lena's favorite blueberry crostata

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Our Pal Lena is the most well-mannered dog I've ever met.  And I'm not just saying that because she's my girl.  She is seriously polite and thoughtful and makes great decisions.

This dog will hand you her paws one by one to be wiped dry when she comes in from the rain.  And when offered a cookie, she'll daintily take it between her tiniest baby-corn front teeth and save part of it for later.  She even sends thank-you notes*.

*She does not send thank-you notes.

Ok.  To be fair, if we're on a walk, she will break my hand off lunging for a squirrel.  And she has irrational lunging hatred for the sweet terriers next door.  And as elegant as she is most of the time, I witnessed her head-butt a sliding glass door (that was open a tiny crack) to get to a skunk on the back porch.  

The thing is, her indiscretions are so few and far between that years will go by while we enjoy her perfect behavior, easily forgetting that she once polished off half a sectional in one afternoon.  

As I write this, the signs were all there.  I should've seen it coming...

I made this delicious tart from scratch.  Scratch, people.  I hand selected farmers' market blueberries, cut butter into flour, impatiently chilled it rolled it filled it sugared it and finally baked this impeccable creation for us to devour that night for dessert.  We left it to cool on top of the stove and went out to dinner where The Tart dominated conversation all night.  The buttery crust!  The sweet-tart berries!  Let's stop on the way home to pick up ice cream!


We arrived back home to find:

  • one violated baking sheet, face-down and licked clean,
  • one leaf of soggy discarded parchment, 
  • one single blue smear on the cheap wood laminate floor,
  • and one groggy, smug animal who trotted out to say hello as if nothing happened.

They say you shouldn't reprimand a dog unless you catch it in the act of the bad behavior.  That they have no sense of linear time.  I personally think there is an exception to this rule if your usually perfect dog eats an ENTIRE blueberry confection that you slaved over and looked forward to eating ALL DAY.  

I was seeing red.  

"Bad dog!  BAD DOG!!!!!!"  She looked contrite and then sheepish.  And then I swear the corners of her mouth curled up.  She looked at me and her eyes spoke. "Ha ha!" they said, and "Sucker!" and "Maybe use a little more vanilla next time!"

I gave her the cold shoulder for the rest of the night.  "I can't even look at her" I said to David, like a disappointed 1950s mother.  David looked at me with squinty confused eyes:

"You know she didn't do this to spite you, right?"

Me: "She should know better!"

David: "She's a dog, Jolie."

Oh yeah.  Crap.

Lena's Favorite Blueberry Crostata
adapted from Michael Chiraello's Fresh Cherry Crostata

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1T sugar
1t salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick), chilled and cut into 1" cubes
3T ice water, or more if needed
1t pure vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
2T sugar
1 1/2t flour
1/8t ground cinnamon

1 egg yolk beaten with 1T cream or half-and-half to brush the crust before baking
2t turbinado sugar (or any coarse sugar)

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until mixed.  Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like bread crumbs.  [Alternatively, you can cut the butter into the flour mixture with a pastry cutter or your hands, it'll just take a bit longer.]  Combine the ice water and vanilla and then slowly add that to the processor and pulse until the dough starts to come together [or again, just do this with your hands if not using the food processor], adding more water if needed.  Dump the dough out on the counter, bring it together by kneading it (for just a few seconds-don't overwork it) and then form the dough into a 1" thick round, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour and up to a couple days.

Preheat the oven to 425.  Remove the dough from the fridge about 15 minutes before rolling it out to soften it a bit.  Preheat a baking sheet for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, make the filling: combine the blueberries, sugar, flour and cinnamon and let sit.

Roll the dough between 2 floured sheets of parchment paper until you get about a 13" round or oblong shape.  (It's okay if it's not perfect, the charm of this tart is its rustic-ness!)  Remove the top sheet of parchment.  Dock the dough by poking it a few times with a fork.  Pour the filling into the center, leaving a 2" border around the edge.  Fold the border around the blueberries and press it closed to make a rim.  Brush this dough rim with the egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sugar.  Slide the tart (along with the bottom sheet of parchment) onto the hot baking sheet and bake for about 30-40 minutes until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly.  Cool on a rack and serve either warm or room temperature.  It is kinda ridiculous how good it is on the second day with coffee.  Yum!

As for my girl?  She didn't even get sick.  Or send a thank-you note.


  1. I love her. AND your writing.
    Can't wait to make this one myself!

  2. DUUUUUDE! Ohmigah.(Hyperventilating.) Though this is not something we worry about with a corgi, I swear I just felt the loss of every single blueberry here. I would've just started howling.

    LENA!!!!!!!! GIRL! That was just mean!

    The last picture. You had to laugh when you took that one. You just had to.

  3. I think Lena's wires got crossed because I received not only a thank you note from her, but a gift certificate to Red Lobster. The note said simply, "I struggle with my blueberry temptation, but not with my love for you."

    Oh, Lena!


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