Oh, That’s Right


It’s late autumn.  Good fruit is but a memory now, a glistening image retreating over the horizon as winter looms and soon persists, no end in sight.  Now, though, just as we brace ourselves for the frigid onslaught, a forgotten ally returns triumphantly, restoring brightness and radiance.

Citrus delivers this relief, pure sunshine straight from happy lands beyond Frost’s reach.  These sunny ambassadors will stay by our side until the spring thaw.  Few of these friends are as sweetly exuberant as are clementines, and this week’s offering serves them in all their vital glory.   Here’s a Clementine-Olive Oil Tart, modeled closely on the lemon version featured in the March & April 2019 Cook’s Illustrated.

As clementine oranges are a bit less intense than are lemons, slightly more juice and zest are required to achieve the same effect.  Little matter.  Few fruits, from any time of the year, produce as striking an impression as do the oranges.  They spend the balmy subtropical summer soaking up all that sunshine, storing it to release when it’s needed most, in late-year climes sadly reconciled to winter’s inevitability.  Not yet, because when a clementine is around it’s always July.

Another improvement, perhaps, is adding poppy seeds to the dough.  Not only do they provide an interesting visual, a lattice of small  polka-dots, but they impart a light nuttiness that contrasts nicely with the clementine curd’s silky sweetness.  Indeed, the poppy is the bringer of dreams.

A surprising choice of moistening agent too, as olive oil fills in for butter here.  The oil does a good job at binding together both the crust and the curd, adding a cohesiveness previously unimaginable in a dessert prepared without butter.  Plus, the olive’s mild fruitiness foretells the more sparkling tastes just beyond.

Good berries have come and gone, as have edible peaches and melons.  Grapes roll downhill from their peak, taking cherries with them.  Orchards are in full retreat, yet just as we bemoan the abandonment, citrus raises high a glowing beacon, scattering the gloom and cold.  We thought fruity refreshment was gone too, but today’s treat proves us wrong.

*****

Clementine-Olive Oil Tart

For the crust:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups flour
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds, optional (*1)

For the filling:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, plus one yolk
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice of three clementines, plus 1 tablespoon of clementine zest

Start with the crust.  Adjust oven rack to the middle position, then preheat to 350°.   In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt.  Add the oil and water and stir until a dough forms.

Using your hands, crumble 3/4 of the dough onto the bottom of a 9-inch baking pan with a removeable bottom.  Press until the bottom is of an even thickness.  Take the remaining quarter of the dough and press it to an even thickness on the sides.  Place the pan on a baking sheet (*2) and bake it for about 35 minutes, until the crust is golden-brown.

About five minutes before the crust is finished baking, make the filling.  In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, flour and salt.  Whisk in the eggs until no streaks remain.  Whisk in the clementine juice and zest.  Place saucepan over a medium-low flame.  Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens slightly, about six minutes.  Cut the heat.

Remove the crust from the oven (but keep the oven running!) and place the crust, in the pan, on a wire rack to begin cooling.

Whisk the reserved olive oil into the filling in the saucepan, until incorporated.  Strain filling through a mesh strainer into the pastry crust.  Smooth to an even thickness with a rubber spatula.  Bake for 12 minutes, until the filling barely jiggles when shaken.

Let cool in the pan, on a wire rack, for two hours, then slice and serve.

NOTES:

1 – As mentioned in the introductions, poppy seeds make for  nice supplement, as their mild nuttiness compliments the sweet filling.

2 – The reason for the “extra” pan is that it creates a double barrier, discouraging burning.

 

 

52 thoughts on “Oh, That’s Right

  1. I haven’t heard of clementines in a long time. The recipe looks delicious and your description is artistic and psychologically brilliant! And I don’t say these words to just anyone. In fact, I’ve never said these words to anyone! I think you are an undercover food, poetry, and psychology genius. I am going off all your brilliant comments and posts over the years, so I should know.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh my. Thank you so much, Tamara! See, it’s comments as thoughtful and as wonderfully generous as are yours which motivate me to keep going every week.

