I’ve been terribly bad about this whole blogging thing; partially because of lack of time, but mostly because of lack of camera.
Lucky for me I’ve become friends with an awesome photographer at my local climbing gym. Although he’s new to food photography, he’s definitely got an eye for it and his camera skills are amazing! I highly recommend you check out his blog: www.Kyart.ca. Make sure to the check out the dog section; he has the cutest dog and puppy I think I’ve ever seen and my favourite part of his portfolio is the “Just Because” section. I think Kyle and I will continue to collaborate in the future and I truly look forward to this.
I also have this pretty awesome job where I’m creating a menu for a new bakery, so I essentially work in a test kitchen all day, everyday. It’s a blast and I love my work, but the downside is that I can’t share anything I create at work with the internets until I’m sure it won’t be sold in the bake shop. But here’s an idea with which I was inspired outside of the workplace. It all started with a far too sour plum.
Since I moved to Vancouver about a year ago, I have discovered two incredible things about the region. 1) The beach. It’s so close, it’s so beautiful and the sun just makes me so happy. 2) The fresh produce. It’s abundant, affordable and you just can’t compare the flavours to bland generic produce often found in the grocery stores! The fruit and vegetables here are out of this world. In Tucson I would have never purchased or enjoyed blueberries, but here, now that they’re in season, I think they may be the best berries I’ve ever had. Plus they’re so cheap!
After an exciting day at the water park just outside the city, my friends and I decided to check out a local farmers market. It was full of local cherries, berries and plums; all of the colours were so vibrant and appealing. One of the fruits that caught my eye were these bright yellow and green plums, plainly labeled “local plums”- how specific. I decided to be brave and get them anyways, the whole container was only 1.50$ so I didn’t have much to lose!
The next day I tried one. It was so tart! I’ll eat a lemon straight, so when I say this plum was tart, that’s really saying something! After some brainstorming about what to do with these Warhead-like plums I decided that they would pair well with some extra creamy Brie. And I can’t think of a better vessel than a buttery, flaky pastry!
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 Tbs sugar
1/2 lb unsalted butter (2 sticks) (cubed and frozen)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cold water
4 tsp lemon juice
4-5 small plums ( I used a combination of yellow and red plums)
120 g brie cheese
1 egg for egg wash
First things first: let’s measure out our water and butter for the pastry and get that into the freezer.
There are many ways to make a good flaky pastry. I find the food processor method works best for me, but feel free to incorporate dough by hand or with a pastry cutter.
In your food processor bowl, combine flour, salt, sugar, and butter cubes. Mix for a short time until the butter is in large chunks distributed within the flour. Some big pieces are okay. Add in the sour cream, lemon and cold water. Mix until the dough comes together but is still a little crumbly. Dump the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, push it together, wrap it up and flatten slightly with a rolling pin. Let the dough rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Now’s a good time to thinly slice your plums and prepare your brie by slicing it into 1 inch by 1/4 inch slices. Approximation is fine!
It’s time to roll out your dough on a well floured surface to approximately 1/4 – 1/8 inch thick. Rotate and re-flour your dough often as you don’t want it to stick to the counter! You have 2 choices here, you can either cut the dough into squares (4 inches by 4 inches) or you can use a circular cookie cutter, cut circles out, and re-roll the scraps until you’ve used all of your dough. Obviously the squares will be less time consuming, but they also rely on your ability to cut perfect squares so that the edges will fold up nicely. In the center of your cut pastries add a few slices of plum and a slice or two of brie. Don’t over stuff them; you want the edges to come together nicely and not have any plum ripping through the dough. Fold the dough in half and seal the edges with some egg wash and pin the edges together with a fork. Align the pastries on a plate and stick them in the fridge to cool for another 30 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350 F. Align your pastries on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush them with your egg wash. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Rotate after 20 minutes.
Bonus Blueberry Tarts
I ended up with some left over pastry dough. I lined a few mini tart shells I had lying around, poked some holes in the bottom, chilled them and then baked them until golden brown. While the tart shells were baking I made a simple blueberry filling with fresh blueberries I had in the fridge.
In a sauce pan combine 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 Tbs lemon juice and 1/4 cup cornstarch. Stir over medium heat until the mixture thickens and comes to a full boil (to ensure the starch taste is cooked out). Carefully stir in 3/4 cup blueberries and remove from heat. Spoon the filling into cooked tart shells and voila: beautiful and simple tarts to impress anyone!
All photos were taken by the amazing photographer Kyle Rurak, and I highly suggest you check out his blog. www.Kyart.ca