Fresh cherry tart with almond pastry cream

cherry tart with almond pastry cream

cherry tart with almond pastry cream

It’s Saturday storytelling time again! As I’m sure you’ll recall, this is the day I post a found picture, and everybody in the world writes a short story about it, and then we all sip chardonnay and discuss each others’ stories. My original idea was to keep them quick and short and not think about it too much, just kind of see what you had in your head that you didn’t know was there until you started writing. I mentioned earlier in the week that I’d started thinking about the stories more and more, but not this week, this week I wrote it all in about half an hour, like a big flurry of birds flying in the air. Here’s your photo for the day:
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If you’d like to write a story, send it to me and I’ll post it with mine after the jump. Or send a link, and I’ll include that here.

Cherry tart with almond pastry cream

Cherry tart with almond pastry cream

I love a fresh fruit tart! And cherries are ridiculously tasty, especially combined with almond. I wonder why that is? They’re just perfect together. I had some leftover almond pastry cream from another recipe, and this is what I decided to do with it. Simple and easy and delicious.

Here’s John Lee Hooker with Standing by the Wayside, because I borrowed a few lines for my story.

As ever, the story is after the jump.

THE STORY

When my birds saw me they would take to the air with a great clapping of wings and they would sing HALLELUJAH!! When I let them out of their cage, they would stream by me with joy and gratitude, and I would lose myself in their feathers, and in the beating of their wings. Then I would lie on my back and cover myself in birdseed, and I‘d watch their pretty shadows as they settled all around me with their soft sharp feet and their soft brushing feathers and their soft cooing voices saying “Hallelujah, coo hoo coo, hallelujah.”

I don’t say hallelujah when the guard comes by. I don’t say much of anything any more, any more. How I used to yell and holler. I’d holler myself hoarse. I’d curse and swear and threaten. But it was all foolishness, because here I still am, with no voice at all. I never had any voice at all.

They picked me up by the side of the road. I was standing on the wayside and the wind began to blow. I didn’t have no money and I was trying to get back home. The sky on one side stayed bright as day, but along the other it was dark and purpling like a bad bruise. The trees were caught up in the glow, but their leaves were all turned upside down, stark and white against the dark sky. The weather was coming, it was coming fast.

I thought about my birds, I started to run. They don’t like the stormy weather, the thunder and lightening. I’d lie with them, in their small cote, and keep them safe, and watch the wind wilding like the end of times, dark as night except for the stark staring flashes. And they kept me warm with their bright eyes and their racing worrying hearts.

When the rain came and I saw the car’s flashing lights in the darkness, I started to run, and they picked me up. I thought they’d give me a ride home, but that’s not where they took me. I said, “I ain’t done nothing wrong.” And they laughed a mean laugh and said, “We all done something wrong, son.” Yeah, maybe, maybe so, but we’re not all rotting away in prison, trying to get back home. All I could think about was my birds. With no one to let them out, no one to feed them. I screamed about them. I yelled about my birds, how someone had to let them fly, someone had to feed them. But they thought I was crazy. They said, “There ain’t no birds, son, you shut your mouth.” And in here you’d start to believe them. You’d start to believe that there are no birds, that there is nothing good in the world. Except then why did I have this terrible aching pain? Why did I have that? I yelled about the birds singing HALLELUJAH! I yelled hallelujah till I lost my voice completely. I yelled it till the word lost all meaning. The word has no meaning for me any more. The world has no meaning for me anymore.

And now I don’t scream and holler. I don’t make a noise. Ain’t nobody listening. If I go home now I’d have to see the state of my birds, and I don’t want to do that. It’s too late for that. They come to me in dreams, sometimes, bright pure spirits, beating hearts with wings and nothing else. Sometimes they carry me out of here and I fly free with them. Sometimes they drop me from a great height in their anger; how could they not be angry for what I done to them? I used to think of them as angels, but not any more. I never think of angels any more. I think of them as living flying creatures that I kept in a cage, that spent their whole lives slowly dying in mesh and wire.

THE CRUST

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 t salt
5 T cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 t vanilla
1 egg

Preheat the oven to 350.

Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Work in the cold butter till you have coarse crumbs. Add the vanilla and egg. Knead for a few minutes till everything is incorporated.

Lightly butter and flour a tart pan. Press the dough into the pan as evenly as you can, pressing on the edges to make a rim all the way around. Use a fork to prick the bottom in a few places.

Bake for 15 or 20 minutes till the edges start to brown and it’s completely set. If the edges start to fall down, you can use a fork or your fingers to try to persuade them to stand back up again.

Let cool completely

PASTRY CREAM

1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 T flour
pinch salt
1 t vanilla
1 t almond extract

1 cup heavy cream, whipped till stiff

Put the milk, vanilla, and almond extract in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat.

Meanwhile, combine the eggs, flour, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Whisk well, until the eggs are nice and fluffy, and everything is very smooth.

When the milk has achieved simmering status, and is covered with tiny bubbles, pour about half of it into the eggs in a very thin stream, whisking quickly the whole time. Then pour everything back into the pan, making sure to get every drop of egginess.

Whisk whisk whisk until the mixture boils (a few minutes). Once it’s boiling, keep whisking until it starts to thicken. (Another few minutes) I think the whole process took about 10 minutes for me. It should be very smooth and obviously thick. When it’s done, if you tilt the pan to the side, the mixture will pull away from the bottom.

At that point, pour it into a cool bowl. Cover with foil and place in the fridge until completely cool.

Fold the whipped cream into the pastry cream.

TO ASSEMBLE

2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved.

Pour the pastry cream into the cooled tart shell. You probably won’t use all of it, you want a depth of 1/2 inch to on inch. Place the cherries in a pretty pattern on top. Chill in the fridge until the pastry cream is somewhat set. It won’t set completely, it will stay soft, but pleasantly so.

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