Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

When I first came to this country, and someone told me “tomorrow we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day!” I just stared at her blankly. I had no clue what she was talking about.

That day is long gone. Today, I too feel “Irish for a day” on st. patrick’s day. I think the turning point for me was when I was young and restless and owned a card shop. I was still not clear about the holiday itself but I knew that the color green and four-leaf clover was important. This was our first St. Patrick’s Day since the store opened and except for some basic greeting cards I was not ready for it. It was a cold, rainy day in the city, but the parade was getting into high gear fast. I felt awful that I did not even have green flags to sell for the parade watchers. Suddenly, it came to me. I had many greeting cards with the pictures of four leaf clover on them. Most of them were not going to sell by now.

So instead I cut these four leaf clovers out of the card and glued them onto mugs and placed the mugs into the window display. And you guessed it – the mugs flew off the shelves. This of course only energized me further. I had a large selection of Gund stuffed animals like dogs, bears, monkeys, etc., – they all got either a green scarf made from the ribbons I had for gift wrapping or a hat made from green tissue paper. Greenish wrapping papers ended up as shorts or skirts on other Gund push toys and we made a big sign on the window within a matter of minutes “St. Patrick’s toys here!”

It was one of the best sales days in the year for me. My daughter could not stop laughing all the way home; she could not believe how a little thing like a green decoration could make such a difference in our day. She was doubly happy, because finally she got her own telephone, with a private line in her room and guess what—it was a very green Kermit phone.

And now I am going to complete the tart I baked for the occasion

Walnut Sour Cherry Tart (a slight variation of a recipe from Delicious magazine)

Ingredients
Filling
1 3/4 cups (175g/6 ounce) walnuts
2 eggs, plus 1 yolk mixed with 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup (220g/7.7 ounce) caster sugar
1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
Orange zest from 1 orange
80 g dried sour cherry soaked in orange juice for 30 minutes, then drained prior to use
2 tablespoon Cherry liqueur
Creme fraiche, to serve

Pastry
1 2/3 cups (250g/8.8 ounce) all purpose flour
2 tbs (30 g) baking sugar,
6 ounce (175g or 12 tablespoon) cold unsalted butter, chopped
1 egg, plus 1 extra yolk
Orange zest from 1/2 orange
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
1 teaspoons salt

Method
Pastry: place flour, sugar and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Add butter and process to form fine crumbs (I did his by hand; I like to determine quality via touch and feel) Add egg and yolk, vanilla, and zest, then pulse until the mixture comes together in a smooth ball. Enclose in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F (180°C). Grease a tart pan (I used an 8 inch round pan with removable bottom).

Filling: Pulse nuts in a processor to coarse crumbs. Add eggs, sugar, vanilla, sour cherries, cherry liquor, zest and a pinch of salt then pulse to combine but don’t over-mix.
Remove dough from fridge and set one-third aside. Roll out the remaining dough to about 5mm-thick and use to line the pan. Do not worry if the dough tears; you are allowed to patch it up and it will not even show on the final product). Alternatively, if the dough becomes too soft, put it back to the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes. Brush the dough with the left over egg white to seal it (eliminates potential sogginess). Fill with walnut mixture. Roll out the reserved dough to 5mm-thick; brush edges of tart with water, then top with extra pastry, pressing edges to seal. Trim excess, then brush top with egg and cream mix and sprinkle some baking sugar on it. Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden. Note: if using convection oven (as I did) check it for doneness at 25 minutes. Do not over bake.
Cool the tart in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and dust with powder sugar. Slice the tart and serve warm with creme fraiche. Today, we are serving it with pistachio ice cream for the occasion.

 

Walnut Sour Cherries Tart Served With Pistachio Ice Cream