Fruit Tart (and Spicy “Shakshuka”) for the Birthday Girl

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

I remember seeing a little mirrored sign once at an antique shop that read:

Mirror, mirror, on the wall,

Oh no —

I am my mother after all!

It made me chuckle at the time, and even now, I feel the truth of that sentiment whenever I hear myself espouse one of my mother’s axioms. “A place for everything and everything in its place” is a housekeeping rule that continues to serve me well, while “getting our steps in” is now unfortunately equally well-known by my friends, who have come to tolerate my unwillingness to parallel park with good humor.

These days though, I find myself often recalling her more general motto of “everything in moderation.”

During these unusual times, we’re all having to be thoughtful about balancing our mental and physical health while also prioritizing the well-being of those around us. With this balance and moderation in mind, though we’re all doing our best to practice social distancing and follow responsible safety guidelines, my sister and I decided to meet at the folks’ for dinner to celebrate her birthday.

My mom offered to make dessert, and I claimed dinner duty, so all that remained was for my dad to pick the wine and the birthday girl to pronounce the courses! She chose a riff on shakshuka with naan and a green salad with a fruit tart to finish.

Alas, between the rosé and the excitement of eating together again, I failed to take a picture of the shakshuka to share with you all, but as you can see, I did remember to snap a quick photo of my mother’s masterpiece!

Aren’t you impressed? You should be! It was as delicious as it is dainty! As luscious as it is lovely! As tasty as it is tempting! In fact, maybe even more so, if that’s somehow possible. (Since I didn’t make this dessert, I can be as bold and boastful as I like in its praise. And as you can see, I’m fully prepared to make my mother blush with all this praise of her MAGNIFICENT WORK!)

So today, I’m sharing with you my sister’s birthday dinner: a delicious, fragrant medley of tomato, chorizo, onions, and spices, each bowlful cradling a perfectly poached egg, with that runny yolk just begging to be mopped up with a piece of warm, soft naan. After “the loot” (my family’s slang for opening any cards and gifts), return to the table for a tart of unsurpassable beauty, with a perfectly crisp shortcrust pastry supporting a silken vanilla cream topped with delicately glazed berries and sweet, sliced fruit. To round out the evening, relish in the human contact and snuggle up on the couch for a final cocktail and feel-good movie.

Happy snacking all, and happy birthday, sis!

Spiced “Chorizo” and Tomato “Shakshuka” (adapted, just barely, Buzzfeed’s Tasty)

Why all the quotation marks? I’ll be the first to admit this was never a traditional shakshuka, to begin with, but rather a warm and fragrant tomato affair in the style of shakshuka; then, I subbed in Trader Joe’s vegan soy chorizo in place of the traditional chorizo, so I needed another set of quotation marks. Alas for accuracy!)

Ingredients: (for 8 generous servings)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 package (12 oz, or 340 g) Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 5 — 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped into roughly 1/2-inch (1 + 1/4 cm) pieces
  • 2 tablespoons paprika (I’m always very generous with the spices, so feel free to make those a hearty 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (again, no need to be skimpy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 pinch sea salt, or to taste
  • 2 28-ounce cans (1588 g) crushed, fire-roasted tomatoes
  • Eggs (1–2 per person)
  • Feta cheese, crumbled (for topping; about 1 cup)
  • Fresh parsley, coarsely chopped (for topping; about 1/2 cup)


  1. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. (Y’all, this recipe makes so much food, please take that “large” seriously; I mean, just look at those massive cans of tomato! Don’t worry, this dish reheats the next day fabulously, and it NEVER gets thrown out.)
  2. Once the oil is warm, add soy chorizo (removed from casing), onion, garlic, and red bell pepper, cooking 5–6 minutes, or until fragrant.
  3. Add paprika, cumin, pepper, and salt. Stir to combine, cooking for about 8 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften.
  4. Pour tinned tomatoes into the skillet, reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer uncovered for 25–30 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken.
  5. Using the back of a spoon, make wells equidistant apart from one another in the tomato sauce, 1 well per egg. (For example, if you’re cooking 4 eggs tonight, make 4 evenly-spaced, roughly egg-sized wells in the tomato sauce.) Crack 1 egg into each well.
  6. Cover the skillet with a lid and cook for 6–8 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked. We want set whites and beautiful, runny yolks, so keep an eye on those bad boys as they cook; I find the time between a perfectly liquid yolk and an over-hard egg to be almost no time at all!
  7. Top with crumbled feta and chopped parsley, and serve with warm naan for dipping and dunking. While we’re indulging in the inauthentic, I’ll admit that my sister and I also like a drizzle of Cholula or squirt of sriracha on top. Who doesn’t love a little spice now and then? Enjoy!

Now, for the tart. My mother said she simply followed the recipe with “no changes!”…before proceeding to give me the following notes. Do with that as you will, but keep in mind: hers was perfect. (And no, I’m not just saying that, Mom!)

Mom’s Tart Notes:

  • The pastry cream takes longer than the suggested 30 seconds to thicken and bubble — more like 2–3 minutes, but it’ll get there!
  • The crust browned a little faster than expected (but was delicious even as a deep gold).
  • The apricot preserves needed to be watered down a bit to become a glaze-like consistency since you just want a very small amount of glaze on top to make the fruit shine.

Happy snacking!



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