Holiday Entertaining 2000: Cooks on an Island

  Assemble-Your-Own Tartlets

The Chef
CLAUDIA FLEMING of Gramercy Tavern

Serves ten.

Tart crust:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond flour (slivered almonds may be ground with several pulses of a clean coffee grinder)
Pinch of salt

Mascarpone filling:
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup unflavored goat yogurt (organic yogurt may be substituted)
7 ounces heavy cream
1/2 cup plain goat cheese
1/4 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

Caramel blood oranges:
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
4 small oranges, preferably a mixture of sweet and blood oranges

Spiced poached quince:
2 large quinces, peeled, cored, and cut into 16 slices
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup white wine
1 clove stuck into a 2-inch strip of orange peel
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 star anise

Roasted pineapple with pink peppercorns:
1 cup sugar
1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 pieces lengthwise
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped with the point of a knife
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons rum
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon cracked pink peppercorns

Cooking Instructions
Tart crust:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter and confectioners' sugar until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg. Whisk together the flour, almond flour, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in two batches, with the mixer on low speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl between additions. Mix until dough just holds together. Scrape dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, and form it into a disk. Chill for at least 1 hour, until firm.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Roll out the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap. Chill for 1/2 hour. Remove plastic and cut 10 4-inch rounds of dough. Form in 3-inch tartlet pans. Prick the crusts all over with a fork to prevent air bubbles from forming. Bake the shells until they are pale golden, about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. (Shells can be made 8 hours ahead.)

Mascarpone filling:
In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whip attachment, combine the mascarpone, yogurt, cream, goat cheese, and sugar, and beat until stiff. Fold in the zest and Grand Marnier. Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

Caramel blood oranges:
In a small heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and salt with 1/4 cup water. Stir the mixture over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, then raise the heat to medium-high and cook the caramel, swirling but not stirring, until it turns medium amber in color, about 10 minutes. Immediately turn off the heat. Very carefully add another 1/4 cup water to the pot (stand back -- the caramel may splatter or bubble over). Set the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring, until the caramel dissolves and is smooth, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. When the caramel has cooled, peel the oranges, removing the white membranes around the segments. Pour caramel over segments just before serving.

Spiced poached quince:
In a large saucepan, combine the quince, sugar, wine, orange peel, cinnamon, and anise with 3 cups water. Cut a round of parchment paper slightly smaller than the opening of the pot, and lay it on top of the quinces (this will keep the fruit submerged). Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the mixture until the quinces are tender and spongy, about 11/4 hours. Let the quinces cool in the liquid. Drain the quince pieces on layers of paper towel. Reduce poaching liquid until thick. Place slices of quince on mascarpone-filled tart shells and drizzle with reduced poaching syrup.

Roasted pineapple with pink peppercorns:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the sugar and 1/4 cup water in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet over low heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to high and cook, swirling but not stirring, until the mixture is golden brown and caramelized. Add the pineapple and the vanilla bean with its scrapings. Place in center of oven and bake for 50 minutes, basting every 10 minutes, until pineapple is tender and translucent. Remove pineapple and set aside; when cool enough to handle, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges.

Whisk in the butter, rum, and salt until sauce is smooth. Pour over roasted pineapple; garnish with pink peppercorns.

Recommended Wines
1997 Pellegrini Vineyards Vintner's Pride Finale
1998 Johnson Estate Vidal Ice Wine "Sweet Dreams"
1998 Wagner Vineyards Riesling Ice Wine

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