Two Pals and One Pan

A taste of friendship.

Friends come in all shapes and sizes.

Sometimes, they even come bearing sleek rectangular tart pans with a grin.

That would be Lisa H.

It’s often said that making friends is harder to do later in life. We have no time, we have less patience, we have too many other friends already, and we get too set in our ways to accommodate newcomers of any sort.

I never expected blogging to throw open wide the doorway to new friendships in this phase of my life. But it certainly has. As a consequence of posting about food and family for these past three years, I’ve made quite a few new friends who have grown fond and dear. Ones who have opened their home to me for dinner. Ones who have hiked with me on lazy afternoons. Ones who have lent untold moral support in my new endeavors. And ones who have opened their vast pantry to me, knowing my predilection for baking.

The latter would be Lisa H.

A regular reader of my blog, Lisa H. would often send fun comments about my posts. She’d also thoughtfully send story tips and job listings my way.

Yet, we had never met. Not until late last year.

Thank you, Lisa H.!

She was moving out of the Bay Area. As a result, she was cleaning out her house, and specifically, her kitchen that held a trove of specialty baking pans from classes she had taken long ago. Would I want any of them, she asked in an email, since she planned to donate them before relocating.

Her new place just didn’t have the space for them. And truth be told, my compact kitchen was already stuffed. Are you sure, she asked again. She went so far as to name some of the gems she was parting with, dangling them temptingly until I felt my resolve give way.

You see, included in her stash was a narrow, rectangular, removable-bottom tart pan, which I’ve always coveted but could never justify buying for myself. I’d so often see recipes in glossy magazines or cookbooks for beautiful sweet and savory tarts baked in this long pan with the pretty fluted edge all the way around. But there’s need, and then there’s need. And in this uncertain economy, I just didn’t have to have one, if you know what I mean.

Upon hearing this, Lisa insisted on bequeathing hers to me.ร‚ย  We met for coffee. She came with her tart pan and I came bearing homemade cookies in gratitude. We talked for hours. About our lives, about our aspirations. Past, present and future.

Every time I pull out that pan now, I can’t help but consider the woman behind it.

Whenever I bake something in it, I want to be sure it does this pan justice. This gorgeous “Nectarine and Raspberry Tart” from “Martha Stewart’s Pies & Tarts” (Clarkson Potter) definitely does so.ร‚ย  The book, of which I received a review copy, is by the editors of Martha Stewart Living. It contains 150 recipes for all manner of tantalizing sweet and savory pies and tarts.

This particular tart is piled high with fresh summer nectarines and raspberries. The fruit sits atop a creamy cheesecake-like filling of creme fraiche and cream cheese that’s smeared into a baked crust that has a pleasing crunch from cornmeal.

The crust is a little hard to work with. When you roll it out, it will have a tendency to crack and fall apart a bit as you maneuver it into the tart pan. But have no fear. Just patch any holes with dough remnants and no one will be the wiser once it’s baked.

This is a showy dessert that looks like you paid big bucks for it from a fancy French patisserie.

Who would have guessed it was made in a used pan? And one worth far more than a spanking brand-new one ever could be.

A tart to make friends over.

Nectarine and Raspberry Tart

(Makes one 14-by-4-inch tart)

For the crust:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large egg yolks

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

1/3 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground

1/2 teaspoon salt

Vegetable-oil cooking spray

For the filling:

4 ounces cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup creme fraiche

1 1/2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

3 ripe nectarines, halved, pits removed, cut into 1/2-inch slices

1 cup raspberries

For the glaze:

1/4 cup apricot jam

Make the crust: With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add yolks, and mix just to combine. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, and salt, and add to yolk mixture; mix just until dough comes together. Press dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, 1 hour.

Coat a 14-by-4-inch rectangular fluted tart pan with cooking spray. On a lightly floured piece of parchment, roll out dough 1/8 inch thick. Fit dough into pan, and trim excess dough flush with rim. Refrigerate or freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with rack in center. Pierce bottom of shell all over with a fork, and bake until crust begins to color, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Unmold crust.