      Few of the entries are quick, and at times the ingredients are quite expensive, but reading your reactions make both expenditures so worth it. For more than just the expected reasons, this is why I look forward to weekends.

      Anyway, I hope this article encourages you to try clementines again, my friend. Similar to you, I hadn’t enjoyed them myself for quite some time – until relatively recently, that is. Now that I’ve reacquainted myself, I’m glad for it. As you will be, too, I suspect, as clementine oranges, etc. are just about to shoot for their seasonal superstardom. Sure, by now, most fruits and veg are fading to memories, but citrus just is hitting its stride. If I had to nominate a superb consolation prize for winter’s scarceness, a clementine would be it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Much appreciated, Tamara!

        Actually, I have a couple vacation days scheduled next Monday and Tuesday, and I just might use some of that time to get set up on Pinterest and, maybe, on Instagram. Originally, this wasn’t planned until closer to Christmas, but externals cooperated for once.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. If you send me your email address, I will send you 2 images. One of my Facebook Page, and one of my Pinterest Page. But, you don’t have to. This way I thought you could follow me on Pinterest so I can repost some of your recipes on there. No pressure!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Much appreciated! My personal account is:

        kengwer@comast.net

        Yeah, if you don’t mind, I would like to see what you did with Pinterest and Facebook. Actually, I’ve plans this evening with a friend, but I’ll take a look tomorrow morning.

        Right now, I expect to have about 3-4 hours tomorrow, and another 3-4 Tuesday. I’ve no idea how long it’ll take, though my goal is to get set up on Pinterest tomorrow, and on Instagram Tuesday. Two things which may help, I already have the pictures filed away, and neither platform is particularly text-heavy, meaning there won’t be much wordsmithing involved.

        Thank for all your advice, Tamara!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes, I will get back to you with those links. These last few days have been busy with holidays, and tomorrow I have several appointments to attend. But, I will get back to you ASAP. My pleasure!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Greatly appreciated, Tamara!

        Actually, I got started today both on Pinterest and on Instagram, though I have much to learn, of course. Still, it wasn’t quite as difficult to maneuver as I had feared. Still the main destination for my efforts and for my creativity (and for socializing) always will be here, on WP.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Seconding Tamara about your undercover food/poetry genius. You could totally publish a collection of recipes and poems.

    “It’s late autumn.
    Good fruit is but a memory
    now a glistening image
    retreating over the horizon
    as winter looms
    and soon persists,
    no end in sight…
    Citrus raises high
    a glowing beacon,
    scattering the gloom
    and cold…
    the poppy…
    the bringer of dreams.”

    By the way, what a lovely clementine tart!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your compliment flows beautifully, Crystal. Thank you!

      It’s the clementine, I tell you. That citrus gets into the bloodstream and it makes me do all sorts of crazy things. Creates a verbal St. Vitus dance! It happens every year, when we first glimpse the clementine…

      Love how you pulled together references to the clementine and to the poppy. Both intoxicants to some degree. I write the words, and you set them to music.

      Like

      1. Thanks, Crystal.

        By the way, I’m interested in learning how long clementines have been available to you this season, if you notice that sort of thing. I’m not sure if you being closer to the growers makes a difference. Of course, this year’s supply chain issues likely affect typical distribution schemes anyway.

        Nonetheless, the citrus has been present up here for two weeks or so, and its quality this year has impressed. What I’ve sampled so far, even as the season just begins to rise, approaches peak-season excellence. If this is what we can expect over the next several months, I’m confident your experiment will be a happy one.

        Like

      2. Thanks Crystal – you as well!

        For us, clementines are available only from Halloween to Memorial Day (maybe). Something called “California Mandarins” fill in from late spring to early fall, but they’re a poor substitute.

        Anyway, if you do decide to juice some clementines, you’ll have to tell me what you think. Based on the two cases I’ve purchased so far, I’m getting good vibes about this season!

