what fits. In fact, I'd recommend filling one mini tart first, just to see how much filling to use with the particular blueberries, it might be useful to use a titch less filling if that makes room for another blueberry. I think that frozen blueberries would work fine. Don't thaw them first and allow for a slightly longer baking time.

HOW TO SHAPE THE TART DOUGH Mixing the dough and the filling takes just minutes, simple, simple, simple. But don't worry about forming the tarts either, it's very simple in its own way, no rolling, no tools except your own hands. Once you get the hang of it, the tart shells shape up quick-quick. You may well find your own knack but here's how I do it. No need to obsess with perfection, your kitchen isn't a factory, your hands aren't a machine.

The dough is the texture of soft cookie dough. If you think it would be easier to work with after a short stint in the fridge, go for it, but I have no trouble straight out of the mixing bowl. First, break off a piece of dough that weighs 12 – 15 grams. (You do have a kitchen scale, right? Life changing! But if you don't, no problem, just eyeball 15 roughly equivalent dough pieces. First, shape the dough into a big dough ball, then roll it into a "snake" with the palms of your hands on a clean work surface. Then use a knive or a benchknife to cut the snake into three equal parts, then cut each piece into five equal parts. See? Easy! Make enough of these, you actually get amazingly accurate with breaking off the same amount each time.)

Gently roll each piece into a ball and put it into one of the cups in the mini muffin pan. With your pointer finger, gently press down to the tart bottom. Then press out and upward to form the sides of the tart. Then press the very tip of your finger to form corners between the bottom and the sides. It helps to twirl the pan around as you circumnavigate the world, no such luck, just the tart while it's being shaped.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Mini Tart: 88 Calories; 5g Tot Fat; 3g Sat Fat; 25mg Cholesterol; 46mg Sodium; 10g Carb; g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 1g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 2 & PointsPlus 2 & SmartPoints 4 (points are the same with both regular sour cream and low-fat sour cream)
Adapted from Finnish Fruit Tart, an easy-easy tart with a press-in crust that I've been making since way back in 1976 when I was an exchange student in Finland.


Blueberries = My Summer Heaven

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Five-Minute Fruit Salad Summer Corn Bread with Fresh Blueberries Blueberry Cheesecake Pie

Mini Mini Mini = Memorable Memorable Memorable

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Chocolate Cream Puffs Stuffed with Strawberries & Cream Two-Bite Brownies Mini Tiramisu Cups with Pralines

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Spiced Pickled Red Onions

The Recipe: Something so simple, just slivers of red onion pickled in a refrigerator jar (no canning!) with a few herbs and a little garlic. But if you want to spice up your taco game (and so much more), start here, with quick and easy Spiced Pickled Red Onions.

Now lots of times, something this good starts with butter and cream. Not pickled onions, they're basically calorie free, carb free, sugar free, vegan not to mention totally cheap. All this? And still a game changer!

Spiced Pickled Red Onions ♥ KitchenParade.com, a game changer for tacos, salads, eggs and more.

Pulling This & That from the Fridge

My dear Auntie Gloria was a "meal prep" queen, way way back before meal prep was the thing that it is now. I'd have been no more than six or eight but remember helping her pull this and that from the fridge, a sort of culinary sorcery that put lunch on the table – no slap-dash peanut butter sandwich, mind you, but a plateful of homemade breads and spreads and side bites and savory relishes.

Auntie Gloria's fridge dives made an impression, even then. Fast forward some fifty years, I channel her as I spend a few minutes each week making "simple small things" that somehow elevate our meals from the mundane to the magical. I even keep a special section in my old-fashioned 3x5 recipe box for Extras and you may well want to poke around that part of Kitchen Parade's Recipe Box too, it showcases all the Little Extras That Make a Big Difference. Next up for me? Homemade Ricotta, so summery, somehow.

Sliced onions for Spiced Pickled Red Onions ♥ KitchenParade.com, a game changer for tacos, salads, eggs and more.

A Meal Prep Standby

But back to pickled onions.

I've been making Spiced Pickled Red Onions every so often for a couple of years, they're definitely one of my meal-prep standbys. But I really came to appreciate them when we launched that month-long project we called Deep Mexico: Ingredient-Driven Mexican Meal Prep.

Because, wow, pickled red onions make a taco. One night, I pulled a whole taco bar from the fridge in a matter of minutes while a niece from California was visiting. Those tacos were so-so-SO good. "Wow!" she exclaimed. "I'd have never thought to put pickled onions in a taco."

I grinned. Auntie Gloria would be proud.

Spiced Pickled Red Onions ♥ KitchenParade.com, a game changer for tacos, salads, eggs and more.

Why Does Garlic Turn Blue or Green in Vinegar?

See that garlic clove, all pristine and pretty? That's Day One.

