Something old and something blue

Before I loved to cook, I loved to thrift. (Those without the thrift-store itch will forgive my use of the verb.) My entire high school wardrobe, and much of my college one was hunted and gathered from various North Carolina Goodwills and American Ways. If you're from the Triangle and have ever donated a velvet jacket or thin-waled pair of cords, it's likely your clothes have lived in my closet. I still scavenge for summer dresses and vintage slips, but these days when I pop into the local thrift store--which goes by the shabby-chic name Thriftique--I tend to gravitate toward the kitchen wares section.

I've accumulated a little aluminum collection of old tart tins and cake pans. Some are tiny molds whose proper use I've yet to figure out...but, they may just become tortilla bowl molds considering how well they recently performed as such.

As I'm not in the habit of making mini-muffins, these tins are stashed away for a future cocktail party I occasionally fantasize hosting. So many possibilities in a couple of somethings worth nothing to someone else and about 50 cents to me: miniature strawberry cheesecakes...tiny tortilla cups filled with pulled pork and spinach quiches.

I haven't a clue what this stainless steel bowl was meant to hold. It sort of reminds me of a mess-kit container, but it's far too heavy for hiking. It'll keep a couple of scoops of homemade ice cream cool in July, though, and that's how I plan to use it and its three siblings, all mine for a dollar a piece.

Every time I reach for one of these dry good containers--and I groggily reach for the third one from the left every single morning--I get a thrift-thrill. I grabbed these, along with a few wooden-handled spatulas and some copper-colored measuring cups, from the basement of Red Door Antiques and Interiors in Wake Forest, NC, a treasure trove of vintage kitchen wares.

My latest find: a couple of aluminum tart tins. Since my existing tart tin collection lacked right angles, I felt giddy when I scooped up the rectangular one. Then, I added the round one because I hated to separate the pair just to save a buck.

Sometimes, and I can't say just when those times occur, one wants a tart with corners. Recently, I did. And I wanted it sweet and sour with a shortbread crust and a bed of shiny blueberries on top.

If I had a picnic to attend this 4th of July, I would bring this tart. The crust is a simple, shortbread-like thing, and the blueberries are virtually naked save for a thin glaze of blueberry coulis. Baked in an old aluminum tin, this tart could be an immediate family tradition.
If I didn't have a picnic invitation, and I don't, I would eat it for dessert while watching Alfred Hitchcock movies, and I have. Mrs. Bates death-maw is even more electrifying accompanied by a bite of tangy lime curd.

Blueberry and Lime Curd Tart
Adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2002. The original recipe makes 8 3-inch tartlets, and can be found here at This recipe is modified for a 6 by 10-inch rectangular tin, but will work in other dimensions, including round ones with 8-9-inch diameters.

For curd:
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
6 large egg yolks
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 teaspoons grated lime peel
For crust:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons (about) chilled whipping cream
1 large egg yolk
For blueberry topping:
3 1/2-pint baskets blueberries
1 tablespoon sugar
To make the curd:
1. Whisk sugar and lime juice in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk in yolks, then butter.
2. Cook over medium-low heat until thick, smooth, and just beginning to bubble, stirring constantly, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in lime peel.
3. Transfer to small bowl. Press plastic wrap onto surface of curd. Refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours. (Can be made 4 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)
To make the crust:
4. Blend flour, sugar, and salt in food processor for 5 seconds. Add butter and cut in, using on/off turns, until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 2 tablespoons cream and egg yolk. Using on/off turns, blend until moist clumps form, adding more cream by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Shape dough into a shape roughly the dimensions of your tart pan. Press dough into bottom and up sides of tart pan with removable bottom. Pierce crust with fork. Chill, wrapped in plastic, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
To make the topping:
5. Place 1/2 cup berries and sugar in heavy small saucepan. Using fork, mash berries coarsely. Cook mixture over medium heat until beginning to simmer, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Using rubber spatula, push as much of mixture as possible through strainer set over medium bowl. Mix remaining blueberries into strained berries. Set topping aside.
6. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake tart crust until lightly golden, pressing any bubbles with back of fork, about 20 minutes. Cool crust completely on a rack.
7. Using a spatula, spread curd in crust. Arrange blueberry topping over curd. (Let stand at room temperature up to 2 hours or refrigerate up to 1 day.)


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