I’m going to get a little cliche here. A couple of weeks ago, I learned the very hard way that things don’t always go the way you plan them to. I had a plan in my head of where I wanted my future to go, and how I was going to get there, and in just five minutes, those plans just went down, and they went down hard. Like discarded food scraps down a garbage disposal.
I took it extremely hard at first, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel traces of anger, confusion, disbelief, and all sorts of self-deprecating adjectives you could come up with.
I’m trying to do the right thing. I see my therapist, I see my psychiatrist, I work out, and I talk to my friends and loved ones. I’m open when I have the darkest and lowest thoughts imaginable. I’ve given my cat more cuddles than he’s comfortable with. I’ve crocheted blankets, painted cityscapes, and have baked an array of cakes, breads and cookies. Despite telling myself that everything will be okay, that this “bad thing” happened for a reason, there is still a small part of me that just fears for the worst. My mind always goes back to “I’m here because I’m a failure”.
I have to force myself to acknowledge that I can only do what I can each day, and to let go of the things I cannot control. I have to ask myself, “What can I actually control today?”. I need to take things one day at a time. At this time, that’s all I can really do. As the fear of change and the unknown overwhelms me like a strong, forceful wave, I can only deal with what is in front of me right now. Slowly, over time, as I tackle one problem and deal with the next, the goal is that I will slowly climb my way back up to being a better version than who I was before.
It’s a far stretch, but I feel that this lesson can be applied to cooking. Sometimes, I go through food blogs and pinterest to find inspiration of what I’d want to try and bake. There’s no occasion, just that I wanted to feel flour and butter between my fingers, and to also create something beautiful and delicious. I came across pictures of apple tarts, with the apples arranged to look like roses. Looking at the recipe, I thought, okay, I have an apple in the fridge, but no puff pastry, and I was too lazy to go to the store.
I thought to myself, ‘Why don’t I try and make puff pastry?’. A few minutes of searching landed me on an easy 15 minute recipe for a basic puff pastry. I was sold. I was going to make those apple rose tarts.
Putting together the puff pastry was fun. The recipe was simple and easy to follow, and I found myself placing the pastry dough in the fridge to rest sooner than I thought I would. The apples, though, threw me a curveball. I tried to thinly slice the apples with a mandolin per recipe instructions. The apple must have been past it’s prime, or my mandolin skills are poorer than I thought. The apple slices were in odd, uneven, rough looking pieces, and would disintegrate if handled roughly. I couldn’t make rose tarts out of these pieces.
At this point, any reasonable person would just go, “Oh shucks, guess I”ll buy more apples and try again tomorrow!” Not me. I was already in the zone, having put together the puff pastry dough. I wanted to see it through. And therein lies the lesson: looking at what is in front of you to create something even better. I had a cup of strawberries leftover from some cake orders I had last weekend. I also had a cara cara orange, which I had only used for zest. I could make a fruit tart, I thought to myself. The idea of having a pure fruit tart, without anything creamy or sweet to cut through the tartness of the fruit wasn’t very appealing. That’s when my eyes fell on the jar of Nutella in the pantry. Bingo.
The pieces for this fruit tart started to come together. I rolled out the buttery dough, slathered on some Nutella, and added the strawberries and cara cara oranges in a honey and cornstarch mixture. I brushed the tart carefully with egg wash and sprinkled over some sugar and almond meal for more texture.
As I admired the finished tart, I thought about the evolution it went through. It was supposed to be one thing, but it turned out to be something else, going through iterations and tweaks along the way.
The tartness of the orange and strawberries is wonderfully paired with the luxurious sweetness of chocolate and hazelnuts. The vessel, a buttery, flaky pastry, is warm and crisp as you take a bite.
I hope that my future turns out as well as this tart did.
Orange & Strawberry Tart
To make the puff pastry:
1 cup of AP flour
⅓ cup of ice water
10 tbs good butter -cold, and cubed
½ tsp sea salt
Using a fork or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour and salt in a bowl, until you have crumbly chunks.
Make a well in the middle of the bowl and pour in the ice water. Using a wooden spoon or your hands, carefully mix the water and the flour mixture until loosely combined.
Place dough on a floured surface, and pat/shape dough into a rectangle.
Using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough to about ½ inch thickness. Fold the top third towards you, and the bottom third over the top fold, like an envelope. Give the dough a quarter turn, and repeat the rolling and folding process. Do this 6-7 more times. If the dough feels sticky, sprinkle on a little more flour.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for an hour before using.
To make the tart:
1 cup of strawberries, quartered
1 cara cara orange, peeled and cut into segments
1 tbs honey
1 tbs cornstarch
1 tbs sugar
2 tbs nutella
¼ cup of almond flour
1 tbs sugar, for sprinkling
Puff pastry dough
Preheat the oven to 475F. In a bowl, mix the strawberries and oranges with the honey, sugar, and conrstarch. Set aside.
Roll out the puff pastry dough to about ¼ inch thickness and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Spread the nutella in the middle, leaving about an inch of dough on the outer edges.
Gently scoop the fruit filling on top and fold the outer edges of the pastry dough over one another, forming a rustic looking gallette.
Mix the egg with a tablespoon of water and gently brush the egg over the outer edges of dough. Sprinkle sugar and almond flour on top.
Lower the oven temperature to 350F and bake the tart for 30 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden brown.
Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream.