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literary food blog, for readers with good taste.

B.J. Novak's "One More Thing" & Raspberry Tart

One-More-Thing

If you've already read Tina Fey's Bossypants and Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?you might feel compelled to pick up fellow funny guy B.J. Novak's One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories. Like the other two, Novak's book is a collection of mostly-disconnected stories of varying lengths (though his are fiction where Fey's and Kaling's are not). But while the other books are funny and poignant, Novak's stories have another twisted layer as well.

The stories vary in tenor from hopeful to satirical to romantic, but the most surprising element is the occasional shadow that drives home Novak's at times biting commentary. When a young woman goes on a date with a warlord and is, surprisingly, okay with his chosen profession, Novak uses satire and some twisted humor to amplify how ludicrous the situation is.

This is but one example of a short story that perfectly balances light and dark, playing each off the other in sly fashion.

There is much sensitivity in Novak's stories, couched in humor and attention to odd details. This allows him to deliver commentary without adding weight. Everything about the stories is contemporary and ironic and cheeky. You'll see reflections of your everyday, mid-2010s life again and again. And you'll laugh because you so know somebody like that character.

Given the format, this is a great book to have around. Anytime you want a little snark or humor, flip to a random chapter and you're sure to find a tale that will amuse you. Just be prepared that it might take you aback, too.

Raspberry Tart

One of my favorite pieces in One More Thing was a story about a man who wore a red t-shirt every day just in case someone needed to describe him in a Missed Connections post. If the person mentioned was a man in a red t-shirt, it would be him. With the red of the man's shirt imprinted in my mind, I set out to make this tart, whose raspberry filling will give you a nice, swift kick in the mouth.


RASPBERRY TART

Serves 8

Ingredients

For the tart crust

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 9 tablespoons very cold (or frozen) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 large egg

For the filling

  • 6 oz. fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

For the crust

Pulse the flour, sugar and salt together in the bowl of a food processor. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. Stir the egg in a bowl, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses–about 10 seconds each–until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds.

Spray a tart pan with removable bottom with cooking spray. Press the dough evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the tart shell. After spreading evenly with your fingers, use the back of a measuring cup to create a well in the center of the tart, with a thin wall all around. Remove and discard excess dough. Pierce with fork throughout.

Freeze the crust for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer, before baking.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375ºF. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil (or use nonstick foil) and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. No need for weights because you froze the dough already. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and discard foil. If the crust is puffed, use the back of a spoon to press down. Cool before adding filling.

For the filling

Fill tart crust well with fresh raspberries.

In another bowl, mix egg, sugar, baking powder, salt and vanilla extract. Beat with whisk until it reaches the texture of custard. Pour over raspberries, leaving no gaps.

Bake at 375ºF for 20 minutes. Turn oven temperature down to 350ºF and bake for another 10 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

Remove from oven, pop out from outer rim, cool and enjoy.

Note: The dough will make enough for a 6- to 10-inch tart. The filling is right for an 8-inch tart.

Crust adapted from Smitten Kitchen. Filling adapted from Simply Recipes.


Bookmarked: The Reading Light Edition

The TBR List: February 28