Sunday, May 31, 2009

Birthday dinner

Pecan tartlets

May seems to be a remarkably birthday filled month! I think I have drunk and eaten more this month than March and April combined--good thing I can only think of one June birthday.


Yesterday was the Man's birthday, and in honor of it, I made dinner. Please to note that I attempted to make it look nice! I'd been planning on making Jacques Pepin's stuffed pork tenderloin since I saw him demonstrate it on More Fast Food My Way. I discovered that it is not as easy to butterfly a pork tenderloin as he makes it look, but I thought my first attempt was credible. It is very easy (once you are done mutilating your tenderloin) and very quick and really delicious! (As an aside, you should read his memoir, The Apprentice--it's fascinating.) The recipe includes a quick "sauce" made with sweet grape tomatoes, and for completeness I added some sauteed sugar snap peas (with a little lemon zest).

And dessert was maple pecan tartlets. One of the first baked items I made for the Man was a pecan pie, which he ate an entire quarter of at one sitting. I took that as a promising sign. :)

Maple Pecan Tartlets
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup toasted pecan meal
1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
9 tablespoons butter, frozen and chopped into small chunks
1 large egg, beaten

3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
3 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces

To make the crust, dump everything but the egg into a food processor and pulse until the butter is cut in, although you don't want everything evenly incorporated. What you want is a sort of pebbly texture with some pea-sized chunks of butter left. Add about half of the egg and pulse again until the dough starts to ball up. You probably won't need the whole egg. Turn out and knead briefly. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and use to line 6 4" tartlet pans; you can pretty much just press this dough into the pans, no need for rolling! Place the lined pans in your freezer for at least an hour. When the crust is done chilling, preheat the oven to 350 F. Theoretically you should blind bake the crusts but I was lazy and all I did was prick the crusts with a fork and bake as is. They puffed up a bit but you can just press them down, so I leave it up to you. Bake until set but not browned. Cool while you prepare the filling.

For the filling, whisk the maple syrup, brown sugar, and salt together until smooth. Whisk in the butter. Add and beat in the eggs, one at a time, until you have a smooth mixture. Stir in the vanilla and pecan pieces.

Fill the crusts to the rim; you may have a bit of filling leftover, which you can bake in custard cups (to make the filling lovers happy, of course!). Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes, until the filling is just set and puffed. Cool, and eat. Or, eat it hot out of the oven, but try not to burn yourself. That maple syrup gets really, really hot (noooo, I don't know from experience). And can I suggest a little whipped cream?

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