For a while I had a spin teacher who ended every class imploring his students to spend a second being grateful that they were healthy enough to exercise. That seems right to me. I love to jog. I like the feel of the sun on my shoulders and the wind in my hair. Once I’ve gotten oven my initial laziness, I feel glad and grateful whenever I hit the pavement. That said, I also harbor no illusions about being an athlete. I’m clumsy and not light on my feet. But that’s why jogging is so great. You can just do it your way. Any way that happens to be.
I was out the other day, feeling happy to be alive, doing it my way, when I rounded a corner and a car slowed down. A man in an SUV crept up along side me and rolled down the window. I stopped so we could talk.
Him in a worried tone: “There is a snapping turtle up ahead crossing the road. I just wanted to warn you.”
Me puzzled: “Oh… Wow. Thanks so much for letting me know.”
I gave the man a big smile and waved as he drove off. Then I kept on jogging. I came across the little turtle, who looked very intent on keeping to himself, said my hellos, and kept on my way. And then I got to thinking...
Wait a second now. Did that man think that I wouldn’t be able to outrun a turtle? What do I look like? Turtle lunch, apparently. That guy was just driving by when he saw me and thought, “Whoa. Is that lady jogging? Or is she standing in one place? She’s gonna get ripped to shreds by that turtle unless I do something. I’ve gotta save her.”
I think maybe I don’t look like what I think I look like when I jog, huh? Ay yay yay. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. I told Gus the story when we were out jogging yesterday and we both couldn’t stop laughing, imaging what the good Samaritan was thinking. “That girl’s turtle bait!” “That turtle's going to be licking his chops!” Laughing makes me jog even slower. But even a slow jog is better than no jog, right? And I’ve got to think about my heart if I want to eat buttery pie at the rate at which I eat it.
Which brings me to these tarts. I hope you’ll forgive me the repetition, but this New Yorker will never get over the joy of picking her own fruit for baking from the back yard. It is such an unbelievable pleasure that I’m doing it again. This time it’s low-bush blueberries, black cap raspberries, and gorgeous lemon thyme. If you can’t find lemon thyme, try these guys with regular thyme and a little lemon zest. Either way, they’ll be as delicious to look at as to eat.
Meet you back here next week, unless I get attacked by snails.
Wild Berry and Lemon Thyme Tarts
For the dough:
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
6 to 8 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
1/4 cup sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 cups berries (I used wild blueberries and black cap raspberries)
1 teaspoon chopped lemon thyme, plus more for garnish
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk plus 2 teaspoons water
1. Prepare the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut butter into the flour until you have the texture of coarse sand with some larger pieces. Add 6 tablespoons water and stir together with a fork until the crumbs start to form a shaggy dough, adding 1 to 2 tablespoons more water if necessary. Using your hands, gather and press the dough into a ball in the bowl. Transfer it to a piece of plastic, wrap it up, and press it into a 6-inch disc. Chill for at least 2 hours.
2. Roll dough out to about 1/8th inch thick. Cut out six 5-inch circles. An overturned bowl makes a handy guide. You may need to piece some dough together to make the sixth circle depending on how you rolled it. Just make to pinch it together well. Transfer dough circles to a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet and chill for at least 30 minutes.
3. Assemble the tarts: In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch. Add berries and thyme and toss to combine. Pinch and fold the edges of each circle to create 6 small dough cups. Divide the berries between each cup, making sure to get an even amount of sugar and cornstarch in each one. Press the berries down gently and then press the sides of the dough in tightly against the fruit. Freeze the tarts for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425°. In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolk and 2 teaspoons cold water.
4. Top each tart with some of the butter a spring of thyme and brush the edges with the egg mixture. Bake until the edges are set and starting to color, about 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350° and bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 25 minutes more. Transfer sheet to a rack to cool slightly.