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Strawberry and Rhubarb Tart with Brown Butter Streusel

Photography by David Schmit

It is the height of rhubarb season in Minnesota.  I’ve already harvested the stalks (the leaves are poisonous) of this delectable vegetable four times from the six plants (yes – six) that Jon planted a couple of years ago and it’s only June 1st.

Unless you live in an apartment or have zero friends or neighbors, why would anyone need to purchase rhubarb?  It grows like a weed and should be harvested practically daily or it will flower and bolt (and I don’t mean run away, though some would like for it to do just that).  Nonetheless, I saw folks at the farmer’s market purchasing the stalks all morning.  You know that it is a must good if one must purchase something that is so prolific in these parts.

Regardless, of how you get your hands on a few stalks, grab a pint of strawberries as well and make this delicious early summer treat.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Crust
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg yolk
3 to 4 tablespoons chilled cream

Streusel
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup all purpose flour

Filling
2 1/2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 1/2 cups fresh strawberries, washed, dried and quartered
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon zested lemon peel

For crust:
Blend flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor for about 5 seconds. Using on/off turns, cut in butter until it is about the size of peas.  Add egg yolk and 3 tablespoons of cream.

Blend just until moist clumps form, adding a titch more cream if dough seems too dry, but don’t be fooled and add too much.

After mixing the dough, turn it out onto a work surface.  Using the heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute the fat.   This is called, “to fraisage” in French.  Gather the dough and shape the dough into a flat disk, then double wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour before using.

Note:  Chilling tart or pie dough is very important, because it helps relax the gluten (protein) in the dough, making it less elastic when it is rolled out.  It also firms up the fat so less flour is necessary when rolling out the dough—too much flour can make the dough tough. The longer the dough is chilled, the easier it is to roll out.

Pie dough can be stored in the refrigerator up to four days or frozen up to three months. Frozen dough should to be defrosted in the refrigerator for several hours or even overnight.  If it’s still too hard to roll out, let the dough sit at room temperature until it becomes pliable.

When ready to make the tart shell, roll out the disk of dough to a 12-inch diameter.  Form it into a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom to make the crust.  Freeze for an hour or two.  When ready to bake, pull the dough (still in the pan) out of the freezer and line the tart shell with parchment paper, add pie weights and bake for 2o minutes at 375°F.  Remove weights and paper and continue baking until tart shell is golden brown.

For streusel:
Cook the butter in in a large skillet over medium heat until golden, stirring often, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Mix in almonds, sugar, and cinnamon. Add flour and stir until moist clumps form. Cool completely.  (Crust and streusel can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill.)

For filling:
Preheat oven to 350°F.  Toss the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, flour, and zested lemon peel in a bowl and gently mix together.  Let stand until filling looks moist, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.  Spoon filling into crust.  Crumble streusel evenly over the filling.

Bake until filling is bubbling and streusel is crisp and brown, about 1 hour.  Cool tart on rack 30 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  If you want to gild the lily, add a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.