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Easy Roasted Eggplant Dip

Easy Roasted Eggplant Dip
Roasted Eggplant Dip | Delightful Crumb

It’s a lovely time of year, this moment where summer meets fall. The days toggle from hot to cool, there’s a new crisp wind on certain mornings, the markets burst with the last of summer’s bounty and the beginning of autumn’s. It’s hard to decide whether to dedicate the space and weight in the market bags to multiple ears of corn or apples or those first lovely squashes—which I know I’ll tire of at some point this winter, but that’s hard to imagine now. On top of that layer of heavy things, I balance fat eggplants and late-season tomatoes and whichever fresh green herbs are still abundant.

It’s an easy time to eat, though the truth is that I feel that way much of the time—every season but the deepest weeks of winter, and even then on my good days (stay tuned . . . ?). At the least, the market is my favorite starting point for a meal. My most beloved menus are an assemblage of things—some sort of bread as the anchor, plus multiple selections from among the following: dips and spreads, salads (raw or cooked, leafy and/or composed), soup (hot or chilled), cheeses, jams, good butter. It might be more work—though sometimes it isn’t. (Make something[s] ahead of time, buy a prepared option at the fancy store in your neighborhood, choose at least one item that requires nothing but slicing and assembling, etc.) It is usually more fun. It’s the best way I know to accommodate an allergy or aversion without much fuss—for either you or your guest. And it yields the loveliest, most generous table, save the likes of Thanksgiving.

This eggplant dip has been a staple of my spread this summer and fall. It could hardly be easier, and the results are delicious. You can make adjustments to your preferences, roast the eggplant while you do other things, prepare it ahead of time if needed. It’s excellent with flatbread, slices of good bread, crackers and/or crudités. I hope it finds its way to your table before you succumb to squashes—at which point you can switch to this fabulous number via Yotam Ottolenghi and welcome the change with open arms and a full table.

Roasted Eggplant Dip with Mint & Sumac

There are plenty of recipes along these lines in the world. This is my version, with many options included in the instructions that follow so that you can choose your own adventure. Additionally: if you don’t have mint or parsley, sub another soft green herb or skip this altogether. Sesame seeds and pomegranate seeds are excellent topping options as well.

Roasted Eggplant Dip | Delightful Crumb

2 medium or 1 large eggplant

Tahini

Greek yogurt

Extra-virgin olive oil

Red wine vinegar

1 lemon

Salt

Freshly cracked black pepper

Aleppo or red pepper flakes (optional)

Flaky salt

Fresh mint or parsley

Sumac (optional but recommended)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice an “x” in the eggplant(s) in several places to prevent oven explosions. Roast for about an hour, flipping the eggplant once if you think of it, until the skin is dark and the eggplant has collapsed somewhat. A knife should slide through without any resistance. Let the eggplant cool slightly, until you can handle it without burning your fingers.

Once cool, scoop the eggplant flesh into a bowl. Don’t worry if some of the skin comes along (I like the added texture). Add a big spoonful each of tahini and Greek yogurt. Pour in a long drizzle of olive oil. Add a splash of red wine vinegar, the juice from half of the lemon, a generous pinch of salt, some freshly ground black pepper and, if you like, a pinch of Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes. Use a whisk to mix aggressively.

Taste the dip and adjust any elements to your preferences. You might want to add more tahini or Greek yogurt for thickness and flavor (more depth from tahini or zing from yogurt), olive oil for richness, vinegar or lemon juice for brightness, salt for balance, etc.

Spread the dip on a plate, making swirls with the back of a spoon. Top with more olive oil, flaky salt, fresh herbs and, optionally, sumac or pepper flakes. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with flatbreads, bread, crackers and/or crudités.

Hello, Discomfort! | Blueberry Almond Cake

Hello, Discomfort! | Blueberry Almond Cake
Blueberry Almond Cake | Delightful Crumb

Hello from Chicago, and from the uncomfortable in between! Moving, my friends, is no small feat, though any of you who’ve moved know that already. And, yes, I knew that, too, but it doesn’t make it easier, I’m sorry to say.

