Music stirs the senses.
It had been some time since our last visit and I’d forgotten the beauty of the sweeping lawns, lush flowers, deep green Berkshire mountains and the unparalleled music at Tanglewood in Western, Massachusetts.
For those of you unfamiliar with Tanglewood, it is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and plays host to distinguished musicians the world over.
Tanglewood was named for New England author Nathaniel Hawthorne, who wrote the children’s story Tanglewood Tales while vacationing in the Berkshires in 1853. This year at Tanglewood we chose to hear Michael Tilson Thomas conduct Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9. (Now before you say, “but I thought you liked James Brown”- I do. I have very eclectic musical taste but Beethoven…there’s just something about Beethoven…especially his No. 9 in a tranquil mountain setting.)
Tanglewood is a fantastic venue for music lovers of all ages. Lawn tickets are only $17.00 and anyone under 17 is admitted for free. So, if you love classical music, jazz, opera, would like to hear John Williams perform his famous musical scores, or would simply like to expose your children to something decent and beautiful – this is a divine place to be.
Picnics are a time honored tradition at Tanglewood and you’ll see a whole range of approaches to picnicking. The family next to us set up their table with linen, crusty baguettes, cheese and wine. We opted for floral tablecloths laid out on the grass with freshly squeezed lemonade and a basket full of rich, mouthwatering just-baked sweet and savory tarts.
My Tanglewood tarts are quite easy to make. For the main course, a savory tomato quiche…
Savory Tomato Quiche
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
135 g. all purpose flour
118 grams brown rice flour
100 g. quinoa flour*
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks of butter plus one tbs. (diced)
80 ml. ice water
Place flours, salt, butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Process on low speed until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water and mix for about 10 seconds at a time — just until mixture comes together. Form dough into disk, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
Roll out dough 1/4 inch thick and use it to line the tart pan (you can use 1 large or 2 medium tart pans). If you have trouble rolling the dough, you can press it into the tart pan and smooth it out with your fingers. Dock the dough with a fork, fill with pie weights and pre-bake about 10 minutes.
1 tbs. butter
1 tbs. olive oil
1 large leek, white part, chopped
1 large scallion, chopped
1 tsp. oregano
1 red pepper, minced
2 cloves garlic
6 large eggs
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
8 oz. Comte cheese
2 plum tomatoes, sliced
2 tbs. grated parmesan
Melt butter and oil in a sautee pan over medium heat. Add leek and shallot. Saute for 2 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper and oregano. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
In medium sized bowl hand whisk eggs, cream, milk. Stir in cooled onion mixture and Comte.
Pour filling into prepared tart shells, leaving a bit of space at the top. Gently garnish the filling with sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with parmesan and fresh black pepper.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until the top is lightly golden and an inserted knife comes out clean.
* I got the idea for using quinoa flour (pronounced keen-wa) from La Tartine Gourmande. It’s nice flour to use because it adds a nutty taste to the tart and also makes it less doughy. You can buy it here. You can substitute any flour in this recipe, including all purpose flour. Also, be sure to select a rich, nutty and sharp cheese. I used a Comte cheese from a New England purveyor because it’s what I had on hand but a good local Gruyere-like cheese works well.
And now for the sweet tartlettes…
Blueberry Almond Tartlettes
140 g. sugar
400 g. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
455 g. flour
1. Mix sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla with dough hook just until combined.
2. Add flour and mix until smooth. Do not over mix.
3. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
170 g. almond paste
180 g. sugar
3-4 egg whites
Place paste, sugar and one egg white in stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Combine until smooth.
Add egg whites one at a time. You want the batter to be thin but not completely runny so monitor the texture. It’s okay to leave some egg-white out. Refrigerate 1 hour.
To assemble the tarts:
Line tart pan with with rolled out dough (1/4 inch thick). Dock with fork. Line shell with pie weights and pre-bake about 5 minutes – just until the sides firm up a bit.
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Add filling to 1/2 way up the side of the pan. Top with fresh berries.
Bake anywhere from 10-20 minutes, depending upon your oven, until filling sets. Filling should puff up and turn light golden brown.
Cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar.
The Tanglewood summer line-up for 2010 will be released in March. If you don’t want to wait until next year, Boston Symphony Hall tickets go on sale today. Sadly, there’s no picnicking inside. (be sure to click the play button below for inspiration- give it a minute to load before playing)