In Thailand we had such full days. Organizing those 3000+ photos (a now pared-down number was just uploaded to Costco), I’m amazed how much we experienced in one day. And it made me wonder—as I sit at my Mac laptop a la Sarah Jessica Parker—What if more days at home were like that? How would a tourist appreciate the sights you take for granted or never think to check out? With this mentality (and the freedom of being self-unemployed) I set out to the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market. And, to add to my hippie field trip, I biked along the lovely (flat!) bike path that goes along the shoreline. From the local beach to the Santa Monica Pier, I clocked in at a mere 20 minutes! That means if I’m biking in downtown Marina del Rey and require a quesadilla with manchego and poblano peppers, I could be eating at the Border Grill within the half hour. Ch-yeah!
Next time I bike this way I’ll have to bring my camera. There’s the ocean, of course, but also the array of crazy Angelinos, the dudes around Muscle Beach, and the Venice Boardwalk burnouts. And as you pass under the pier itself, at certain times of the afternoon the light passes through the slats just so to create a flickering, disco-like effect.
Now, I gave myself a $20 cash-back allowance for market spending. This meant I couldn’t indulge in the fresh burrata from the cheese guys or the fragrant bunches of roses from the egg man’s garden, but it kept me on a “budget” (I felt very Food Network traveling show material). I did just fine. I enjoy the overwhelming walk-through almost as much as the actual shopping—plus, there’s always the samples. In the end I went for a generous bouquet of lavender (watch for future posts when this becomes ice cream), a handful of vibrant green beans, grapes for that night’s chicken salad, lemon basil just because, and some gems to decorate a fresh fruit tart.
Inspired by Cook’s “Classic Fresh Fruit Tart,” I used their crust, Martha’s trusty pastry cream from her éclair recipe, and did some further tinkering of my own. Martha makes a ton of custard, so I made a third. I also substituted extra flour instead of cornstarch. http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/pastry-cream-for-eclairs
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), very cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
-Combine yolk, cream, and vanilla.
-Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor with the metal blade.
-Cut in butter by pulsing 10-15 times until the butter seems to disappear.
-Keep the processor running and add yolk mixture until dough comes together.
-Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for one hour. I’d say flash freeze, but you’ve gotta wait for the pastry cream to chill at least that long.
-Roll out to a 13 inch round. Press into tart pan (I Pam’d and floured mine out of nervousness and the ring came off really easily later), rolling over the pan to remove extra dough. I’ll admit, mine didn’t come out pretty, so I did some patchwork. Freeze for at least 20 minutes.
-Heat oven to 375. Cover the tart shell with foil and pie weights (or all that extra change from the couch) and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and weights carefully and cook another 5-8 minutes until a deep golden brown.
-Cooks wanted you to fill the cooled tart and eat “within a half hour or so.” Now, we’re good eaters around here, but we’re not that good. So, to preserve the tart crust from the custard, to use up the mini chocolate chips, and to make it more delicious, I spread chocolate chips along the bottom. I then let the shell cool in the fridge until the chocolate layer hardened, then added the custard, and then decorated!
Pretty good souvenir.