By Day Two, some times the garlic clove turns color into a muddy green, even a sickly blue. Not appetizing! Supposedly, it's a reaction between enzymes in the garlic and the acid in the vinegar. And it doesn't happen all the time. And older garlic may be more prone to discoloration.

But the good news is, it's still safe to eat and it doesn't affect the taste of the Spiced Pickled Red Onions. Source: Epicurious.

Me, I pull out any discolored garlic clove. No way do I want to distract from the pretty pink onions!

Spiced Pickled Red Onions ♥ KitchenParade.com, a game changer for tacos, salads, eggs and more.

You'll Love My Spiced Pickled Onions to ...

... slip into tacos or onto an open-faced sandwich
... chop fine for a quick salad
... scatter across the top of a supper salad
... mound beside an omelet or scrambled eggs
... garnish bite-size appetizers


Easy Summer Recipes ♥ KitchenParade.com, a collection of easy-to-remember and memorable recipes especially for summer. Less cookin'. More livin'. It's the summer's motto!
This recipe is so quick and easy
that I'm adding it to a special collection of easy summer recipes
published every summer since 2009.
Watch for new "summer easy" recipes all summer long!
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SPICED PICKLED RED ONIONS

Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 24 hours
Makes 1 pint jar (2 cups)

    ONIONS
  • Two or three small (preferably) or one or two medium red onions
  • A sprig of something fresh: oregano, tarragon, rosemary
  • A garlic clove
  • A bay leaf
  • A few whole spices: a few peppercorns, a couple of whole allspice, a star anise, etc.

    PICKLING LIQUID
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Find a small jar with a wide mouth and a tight lid that holds about two cups.

ONIONS Slice off and discard the ends of the onion, then peel off the outer skin. (That outer skin is called the "tunic", isn't that cool?) Cut the onion in half lengthwise. Place one half cut-side down and use a sharp knife to cut very thin lengthwise pieces about 1 – 1.5 inches long. Pack the jar tight with onion about halfway, separating the slices with your fingers and really packing them in. Tuck the sprig of fresh herbs, garlic and bay leaf along the glass, then drop in the peppercorns and other whole spices. Finish packing the jar with additional onion slices.

PICKLING LIQUID In a two-cup microwave-safe liquid measuring cup with a spout, combine the water, vinegar, honey and salt and bring to a boil in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds or so. (Or if you prefer, bring the same ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan on the stove.) Pour the hot liquid over the onions, covering the slices completely, pressing to immerse the top pieces if need be.

NOW WAIT! Cover the jar and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate the onions for at least 24 hours before serving. Use up the pickles within a week to ten days.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS I like Spiced Pickled Red Onions best on the second or third day. After that, the next week or so, the onions lose a bit of their onion-y essence (that's a word, right?) and become more pickle-y. They're still awesome to have on hand but just not quite as fresh and firm. But knowing this might affect the timing of when you make them, say, if you're planning a taco party.

ALANNA's TIPS These are "refrigerator pickles" – store them in the fridge for up to a couple of weeks, not unrefrigerated for the long-term. Any size jar will do, just scale the Pickling Liquid up or down. But a pint jar is perfect for our household of three, where we cook pretty much three meals a day. Pick a pretty jar, you can put it right on the table with a tiny fork for spearing the onions. Or pick a tall slim jar that fits the fridge door, that's where I've taken to putting all the meal prep things in one easy-to-see place. Watch for small red onions, in my groceries, that's by the bag. Small onions work best because their scales (hey Word Dancers, that's the technical name for the onion parts we chop for cooking) are naturally thinner. And when you slice thin the already thin scales, you end up with elegant moon-shaped curls that're perfect for quick refrigerator pickles. Do cut the red onions lengthwise, that's pole to pole, stem end to root end. Rings get all tangled up and messy and even a small onion's rings are more onion than anybody probably wants to eat. Some times I pull out the mandoline (aka Benriner) to slice the onions evenly. But a mandoline is a fair amount of trouble for what's really quick knife work if you have a sharp knife, I use my favorite serrated tomato knife for jobs like this all the time. (You should have heard me this week when this knife went missing for a few hours!) If you don't have a liquid measuring cup, a funnel works too, just put the small end right into the jar and carefully pour the hot liquid into the wide end.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Tablespoon: 4 Calories; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 2mg Sodium; 1g Carb; 0g Fiber; 1g Sugar; 0g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 0 & PointsPlus 0 & SmartPoints 0


More Little Extras That Make All the Difference

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Famous Mustard Sauce (Carolina BBQ Mustard Sauce) Green Mayonnaise Homemade Sazón
~ more Little Extras That Make a Big Difference ~

Shop Your Pantry First

(helping home cooks save money on groceries)
~ onion recipes ~
~ All Recipes, By Ingredient ~
~ How to Save Money on Groceries ~

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!