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Smash! Pound! Grind! Thwack! Forget “if you can read, you can cook.” These recipes are all about bringing some brawn to bear. So get out the brick, the mallet, the rolling pin. Your dinner (and your biceps) will be the better for it.

By Susan Spungen

3. To make the filling: Preheat the oven to 400º. Cut the apricots into quarters. Combine the flour and 2 tablespoons sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Arrange apricots, cut sides up, in concentric rings, leaving a 2-inch border. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons sugar. Fold up the edges of the dough over the fruit, and press down lightly to pleat. Patch up any tears in the dough using a little cold water and a piece of dough from the edge. Brush edges of dough with cold water, and sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.

4. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes, and reduce oven heat to 375°. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes more, turning the tart halfway through the baking time, until golden brown on edges and bubbling. Place baking sheet on a rack to cool. If any syrup leaked from the tart during baking, loosen with a spatula while it is still warm.

5. Microwave the jam in a small -microwave-safe bowl, and brush the fruit with it. Sprinkle with the nuts, and let cool completely. Slide parchment paper and tart together onto a serving platter, and slip the paper out.

 

SHRIMP TACOS
Prep time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Cooking time: 18 minutes plus
15 minutes’ resting time
Makes 8 tacos
Tortillas
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons cold vegetable
shortening
¾ cup warm water, plus more
if needed
Crema
1 ripe avocado
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
1 tablespoon lime juice
Salt, to taste
Taco Filling
¾ pound peeled and deveined
medium shrimp
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon chili powder
Pinch of black pepper
½ small head green cabbage,
finely shredded
Cilantro leaves, chopped
tomatoes, salsa and lime
wedges for serving

1. To make the tortillas: Combine the flour and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the shortening, and pulse until incorporated. Add the water with the machine running. Process to knead the dough until smooth, about 1 minute. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Divide dough into 8 equal portions. Roll into balls, place on sheet pan, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature for 15 -minutes.

2. To make the tacos: Heat a dry cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place a dough ball in a tortilla press between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, and press into a circle, or roll out with a rolling pin. Pick up dough, and gently stretch and pull with your hand to make the circle about an inch larger in diameter. Cook in the heated pan until dark golden spots form, about 1 minute on each side. Remove to a plate, and repeat with remaining dough. Cover tortillas with plastic wrap so they don’t dry out.

3. To make the crema: In a mini blender, puree the avocado, crème fraîche, lime juice and salt until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.

4. To make the filling: Heat a large skillet or grill over medium-high heat. In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp with the lime juice, olive oil, chili powder and pepper. Sauté or grill shrimp, in batches if necessary, until slightly charred and cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes for each side.

5. To assemble: Layer each tortilla with shredded cabbage, 3 shrimp, a dollop of avocado crema, cilantro leaves and tomatoes. Serve immediately with salsa and lime wedges.

PARMESAN-OLIVE MASHED POTATOES
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves 6 to 8
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
2 pounds russet potatoes
Salt
1 cup hot whole milk, plus more if needed
½ cup crème fraîche
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
5 Kalamata olives, pitted and slivered

1. Scrub potatoes, cut in half, and place in a large pot. Cover with cold water, and add ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, and simmer until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain, and let cool enough to slip off the skins.

First Published April 18, 2011

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