Emily Schuman, Cupcakes and Cashmere
My go-to 5-minute meal: "Breakfast burrito (though I'll happily eat them at any time during the day). I just heat up a tortilla, make some scrambled eggs (with a splash of heavy cream, salt, pepper, and chopped chives), top it with some aged cheddar cheese and wrap it up."
Ideal dinner date... "My ideal dinner date is low-key and fun. My new thing is sitting at the bar at restaurants (particularly Sotto). Not only is there more of a relaxed setting, but it's fun to be able to watch the bartenders do their thing, and you almost always end up engaged in conversation with other patrons. I keep things casual with my outfit as well, usually opting for dark skinny jeans, a T-shirt, blazer, and classic pumps."
Favorite food-nerd ingredient: "It's too hard to choose just one! My three most used: 1 — Truffle salt. It elevates pretty much anything you sprinkle it on (I'm addicted to it on popcorn). 2 — Madagascar vanilla extract. It makes such a difference with baked goods and homemade ice cream. And 3 — Luxardo cherries. These make every cocktail feel wonderfully indulgent, and are a huge step up from your typical maraschino cherries."
Fresh Strawberry Tart
(Recipe via Smitten Kitchen)
1 fully baked 9-inch tart shell (recipe below)
Pastry cream (recipe below)
3 to 4 cups fresh strawberries, hulled
Spread the pastry cream into the bottom of the empty tart shell and add the stawberries — arranging in any pattern you prefer.
Tart Crust (recipe via Smitten Kitchen; adapted from Paris Sweets: Great Desserts From the City's Best Pastry Shops)
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/2 cup ground blanched almonds, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Add the butter into a food processor, and work until creamy. Next blend in confectioners' sugar. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, when necessary. Continue to add the ground almonds, salt, and vanilla. Lightly whisk eggs and add to mixture as it processes. Lastly, add flour and pulse the mixture until dough forms. Remove immediately, — don't overwork the mixture — roll into a ball, divide the entire batch into three equal sections (three tart crusts), mold into disks, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least four hours (although, it can potentially last up to two days in the refrigerator).
When ready to roll out the tarts, butter a tart pan and place onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll out each section of the dough between two sheets of plastic — one that lines the table and one that lines the dough. Flatten and roll the mixture on both sides, removing the plastic sheet several times so as not to stick. When the dough is spread enough to fit the tart pan, place it into the pan and gently press into the sides. Fill in any gaps and cracks with remaining pieces of the mixture (don't stretch it thinner).
In a 350-degree oven, bake the crust for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure the crust is lined with a circle of parchment or foil paper, filled with dried beans or rice. Cool before preparing the remainder of the tart.
Pastry Cream (recipe via Smitten Kitchen; adapted from Paris Sweets: Great Desserts From the City's Best Pastry Shops)
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil and set aside. In a larger saucepan, combine the yolks, sugar, and cornstarch, whisking until it becomes thick. Very slowly, begin pouring the milk into the yolks, whisking away all the while. Add the remainder of the milk (super slowly) and be sure to continue to whisk.
Still whisking (we're serious, don't stop) bring the entire mixture to a boil over medium heat. After another one or two minutes of vigorous mixing, remove the pan from the heat, pour the cream into a bowl, and let cool for three minutes.
Cut the butter into chunks and gradually add to the warm mixture. Continue to stir in all the butter until it's melted. Once the mixture is complete, chill the tart cream by placing the bowl inside a larger bowl filled with ice cubes. Let the two bowls remain in the refrigerator and stir the mixture from time to time to ensure it all remains even.
Photo: Courtesy of Cupcakes and Cashmere
Emily Schuman, Cupcakes and Cashmere