Citrus season is always something of a pleasant surprise. In the cold, damp grey of winter, I imagine trucks rumbling to and fro across the country. From California with Meyer lemons and blood...
Life has been very full of late. The image that comes first to mind is that of an apple tree loaded with fruit, branches hanging, deeply bowed. At some point it ceases to matter what kind of apple--McIntosh, Pippin, Empire, Arkansas Black--but rather the sheer quantity of them. It is an image of bounty, to be sure, but it is also precarious. Disastrous, even.
I tend to be most contented when I am busy. I enjoy the feeling of being propelled along by a river of things to do. But after a while, when the days rush by in a cascade of lost hours, I start to reevaluate. The weight of all those beautiful apples on the branches becomes oppressive. I start to let them fall. I enjoy a morning of simply sitting in the sun, reading a book. I take an aimless walk. I start to feel human again and less like a machine designed and destined only to move from task to task.
I am perhaps not the best person to talk about balance. I am always in the process of finding or losing it. But the important thing, I think, is that I do try. And so, while I may not be the image of yogic equilibrium, I value the journey towards it (and sometimes the journey away from it!). All we can do as humans, after all, is stay engaged, keep learning, evolve, rail against stagnation.
Sometimes, this means staying busy. Sometimes, it means dropping everything to catch a sunset. The important thing is knowing which one to choose.
Note: You will have some hazelnut filling left over. You can use it in other tarts or pies or spread it thickly on brioche and bake until set for a deluxe version of bostock toast. The filling contains raw eggs, however, so remember that whatever you do with it, it must be baked.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Prepare the hazelnut filling. Pulse in a food processor until finely ground:
1 1/3 cups roasted hazelnuts*
Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat until fluffy:
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces or 12 tablespoons) room temperature butter
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
Add and beat to combine:
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Whisk the hazelnut meal together with:
2/3 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Add the dry ingredients to the butter/egg mixture and beat on low speed until combined, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Set this filling aside.
Trim and wash:
12 ounces rhubarb
Cut the rhubarb crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces.
Roll out the pie dough into a roughly 14-inch circle or until it is around 1/8-inch thick. Exact dimensions are not important. This type of tart is very forgiving and is meant to look "rustic."
Roll the dough around a rolling pin and transfer to a baking sheet or stone lined with parchment. Spread the filling over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border all the way around. You will have some filling left over. Imbed the rhubarb pieces in the filling, with cut sides facing up. Fold the edges of the dough over the filling.
Sprinkle, if desired, with:
Bake until the filling is set and the rhubarb is tender, about 40 to 50 minutes.
*Roast in a medium to medium-hot oven (350°F to 400°F) until the skins are charred-looking and the nuts are toasted, about 15 to 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can simply use 1 1/3 cups hazelnut or almond meal if you have them available.