Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Late Summer Fruit and Ruby Tartlets

It is difficult to imagine anything but snow and sleet in Minnesota, but we do get gorgeous spring and summer days. It even gets all the way up to the nineties. This year for the first time, I spent the entire summer months here. No traveling, just enjoying the local scene. I must say, I was quite surprised. Summers here are filled with activity or so it seems. I get the feeling some times people prefer to simply be outside without having an agenda. Quite a difference from the winter months when there really seems like NO ONE is outdoors.  

I  have spent many summer vacations on the east coast; bordering on unbearable. The humidity can be almost suffocating. The same can be said for the hottest days in the Caribbean. So, when I hear Minnesotans talk about the humidity, I just shake my head and think they  have no idea how great this is.  More than just the climate. The greenery, sports, attractions, and not to forget the  food. The restaurant scene takes on a life of its own from May to August. Outdoor dining, grilled summer vegetables, Minnesotan wines, and  the icing on the cake, easy parking. Although Minneapolis is the  second largest city in the midwest, after Chicago, we feel almost privileged  because of the joyful ease with which restaurant parking can be here. It is as though you own the city: decide to eat out, get dressed, get in car, pull up to restaurant, and, right there, is parking. Usually. 

Although it might be sort (the nights are now a little cooler, an indication that summer days are numbered,) summer 2008 in Minneapolis is fabulous. Weekly canoe trips, outdoor dining, lake walks, summer fruit. Oh sweet, delicious, colorful, summer fruit. Raspberries, watermelon, blueberries, but alas, all good things come to an end. Luckily, when one door closes another opens, or more,  appropriately,  when one fruit harvest ends another begins. 

Enter the pluot.  A late summer fruit, (harvested at the end of July and available into August) this hydrid plum-apricot has a sweet, delicate flavor reminiscent more of a plum than an apricot. Of the different varieties available, my personal favorite is the  Dapple Dandy. Blotchy on the outside with a bright, ruby red interior (hence the name of this recipe), it peels readily which makes it easy to use. Even though summer is coming to an end, there is not reason not to explore the juicy bounty of tail end. And what better way that a little piece of tartlet heaven?

Ruby Tartlets 
Makes 8

1 cup pecans
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 egg
2 tbsp canola oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 can low fat evaporated milk
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp corn starch
3 tbsp fat free cream cheese
2 large pluots, peeled and sliced thinly

1. Set oven to 375 degrees F. Spray muffins tins and set aside.
2. In food processor, grind pecans until almost the same texture as the graham cracker crumbs.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine ground pecans, graham cracker crumbs, egg, oil and sugar until it all comes together.
4. Divide pecans mixture in each muffin cup, two and a half tablespoons in each. Using your fingers or the back of a spoon, spread out the mixture so that it comes up the sides of each cup. Bake for 20 minutes. Immediately remove from muffin tin and cool on a wire rack. Reduce oven to 350 degrees F.
4. In a heavy sauce pan over medium high heat, whisk together evaporated milk, honey, cream cheese and corn starch. Cook custard for 20 to 25 minutes, whisking occasionally, until thickened.
5. Place tart shells onto a well greased cookie sheet. Spoon enough custard into each shell, being careful not to spill down the sides. Arrange three or four pluot slices on top of custard and bake for 20 to 25 minutes until custard sets further. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.


vijayta said...

These are looking so good... The colors are so vibrant... Feels me to have them now itself...

Usha said...

Looks delicious and the colors are truly gorgeous :)