Cooking koan

First, take one and a half cups flour, one half teaspoon salt, two tablespoons sugar. Blend them together in the food processor. Add one and a quarter sticks of butter, cut up. Blend until it looks like cornmeal. Add two egg yolks and blend a bit more. Put it in a bowl. Sprinkle three tablespoons of ice water on top. Gather it together with a spoon until you can roll it into a ball with your hands. Wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for ten minutes or so.

Take it out of the freezer and roll it out (between plastic wrap) into a circle two inches bigger than your tart pan. Place it in the pan and press it down; cover the dough with aluminum foil and weigh it down with beans. Place it in a 425° oven for ten minutes or so, until it’s cooked but still light. Remove the pan from the oven, remove the foil, and turn the oven down to 350°.

Then, take a half-cup of sugar and a quarter-cup of cornstarch. Sift them together with your fingers. Add two cups of berries. Mix it all up with a fork until some of the berries bleed into the dry ingredients, creating a slurry. Pour the mixture into the crust. Take another cup of berries and place them into the mixture. Pop the whole thing into the oven for 30 minutes or until the berry mixture bubbles. Let the tart cool to be served warm.

Then, take a cup of heavy cream. Beat it until soft peaks form. Add a tablespoon or two of confectioner’s sugar and a bit of Grand Marnier. Beat it a bit more. Fold in a half a cup of sour cream. You now have Swedish cream; use it to top the tart.

In the course of each of these steps, simple things become complex, often in an instant. After their transformations, they are more appealing. We could just drink heavy cream, but we whip it and add liqueur. Yet sometimes we just eat berries.

A heartfelt thanks to Mark Bittman.

4 responses to “Cooking koan”

  1. PB says:

    My one hand is clapping loudly.

  2. i can attest to the fact that dave’s berry tart was supreme. bittman’s got nothing on him.

  3. Eric Jones says:

    Dave, may I say–I’m impressed with the diversity of your posts! Having said that, let me add, as, um, a bachelor, that I have Bittman’s book, and 2/3 of the time I haven’t been impressed with his recipes. (Too simple, yielding fairly boring results; the other third have been lovely. Still, he’s nothing if not comprehensive … “How to Cook Everything.”) Leave it to you to ferret out the best of Bittman, and then to add your own exquisite touch….

  4. Dave says:

    Eric — So far I’m pretty happy with Bittman, and with the few recipes I’ve tried from his NYT column, but it’s good to know they’re not all trustworthy. As a lazy person, usually I kind of visualize a recipe before I go through the trouble of making it, so maybe I’m just picky to begin with and that saves me from some of the worse ones. I will claim credit for putting the Swedish cream on the tart; Bittman had some other idea for a topping, but the sourness of the Swedish cream totally worked.