Another rainy day. This year September has stolen summer, its arrival determined the beginning of Fall. I am kind of a procrastinator by nature and that’s why I am never quite ready for the new phase, whether it’s Spring, Fall, Winter or Summer, I always create for myself some sort of an excuse for which, it would be good if the heat or, for the same matter the cold, would last a few more weeks. This year though, I must confess, I am pretty aligned with the cosmos and everything that feels and tastes like Fall sounds good.
I love everything about Fall, and I feel like everything about it, right now, is just perfect. Big, cozy sweaters, thick socks, grey skies, rainy days, heavy rubber boots. Its pale light, the last warm days before the cold, the beautiful Aster blooming in the fields. The stunning palette of colors, which go from greys to yellows to oranges and reds, so much breathtaking beauty. The smell of cinnamon baking in the oven, the apple picking, the grapes hanging from the vines and the curly pumpkins ready to turn into pies.
I enjoy grey and rainy days, they force me to slow down and they inspire me to reflection, but most of all they are perfect for cooking and baking. Among the many things we grow at my house, we also grow grapes. We all know about the importance of eating fruits and vegetables that are in season by now, but why is it important? Because what nature offers it is exactly what our bodies need for that specific time of the year. Besides this, there are so many other reasons why we should all choose to eat seasonal food: it is cost-effective, it supports local suppliers, it is healthy and nutritional, and it looks after the planet, helping mother Earth’s natural rhythm . We won’t digress further into this for now, but we will continue to talk about this topic more in-depth in my next posts. For now let’s talk about grapes! Why are grapes so good for you? When you bite into a grape, you get more than a burst of juicy, sweet, goodness. You also get a dose of nutrients and antioxidants that may help you stay well. Grapes are low in calories and practically fat-free. All grape varieties contain polyphenols. Polyphenols are compounds that give grapes and other plants their vibrant colors. They are known antioxidants that help fight free radicals in the body, they also help prevent illnesses such as heart and lung disease, diabetes, osteoporosis and many others. For these good reason let’s have as much of it as we can, especially during this season, because September tastes like grapes!
Here I am sharing the recipe of an amazing grape and raspberry tart, that it is so delicious you won’t believe your palate!
Concord Grapes and Raspberry Tart
This is a favorite of mine! I love the deliciously sweet and tangy flavor of concord grapes. This kind of grapes is called “uva fragola” in Italy. My father, together with his neighbor Angelo, makes homemade wine out of this grape, that he himself has grown, every Autumn. As I go home every summer I always get to savor a bottle of “fragolino” that he lovingly put aside for me. My children love the smell of the sweet wine but since they are too young to have any, I treat them with this yummy tart. Buon appetito!
For the dough:
2 cups white all purpose flour
8 ounces (2 sticks) of butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup heavy cream (you may add more until you get the dough into a ball).
For the filling:
1 pound concord grapes (stems removed)
1/2 pound raspberry
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
Making the dough
Pour the flour into a bowl, cut the butter into cubes and add it to the flour.
With a hand pie mixer break up the butter into the flour until it is of the consistency of
big crumbs. Add sugar, salt, mix and then add the cream and with your hands try to form a ball.
Once you have a ball, divide it in two, flatten the two pieces of dough to have to chunky disks, wrap them in Saran wrap and refrigerate for one hour, or for up to five days.
Making the filling
Combine grapes, raspberry, lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until grapes and raspberries release their juice, about eight minutes. Strain through a fine sieve 1 1/2-2 cups of juice. Return juice to saucepan over high heat, stir in sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for five more minutes. Transfer jam to a bowl, and let cool stirring occasionally.
Preheat oven at 375
On a lightly floured surface, roll out one of disks that you kept refrigerated. (For this recipe we use only one disk, so you can save the other one for another dish for the next day or use up to five days. It also freezes very well!) Roll out the disk to 1/8 inch thickness. Transfer the round to a baking sheet lined with butter and flour (or parchment paper if you prefer). Poke holes in the bottom of the tart with a fork. Spread the jam on top and turn the hanging ends of the dough over so that they can irregularly rest on the jam. Lightly beat your egg and brush the top of the tart (this will give it a shiny look!). If you wish for a fancy look you can add coarse sanding sugar on the top.
For a successful tart the baking is key. When you put your tart in the oven at first set your grid on medium low level, insert the tart and bake for half an hour. After half an hour change your grid to the medium high level and bake for another half an hour. The top of the tart should turn chestnut-brown and the jam should have jelly like somewhat bubbly consistency.
If you like, this tart is delicious served with fresh homemade whipped cream, and if you like to decorate your food with edible flowers you can add a touch of color with some lovely nasturtiums, their bright orange color will brighten up your day!