WRITTEN ON December 11th, 2009 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Baking, Mediterranean, Nuts, Vegetarian

If you’re like me, you’ve been to a million and one showers for one reason or another.  By now I think the women in my life must be the cleanest folk on the planet (ba dum dum).  While I’m always so happy for the showeree, I have to say that after a while they all tend to run together a bit.

I try to stifle a yawn while watching the blushing bride open the ubiquitous Cuisinart coffee pot (“Oh! They’ve updated it this year to include an alarm clock!”), and have been known to practice my isn’t-that-adorable face before witnessing a soon to be new mommy exclaim over her Pee-Pee Tee-Pees (“Why how funny!”) and multiple unisex onesies.

Recently I’ve started offering to handle the shower menu.  Selfishly, if I had to attend one more light ladies lunch where little more than crudite and tea sandwiches were served, I’d be telling people to lose my address. Don’t hostesses realize that a girl’s gotta eat?  The always-the-bridesmaid types are looking for any way to drown their sorrows, and the almost mommies attending are, frankly, ravenous.  After all, growing a baby takes work!

I made this tart as part of a baby shower menu for my friend Lulu. She’s pregnant with identical twins, and she’s positively glowing.  I love creating menus with specific people in mind.  This particular friend is sophisticated. She has impeccable taste, and is somehow traditional and contemporary all at once. This tart was perfect: simple, full of flavor, a classic, clean butter crust with a slightly surprising center. It’s savory and sweet, light and filling.  Just like my friend.  A little of everything, in a gorgeous package.

Interestingly enough, since I’ve started charity-catering my friend’s showers, I’ve started taking a much greater interest in the events themselves.  Tailoring the menu for the guest of honor helps me not only remember that specific shower (my friend Becca has a photographic memory for other people’s outfits.  Me?  I remember the event by the food), but it somehow endears me to the process of showering someone you love.  Volunteering to put in the extra work actually gives the shower a lot more meaning for me.  It’s reminded me that taking the time out to show people how much you love them is the best gift of all.

What a tart

What a tart

Swiss Chard, Pine Nut and Raisin Tart (makes one 10 inch tart)
For the pastry:
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 sticks butter (10 tbsp), very cold, cut into cubes
5 tbsp ice water
On a clean countertop, combine flour and salt. Using the tips of your fingers, mush flour mixture and butter together.  Continue to combine using a pastry cutter, until the texture resembles wet sand.  You want the butter and flour as well incorporated as possible.  Create a mound, add water, 1 tbsp full at a time, and combine with your hand. You want to make sure the dough has come together without being too sticky.  Also, you’ll want to do this relatively quickly.  The more you work the dough, the tougher it’s going to be.  Form dough into a flat, round disk.  Wrap in plastic, chill in fridge about 20 minutes.  Dust a clean surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll out pastry, large enough to fit a 10 inch tart pan.  Place on a cookie sheet, chill in fridge while you make the filling.

For the filling:
2 large bunches Swiss Chard, ribs trimmed
1/2 cup yellow raisins
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 egg
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium bowl, pour hot water over raisins.  Let soak 10 minutes. In a large pot, wilt chard over medium heat.  Season with salt. Drain. When cool, squeeze out all excess moisture, chop.  Drain raisins, place back in bowl.  Combine Swiss chard, raisins, pine nuts, cream, egg and nutmeg.  Season to taste with salt and pepper (a little teeny taste of raw egg isn’t going to kill you). Pour filling into prepared tart shell, bake in oven about 50 minutes.  Serve room temp, dusted with confectioners sugar.

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