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Cooking With Myra: Try a cranberry tart

By By Myra Starkey
Dec. 4, 2012 at 6:04 a.m.

Cranberry Tart

Cranberry Tart

Shortbread crust

• 1 cup sliced almonds

• 2 cups flour

• 4 Tbsp. cornmeal

• 8 oz. salted butter, cut into small cubes

• 1 cup sugar

• Zest of two lemons

• 1 tsp. vanilla

• 1/4 tsp. almond extract

• 1 large egg yolk

Filling

• 1 cup sugar

• 1/2 cup water

• 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

• 1 bag (12 oz.) fresh cranberries

• 3 Tbsp. apple jelly

• Tart pan with removable bottom

• Food processor

• Cooking spray

• Powdered sugar

Prepare the filling by combining sugar, lemon juice and water in saucepan. Bring to a boil and add cranberries. Lower heat to medium and simmer until cranberries have popped. The liquid will get syrupy after 10 minutes. Add apple jelly and stir until jelly melts. Cool completely.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Toast almonds on a baking sheet for about five minutes. Do not allow almonds to turn brown or burn. Allow almonds to cool. In a food processor, add almonds and 2 Tbsp. of flour. Pulse until almonds are finely chopped. Add cornmeal and remaining flour. Pulse three times and transfer to large bowl.

In food processor, add butter, sugar, lemon zest and extracts. Pulse until ingredients are creamy. Add egg yolk and pulse three times. Add all dry ingredients (flour and almond mixture) and pulse until a soft dough forms around the blade. Divide dough. Coat a round tart pan with cooking spray. Press half of the dough into the pan and up the sides, making sure the bottom of the pan is covered. Cover the tart pan with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This allows the dough to become firm and keep its shape while baking. Wrap remaining dough in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator.

Remove tart pan from refrigerator and prick on bottom and sides with a fork. Bake on a baking sheet for 30 minutes until the tart is golden brown. If the bottom or sides puff during baking, press with the back of a spoon to keep tart's shape. Spoon cooled filling into tart.

Crumble the remaining dough over the cranberries by pinching off small pieces and dropping them over the filling. Cover all cranberry filling with dough. Bake for 30 minutes at 325 degrees. Cool and then carefully remove tart from pan by pressing bottom gently and releasing the sides of the tart. You may need to use a knife to release dough. Transfer to a cake plate and serve dusted with powdered sugar.

My regular job is being the clinic administrator for my husband's medical practice. He is a family doctor and would admit that he only wants to practice medicine and not do all the business stuff. The majority of my work involves managing staff and making sure we do not spend more money than we take in.

I operate off of a budget, knowing how much it takes to run the clinic on a monthly basis. If my deposits into the bank account are less than our expenses, then we are "in the red," meaning we have spent more money than we have made. Fortunately, we almost always deposit more than we withdraw. So, we are "in the black" and can remain in business. I will refrain from making any comments here about irresponsible governments.

I was talking to a friend the other day, and she commented that it is important to make deposits into the accounts of friends, otherwise, the relationship gets into trouble. She, of course, was not referring to money but rather emotional or psychological or time investments. I must admit I felt somewhat guilty that I had not deposited into her account recently, but I hoped that I had not taken from it either. That was not the purpose of our conversation at all, but we were talking about why we choose friends and that, in many cases, we would do anything in our power to help them.

I have many friends who seem to deposit into my account almost daily. My friend Janet is always calling to offer assistance, especially when she knows I am busy at the office and not able to accomplish some task that I committed to. I could spend a lifetime paying her back and not ever tip the scales in my favor, but the generosity that she shows to me is because of her love for me and my family.

I have another friend, Susan, who lives downtown and who occasionally calls out of the blue to offer supper when she has extra. She knows that I am generally arriving home late from work and thinking about what Taylor and I could eat. I could actually name multiple friends who make such relational deposits into my account, and it often takes the form of kind words, encouragement or just simply listening.

Folks don't generally keep track of these acts of kindness, although for any given friend we probably have an impression about their deposits and withdrawals. For example, if you frequently kept a neighbor's dog every time they went out of town, you would be depositing into their account. If a weekend came around when you asked them to watch your pet and they declined, offering a somewhat lame excuse, you would view that as a withdrawal from your account.

If such imbalance occurred often, you may tend to curtail your banking relationship. Consider one's husband taking out the trash every week. This task is something that the two of you have previously agreed he would do and so he "makes the deposit" into your account by taking out the trash. One morning, he forgets and calls you from work and asks if you would do it because he forgot. A reasonable wife would gladly haul the trash to the street because her husband is "in the black," or has more deposits than withdrawals.

The deposit concept applies to most relationships; however, we have to be careful not to keep track of these too closely. It is not about keeping score. There are often circumstances that are beyond our control such as an ill or otherwise disabled spouse who is not able to make "deposits" in our account or a friend who is going through a difficult time in their life and needs our help repeatedly without ever being able to "deposit" any kindness. A good-hearted person does things for those in need with no expectation of getting something in return.

Deposits may not normally cost us anything - at least from a financial perspective. Often, it may be only a matter of investing our time. Most of us have moments in our day when we can show others kindness, but we are often too busy and don't give priority to those encounters. I know that I am not always good about slowing down to be sensitive to other's needs.

If I concentrate on the concept of depositing into the accounts of friends, it is amazing the number of opportunities that come my way. During this holiday season, I encourage each of you to make deposits into the accounts of those around you, put others' needs before your own and experience the joy of being unselfish.

I was trying out this concept Sunday morning in my own house. I had stayed up late cooking and had not cleaned the kitchen before I went to bed. When I awoke, I thought that I might make a special breakfast for Taylor, so I sleepily walked into the kitchen. Taylor was washing and drying the dishes from the previous evening (making a deposit) and then offered to buy donuts for breakfast so I did not have to prepare breakfast (another deposit). I thanked him and then tried to think of something to do for him.

I had a couple of bags of cranberries left over from Thanksgiving. So, I made a cranberry tart with a crumble topping. We went to Houston to visit Hannah and Ben, our daughter and her husband, Sunday afternoon. So, I packed up the tart as a treat for them. The tartness of the cranberries is balanced by the sweet almond shortbread crust. This is a beautiful dessert. Enjoy.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or email myra@vicad.com.

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