A Stand Innovation

The star of this year’s spring-forward brunch made an encore appearance a week ago Sunday, 15 years after its debut at the same event. Transparent, simple, and requiring a bit of coaxing to stand on center stage, it’s one of my most prized possessions because I designed it: a seven-tier tart stand to accommodate and vertically display quiches or tarts ranging from smallest (4 3/4-inch) to largest (12 1/2-inch), enough to serve 36 people.

The 18 1/4-inch  stand assembles from the bottom up and disassembles for storage, an essential feature for any kitchen where real estate is in short supply. Six identical clear plastic washers evenly separate seven precisely laser-cut disks twisted down a skeletal rod, a process accomplished with some finesse. But considering its modest origin as a series of doodles, dimensions, and measurements, it’s still a functional and practical vessel to serve delicately portioned, pre-sliced savories and sweets at room temperature. And thanks to the proximity and speedy turnaround of a now-defunct plastic store on Canal Street, bringing the doodles to life was a piece of cake.

disassembled translucent seven-tier tart stand

disassembled translucent seven-tier tart stand

The assembled stand vertically displays 7 tarts from smallest (4 3/4-inch) to largest (12 1/2-inch)

The assembled stand vertically displays 7 tarts from smallest (4 3/4-inch) to largest (12 1/2-inch)

For spring-forward, I served two kinds of quiche, alternating a display of the classic Quiche Lorraine, rich and bacony, with a vegetarian option, Roasted Red Pepper and Poblano. I based my shallow tart versions on Ruth Levy Beranbaum’s inspirational The Pie and Pastry Bible, an indispensable recipe collection and resource on the science of baking pastries.

Seven tiers of two different quiches served at spring-forward brunch 2013

Seven tiers of two different quiches served at spring-forward brunch 2013

Beranbaum’s recipes call for 9 1/2-inch prebaked crusts, but I easily converted recipes for smaller and larger tart pans, listed below, by multiply the ingredient quantities (in grams and milliliters) for both crust and fillings by the factor indicated in parentheses below (a simple calculation of relative volume). Frequent bakers will find that it’s well worth investing in a digital scale such as the one I happen to own.

I recommend these nonstick fluted tart pans (one-inch deep)  to make quiche in the following sizes:

4 3/4-inch (.25)
5 1/2-inch (.34)
7 3/4-inch (.67)
9 1/2-inch (1)
10-inch (1.11)
11-inch (1.34)
12-inch (1.73)

Sweets, and Savories, to Celebrate the Snake

In lieu of contributing to the ubiquitous stream of edible year-end holiday gifts, this year I baked and sent goodies to key Keith Barraclough Photography clients for the Chinese New Year, which began February 10: the year of the snake.

Packaged in a Chinese takeout container (I’ve featured this edible-gift packaging idea before in a summer post on red-wine ice cream), the sampler of six sweets and one savory snack met my criteria of shippability and offering a little something for every palate.

Belgian almond cookie
Bourbon pecans
Chocolate chip cookie
Oatmeal lace cookie
Peanut butter sandwich cookie
Sour lemon squares
Turtle brownies

individually gift-wrapped cookies and Bourbon pecans: client gift for year of the snake

From top (clockwise): turtle brownies, Bourbon pecans, sour lemon squares, chocolate chip cookie, Belgian almond cookie,  peanut butter sandwich cookie. Center: oatmeal lace cookie.

Individually wrapped cookies and nuts packaged in 64-oz Chinese takeout container.

Truffle boxes, plastic cookie sleeves, and baking twist ties and twine available at Broadway Panhandler (in-store only)