How I Spent the First Day of Summer

Ok, so technically, this day didn’t get off to a super great start since I was in the dentist for two hours getting a cavity filled and my crown cemented back on, which fell off a few days ago. Yikes! But, once I got out of that chair, I had a lovely day.

I spent most of the day outside working in my yard because the coop tour is just around the corner. I’d love to be all casual about the tour, like my favorite line from It’s a Wonderful Life when some man compliments the pretty blond’s dress and she says, “What? This old thing? I only wear it when I don’t care how I look!” But for me, a girl who yearns to have her garden featured in Sunset someday (er, did I just say that out loud??), this is a big deal. It’s a lot of work. It’s my pride and joy. And people will be coming to see it! My yard will be dressed to the nines, so to speak. But I digress.

I devoured that strawberry – the first ripe strawberry of the season. Really? On the first day of summer? Yes, it was perfect. I also put the rhubarb out of its misery – it just doesn’t like this much heat and direct sun. It was looking all sad and wilty, so I pretty much harvested all of the stalks and put them to use in a delicious rustic tart.

It should be noted that I have a really bad habit of baking when it’s hot out. It’s not my fault really – isn’t pie a classic summer treat? Aren’t there a plethora of fruits to harvest during the summer that would be lovely baked in a pie or cobbler or crisp? Yes, there are! I’ll concede that said baking doesn’t necessarily have to occur in the late afternoon, when turning your oven on raises the already warm temperature of the house up ten degrees. But, that’s just how I roll. It’s like doing hot yoga only with a delicious treat at the end.

I baked this tart in my hot little house while listening to a great little podcast I was introduced to by my bff Radhi. She said, “Stacy, you have to check out this podcast with Joy the Baker and Tracey from Shutterbean. It’s super cute – like two best friends just chattin’ it up. It reminds me of us.” And sure enough, it is and I’m totally hooked. It made my kitchen feel totally cozy – like cooking while your best friends stand around and chat with you in the kitchen. If you can listen to it while cooking, I highly recommend that. It just makes sense.

This tart doesn’t have much sugar, which is super rare for a rhubarb treat, but it’s great! The bright taste and tartness of the rhubarb really come through rather than being drowned in sugary syrup. And because I’m still trying to be dairy-free (I’m really trying), I made this vanilla cashew cream as a garnish instead of whipped cream. I wish I could have taken a picture of this tart without it looking like I was eating a slice of pie with a side of peanut butter or turkey gravy, but I couldn’t. I also know that presentation and looks are really important when it comes to food, but in this case, the taste just has to speak for itself. It’s delicious – scraping the bowl of the food process with a rubber scraper and licking it clean delicious. Here’s hoping the start of your summer has been as good as mine! Cheers!

Rustic Rhubarb Tart with Vanilla Cashew Cream
Adapted from Sunset and How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

1 pie crust
about 3 cups diced rhubarb
1/4 cup whole cane sugar (unrefined & unbleached)
1 Tbsp. packed muscovado brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cardamom
2 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. melted butter

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Roll out the crust as you would for a 9 inch pie and place the crust directly onto a baking sheet. Keep in mind though that this will be a rustic, free-form tart so your circle does not have to be perfect by any means. Mix the diced rhubarb and other dry ingredients in a bowl until well coated.

Cover the crust round with the rhubarb mixture, leaving about a 1 1/2 inch border all around the fruit. I mounded the fruit a bit in the center too. Fold up the edges of the crust around the fruit, pinching them together. Don’t try and cover all the fruit – just the outer rim of it.

Brush the exposed dough with the butter and brush a little onto the fruit as well. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 20 to 30 minutes. Garnish with vanilla cashew cream.

Vanilla Cashew Cream

Besides being a fantastic sidekick for this tart, this cream is great with pretty much any seasonal fruit.

1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla

Grind the cashews into a fine meal in the bowl of your food processor. Then, add the syrup and vanilla and blend until smooth. If needed, with the food processor running, add water, a little at a time, until you have a thick, creamy consistency. Enjoy!

One thought on “How I Spent the First Day of Summer

  1. radhi

    uhm, wait, cashew cream?! i’ve never heard those two words together. and whaddya know, i have all the ingredients at home at the ready to be poured onto our own market strawberries, peaches & raspberries! and ps, that strawberry pic is fantastic!


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