Q&A with Martha Stewart: Lust for Living

Q&A with Martha Stewart: Lust for Living

Wine Enthusiast sat down recently with the entertaining icon and discussed her passion for the perfect pie and more.

Wine Enthusiast: If you had to pick a favorite dessert, what would it be? Any pairing suggestions?

Martha Stewart: Anything lemon. Lemon provides sort of a challenge, but I would do an Italian sparkling wine. A nice dense lemon tart, or lemon meringue, or anything lemon— with Prosecco.

WE: What are some of your favorite wine regions that you have visited?

MS: My first trip to France was to Burgundy. We spent the most wonderful time there, drinking delicious white Burgundies. I’ve also visited all the Champagne houses, and their caves. I had the great fortune, in England, to drink wine at Waddesdon Manor with Jacob Rothschild. At lunch, every course was accompanied by a Mouton Rothschild from a different year, and they were all very old and very delicious. That was terrific! And I had a fantastic trip to South Africa—I got to visit quite a few vineyards. The wines there are tasty!

WE: Which wines are your favorites?

MS: I love Bordeaux. I inherited a Bordeaux wine cellar in Maine, with a lot of large bottles— Jeroboam’s, Nebuchadnezzar’s and other sizes. They are all ’82s, and to open one is a great pleasure. I had a lot of vintage Burgundies up there too, and so we had a Burgundy dinner that will be displayed in my new book, Martha Entertains, which comes out this November. I might serve French wines, or American, or even wines from Australia or New Zealand. I like not terribly well-known wines. My daughter and my friend Kevin Sharkey like me to choose the wines when we go out, because they say I always choose something good—I might like a Chassagne-Montrachet, but I will also drink an Aligoté. I talk to sommeliers and look at the list, and try to have something I haven’t had before.

WE: You are known for your strong aesthetic sense in regard to decorating, cooking and entertaining. How does that sense carry over into wine?

MS: [Laughing] I have a huge collection of glasses, as you can imagine, and I do take care to pick out a good glass, one that would go with the wine. I have a collection of old 19th-century French hand-blown bistro glasses, which are very nice, and they’re not large.

WE: With regard to your kitchen line for Home Depot: How important is kitchen design in organizing and preparing for a party?

MS: It’s terribly important—you have to have enough counter space to prepare and serve. People forget when they’re designing or building a kitchen, Thanksgiving does come, Christmas does come and you might want to have a lot of people. I think it’s very important to think about your life and your lifestyle, and then design from there.

WE: What’s next for you?

MS: I am very involved in digital publishing right now. Our magazine, Martha Stewart Living, is also available digitally now, which enhances it greatly. It’s a beautiful magazine, but it comes to life on the iPad. Besides that, I am very involved with the retail initiatives with Home Depot and Macy’s. The kitchens we’ve designed for Home Depot are really extraordinary. And we’re publishing a lot of books— we just did Power Foods. Pies & Tarts is up next, and Martha Entertains is my first entertaining book since 1982. You’re going to love it!

Try this delectable Lemon Tart recipe from Martha Stewart:

Caramelized Lemon Tart

Reprinted from the book Martha Stewart’s New Pies & Tarts by The Editors of Martha Stewart Living. Copyright © 2011 by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.  Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.

The crunch of the caramelized sugar against the creamy, zesty custard filling makes this a sensual dessert.

Lemon tarts are perennially popular, and this brûléed version has garnered most-favored-dessert status among Martha Stewart Living readers since it was first published in the magazine back in 1992. With its caramelized top, vibrant filling and buttery crust, the eye- and palate-pleasing tart is sure to be a favorite for years to come. While this recipe creates a 14-by-4-inch tart, you can also make it using an 8-inch round tart pan.

All-purpose flour, to lightly dust counter surface
½ recipe Pâte Sucrée (recipe below)
6 large egg yolks
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
½ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
1 cup plus 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar
½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

To prepare tart shell: Preheat oven to 375°F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out Pâte Sucrée dough (recipe below) into a rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. Press into the bottom and up the sides of a 14-by-4-inch rectangular tart pan with a removable bottom and trim off any excess dough from the pan. Using the tongs of a fork, pierce the bottom of the tart shell all over. Refrigerate or freeze the shell until firm, about 30 minutes.

Once tart shell is firm, line shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake shell until edges just turn golden, about 15 minutes. Remove weights and parchment paper and bake shell once more until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes more. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

To make lemon tart filling: In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, lemon zest and juice and 1 cup sugar until incorporated. Add mixture to a medium sauce pan and bring to a simmer, making sure to whisk constantly. Cook until it has thickened and bubbles appear around the edges, about 8 to10 minutes, and then strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Whisk in butter, one piece at a time, until completely smooth. Pour filling into the cooled tart shell and refrigerate uncovered until the filling sets, about 2 hours.

To serve: Just before serving, sift remaining 2 to 3 tablespoons sugar evenly over top of filling. Using a handheld kitchen torch—or by placing tart under a broiler—carefully caramelize sugar until it turns a deep amber. Tart is best eaten the day it is made, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one day.

Pâte Sucrée Recipe

Pâte Sucrée, or “sweet pastry,” is a sturdy dough, thanks to its proportion of sugar and egg yolks. It’s a good choice for tarts, which are most often unmolded just before serving. It’s also more tender than pâte brisée, which is known to shatter into flakes instead of breaking cleanly when cut with a fork. This recipe makes enough for two 8- or 9-inch tarts, or two dozen 3-inch tarts.

2½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 to 4 tablespoons cold heavy cream or ice water

Pulse flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter pieces and pulse just until mixture resembles coarse “pea-sized” meal. Add egg yolks and drizzle 2 tablespoons cream evenly over mixture and pulse just until dough begins to come together, no more than 30 seconds. If dough is too dry, add remaining cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse. Divide dough in half, pat each half into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 3 months for extended use (thaw in refrigerator before using).

Dough Variations

Citrus Variation: Add 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest and 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest to the dry ingredients

Poppy Seed Variation: Add 2 tablespoons poppy seeds to the dry ingredients.

Chocolate Variation: Replace ¼ cup flour with ¼ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder.

Cornmeal-Lemon Variation: Replace ¾ cup flour with ¾ cup coarse cornmeal; reduce sugar to 2 tablespoons. Add 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest to the dry ingredients.

Published on June 21, 2011