Lidia Matticchio Bastianich is my food guru. I love watching her PBS cooking show not only for the wonderful recipes, but for the warm interaction she displays with her children, her grandchildren and her charming, elderly mother. I love her restaurants in New York City and have been a devotee’ from years ago before Frico Bar closed and became Esca. Having met her several times, including when she agreed to give a lecture at an Italian cultural organization I’m part of, I can tell you she’s just as gracious in person. On the occasion of the lecture, her mother (and then boyfriend) came along. I’m not sure whose company we enjoyed the most – Lidia or her mother’s. In any event, we all wished we could be part of their family.
While that’s not likely to happen, we are lucky enough to have dozens of Lidia’s recipes from her many fabulous cookbooks. Next to Marcella Hazan, Lidia is my “go-to, never-fail” source for Italian recipes. This one is no exception. It is crazy delicious. I made it last week when my “long-lost, but recently-reunited-with” high-school chum Gail (that’s another story) and her husband Jay came to visit. We all loved it, but Jay went over the top in his praise and I offered to give him some to take home. They were already in the car headed for Pennsylvania when I realized they left the wrapped-up leftover piece in my kitchen. By then, it was late and Gail, in the driver’s seat, was already on the highway home. I called her on her cell phone but she decided not to reverse the momentum and turn around for the tart. She later told me that Jay was not a happy camper. Once you make it, you’ll understand. This one’s worth turning around for.
Here’s how to make it:
Wash your apricots, cut in half and remove the pits.
Wash your blueberries.
Fill a tart pan with the crust (recipe below), spread with apricot jam and scatter the berries.
Spread the batter over the blueberries.
Place the apricot halves on top of the batter.
This is how it looks when it comes out of the oven, all puffy – and before you glaze it.
Blueberry-Apricot Frangipane Tart
From “Lidia’s Italian Table”
For the shell:
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into cherry-size pieces and chilled
1 large egg yolk
zest from 1 lemon
ice water as needed.
Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. Place in the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter, egg yolk and lemon zest and pulse the ingredients until the butter resembles cornflakes and is distributed evenly throughout the flour mixture. Sprinkle 3 T. ice water over the mixture and pulse until the dough holds together when lightly pressed. Add more ice water if necessary. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let it rest in refrigerator for one hour.
For the filling:
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup finely ground blanched almonds or almond flour (I found almond flour at my local health food store)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup apricot glaze, warmed (see note)
1 cup blueberries, picked over for stems
1 pound ripe apricots
Butter a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. (In the photo I used an 11 inch pan, which is fine except you will have a filling that is not as high as it would be with a 10-inch pan.) Center the dough over the tart pan, fit the dough well into the edges with your fingers, and trim off any excess overhanging dough. Prick the bottom of the tart shell with a fork, and set on a baking sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Make the filling: With an electric mixer at medium speed, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the ground almonds or almond flour and vanilla and mix until a smooth batter forms.
Brush the tart shell with 1/4 cup of apricot glaze, then spread the blueberries over the bottom. Pour the almond mixture over the blueberries and, with a spatula, spread it evenly. Arrange the apricot halves over the almond mixture, cut side down. Bake at 350 degrees until the almond mixture and the edges of the tart shell are golden brown, about 40 minutes.
Let the tart cool for 30 minutes, then brush with the remaining 1/4 cup warm apricot glaze.
Note: Apricot glaze is available at some specialty food stores. To make your own, warm apricot jam in a small saucepan over low heat. If the jam is very chunky, add a tablespoon or two of water and strain before using.