        Like

    1. Thanks, Jennifer!

      You may recall from an earlier entry, the Romans topped savillum (their version of cheesecake) with poppy seeds. The granules’ crunchy texture and nutty flavor were magical. So much so, in fact, they inspired hopes for a similar benefit nowadays.

      They didn’t disappoint. Great suggestion, Cato the Elder!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Sunny ambassadors? Nice, lovely writing as always but even more so with this post. I almost wish I could visit winter for just a moment so that I too could experience the welcome contrast for myself.

    Dessert always catches my fancy. This looks delish. Olive oil is a secret ingredient. It’s is crazy expensive in Trinidad but I’m sure there are wonderful alternatives to be found.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad to have invigorated your dreams, my friend! Go to bed tonight thinking about the clementine, and you’re sure to dream about sweets.

      Speaking of citrus, when life gives you lemons (i.e., winter) make lemonade (i.e.. coziness, stews, snuggling. and all manner of desserts). You may recall from your long-asleep days as an Idahoan, that’s the way we Northerners rationalize all the snow.

      At first, it baffled me, olive oil being so expensive for Trinis. Especially not when you’re so close to South America, marinated in Spanish and Portuguese culinary influences. Then I remembered you’re an island, and most things need to be shipped there. That’s one of the reasons Hawaii is so expensive, despite it being Paradise.

      In today’s entry, at least, regular vegetable oil likely would work too. Honestly, I think olive oil appeared in this recipe mainly in recognition of its novelty. “Bet you didn’t know olive oil is good for more than cooking paella!?” You know, that sort of thing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s just crazy what we Americas take for granted. We have literally everything at our fingertips and most times we don’t even have to work that hard to get it. There are a lot of amazing things here in Trinidad although when it comes time to shop for furniture, clothes, and certain food items a person just has to live with disappointment and channel it into finding alternatives. I was really floored to see how expensive shipping is here as well and then there is all that declaration business to contend with. It’s pretty funny too what I truly miss, thrift stores and dollar stores.

        Oh well, it’s just all part of the experience. Gotta embrace it right? I’m trying to find some more or less local recipes to try out. Anywho, sorry to fill up your comments section with stuff all about me, lol!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Not at all, JoAnn! The whole point of commenting is to communicate your opinion about what you read. You illustrate this by pointing to similar situations in your own experience. This is how conversations are born.

        Besides, consider what I did on your blog – an article about billboards soon launched me into discussing carsickness, my parents’ music preferences, and the beach. Hey…it’s how we learn about each other.

        Anyway, I appreciate what you’re saying about living in a place where so much of what we assume to be necessary is impractical, or simply is unobtainable. The typical person would complain, but you’re getting creative. You’ve resolved to make do with what’s available, and see where your ideas take you from there.

        Thus proving yourself superior to the situation. How many of the rest of us would pass this test?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ha ha, well I don’t know about the superior part but it is fun getting to know people through the commenting. Thanks for pointing that out. Also, I really don’t have too much to complain about here in Trinidad, relatively speaking life is pretty stress free.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. All the more reason I enjoy reading your impressions, JoAnn. The more relaxed you are, the more you share from your new home, and the richer your commentary here is, in consequence.

        Why on earth would I want to read somebody whose experiences are the same as mine? I already know what I think; no need for it to echo a thousand times. Like everyone here, I suspect, I want to exchange information, and to see what the imagination does with it.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Thanks for the compliment, JoAnn! Actually, I love interacting with visitors, and reading how various experiences apply to their own lives.

        It’s difficult to say which I enjoy the most – cooking the food, preparing the setting and subsequent article, or discussing them afterwards. One of the reasons Sunday afternoons have a “feel” I love, despite a brand-new workweek looming. People like you, JoAnn, who help me not to dread “a bad case of the Mondays.”

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Something tells me you’re going to use the time to get totally creative with the Trini pantry, JoAnn.