Make the filling: With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add creme fraiche and confectioners’ sugar, and beat until mixture is smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Spread filling into cooled crust, and arrange fruit on top, pressing in slightly.

Make the glaze: Heat jam in a small saucepan over low until loose. Strain through a sieve, and brush warm glaze over raspberries and nectarines. Refrigerate tart up to a few hours if not serving right away.

From “Martha Stewart’s Pies & Tarts” from the editors of Martha Stewart Living

More From that Martha Stewart Cookbook: Strawberry Galette with Basil Whipped Cream

More Nectarine Desserts: David Lebovitz’s Nectarine-Frangipane Galette

And: Stone Fruit Tea Cake

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  • What a sweet story and a lovely tart! I have a rectangular pan, though not as narrow as this one–and I love it. Anything I make in it looks extra fancy!

  • What a beautiful tart and an even better story! I do agree that making friends later in life is way harder than back in the days as a kid. I’ve met many people through work and social events that I feel a connection with but none like the best friends I made during my childhood. I definitely have a few pans that I felt like I NEEDED but have yet to test out!

  • Lovely post Carolyn ๐Ÿ™‚ I know, sometimes we make friends in the most unexpected places! I’ve also always coveted a rectangular pan too but never justified buying one either hehe

  • Looks great!Love the tart pans and the great story!!

  • I think it’s great that people’s pans get passed on if they’re not going to be used, that way the pan’s mission in life is fulfilled. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Those rectangular tarts do look fancy and restaurant like!

  • Awwww, what a sweet post. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I adore those rectangular tart pans too and how wonderful that you got it from a dear friend….

  • How sweet – a memorable pan, indeed. I moved from a house to an apt. last February, and gave away half my collection of platters and baking pans to several friends, and hope they have the same memories of me…BTW: would you like a couple of new cheesecake pans? They’re all I have left to give away.

  • The friendships we make is truly the most rewarding part of blogging ๐Ÿ™‚ A beautiful tart, such vibrant colors!

  • This tart looks so yummy, Have to make them, resolutions be darned!

  • Your recipes never cease to amaze me! I find myself wanting to try out all of them! great photos too ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • What a pretty tart and great use of the pan! I have a few dishes from each of my grandmothers and some cast iron pans that have been passed around my family for years. Those kitchen things with stories of their own are the best.

  • Carolyn,
    Oh that tart looks good! The cornmeal and creme fraiche are really nice touches. Plus I loved your story. It is sweet the way this bloggin’ world can connect people. Thanks for sharing that tidbit with us.

  • Oh wow, love love love this story, Carolyn! Blogging has brought me so many new wonderful friends, too, and it warms my heart to see you and Lisa bond over a pan and a blog.

  • How lucky we all are that our food blogs have brought us wonderful, like-minded friends – I have made such close, wonderful friends I often find it hard to believe. And they do offer great gifts. I love my narrow, rectangular, removable-bottom tart pan, love it! And this is one fancy, gorgeous tart. I must make one soon before the stone fruit disappears from the market.

  • nice homage to your friend, carolyn, and spectacular tart! it’s classy yet doable and delicious. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I love the connection, and I’ve had similar experiences since I started blogging, definitely an unexpected and much appreciated perk.

  • Lovely work, Carolyn! Would you be happy to link it in to the current Food on Friday over at Carole’s Chatter which is creating a collection of recipes using apricots or nectarines? This is the link . I do hope to see you there. There are already quite a lot of links for you to check out. Cheers

  • Some of my closest friends were made through blogging. So glad you too experience that truth – I consider you a blog friend, for sure! ๐Ÿ™‚ Such a gorgeous summer tart.

  • Liz: Likewise! I am so happy to have met you through our respective blogs. Your support over the years has meant so much. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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