We’re on the other side of what, to me, are the hardest parts: all of the goodbyes and “lasts” back in our old city, the wait while all of our belongings made their way across the country in a moving container, carrying those precious belongings up the narrow back steps of our new building, cleaning an apartment that one might (reasonably?!) have hoped would already have been plenty clean, figuring out what doesn’t fit in a new space (i.e., the totally normal-sized bed frame), buying the replacements for both this and everything I gave away or tossed back in Oakland, trying not to dwell on all of the money a move requires, that short but awful moment when nothing feels familiar. Being past all that is a relief—but the challenges of arriving are far from over. While I’m now in possession of a Chicago library card and have found a good cafe for working, a nice coffee shop and a running route, I’m still scouting out the grocery stores and farmers’ markets. I don’t have a favorite restaurant or a church or a place where they know my name. I have, like, two friends. And I can’t for the life of me find great lighting for food photos in this apartment.

If I’ve realized anything this month, it’s about the last move, not this one. The transition to Oakland was so hard, and while I theoretically had a good handle on why, I’m realizing now that I never forgave myself for struggling as much as I did. I should have been able to handle it, right?! I can do hard things! But here I am, seven years older, married for seven years (vs. zero!), with plenty of therapy under my belt and a sense of the challenges of a big, cross-country move . . . and it’s still hard! Also, a lot of genuinely bad things happened during and right after that move: the job searching, the mugging, the health scare, etc. Of course it was hard. Of course I fell apart. I finally am extending grace to twenty-five-year-old me. Now I just need to work on grace for thirty-two-year-old me—who I am sure I’ll likewise understand better in retrospect.

I find myself feeling very ready for fall. For one, I’ve been waiting a mighty long time for a proper autumn season. Crisp air! Scarves! Tights! A physiological reason for warming stews! But it’s obviously more than that. I’m ready to be past this summer, the one in which we wrestled with the question of whether or not to move, made our decision, broke our own hearts, said goodbyes, moved out, moved in, started over. I would like to be on the other side, with art on the walls and enough friends for a dinner party.

Yet I know enough to try, at least, to appreciate the moment, however uncomfortable and awkward I might find it. Grace Bonney recently quoted advice she received from an older woman about her own season of transition. This woman called it “the juiciest time,” which I love, and told Grace, Don’t rush through it. The freedom of the unknown is something you’ll come to enjoy more as you get older. There are people, I hear, for whom this comes easily, even people who are not “older”; I just happen to not be one of them. But I know it’s true. I know it’s a rich and fleeting window.

And if I squint hard enough, I can almost see it: the possibility and hope for all that might happen for this girl who lives in Chicago. After all, how could I have imagined everything that unfolded in the Bay Area? In the first months after that move, as one thing after another didn’t go as I’d hoped, a happy, full life felt impossible. This time, I have some proof—because things did work out, good emerged even from the bad, life offered up its magic. As it always does.

Furthermore, it’s still August, and there are peaches and tomatoes and corn and blueberries to boot. Blueberries had come and gone in the Bay, but they seem to still be abundant here—a little bonus, like those extra hours you gain when you cross the right time zones. So here is a favorite cake, delicious there, delicious here, captured in imperfect light and comforting indeed.

Blueberry Cake with Almond & Cinnamon

Very slightly adapted from Alison Roman‘s excellent Dining In

This cake is intended to be reminiscent of a muffin top, which it achieves, delightfully. It is nutty and yet light, with a comforting kick of cinnamon. Beating the batter for an extended amount of time gives the cake its lift, but don’t go beyond the time allotted or it might get too tall for the tart pan (no need to worry about this if you use a traditional cake pan).

Blueberry Almond Cake | Delightful Crumb

1 cup (100 g) almond flour

3/4 cup (90 g) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus additional

1/2 cup (105 g) light brown sugar

1/4 cup (50 g) plus 3 tablespoons (approx. 40 g) cane sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Scant 2 cups blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a 9-inch fluted tart pan or round cake pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: the flours, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

Using an electric or stand mixer, beat together the butter, brown sugar and 1/4 cup of the cane sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is super light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl. With the mixer on medium, add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined after each, and then add the vanilla. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is pale and nearly doubled in volume, about 4 minutes.

Fold in the almond mixture until no dry spots remain. Gently add 1 1/2 cup of the blueberries, mixing by hand.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and, using an offset spatula, smooth the top. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup blueberries and 3 tablespoons sugar on top. Bake until the cake is deeply golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. It should start to crackle on the top, and a knife inserted in the center should come out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool before slicing and serving. It will keep well, tightly wrapped, for several days.

