Blueberries + a Tart

Paul is a tenant in a small house, rented over the past few years from my mother and father. It is a little red house just down the street from their place, though there are whispers of tales that a family with ten children once lived there. He lives there alone, along with his stout and gentle Rottweiler, Mandy, who sits just inside the doorway of the screened-in porch, at any given time of the day, if you happen to be driving by. Her ears are tuned for the sound of my father's car, or gravelly footstep, in hopes that he may be coming to pick her up for one of their walks, through the woods, with her racing excitedly ahead of him and back, toward the river bank. 

Paul is likely to be found carefully tending the garden. He tells my mother, planting daffodil bulbs by the side of the road, that when they bloom, he hopes we will think of him.

Last summer, Paul asked my mother if she thought my daughters would like to pick blueberries from the bush in the center of his front yard, saying there were far too many for his own use. So we did, as we picked he talked with us, in his cheerful way.

He told us of how, while a young soldier in Vietnam, a woman he once knew baked four dozen blueberry muffins, and shipped them to him. They arrived in crumbs, and he ate them with a spoon.

I wonder if she ever thought, as she baked and packaged and sent them, that he might think of her, decades later, whenever he saw blueberries.

Blueberry Tart

adapted from The Lutèce Cookbook

makes one 8-inch tart  (I made three 4-inch round tartlets)

for the Pâte Brisée:

1  1/4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 egg
1 tablespoon cold water

In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and butter. Process for 10 seconds. Add the egg and cold water. Process just until the dough comes together into a ball, taking extreme care not to overwork the dough (this only took 7 seconds for me). Dump the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, using the wrap to help you, shape into a flat disc. Place tightly wrapped dough in the refrigerator to chill and rest for at least 1 hour.

for the tart:

1 1/4 pounds blueberries (or huckleberries if you can get them)
1 tablespoon kirsch
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup cookie crumbs (or graham cracker crumbs)
1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar, for sprinkling

Set 3 ounces of berries aside. Put the remaining berries in a bowl with the kirsch and sugar. Set these aside.

Preheat oven to 375°. On a floured work surface, roll out the Pâte Brisée. Line an 8-inch tart tin or smaller tartlet tins with the dough, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Spread the cookie crumbs (or graham cracker crumbs) over the bottom of the pastry. Fill the pastry with the sugared berries.

Bake the tart (or tartlets) on a sheet pan for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle the reserved berries over the top, gently pressing them slightly into the surface of the tart. Cool to room temperature. Sift confectioner's sugar over the top just before serving. Do not refrigerate.

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