As many of you have figured out, I’ve got a megawatt crush on Southern food. It comes out with a vengeance all summer when I want nothing more than to dry-rub ribs, make corn bread and buttermilk dressing salads, dive headfirst into tomato pie and douse pretty much everything in bourbon then usually goes into a soft hibernation over the winter save a fried chicken or chicken and dumplings run-in or two.
A lot of times, a recipe comes with a story, and if you’re even luckier, it’s a good one. There are dishes that remind you of something your mama used to cook and unforgettable meals at far-flung restaurants that demand recreating in your own kitchen and fresh stuff that looked so pretty at the market, you had to come home and have your way with it.
Has it really been nearly two years we talked about the Simplest Apple Tart? What a bummer, I say, a darn shame because there’s no reason to limit this pared-down approach to fruit desserts to apple season. Stone fruits are a natural match for this type of open, single crust tart — they bake up gorgeously, don’t lose so much liquid that you end up flooding the crust (or your oven floor) and oh, they’re all so flawless right now that even nectarines, which unfairly play second fiddle to peaches, deserve their own day in the spotlight.
Continuing my summer fascination with any and all fruit desserts with goofy names, not two minutes after I discovered the existence of slab pie, I was fixing to make it. Why? Because it looks like a giant Pop Tart, and surely you don’t think a woman in her third trimester needs a single other reason to bake something.
Inadvertently, Martha has become my girl this week as I’ve been floundering around trying to figure out what to do with my seasonal produce that a) I haven’t done before and b) doesn’t require any great amount of fussing. Or work. Or adherence to recipes. (Okay, that last part may be more of a Deb than a Martha thing, but you won’t tell her, right?) The arugula, potato and green bean salad was good and well enough for a Wednesday night, but did little to help me turn last week’s languishing South Jersey peaches into something better. (Who forgets they have almost two pounds of farm fresh peaches in their fridge? Guilty as charged.)
I don’t know what’s happening to me — maybe it’s third trimester dwindling energy levels and an accompanying desire to get the most bang from my feeble bursts of productivity — but all of a sudden, I find myself saying that I don’t want to cook this thing or that because it’s not practical. Practical! Who am I? Certainly not the girl who baked a wedding cake last summer in her tiny, overheated kitchen. Certainly not a person who has [shh, can’t tell you]-making and a 12-layer cake on her summer cooking agenda.
Everyone has a favorite lemon tart, don’t they? I think of them as one those pastries that people obsess over to the point that crafting a great one is practically considered a higher calling. And I’d joke about this (okay, well, just a little) but if you’ve ever had a good, nay, great one, you totally get it. An awesome one will blow your mind. Some are filled with only a simple lemon curd, others with a creamier lemon filling, some are studded with fresh raspberries or have bits of candied lemon peel inside and the rare one even has a chunk of a fresh lemon segment within. I have never met one I didn’t like.