- Anais Nin
I am bursting with news, overflowing with stories, tales of Adventure and Excitement, Challenges and New Beginnings! Yes, indeed, each of these words, these ideas does demand to be scrawled across the page in capital letters! Big, bold and brash plans deserve to be proclaimed from the rooftops, achievements bragged about, courage flaunted! The excitement is palpable in our house and growing with each new step we take. This may not be the Giant Leap for Mankind, yet our own Small Step for Man has the power to change lives! We are moving forward to making plenty of announcements, I do hope, and I can hardly think of anything else! But for now, this is truly a waiting game and my lips must be sealed until things are settled, decisions taken, heads nodded.
I’ve always yearned for adventure and of achieving great things! Little girl, as shy, reticent and quiet a homebody as I still am today, I would dream of flying away, free from the constraints of society, the small world in which I lived of school, parents, teachers and chores. My imagination, fueled by hours upon hours of books and reading, was filled with discovery of the odd and unusual, mysteries to be solved, treasures to uncover. But days would find me curled up in an armchair or perched up in the branches of a tree, nose buried inside one of these books, rather than out living anything even remotely exciting! I lived vicariously through my favorite youthful heroes and heroines, those who did indeed dare, reading the tales of their courage to run, the adventures of their discoveries, my daydreams alive and vibrant as if I had joined them on their travels, participated in their pranks, been a part of their war council! I would lose myself in worlds before unknown, unafraid of the challenges set out before me, boldly grab onto whatever dropped down in my path and rewrite my own personal history without ever leaving the safety of home.
Yet eventually, adventure has come to me, and then to us, in many forms. We have jumped at each occasion with the knowledge that these things aren’t to be refused. Drawn to adventure, excitement and travels and energized by each and every challenge, we also play a part in our own destinies by creating, nurturing, opening ourselves up to new worlds. Around each and every corner lurks something to be learned, discovered, savored and appreciated. Many look at us as if we were absolutely crazy, as if each change in our life were simply a decision to cut and run, at best a fancy escapade made to draw attention to ourselves, at worst some wild and dangerous undertaking, risking society’s displeasure and falling off of its radar. Yet don’t they realize that each step we take, each unexpected opportunity that lands in our lap is something thought about, worked for, sought after? Some days we feel as if we are two storybook characters with a panoply of skills and hi-tech gadgets at the ready, our bundle of most treasured belongings tied up in a tidy little parcel, ready to be snatched up at a moment’s notice, cameras strapped to our backs and sneakers laced up oh-so snugly, just waiting for our parents’ backs to be turned when we can dash off unnoticed towards new exploits and accomplishments, the realization of yet one more dream.
- Henry David Thoreau
Meanwhile, the man’s birthday came and went in a tumble of giggles, good moods all around inspired by visions of that new and exciting future. I sacrificed my subscription to my American newspaper so he could receive that new gadget he had been dreaming about, staring longingly at each time we passed the Mac shop, nose nearly yet not quite pressed to the window. He swore he didn’t really want it, certainly didn’t need it, but such joy and pleasure written across his face as I urged him into the shop, pushed him across the threshold, that I convinced him that nothing would give me more satisfaction than his having this particular machine warming his idle hands and his weekend hours. He and son have been sitting huddled over it, giddily fiddling with it, learning everything it could do, reveling in all of the magical possibilities and calling me over now and again to show me in all of their schoolboy-like innocence and glee.
I’ve been baking up a storm lately, activity spurned on by all of the excitement and nervous energy: cakes and cookies and breads of all sorts and flavors, and now we were in the mood for something different. I asked the Young Dudes what would be their pleasure, if they had any favorites or ideas. They are, after all, expected to consume most of what gets baked in this kitchen of mine so I thought it only fair that they have a say in the matter. I also run out of ideas now and then and was hoping that they wouldn’t be too shy to make a suggestion or two, let me know what they really loved! And Valentin told me that Lemon Tart was high on his list of favorites. Bingo! I had a jar of freshly made Lime Curd in the refrigerator just looking for its own adventure. I knew that Clem loved the Lemon Tart I make, in fact he makes it himself when he has a dinner party to go to. The wheels started turning as my mind raced through the multitude of possibilities and I finally decided to whip up a Lime Cream Tart just in time for the Big Day. Why make the expected 2-layer, frosted Birthday Cake when I could surprise and delight with something creamy, dreamy, tangy and tart?
WHIPPED LIME CREAM TART
This luscious tart is a snap to create and truly a pleasure to eat. Light as air yet rich in flavor, the ideal treat for any citrus lover and adventurous palate.
1 pre-baked Sweet Almond Pastry Crust
1 ½ cups (375 ml) Lime Curd, more or less, to taste
1 cup (250 ml) heavy whipping cream, chilled
6 Tbs unsalted butter
3 large eggs, whisked to blend
½ cup sugar
½ cup limejuice (4 – 6 limes)
Zest of 1 or 2 limes
Have a very clean pint jar or 2 jelly jars prepared and waiting.
Melt the butter over low to medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the sugar, the limejuice, the zest and the lightly beaten eggs. Continue whisking as the mixture cooks and thickens and a custard forms. This should only take a few minutes and the custard should thickly coat a spoon. The Curd should be creamy, unctuous and smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature before pouring into the clean jar or jars. Refrigerate to chill before using.
SWEET ALMOND PASTRY CRUST
1 ¼ cup (175 g) flour
¼ cup (50 g) sugar
½ cup (45 to 50 g) finely ground almonds or hazelnuts
7 Tbs (100 grams) unsalted butter, cubed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Combine flour, sugar and ground almonds in a mixing bowl or on a work surface. Using only your thumbs and fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the consistency of damp sand and there are no more large chunks of butter.
Using a fork, vigorously stir in the lightly beaten egg until all the dry ingredients are moistened and a dough starts to pull together. Gather the dough together into a ball and place on a lightly floured surface. Using the heel of one hand, smear the dough little by little, inch by inch, pressing into the table and away from you in quick, hard strokes in order to make sure that all of the butter is blended in well. Scrape up the dough together, reflour the surface lightly and working very briefly and quickly, kneading until you have a smooth, homogenous dough. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at 15 to 30 minutes until firm enough to roll out without sticking to the rolling pin.
Butter a favorite pie tin or plate, approximately 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter and 1 1/2 (4 cm) inches deep then flour, shaking out the excess. As the pie is not baked (although the pie crust is) there is no particular need for a pie plate of a certain size. Using a larger pie plate will make for a larger, shallower tart while using a smaller pie plate will make for a deeper, thicker tart, but I would suggest a tin no smaller than 8 inches (21 cm). You can also make individual tartlets.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until you have a circle the diameter of the bottom of the pie plate plus the width of the two sides. Gently roll the dough around the rolling pin and lift and unroll onto the pie dish. Line the prepared pie tin or plate by lifting and pressing into the dish and onto the sides. Trim any overhang. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
Remove the chilled pie shell from the refrigerator and remove the plastic wrap. Prick the shell all over with a fork. Line the shell with a piece of parchment or oven paper and weigh down with ovenproof weights or dried beans, pushing the beans up against the sides of the tart shell. Bake in the preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes then carefully remove the shell from the oven and gently lift out the parchment liner with the beans. Return the shell to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes or so until the shell is set and golden and the edges are lightly browned. Carefully lift up the pie dish (if using a transparent glass pie dish) and make sure that the shell’s underside is also uniformly golden brown. Remove the baked shell from the oven and allow to cool completely on a rack before filling.
Prepare the Whipped Lime Cream Tart:
Using an electric beater, beat the chilled whipping cream until very thick and peaks hold when the beaters are lifted up. Add the chilled Lime Curd about a half cup at a time to the whipped cream and continue beating until all of the Lime Curd has been incorporated into the cream and the resulting cream is thick and fluffy. Carefully pour or spoon the Whipped Lime Curd into the pre-baked Sweet Almond Pastry Crust and spread evenly. Refrigerate for at least an hour or until ready to serve.
Just before serving, decorate with fresh raspberries or strawberries.
Alternately, you can spread the Lime Curd over the bottom of the pre-baked Sweet Almond Pastry Shell then top with whipped cream beaten until stiff peaks hold and sweetened with just a couple of tablespoons of powdered/confectioner’s sugar.