I wake to the quiet of the day. Greta, my sweet Pie Cottage puppy-dog, greets me with a cool wet nose that nudges my hand and a happy wagging tail; her sweet brown eyes say, “It’s time to get up! It’s time to get up! It’s a new day!”
I throw back the soft warm covers, slide my feet into my old felted slippers and sit on the side of the bed to give her head a few scritch-scratches. She leans into my knees with her furry warmth and I wrap my arms around her for a hug. Robe on now, we both pad into the living room. She to see where Kittyboy Fez is, and me to open the curtains and window. I breath in the first cool breath of the Northwest morning air. Out in the distance I see the water that crosses to my northern neighbors in British Columbia and to the beautiful Olympic Mountains to the south of me. Do I see Hurricane Ridge today or are clouds blanketing the foothills?
The quiet of the early morning sets a tone for my day, but Greta’s buoyant step reminds me that introspection is best balanced with joy and playfulness.
Coffee next---a ritual I have enjoyed for over four decades. I adore the look and scent of rich dark beans and the flavor they impart when infused with the sweet well-water I tote home every week to Pie Cottage.
While I wait for the brew to finish, I choose a plate from the unmatched beauties, some with chips and cracks, stacked on the cupboard shelf...each has a story. I choose a pretty blue one that I found at a yard sale with my friend Merrilyn and smile at the thought of her gentle spirit as I carefully lift the last slice of fruit tart onto it.
Coffee, steaming now, fills an old cup that, too, holds many memories. I carry both, coffee and tart, to the living room and set them down on the old oak table in front of my couch.
Nestled into the soft cushions with Greta at my feet, I raise the cup and feel its warmth in the palms of my hands. With eyes closed, I take a first sip...bitter. My eyes open wide and I see its colorful partner on the table. Exchanging cup for silver fork, I take a bite ---so cool, so sweet.
Art of the Pie Fruit Tart
Such an easy dessert. A leftover piece makes a sweet beginning to the day.
1 - 9” tart pan
1 pastry dough of your choice for a single crust pie
6 oz fresh organic raspberries
6 oz fresh organic blueberries
1 recipe Vanilla Pastry Creme (see below)
Roll out the pastry dough and carefully place it in a chilled tart pan.
In a preheated oven blind-bake the dough and set aside to cool.
Make the Vanilla Pastry Creme.
When the creme is completely chilled, take a fork and lightly whisk it, turn it into the baked crust using a rubber spatula and spread evenly.
Arrange the fruit in a pretty pattern on top.
Serve and Enjoy!
Vanilla Pastry Creme
There are many recipes for a Vanilla Pastry Creme. Use your favorite or try this one that I make with light coconut milk.
4 egg yolks
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar (depending on your sweet tooth)
1/4 - cup cornstarch
1 - 14 oz can of light coconut milk (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (or other extract of your choice like almond or a mixture!)
Separate the egg yolks and place them in a medium size bowl. Whisk the yolks for a minute or so until they are smooth. It’s fine to do this with a fork.
Place the sugar and cornstarch in a medium size saucepan and mix together with a whisk or fork.
With a whisk in hand, turn the heat to medium under the saucepan and pour the light coconut milk slowly and steadily into the dry ingredients while whisking constantly. Keep whisking until the mixture thickens and you see it begin to bubble.
Remove from the heat momentarily and pour 1/3 of the hot mixture into the eggs in the bowl. Whisk together in the bowl until it looks blended in. This won’t take long.
Pour the now hot egg mixture from the bowl, into the saucepan and return it to the stovetop. Turn the heat back to medium and whisk the mixture constantly until you bring it to a boil. It will be thick and coat the bake of a spoon. Remove from the heat.
Turn the hot mixture into a bowl and cover with parchment paper to prevent a skin from forming as it cools.
Cool completely in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
About our guest contributor:
Kate McDermott is the creator and founder of Art of the Pie. Since 2006 she has taught the time-honored craft of pie-making to thousands. One of the most highly sought-after culinary instructors, Kate is widely acknowledged as one of the best makers of pie ever. Named “Food Rock Star” by Seattle Magazine, Kate has given her Art of the Pie workshop to food luminaries and has received high praise from Ruth Reichl, former editor of “Gourmet”, Dorie Greenspan, Gluten Free Girl and many others. In 2008 her pie was featured in “Saveur” Magazine’s Top 100 Issue and appeared on the cover. She has been written about in numerous books, magazines & blogs by award-winning authors. Always friendly, fun, and down-to-earth, Kate, a practitioner of kindness, aspires to pass on the craft of pie-making to as many as she can. She teaches workshops for home bakers and professionals in the United States, England and France.