Note: I’m aware that there’s something wrong with the comment function on my site right now—I’m working on getting to the bottom of it! Thanks for putting up with the lo-fi nature of this humble blog in the meantime.

The Next Next Adventure | Almond Rye Cake

The Next Next Adventure | Almond Rye Cake
Almond Rye Cake

I’m here today with cake and big news: Ben and I are moving to Chicago! It’s bittersweet and exciting and many other things—I’m full of all the feelings, and have been for months. I’ve lived not just in California but the Bay Area, Oakland and THIS apartment by Lake Merritt for seven years, years that have been full of so much life, good and bad and everything in between. We moved here freshly married, and we never had a plan as to whether we’d stay forever or just a short season. It became clear in what was a really challenging first year that it wouldn’t be the latter: we were going to stick it out, and we were going to make this work. Maybe we’d leave, but we wouldn’t leave defeated. We were going to create a life.

And so we did.

Grand Lake Theatre | Delightful Crumb
Lake Merritt | Delightful Crumb

Last fall, it felt like a switch flipped and we could consider, for the first time, the idea of moving. We wish we were closer to our families in Michigan; we’d long said maybe Chicago when people asked if we’d stay in the Bay—or, alternately, whether we’d be going “back home”—if only to have something to say. It’s wildly expensive here, as everyone knows. And while we love it, there’s also a way in which it never quite clicked.

And so, we started exploring the possibility of Chicago and of a summer move, and the path was winding to say the least. It seemed good, and then it didn’t, and then it did again. All of my feelings about the Bay Area seemed to coalesce—just as we considered leaving! We reflected on past decisions and sought wisdom on this one. I made pro/con lists. Ultimately, the answer we got to all of that discerning was that we should, or at least could, try and see what might happen. And when we did, the doors opened. I work remotely and can keep my job, which was a factor in considering this in the first place, and Ben ended up with a compelling offer at a great school. As painful as it felt to leave everything here, there were no barriers to pulling up our roots.

Even so, we had to decide. I realized, literally when we sat down with dinner and a bottle of wine to hash it all out, that I didn’t want it to be a decision. I wanted it to be clear: this or that, right or wrong, here or there. And yet. I don’t actually want to live in a world like that, and I don’t believe we do. Sometimes there’s a right answer, but often there is not. Rarely are things clear and easy, even if we look back and tell the story that way. I’d been saying to people that we were really confident about our move out here from Michigan, but while packing up my books, I found an article I wrote in 2013 for Remedy Quarterly in which I state that we moved to the Bay Area with an average of 75% certainty between us. So much for that memory!

And so, here we go, on to the next adventure. It’s bittersweet, but I’m incredibly grateful to love these things—this place, my community, the life we built here—enough that it’s hard to leave.

Certain seasons of life, I’ve found, are essentially about one thing—one lesson or specific focus or set of experiences. But these seven years were not like that. This was time enough for several seasons, with plenty of ups and downs and twists and turns. I can’t tie an easy bow on what this time has meant, and I’m not interested in doing so. It’s hard to even describe why we’re moving in a succinct and straightforward way. I have far more to say on my time in the Bay and this decision and the topic of transition, but I’ll save it for later, once I’m on the other side.

San Francisco Skyline
Ocean Beach

For now: cake!

This cake, which I didn’t make with plans to post (hence my super casual stoop photos!), was the last thing I baked in my kitchen before boxing up my pots and pans two weekends ago. I made it primarily to use up a lingering box of almond paste, but I left out the wrong pan in my early round of packing up kitchen equipment and ran out of all-purpose flour. I tossed in some rye flour instead and used a lemon rather than an orange. All told, I made a bunch of modifications and worried that this last cake on Wayne Ave would be a flop that I’d take it way too seriously and/or as a metaphor. But it didn’t, not at all, and I’ll take that as a reminder that things don’t always go wrong. This cake would go splendidly with any summer fruit and a big spoonful of whipped cream, or stand alone with coffee or tea.

I can’t wait to make it in my next kitchen.