        You mentioned not enjoying quite the same selection you did in Orlando, but that’s only one factor. In compensation, you’re curious, you’re imaginative, and you’re open to new concepts. Some ingredients’ scarcity would foil lesser minds, but not yours. Then, consider…

        If you do relocate ever back to the States, think of the mad culinary skills you’ll let loose in a place (especially in the larger cities) where just about everything is available. Nice, huh?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful. I don’t normally think of clementines as a cooking ingredient, much less as the equal of lemons in desserts, but now I’m left wondering why on earth not.

    Oh, and I completely agree with the ladies above regarding the extent of your genius. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Compliment received most gratefully (and savored), Rachel!

      Not long ago, I juiced some clementines for breakfast, and they were…extraordinary! The nectar tasted just like Tang, with a vibrant ultra-orangeness which very nearly exceeded description. What a great development, fueling optimism for this week’s project.

      Much like you, I believed once Dessert Citrus = Lemon, then cooking opened a whole new world. So much citrus waits to serve. Yeah, but the question is, will we give it a chance? If we dare, the reward outshines the sun!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely, Rachel!

        The gods make a mere mortal work for divinity, though, as juicing about a million clementines is quite a task. Although it does answer curiosity of why clementine juice isn’t in the refrigerated section. Fact is, it probably would cost about $60 a quart. Enough to dissuade all but the obsessed. Which would include me. And you, if you try it.

        Thanksgiving was nice – thank you for asking, Rachel. We dined at my mother’s place. She wasn’t feeling well, though, which left most of the preparation to me. Fun, but in serving seven people, exhausting. How was your holiday?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Lol! Well then, you could start a market for it. Open a restaurant, call it Nectar & Ambrosia, and sell specialty juices like fine wines, accompanying the divine dishes that you so often craft.

        Good to hear. Sorry your mother wasn’t feeling well. She okay?
        My Thanksgiving was fine. Mostly uneventful (for me, anyway, as my sister was too busy helping out with dinner to crack the whip and figure out how I could help). Got to spend time with my dad though, so that’s good.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Your Thanksgiving sounds satisfying, Rachel. And that’s before any turkey or sides were served. Add happiness to a meal well prepared, and those memories will enrich a lifetime. I mean that, Rachel. When we discuss it twenty years hence, a particular Thursday in November 2021 will come to mind. The years will burnish those recollections.

        I like your idea of a clementine-forward restaurant, but have pity on the workin’ man. Do you realize how long it took to squeeze juice sufficient for this tart? Trying to keep up with dining rooms full of people all clamoring for liquid sunshine. Even if I really amped my juicing game, there would be no way to make it work.

        Unless…

        Could we get the League involved? Detail each Full Member to juice ten dozen globes a day. Twenty dozen for Prospective Members. Then…then…we might be in business.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Seems to me, one of the dustiest volumes in the library contains an incantation for juicing clementines. “Devorum sinensis…”

        Going back even farther, I believe one of Hercules’ labors was to juice a thousand clementines. Believe me, I’d rather tangle with the Hydra.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tamara. It was extravagant, but it wasn’t particularly imaginative. Having to work Thanksgiving morning, then again the morning after, confined things.

      How about you? Were you a host or a guest? Either way, I expect Thor got a taste of the festivities.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Absolutely, Tamara. Honestly, can you believe it’s fewer than four weeks to Christmas?

        It’s a good thing I made so much progress today on social media, as it frees up tomorrow to wrap gifts and to work on Christmas cards.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. oh wow look at that vibrant clementine orange color! it screams fresh and sweet and all the wonderful thing. I love the addition of poppy seeds in the crust. Never saw a crust recipe like that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, Mar, your comments are so kind! Exuberant citrus makes one almost glad it’s winter. Almost.

      Actually, the idea for a poppy-seed crust came months ago, with Savillum, the Ancient Roman predecessor to cheesecake. As graham crackers were millennia into the future, the Romans topped their treat with honey and poppy seeds. It worked so well, the seeds had an encore appearance, which you noticed!

      Like

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