Asparagus is the ultimate summer vegetable, and the bacon gives it a unique twist. And, the fruit tart…. yummm!
- 10 spears fresh asparagus, trimmed
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 5 bacon strips, halved lengthwise
- Place asparagus on a sheet of waxed paper; coat with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with pepper; turn to coat. Wrap a bacon piece around each spear; secure ends with toothpicks. Grill, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 8-12 minutes or until bacon is crisp, turning occasionally. Discard toothpicks.
- 8 slices country-style white bread, sliced 1/2-inch thick
- 12 ounces farmhouse Cheddar, sliced
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 12 slices bacon, cooked to desired doneness
- 1 green apple, thinly sliced
- Dijon mustard
Heat griddle or large skillet over medium-low heat. Alternatively you can use your panini press if you have one.
Assemble sandwich: Generously spread Dijon on 4 slices of bread. Top with slices of Cheddar, 3 pieces of bacon, apple slices and additional Cheddar. Place the remaining bread on top and spread with butter. Place on skillet buttered-side down and butter the remaining side. Cook until cheese is slightly melted and bread is browned. Flip the sandwich and continue to cook until cheese is thoroughly melted and sandwich is golden brown.
Baked Tart Shell
9-inch fluted tart pan with removable bottom (or four tartlet pans, also with removable bottoms)
1 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold, unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
1 and ½ tablespoons ice water, plus more if necessary
8 oz. mascarpone (Italian cream cheese, available in most grocery stores)
1/3 cup very cold heavy cream
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons sweet orange marmalade (though I used apricot jam, since it was what I had)
2 tablespoons dark berry liqueur, such as blueberry, blackberry or creme de cassis (though I used water, since it was what I had)
3-4 cups of washed, dried berries
Step One – Make the tart shell: Pulse flour, sugar and salt in a food processor (or whisk together in a bowl). Pulse in butter (or blend in with your fingertips) until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-sized) lumps of butter. Beat together egg yolk and water and pulse (or stir) until incorporated.
The goal is to get the dough to stay together with as little liquid and as little pulsing as possible, but I always add more and beat more than recommended. The recipe says that if the dough isn’t holding together, add ½ tablespoon of water at a time until it does, but unless you’re having a Gourmet editor over for dinner, I say you can go crazy and add 1-2 tablespoons and then reassess. You don’t want a tough crust, but on the other hand it’s a drag to work with dough that’s falling apart.
Once it’s holding together, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and quickly knead or smear it with the palm of your hand to help distribute the fat. Gather dough into a ball, flatten it into a disc, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour, or until firm.
Roll the dough out into a 13-inch round (or four smaller ones if you’re making tartlets). Do this any way that works: between sheets of waxed paper, as Gourmet suggests, or else just work fast and use a bit of flour, as I did. Gently press dough into tart pan (or tartlet pans), then roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to trim the edges of dough flush with the rim. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes (unless you don’t have time, which I didn’t). Preheat oven to 375 degrees. (I did this at the start because I knew I was short on time.)
Lightly prick shell in several places with a fork. Line the shell with foil and fill with pie weights, raw rice or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and weights and bake shell until golden, about 10 minutes more. Cool completely on a rack.
Step Two – Make cream filling: Beat together mascarpone, cream and sugar with an electric mixer at high speed until mixture holds stiff peaks, about one minute. Spoon filling into baked crust.
Step Three – Make glaze: Combine jam and liqueur in a small saucepan; then simmer and stir for about two minutes.
Step Four – Assemble the tart: Either gently toss the glaze with the berries and then mound them on the mascarpone cream as the recipe suggests, or else place the berries decoratively on the cream and, using a pastry brush, gently coat the berries with the glaze, as I did.
Notes: The tart shell can be made up to one day ahead and kept, loosely covered, at room temperature.