Almond Rye Cardamom Cake

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh’s Sweet

The original recipe calls for a 9-inch Bundt pan and baking for 50 to 55 minutes. As my Bundt pan was packed away, I’ve not yet tried this. I’m sure it’s lovely, but I’ll also say that an 8-inch round yields a satisfyingly tall little number. The cake emerges with a golden top that has a slight, pleasant crackle, and it’s even got that delightful crumb.

Almond Rye Cake

7 oz (200 g) almond paste, broken into pieces

1 cup (200 g) cane sugar

1 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (250 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus additional

Zest of 1 lemon

3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

6 large eggs

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup (90 g) all-purpose flour, plus additional

1/2 cup (50 g) rye flour

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease and flour an 8-inch round pan with at least 2-inch sides. Place the almond paste in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Add the sugar and beat on medium-low speed for about 3 minutes, or until the almond paste breaks up. Add the butter, lemon zest and cardamom and continue to beat. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl from time to time. Add the almond extract and beat to combine.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flours, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Add this to the creamed mixture slowly, beating on medium-low speed until the batter is just combined.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan, smooth the top and bake for about 1 hour, or until a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Keep an eye on the cake, and if it begins to brown, tent it with foil. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then tip the cake from the tin before letting it continue cooling.

Serve at room temperature, with fruit and/or cream if you like. The cake will keep well for several days, wrapped tightly with plastic, and also freezes well.

Caper-Raisin Vinaigrette for All Manner of Vegetables

Caper-Raisin Vinaigrette for All Manner of Vegetables
Zucchini with Caper-Raisin Vinaigrette | Delightful Crumb

I think a lot about vegetables and how to prepare them, which will surprise no one. When it comes to eating vegetables, I personally am pleased with many simple things: a handful of snap peas, a perfect green salad, a straightforward smoothie. But that’s only the beginning. While I don’t eat meat, I also don’t subsist on raw cucumbers and kale, as some people still assume. This is neither sufficient nutrients nor excitement enough for me or for you. And while we’re all much more accustomed to stunning veg dishes than we were only a decade ago, thank goodness, there’s more progress to be made. Vegetables still have some work to do to impress those raised on canned green beans or gently cooked Brussels sprouts or the sad restaurant salads of yore—and maybe the rest of us, too.

Some days, perfect produce prepared perfectly is sufficient. The green salad at Via Carota, which I have eaten at its source but have not yet made at home, is an excellent example. So too is the composed salad category, should you find you have some top summer produce on hand upon returning from the farmers market or, should you be so lucky, your backyard garden.

But some days, more pizzazz is in order. Enter this caper-raisin vinaigrette. It’s punchy, bright, packed with flavor and more than enough to convince a zucchini skeptic of the humble squash’s potential. The recipe comes from Six Seasons, a cookbook by Joshua McFadden of Ava Gene’s in Portland—absolutely a restaurant worth visiting next you’re in that fine city. This little condiment demonstrates why McFadden is known for his way with vegetables. It is delicious, and it elevates simply cooked vegetables to great new heights—ideal for these summer days when you want to minimize the time spent at the oven, and perhaps redirect that attention to the grill and conversation with friends, cold beer or lemonade or rosé in hand.

And so, if you are yet to be convinced that vegetables are exciting, I offer you this caper-raisin vinaigrette and a plea to try again. For all the rest of you, here’s one more for your collection!

Zucchini with Caper-Raisin Vinaigrette | Delightful Crumb

Zucchini with Caper-Raisin Vinaigrette

Adapted from Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons

I use this vinaigrette most often with zucchini, as outlined below, but broccoli, turnips, eggplant, and potatoes would all be excellent foils. It’s also quite forgiving, so, for example, use the small-sized tin of anchovies you find at your grocery store, and don’t worry if you have black raisins rather than golden ones. If you are a vegetarian (not a pescatarian), I think this would still be delicious sans anchovies, if slightly less punchy.

As for the zucchini preparation, I don’t have a grill, but I’ve included those instructions as well—it’s summer, after all! I often forget to salt the zucchini beforehand, and it turns out just fine either way.

Zucchini with Caper-Raisin Vinaigrette | Delightful Crumb

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon balsamic vin.

