Christmas is all about traditions. In my house, as in most, a lot of that revolves around food. Juicy mandarins were my favourite way to break the richness of all the chocolate and candy that my brother and I would stuff our mouths with on Christmas morning. There was always the requisite one in our stockings, way down at the bottom.
Back in elementary school, mandarins would be in everyone’s lunchkits and we’d play games to see who could peel the whole thing in one piece. (I can still do it!) The most fun would be to see who could make the peel look like an elephant’s head and trunk!
My dad always has a big bowl of nuts in the shell at Christmas. I never really liked the nuts but I was fascinated by the nutcracker he used. My little hands weren’t really strong enough to make it work right so I’d have to pick out the ones I wanted and ask him to do it for me. And I was always awestruck how he could take two walnuts in his hand and crack them without the nutcracker.
Butter tarts are another tradition. I haven’t made them for a few years. As I’ve gotten older, I find so many of my old favourite Christmas treats to be too rich for me to make batches of them. But this year, my brother asked me if I would make some. And so I did.
Butter tarts are super easy and quick to make if you already have unbaked tart shells. And here they are… all finished.
Butter tarts with a cup of tea. Sigh…
confession: the pastry was crap and I think I cooked them too long. The filling wasn’t runny enough. Still, I think they’ll disappear pretty quickly!
*recipe was a computer printout I found in an old cookbook but I suspect it’s an old Best of Bridge recipe. (another good Canadian tradition)
1 cup white sugar
1 cup seedless raisins
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup butter
4 tbsp cream
1/2 cup walnut pieces (optional)
20 unbaked tart shells
Beat eggs and combine with all remaining ingredients, except nuts. Heat on medium until boiling and let simmer for 3 minutes.
Remover from heat, and stir in walnut pieces if desired.
Fill unbaked tart shells and bake at 375F for 15 minutes (they should be a little runny in the middle after cooking – almost caramel-y)
I made a total rookie mistake that I didn’t even notice until I was finished and had the shots uploaded to the computer. I shot these in the dining room, using all natural light but I forgot that I left the kitchen light on behind me. The light wasn’t much but it made a difference and I didn’t totally get the look I was going for.
Photo 1: 50mm, f1.8, 1/15th, 100 ISO, no exposure compensation
Photo 2: 50mm, f1.8, 1/6th, 100ISO, no exposure compensation. I ate the almond after.
Photo 3: 50mm, f1.8, 1/6th, 100ISO, +2/3 exposure compensation. Another rookie mistake – forgot to fill the cream pitcher. Bah.
Photo 4: 50mm, f1.8, 1/3, ISO100, +4/3 exposure compensation. I took this photo last, remembered to turn out the kitchen lights but it was so late in the day, I had almost no natural light left so that’s why the exposure compensation is so high. Good time to use a tripod. Also, the tea in the mug is Coke Zero. **Tip: use cola in place of coffee, the little bubbles will look like fresh poured coffee.