It’s been a long winter. And spring for that matter. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved to feel the warm sun rays and cool breezes of June in Seattle. The bright rhododendrons, juicy red strawberries and beers on the deck at sunset make life feel a bit normal again.
You see, just as the last couple of Valentine’s Day chocolates were being hidden away for future late night sweet treats, we got some horrible news. My step had been having severe headaches and nausea every day for the last couple months and nothing seemed to be helping. We thought it was migraines or maybe that he had been playing too rough during soccer practice, perhaps a wheat allergy. However, the MRI images told a different story: a large grey mass in the middle of his brain. It was a tumor, and the neurosurgery team told us it needed to be removed immediately.
After a six-hour surgery, lengthy hospital stay and six weeks of radiation, here we are. We’ve still got a long ways to go. More chemotherapy and hospital stays are on the schedule, an aggressive treatment for an aggressive type of brain cancer.
Needless to say, there hasn’t been much time or energy for cooking. Heck, even grocery shopping was put on hold for a while. Lucky for us, we have an amazingly supportive community of family and friends who brought us some delicious meals: bubbly mac and cheese, fresh vegetables and fruit, stews, soup, homemade lasagna, some excellent curried salmon and even a few bottles of wine.
I’m finally in a place where I can juggle taking care of my step son (what a champ the kid is, we sure do manage to have a lot of fun playing hooky from school and work together every day!), going to all the appointments, working from home a little, cooking and sleeping again. I might even be able to start posting regularly again.
So, rhubarb tarts. There wasn’t a birthday or graduation or even a special dinner planned tonight. Just a chunk of five hours today, all to myself. Rhubarb season is reason enough to celebrate, and these cute little jammy tarts show it off beautifully. Some of the rhubarb is cooked with berries into a thick compote, with the remaining rhubarb folded in at the end so it retains its shape. A dash of rose water adds a delicate floral note enhances the subtle, tart rhubarb. The tart dough is forgiving and tender, with a buttery crumb thanks to the golden kamut flour that lends a mild, sweet flavor. Just what the doctor ordered on a perfect June afternoon.
Rhubarb Rose Tarts with Golden Kamut Crust
This recipe was inspired and tweaked from the excellent book, Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce. If you don’t have kamut flour, experiment with other whole grain flours or even a combination of flours. I’ve used a mix of kamut, amaranth and semolina flour with excellent results.
Makes 10 tarts
Rhubarb Rose Filling:
700 grams (1 ½ pounds) rhubarb, trimmed and chopped into large chunks
230 grams (½ pound) berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, whatever! Frozen is fine too)
200 grams (1 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon rose water
Kamut Tart Crust:
125 grams (1 cup) all purpose, unbleached flour
125 grams (1 cup) kamut flour
80 grams (1/2 cup) fine cornmeal or semolina flour
50 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
6 grams (1 teaspoon) salt
113 grams (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small bits
60 grams (¼ cup) plain yogurt (whole milk is best)
40 grams (2 each) large egg yolks
Cook the filling. In a large saucepan, combine 2/3 of the rhubarb, berries, sugar and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook until the fruit breaks down completely and thick enough that a spoon leaves a trail in the bottom of the pot. Scrape into a bowl, stir in the remaining rhubarb and rose water and set aside to cool.
Make the tart dough. In a food processor, pulse the flours, sugar and salt together. Sprinkle in the butter pieces and pulse until the butter is the size of small peas. Whisk together the yogurt and egg yolks and pour over the flour mixture. Pulse until crumbly, but comes together when pinched between the fingers.
Shape the dough. Dump the dough onto a floured surface and gather it together. Cut the dough into 10 pieces (60 grams each if you are so inclined). One at a time, flatten the dough into a 6-inch diameter circle of even thickness, scraping the bottom up with a bench scraper or metal spatula to loosen it. Repeat with the remaining dough. Line two baking sheets with a silicone-coated mat or parchment paper and transfer five pieces of dough to each, evenly spaced apart.
Fill the tarts. Scoop ¼ cup of filling into the center of each round. Fold the edges up around the filling (don’t worry if the dough crumbles a bit, just push it back into place). Place the tarts in the freezer for 1 hour or up to 2 weeks covered in plastic.
Bake the tarts. Preheat an oven to 375⁰F and bake the tarts for about 35-40 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. The tarts are done when the edges are golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Serve warm or room temperature and keep any extras (should there be any) covered in an airtight container for up to two days.