For anyone who has had any contact with me for the last month, the idea of a lemon kefir tart shouldn’t come as a great surprise. I have, after all, spent that time all but obsessed with kefir, stashing mason jars of room-temperature milk all around the house, and watching gleefully as my grains — the live active culture — transform said milk into a thick, sweet, sour, sometimes slightly carbonated beverage.
What has set me down this path is a recent trip to New York, to visit Hana and her husband. Walking into their tiny Manhattan apartment, two things struck me almost at once: the happy, healthy, gigantic kombucha mother gurgling away in a jar on their counter, and the jar of kefir, just about done fermenting.
It has begun, dear friends, to seem a bit absurd to me that every time I make a pie, tart, or pasty for the blog, I provide instructions for making shortcrust pastry all anew. As I browse back through the last few months’ entries, this habit, it seems to me, is responsible for taking up quite a lot of space.
And so I thought to myself this morning — I thought: why not write a shortcrust primer, instead? Why not work up a master recipe that will recount my shortcrust technique, its major variations, and maybe offer just a couple of tips for making it work?
I’d like to begin by assuring you all that this post in no way promotes cannibalism. Nor cattibalism, neither. It seems as though, as with my quiche lorraine, a great deal rides on a name. And while an empanada might be perfectly innocent, and while a Cornish pasty might pass with little more than a blush and a raised eyebrow, a meat pie is a horse of a different feather.
There’s something that’s brilliantly, deceptively pedestrian about a quiche Lorraine. We tend to think of it as elegant, perhaps because its name is French, or perhaps because Julia Child famously made one, or perhaps because so many people — so much to my confusion — seem to find shortcrust pastry to be a challenge. But in the immortal words of The Simpsons: would a rose by any other name still smell as sweet?
Not, conclude Bart and Homer, if you called it Stench Blossom. Or Crap Weed.