15 January 2009

Pineapple Lime Mascarpone Tart

Pineapple Lime Mascarpone Tart

"My life is very monotonous," the fox said. "I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain-fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the colour of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat..."

The next day the little prince came back.
"It would have been better to come back at the same hour," said the fox. "If, for example, you come at four o'clock in the afternoon, then at three o'clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o'clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you... One must observe the proper rites..."
"What is a rite?" asked the little prince.
"Those also are actions too often neglected," said the fox. "They are what make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours. There is a rite, for example, among my hunters. Every Thursday they dance with the village girls. So Thursday is a wonderful day for me! I can take a walk as far as the vineyards. But if the hunters danced at just any time, every day would be like every other day, and I should never have any vacation at all."

Those are my favorite parts of the book The Little Prince, which I realize is predictably schmaltzy on my part but you can also predict that I don't care. There are some good parts after those passages but I kept it essential-- if you haven't read the book yet, I highly recommend it. Far too many people have bought into the whole reality television illusion (The Bachelor and its kin, Rock of Love, and worst of all, Paris Hilton's My New BFF) and foolishly believe that friends and relationships can be formed instantly. You put on your best Sunday frock, make a great first impression, and bam-- you're in love. What Saint-Exupery has shown in this lovely parable is that it takes commitment for trust to form. If you suddenly dropped out-- like, say, NOT POSTING IN YOUR BLOG FOR TWO WEEKS, people will get confused, some will forget who you are, and think that you can't be relied upon. Not what I wanted to happen at all. I hope you'll understand that it's been a little difficult to write (civilization will not advance one iota until blogging is possible on airplanes). I just arrived from Akron, my first interview-- and I'll be telling you about that experience soon.

I will tell you now that as I was sitting in a restaurant alone in my last night in Akron, I did start to feel a little lonely. I've been eating alone in restaurants for years now but for some reason it struck me even more that evening. Though I've become quite comfortable in my singlehood I still understand what Carol (Helen Hunt's character) is saying (yet another schmaltzy movie, and maybe a scene where the music subtracts from it). After I saw a young couple holding hands and such in the icy, deserted streets of Akron, I got a feeling that my meal would have been much more enjoyable if I had someone to share it with and agree/disagree with me, or just have a laugh about the whole experience. While I do enjoy writing about it, you guys not actually being there makes it not the same, of course. I was tempted to have Sonya (my server) sit down and have a chat but of course things like that never happen in real life. Ah, the cold! It makes you think crazy things. Doesn't help that airplane rides make me feel screwy. (Er, interpret that any way you like.)

Actually, I didn't feel any of that, I just wanted to segue smoothly into my OTHER commitment, which is the Blog Rounds, this time hosted by Meloinks of The Philippine Daily Idiot. Nothing too toxic-- just my ten favorite movies. Though they are subject to change with, uh, the release of new movies. In no particular order:
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - sometimes, instead of dealing with our problems, we live in denial and end up isolating ourselves even more from the ones we love. Also in this movie is the crazy awesome acting of Kate Winslet.

  • The Return of the King - the burdens we carry can evolve into something comfortable, something we can't let go of. Liv Tyler's acting is pretty incredible here too. KIDDING! I'm not kidding when I say Sean Astin rocked this one.

  • The Joy Luck Club - a must-see for all parents and kids (over 13, I hope). The final scene between June and Suyuan (Ming-Na and Kieu Chinh) just kills me every. Single. Time.

  • Spider-Man 2 - ending pretty much killed me, too. Too bad Spider-Man 3 had to erase all the goodwill of this one.

  • Austin Powers 2: The Spy Who Shagged Me - this is pretty silly, but it's an innuendo a minute here, so how could I not love it? Takes me back to a time when Mike Myers was still funny, and Heather Graham was still relevant.

  • Romy and Michele's High School Reunion - I simply can't not watch this movie when it's on. Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow are just amazing in this one (though I doubt they were acting. By much).

  • The 40 Year-Old Virgin - I once thought Steve Carell could do no wrong, but obviously that's not true. Among his hits, this is my most favorite one. Just a very sweet movie, and most importantly, extremely funny.

  • The Incredibles - Even though Ratatouille was a lot of fun to watch (obviously), this movie was just perfect in every way. Lots of superpower-fun too.

  • X-Men 2: X-Men United - Worth the price of admission for both Alan Cummings and Rebecca Romijn kicking ass in 450 different ways. Like Spider-Man 2, was also the peak of the trilogy.

  • As Good As It Gets - 3 people take a risk and get a chance at happiness. By now, quite syrupy by Hollywood standards, but still a stand-out in every way for me.

I am guessing most of you might think this list is too sweet and light-hearted, but didn't you already guess it from the content of my posts?

Pineapple Lime Mascarpone Tart adapted from The Sweet Spot
I have to admit the tart doesn't look like much. Stewing the pineapple didn't preserve their form very well and the fan-like configuration I envisioned left a lot to be desired. But I DID serve this to my mom's friends for a party, and it was gone in no time (some had two slices-- not a common occurrence) and they even asked for the recipe. So maybe you can think of ways to preserve the shape of the pineapple a little better-- like lightly roasting or grilling it. Or reverse the order of the filling (mascarpone on top).
  • 64g (1/2 stick or 1/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar

  • pinch salt

  • 1 large egg yolk

  • 125g (1 cup minus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the butter, sugar and salt together until smooth. Beat in the egg yolk until well combined. Sift the flour over the surface, and using a rubber spatula, blend it in with the butter until all the flour is moistened and the dough just comes together. Dump the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and wrap it completely. Press the dough into a disk about 1/2 inch thick. Chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Unwrap the dough, let it rest at room temperature for 2 minutes, and place on a lightly floured surface and roll 1/8 inch thick. Lift and rotate the dough a quarter turn after every few strokes, dusting underneath with flour as needed to discourage sticking. Transfer the dough by rolling it loosely over the rolling pin and unrolling over a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. If this is too difficult, you can also press the dough onto the pan with your fingers, making sure it is only 1/8 inch thick throughout. Using the rolling pin or a sharp knife, cut off the excess dough hanging over the sides. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with the tip of a knife or a fork. Bake for 20 minutes. If during baking, part of the dough blisters up, simply deflate it with the tip of a knife. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

  • 200g (3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) heavy cream, chilled

  • 114g (1/2 cup) mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese), at room temperature

  • 50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon grated lime zest

  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

  • 2 teaspoons rum, optional

In a chilled bowl and using chilled beaters, whip the cream until it holds medium peaks, about 4-7 minutes (when you lift the beaters, peaks will form but their tips will fall down a bit). In another bowl, beat together the mascarpone cheese, sugar, lime zest, lime juice, and rum until well-combined, about 4 minutes. Add one-third of the whipped cream and mix until combined. Add the remaining cream and fold gently with a rubber spatula until combined. Spread over the cooled tart shell.

  • 2 small pineapples, core removed and cut into large spears

  • 120g (2/3 cup) muscovado or turbinado sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped for seeds

  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest

In a large pot, place all the pineapple, sugar, salt, and vanilla and place over high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat down to very low and summer gently, stirring every 10 minutes, until the mixture is almost dry, about 1 hour. The mixture should simmer gently and not burn, and the pineapple light golden brown. Remove from heat and cool. Arrange the cooled pineapple decoratively over the top of the tart. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Ideally, take the tart out of the chill for 15 minutes before serving.

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