First impressions get a lot of press. A firm handshake and a big smile can’t hurt, I suppose, but I’m here to tell you that it’s not impossible to come back after a goof. People are kind. This tart is a testament to that. This tart is all about redemption.
I made this tart for a dinner party at my friend Cathy’s house. As I was rolling dough I started to think back on my friendship with Cathy. We’ve known each other now for almost 8 years. I’m always happy to see her and I’m pretty sure she feels the same way about me. But I can still remember the look on her face the very first time that she laid eyes on me. And I can tell you with 100% certainty that she was not impressed.
Cathy works in the Good Housekeeping test kitchen and in 2007 her department had an opening. A dream job for me. You can imagine how ecstatic I was when I was called in for an interview. To prepare, I studied back issues of Good Housekeeping from the 70’s on. I imagined stories to pitch. I grilled trusted food-editor friends and practiced my answers to tough questions. I sharpened my knives. I used an iron. So ready. So eager. The day of the interview I hopped over to the Hearst Tower an hour early and camped out in a nearby coffee shop until the right time. Or so I thought.
There I was in the lobby of Good Housekeeping, fully prepped and neatly ironed, beaming an enthusiastic grin, when Cathy came in looking confused and concerned. She informed me, very graciously, I have to say, that she was sorry, but no one was expecting my visit, no one was waiting for me, and no one was ready for me. And why would they have been? I was a week early. Right place, wrong time.
Cathy’s smile belied her true feelings. I’m sure she thought I was a real dunce. The ladies of GH were gracious enough to make time to interview me anyway, saving me from humiliation and the burden of ironing another shirt. How they didn’t automatically disregard me for being so disorganized (or maybe hopelessly eager), I’ll never understand. I not only got the job but I made lovely friends.
Sometimes people are generous and forgiving beyond all reasonable standards. All you can do is pass it on to someone else, I guess
And make them tarts to say thank you, thank you, thank you.
Concord Grape and Hazelnut Tart
The hazelnut crust comes from the story I wrote for this month's Fine Cooking magazine. Click over there for more details.
For the hazelnut crust: click here
For the filling:
6 cups seedless concord grapes, divided
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons orange zest
4 teaspoons instant tapioca
For the egg wash:
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons water
1. Prepare and chill the crust and pastry strips. Click here for directions.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a small saucepan, heat 3 cups grapes and sugar over medium heat. Bring to a boil and cook until the grapes start to break down and get jammy, about 4 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. Fold in the remaining 3 cups grapes, orange zest, salt, and tapioca. Let stand 15 minutes.
3. Fill the chilled crust with the grape filling and top with the lattice strips. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake the tart on a cookie sheet until the filling is bubbling and the crust is a deep golden brown, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool before slicing.