When the Going Gets Tough, I Bake a Tart

These days, a girl’s got to get creative in order to balance the scales. (I suppose this applies to guys too, but I can’t speak for them.)

The world news is getting more overwhelming by the day. Positively – or should I say, negatively? – apocalyptic. Straight out of the Book of Revelation, if you ask me. Famines and pestilences. Raging wildfires. Life-threatening, record-breaking hurricanes. Great swaths of gullible folks believing the bold-faced lies of a power-drunk president…

Oh, and I mustn’t forget to mention the worldwide plague. To date in 2020 the novel coronavirus pandemic has taken the lives of more than 180,000 Americans and about 832,000 people across the globe, and it shows scant hope of abating.

If you happen to be a thinking, feeling, sensitive soul who’s not on mind-dulling drugs, all of this can pull you down. Proposed remedies by well meaning pundits sound to me like little more than efforts to, as they say, rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic.


I’m reminded of one of the many poems I memorized in high school. This one, “Lament,” by Edna St. Vincent Millay, reads in part:

Listen, children:

Your father is dead.

From his old coats

I’ll make you little jackets;

I’ll make you little trousers

From his old pants. …

Life must go on,

And the dead be forgotten;

Life must go on,

Though good men die;

Anne, eat your breakfast;

Dan, take your medicine;

Life must go on;

I forget just why.

Gloomy, isn’t it? Well, we must find ways to, as the Brits say, “pull up our socks” in times like these.

For me, especially lately, I’ve been baking pretty tarts and sharing the finished results with others. This may sound silly, but it really works. The sense of satisfaction and accomplishment I get from this creative effort helps to balance me. It grounds me.

Earlier this week I baked a peach galette and shared it with my neighbors:

Then yesterday I baked a savory asparagus tart to bring to a small, socially distanced cocktail party in my apartment building:

I can’t pretend to have answers to the world’s huge problems, of course. But I can suggest this one helpful little thing we as individuals might do:

Step away from the cold, soulless, screen-faced messenger (TV or computer) that brings all this disturbing news. Stroll into your kitchen. Make some dough. Feel its silkiness under your hands as you roll it out. Fill it with fresh fruit (or whatever you like). Watch it as it bakes (if your oven has a window in its door, as mine has). Inhale its intoxicating baking fragrance. Offer it up, like a sacrament, to your dear ones. Watch their eyes widen and listen for their appreciative ooooohs and ahhhhhs. Then taste the slice you’ve saved for yourself:

Think before you swallow: This is good. I am alive. Though I forget just why.

~ ~ ~

My forthcoming book, Sweet Tarts for My Sweethearts (Nighthawk Press, September 2020), contains recipes for fruit galettes and many other sweet tarts but none for savory tarts. So here you go — the Asparagus Tart recipe:

Asparagus and Parmesan Tart

* Roll out a sheet of purchased puff pastry to a 10 x 16-inch rectangle.

* Transfer pastry to a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until ready.

* Preheat oven to 450 F. degrees.

* Sauté one minced shallot in 1 tablespoon of olive oil about one minute.

* Add tender asparagus spears (1 pound, ends trimmed, and cut into 4-inch pieces) and cook over medium heat until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes, shaking the pan frequently to keep them from sticking. Remove from heat.

* Evenly spread ½ cup whole-milk ricotta cheese over the chilled puff pastry, leaving a 1-inch border all around.

* Spoon the asparagus evenly over the ricotta and sprinkle all with ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese. Season with ½ teaspoon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

* Brush the edges of the tart with an egg wash (one egg yolk whisked with 1 teaspoon of water). Bake 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.

* Cut into 8 (or more) pieces, then share it.

25 thoughts on “When the Going Gets Tough, I Bake a Tart”

  1. Exactly on point, Bonnie! We can find solace and joy in the small things that touch our souls, which maybe aren’t really as small as they seem. Wish I was there to enjoy those tarts with yoU!

    1. Thank you, dear Kim. Yes, I wish you were here, too! At last night’s cocktail party, I wore the lovely purple (Eileen Fisher) hand-me-down you gave me, so I thought of you! Abrazos, BB

  2. Bonnie, I have a little house in SMA and I love to be there January-March. I’ve so enjoyed reading your posts and wish I could be there now. maybe 2021. I plan to make the asparagus tart next week. Thank you for the link between me and SMA.

    1. Thank YOU, Joni, for this. I hope you’ll be able to make it back to SMA in 2021. Are you in the States now? When I lived there, I used Pepperidge Farm puff pastry (available everywhere there [but not here], in freezer sections). I would recommend it for this asparagus tart. Buena suerte!

  3. Thank you for your WOW posts. As I plan to move to SMA, delayed due to coronavirus, I feel like I am already connected to the community through your posts. Much as gracias. I love to cook and bake so I’ll be trying your recipes while I wait for govt to start processing passports again.

  4. Dear Bon,

    Your grim assessment of the forces in our current situation is irrefutable. To be demoralized by these forces is natural, but unfortunately, it is the response these forces want us to have. Dispirit and depression lead to inaction, which plays right into their hands. Yet in the midst of the darkness, there is a ray of light: the Black Lives Matter movement. I believe this is the road to hope that will negate those who seek to crush us and keep us down. But the battle must be hard fought, for the opposition will destroy it and those who support it if they can. I think if this country had no racism, these forces would invent it.

    You advice to turn away from the screen and spend baking and creating is exactly what we need to hear.


  5. What a great idea… sharing and bringing sunshine to others is a great way to enlighten your own darkness. <3

  6. We own http://www.casaletasuites.com in Nuevo Vallarta and offer a gourmet owner hosted pizza night to our guests featuring pizzas made in our wood fired oven. I am absolutely going to try this using pizza dough and see what our guests think. Sending smiles, strength, well wishes and positive thinking through all of the worlds crazy times. Glad to be here in Mexico

  7. My friend Rebecca sent me this as she said that it would help me. It did. And I made that Asparagus Tart yesterday for my family. SO EASY and they loved it. I loved it. I don’t have time to bake much, but this I can do! My time is used for working, caring for my kids, and trying to take care of myself. 🙂

    1. I’m thrilled to hear from you, Kristin, and to know that the asparagus tart was a success for you and your family. Thank you for taking the time from your busy day to write to me. You’ve made my day! — Bonnie

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