Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Observances

I have been at church. Praying. I pray for many important things, like the repose of souls, for one, and the safe return of our military members overseas. For the infirmed, poor old sick things. Busy little praying bee, but sometimes I become hopelessly sidetracked. Today was especially bad and I am still apologizing to the Lord over the matter, because I don't know how far into the prayer I was when I realized during today's service that I had become a praying vagavond on some kind of twisted trail of prayer for the pitiable. Only, I am not sure He meant for me to end up where I did, you see. I had rambled on to, "...and Lord, please help this congregation to find their showers first thing before Mass. If not that, at least help them to understand the correct use and necessity of hairbrushes. Why, Lord, is their hair all matted down at the center back of their heads as if they only removed a nested bird from there before entering church? Dear Lord, why is this gathering always so very dirty? Please help them to understand that even though they have just come from a constitutional with horse and dog, they should not enter your house still wiping the dirt from themselves. Good God, please tell them no matter how deep the pockets, the hygienic requirement remains. And, Lord, help me to understand why this congregation of ours remains so committed to the use of camphor as a fragrance...." I was, by then, both impossibly far afield from the course of good-work prayer I was expected to be following, and feeling dark and discomforted. Mass was over for me, I would have to begin again next week, this time with blinders and perfume applied liberally under my nose, both to help a Blushing Hostess concentrate on praying for the sick, not just the dirty. So much for Easter Observances.

I also observed the New York Times Dining section writing on a Swiss Easter Rice Tart
which read like a lovely and easy walk through a tart-pan park but in method was a good deal more labor-intensive, like tart boot camp, than I originally surmised. But I was a trooper, and in future I shall use the recipe I developed as a kin to theirs as a method of doing penance for being far too critical of the unwashed.

Happiest of Easter's to you.

Almond Rice Tart
Adapted from The New York Times
North Salem, 2008

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour and more for dusting

1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, in small cubes

1/2 cup rice (I used arborio because that is what I had on hand, they used long grain)

3 cups milk

1 vanilla bean, pod opened and seeds scraped from pod

2 teaspoons grated meyer lemon zest

1/2 cup almond flour

3 large eggs

1/2 cup sliced almonds

Confectioners’ sugar

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt in food processor. Pulse to blend. Add 10 tablespoons butter and pulse 3 to 4 times, until butter is in pea-size pieces. Sprinkle in 3 tablespoons cold water. Pulse 4 times. Turn dough out on lightly floured work surface and knead gently a few times to form a disk. Do not over-handle or allow the dough to become warm from your hands, you must move fast. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.

Meanwhile, half fill a 3-quart saucepan with water, bring to a boil, stir in rice, lower heat to medium and cook until rice is soft, about 15 minutes. Drain rice and return it to saucepan. Add milk, remaining butter, 1/2 cup sugar, the vanilla bean pod, and remaining salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until mixture has thickened almost to a risotto consistency. This will take 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the saucepan from heat and mixture to cool to tepid. Remove the vanilla bean pod. Pour into a bowl and add vanilla seeds and lemon zest. Mix almond flour with 1 tablespoon flour and add to bowl. Whisk in eggs one at a time.

Place oven rack in lowest position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove pastry from refrigerator and place on lightly floured surface. Lightly dust top with flour. Use a rolling pin to press down on dough to soften it. Roll out disk to 12 inches in diameter. Transfer to a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Press dough evenly into pan. Trim edges flush with pan. Pour filling into pastry.

Bake about 35 minutes, until filling is set and golden. Cool on a rack. Dust with sifted confectioners’ sugar before serving.

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