Kitchen Stories: Fresh Fruit Tarts

We love that we've been spending lots of the time in the kitchen this week. These past months have been awfully busy, most especially with Bianca's fully loaded college schedule. Breakfast is always rushed or on the go, and by the time we're both home for dinner, we just want to get it over with so we can turn in for the night or in her case, do homework.

I'm so grateful for this short break we're having now to bond over food and cooking at home. We actually argue a lot when we're in the kitchen about how certain things should be done. But it's all in good fun and we always have a good laugh about it afterwards!

One of our favorite things to make are desserts with all kinds of berries. These picture perfect Fresh Fruit Tarts can be made with your choice of fruits as well - we're just partial to strawberries and blueberries. The tart shells can be made in advance and can keep for a month in the freezer. You can also opt to use ready made tart shells, like we did.*

Fresh Fruit Tarts
makes 6

For the Crust:
(recipe by Arleen Sevilla-Agustin)

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
3-4 tablespoons cold water

Cut in butter and vegetable shortening into flour using a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles a coarse meal.

Sprinkle cold water all at once over mixture and stir to blend until pastry is moist enough to hold together. Gather with hand and shape into a ball. Flatten into a disc and wrap with plastic wrap, chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 F degrees. Roll out chilled dough and press evenly into mini tart pans. Prick the bottoms with a fork, then lay a piece of parchment paper on each tart and put in dried beans as weights.

Place pie tarts on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Take out the paper with pie weights and return to oven for another 10 minutes, until golden brown. Cool crust completely.

For the Pastry Cream:

3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups fresh whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Fruit:

1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup blueberries
apricot jam, warmed and strained (optional)

In a medium sized, heatproof bowl, mix egg yolks, sugar together. Add in flour and cornstarch, mixing until you get a thick,smooth paste.

Heat milk in a saucepan until almost boiling, just until you start to see wisps of steam. Remove from heat. Slowly pour a little of the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Continue pouring the milk in a thin stream into the eggs, whisking continuously.

When all the milk have been added to the mixture, pour everything back in the saucepan. Set the pan back to medium heat and cook until boiling, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. As soon as mixture thickens to a pudding like consistency, whisk for a few more seconds then immediately remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract. 

Pour pastry cream into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap pressed right up against the surface of the cream.This will prevent the cream from forming a skin. Cool completely to room temperature then chill for at least 1 hour before using. Pastry cream will keep for about 3 days in refrigerator.

To assemble, fill tarts with cream and top with berries or fresh fruits of choice. Gently brush with apricot jam if desired.

Nothing inspires us to cook and to be more creative in the kitchen more than new tableware and props to play around with. We all "eat with our eyes" first, and our initial visual impression of food most certainly affects our sense of taste. So, no matter how simple a dish may be, we always find ways to serve it as appetizing and inviting as possible. Many thanks again to Bungalow 300 for helping us create our colorful and fun kitchen story for today!

Bungalow 300 items featured:
Bellini Tray in Teal
Danish Trays in Bamboo Green and Citrin Yellow
Shell Dipping Bowls
Cutlery Dinner Plate
Black Bird Plate
Chocolat Small Dish
Eleanor Bear Holiday Ornaments
Inabel Napkins and Hand Towels
Inabel Table Runner in Black & White

*tart shells were specially made for us by Arleen Sevilla-Agustin. Do check out her custom, made-to-order cakes, cupcakes and cookies at Arleen's Sweet Art.

Kitchen Stories: Baked Eggs with Spinach & Mushrooms

Baked eggs are great for brunch, and when served with a salad of leafy greens and some warm crusty bread, it's satisfying enough to double as dinner. They're cooked in individual ramekins so they're easy enough to be multiplied for a crowd. So perfect for entertaining! They can be dressed up in so many ways, with a lot of delicious flavor combinations. You can add bacon, sausages, cheese, tomatoes, potatoes and even quinoa, then just leave in the oven to cook! 

Baked Eggs with Spinach & Mushrooms
Serves 6

500 grams fresh baby spinach
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 tablespoons butter
350 grams fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced (we used baby portobello)
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
6 large eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cut off thick stems from spinach and discard. Clean spinach leaves by soaking in a large bowl or basin with water to loosen any sand or dirt. Drain, then repeat soaking and draining until clean. Transfer directly to a heavy skillet set over medium-low heat, no need to dry. Cook spinach leaves, turning with tongs, until wilted about 30 seconds. Set aside. 

Wipe skillet  dry, then melt butter on medium heat. Cook onions and garlic until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring until mushrooms have softened and released liquid. Continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated. This should take about 8 minutes.

Stir in the heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, cooked spinach and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove skillet from heat and allow  mixture to cool.

Brush 6 ramekins or oven-safe bowls with a little butter. Fill each with spinach and mushrooms. Create wells or indentations by pushing the filling to the sides of the bowl, large enough to fit an egg. Crack 1 egg into each well and cook in oven until whites are firm and yolks are still runny, about 15-18 minutes.

I know we've been away for quite some time, but one look at these pretty tableware from furniture and home store, Bungalow 300 was enough to lure us back into the kitchen to start cooking again! View their Holiday Gift Catalogue here or catch their pop up store for beautiful gift ideas at the Corte de las Palmas in Alabang Town Center from November 20 to 25.

Bungalow 300 items featured:
Raffia Placemats in Zen Black & White and Pomelo
Bone Side Plate and Salad Plate
Wooden Plates