Sometimes, out of the blue, people inspire you to get your butt in gear. Today, for me, that someone is Dana.
Throughout November, Dana has been blogging. Not just sporadically; daily, if you can believe that. I know, right? I’ll hold you as you faint with astonishment. I honestly don’t know how she’s done it, and I’m not through every post yet, but it’s been a joy to see her pop up in my Facebook feed every day, with yet another piece of her writing for me to read. She’s doing this while caring for a newborn, which is pretty hardcore, because newborns do not want you to work at all.
Here’s what gets me right in the feels about Dana: she’s a superb writer. She is thoughtful and elegant with words. I know this because we’ve been friends for years (which means I’ve read her stuff for years, obviously), and she’s one of the very few of you whom I’ve met in person – and it wasn’t even awkward. And right now, she’s just doing it: not talking about doing it, not planning to do it, but she’s doing it.
She’s just writing.
This is the part I haven’t been able to quite get to recently. Well let’s be honest: more than just recently. Writing professionally makes that difficult, at least for me – I’m so used to turning in a glossy, polished product for a publication that’s not just me talking, that I forgot something.
You guys like when it’s just me, talking.*
*I mean, I think that’s true. I don’t know why else you would be here, except maybe for the food? But I’d love to think that you and I, we have a thing. We’re cool like that.
So I’m just gonna talk for awhile. Dana’s month of writing has inspired me to quit overthinking it and paralyzing myself in the process. I’ve been wanting to read all of your stuff, and then I get all overwhelmed with how much I have to catch up on, and then it’s like *brakes squeal* and I hate that. So it stops now. We can talk about cookies this month, perhaps? There’s no pressure with cookies, especially holiday ones. And other stuff, too – I get super intense about weird vintage recipes this time of year, so I may make a few of those, just for fun. I mean, whatever: I’m not on assignment in this space – in this space, I’m just me.
And I’m going to write some words.
Starting with these jam tarts. Pretty cute, right? And a little perfectly imperfect, which is my favorite thing about them. I made these in the fall – photographed them and everything – and then somehow they fell by the wayside – reasons listed above. They don’t deserve it, so here they are: I personally think they’re adorable, and would make a great cookie tray addition. They’re shiny and jewel-toned like my jam thumbprints, but far less precious – the jam in these is cooked in, making them very transportable. A little jam break in all that shortbread and gingerbread and chocolate is a nice thing to have, too…a little something different from normal.
And so begins December here on the blog.
Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain – a book I became obsessed with over the summer and continue to really, really love.
Rainbow Jam Tarts
Yield | about 30 |
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened but cool, cut into 4 sections
- fat pinch of sea salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 orange or lemon (I used lemon, but go either way)
- a “splash of milk” (per Jamie: I’d say have 3 to 4 Tbsp or so on hand)
30 or so teaspoons of whatever combination of jams, marmalades, or curds you’d like to use for this: that’s about 2/3 to 3/4 cup total filling, divided any which way you choose
Make those tiny tarts:
Add flour, sugar and butter and salt into the bowl of a food processor; pulse until things are crumbly and pea-sized. Add egg and zest and pulse again to incorporate; add in milk 1 Tbsp at a time as you pulse until mixture just comes together. Remove from bowl, press together into a smooth ball, flatten into a disc; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 to 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Dust your workspace with a little flour, and add some to the rolling pin as well. Roll out disc, turning as you go and adding more flour as needed so dough doesn’t stick to countertop, until dough is about 1/8-inch thick. using a 2 1/2 to 3 inch cutter (or the top of a drinking glass, which is generally what I use), cut out rounds and lay them into the wells of a standard muffin tin. Press them gently into the corners and up the sides (they’ll be shallow), and repeat the process by collecting scraps and re-rolling dough. Put 1 heaping teaspoon of jam* (or curd, or marmalade, whatever) into the center of each round.
*You know what’s hard to work with? Tight jam. Some jams come out of the jar nice and oozy, but some just want to stay in a shape. For the latter sort, warm it up just a bit until it’s smooth and pliable, then spoon into the rounds.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes until pastry is golden and filling is bubbling and spread out; remove from oven, and leave in tray to firm up slightly. Once pastries have firmed up enough to hold their shape, use a thin butter knife to unearth them from the tin, working gently, transferring them to a wire rack to cool.