1/3 cup golden raisins

3 garlic cloves, peeled

3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

One 1.6- to 2-ounce tin anchovies, drained

About 3/4 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving

1/3 cup olive oil, plus more for serving

Kosher salt, plus more for serving

For the zucchini:

Zucchini (about 1/2 pound per person is generous)

Big handful of cherry tomatoes

Red pepper flakes

Fresh lemon juice

Dried breadcrumbs, optional

Freshly ground black pepper

To make the caper-raisin vinaigrette, put the vinegar and raisins in a small bowl to let the raisins plump for about 30 minutes.

Put the garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely minced, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add the capers and anchovies and pulse until you have a coarse paste. Add the parsley and pulse until completely chopped, again scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Add the raisins and vinegar and pulse until the mixture is blended but still slightly coarse. Scrape the mixture from the processor into a bowl and whisk in the olive oil to make a slightly chunky dressing. Taste and adjust with more salt or oil, if needed. Store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.

To serve over zucchini, begin by preparing the squash. Trim the ends and halve lengthwise. Generously salt the squash on their cut faces and leave to drain for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours (transfer to the refrigerator if leaving for more than 2 hours). If you forget this step, don’t worry—it will still be delicious.

When ready to prepare the squash, blot it with paper towel to remove moisture and excess salt.

Heat a grill or the broiler to high. Cook the squash (without oil) until both sides are lightly browned and it is just tender.

Pile the squash into a bowl, tumble in the tomatoes and drizzle with a glug of olive oil, a pinch of red pepper flakes, several twists of black pepper and a generous amount of lemon juice. Toss gently. Add a couple of big spoonfuls of the caper-raisin vinaigrette and toss again. Taste and adjust the flavors with more vinaigrette, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and/or lemon.

Arrange on a plate and shower with breadcrumbs, if using, and a few leaves of parsley.

Mostly in the Moment | Strawberry Tart

Mostly in the Moment | Strawberry Tart
Strawberry Tart | Delightful Crumb

Holiday weekend! It’s the “unofficial start to summer”! I’m here, therefore, with strawberries, dessert and a reminder to chill.

I recently listened to this fantastic story on an old episode of The Moth, in which the writer Dan Kennedy recounts his experience going on assignment to Indonesia with scientists on the hunt for a giant snake (I repeat: GIANT SNAKE). Despite his fear of snakes, he says yes to the opportunity in part because of a conversation he’d overheard not long before between two women in a coffee shop, one of them talking about her effort to live in the moment. I won’t give it all away, but the snake-hunting doesn’t go all that well, resulting in no loss of life but new terrifying nightmares, etc., and the story is in part a critique of the pressure we put on ourselves when we idealize the living-in-the-moment concept—or, at least, understand it to mean something beyond the bounds of our everyday lives. I found it quite on point.

It’s not that we shouldn’t do our best to live in the moment, to be present to our lives. We should! In fact, I think it’s tremendously important. We are far too distracted, by far too many unessential things. It’s unconscious; it’s conscious. It’s the reality of our so-called modern lives, and it’s a problem. And yet, these days, the very concept of being fully present—the way we ought to be—seems like one more thing to feel stressed out about, one more thing to feel guilty about if we can’t do it well all of the time. It’s hard enough to be calm and present, to be our most! authentic! selves!, without all the pressure we have added to these lofty goals.

And the truth is, I find that the moments in which I’m truly, deeply present come unexpectedly. Like it or not, there’s no formula. Yesterday, for example, on a blustery spring day in San Francisco, Ben and I were walking on the trail at Lands End, which begins at the Sutro Baths and curves along the coast, flanked by wildflowers and green grasses, emerging in an insanely opulent neighborhood that butts right up against all that nature (classic Bay Area…!). We came around a corner, and suddenly, there was a gorgeous view of the Pacific, extending out from the Bay, over the tops of the trees and bushes that run from the edges of the trail way down to the water. There are plenty of great views on this hike and I’ve walked it enough that they’re all familiar. But the light was hitting the water just so, making the waves sparkle in bright patches. A little bit of sunlight was peeking through the clouds, and we could hear the waves crashing in the distance. I wasn’t trying to be present, but I was, not thinking about the uncertainties of my life or the conversation we’d been having or what would happen if there was an earthquake at that very moment or my obligations in the week ahead. For just that moment, I was.

Like the rest of the natural world, food is a vehicle that often brings us to this place. When something is delicious, it can stop us in our tracks. The seasons, too, encourage it. When berries appear at the market, we must snap them up; their season is fleeting. Sure, you can pick up the imported option any time of the year, but we know the truth: it actually won’t be the same. I am so grateful for this. I don’t slow down easy, but the sudden appearance of my favorite produce does the trick.

And so, in an effort to encourage more calm in all our lives, here’s an extremely simple way with strawberries. It is lovely to close out a dinner party or on a Sunday afternoon. You can prepare most of the tart’s components in advance and assemble it easily before serving. It lets the berries shine, as they should. And while it’s certainly best on the first day, I am perfectly happy to eat it on the second or third. Living in the moment, you know.

The Simplest Strawberry Tart

Adapted from Yossy Arefi’s Sweeter Off the Vine

Makes one 15×6-inch tart, about 8 generous servings

Think about how sweet your strawberries are and the sweetness you’d like in the finished tart when considering whether to use the jam and the quantity of sugar. I forgot the jam the first time I made this, but it was delicious anyway, and simpler and purer in flavor. I also like the jam rendition, however, for something slightly sweeter and less austere. Yossy suggests that this recipe would also work well with blackberries, raspberries, peaches, or nectarines, using apricot rather than strawberry jam. I haven’t tried any of these versions but am sure this is true.

The tart dough makes twice as much as you’ll need, but I’m including the full recipe because who doesn’t want extra pie/cookie/tart dough at the ready?

While you should try to eat this on the first day, leftovers keep well for a day or so in a tightly sealed container in the fridge. I’d recommend leftovers for family consumption, though, and not guests!

Strawberry Tart | Delightful Crumb

1/2 recipe rye pie crust (recipe follows)

1 egg, lightly beaten

About 1 pound (450 g) strawberries

1 cup (225 g) mascarpone

2–3 tablespoons sugar

2–3 tablespoons strawberry jam (optional)

For the crust:

1 1/3 cups (170 g) all-purpose flour

1 1/3 cups (170 g) rye flour (or substitute more all-purpose)

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 g) unsalted butter, very cold

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

8 tablespoons (120 ml) ice water

To make the crust:

In a large bowl, whisk the flours and salt together. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Add the apple cider to the ice water.

Working quickly, add the butter to the flour and toss to coat. Use your fingers or the palms of your hands to press each cube of butter into a flat sheet. Keep tossing the butter in the flour to make sure that each piece is coated. You are aiming to create flat, thin shards of butter from the size of a dime to the size of a quarter. If at any point the butter seems to be getting soft, refrigerate the bowl.

Sprinkle about 6 tablespoons of the cold vinegar-water mixture over the flour mixture. Use a wooden spoon or your hand to stir until just combined. If the dough seems dry, add more cold water a couple of teaspoons at a time. The dough is ready when you can pick up a handful and squeeze it together without it falling apart.

Press the dough together, then split it in half. Form each half into a disk, and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight before using. You can keep the dough for up to three months in the freezer, wrapped very tightly in plastic and in a plastic bag or airtight container. Thaw in the refrigerator before using. You need just half of the recipe for the tart that follows.

To make the tart:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll out the pie crust disk into an oval approximately 15 by 6 inches and just under 1/4-inch thick. But note that this is meant to be easy and rustic, so don’t worry too much about the exact dimensions of the tart. I like to leave the edges as they are, but you can trim them with a paring knife or pastry cutter for a neater finish. Move the parchment and crust to a baking sheet.

Dock the crust with a fork to prevent it from puffing up in the oven. Brush the surface of the crust with the egg wash, going all the way to the edges.

Bake the crust until deep golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Check halfway through. If any bubbles have appeared, use a spatula to press them flat, and if your oven bakes at all unevenly, turn the pan 180 degrees. When the crust is finished, cool completely on the pan.

While the crust cools, combine the mascarpone and 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Hull the strawberries and slice them into 1/4-inch slices.

Move the cooled pie crust to a serving platter or cutting board. Spread the sweetened mascarpone over the top in an even layer, leaving a bit of the edges exposed. Dot with the jam, if using. Arrange the sliced strawberries in a single, slightly overlapping layer. You can go for a more decorative pattern if you like, but I think a haphazard arrangement looks equally lovely.

Sprinkle the tart with another 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of sugar unless the strawberries are particularly sweet. Slice and serve, preferably within a couple hours of assembling.