Saturday, December 19, 2015

Wisp of Smoke Cowl and Nantucket Cranberry Tart

I always like a little bling at the holidays.  It's the one time of year when it's actually okay to over dress and pull out the black strappy shoes, flashy jewelry, and dark red lipstick topped off with sparkly lip gloss. What's not to like about that!  Each year I knit something special for the holidays and this year it's an opulent silk cowl with pre-strung glass beads that positively oozes sparkly bling. It's a piece that really has to be seen and touched to be appreciated though, otherwise it may appear more low key than my past Christmas projects.  Of course you haven't seen me wearing it with my fishnet stockings either.  That gives it a whole different vibe.

I really love the added dimension that beads add to a project and if you haven't added beads yet you should give it a try.  I've knit projects both with using yarn pre-strung with beads and projects where I've added the beads as I knit along.  Each method gives a very different effect.  I would say the pre-strung beads have a more random effect and depending on the number of beads can almost result in a sequin effect.  Whereas adding beads as you knit has a more structured appearance because the beads are generally placed at regular intervals in the pattern. Unfortunately these days it's harder to find pre-strung beaded yarn but Artyarns (founded and manufactured in the US by Iris Schreier in 2002) is one of the remaining companies that sells pre-strung beaded yarn and even has some yarns with sequins.  Their website has some gorgeous designs and I just might have to knit the Glitter Wave Top.  On the other hand there are tons of bead stores everywhere and they are very easy and inexpensive to add to a project.  In January I'll be joining the Donna Druchunas KAL to knit a small Estonian shawl that has beads added along the edging (Sunshine and Tea Shawlette with kits available on Etsy) and I think this would be a fun introduction to adding beads for those interested.

Particulars: Wisps of Smoke Ring designed by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer (Heartstrings Fiber Arts); US 7 needles (knit in the round); 2 skeins Tilli Tomas Plie natural plied silk (50g/140yds per skein) and 1 skein Tilli Tomas Rock Star (natural spun silk) with glass beads 100g/150 yrds.  Unfortunately Tilli Tomas is no longer in business.  Finished blocked dimensions: 17 inches in length with a width of 12" across the top and 16" across the bottom.  Projects I've knit with beads (individually added) include: Soul hatTriesete Shawl; and Netsuke Wrap projects using pre-strung beads include: La Dolce Vita gloves; Handspun Scarf; and Romantic Beaded Scarf.

Nantucket Cranberry Tart Recipe ~

My sister Lynne has a very busy social life and is always taking desserts to gatherings at her church, school (she's a teacher) or other get togethers with girlfriends and, as a result, has a number fail safe recipes and this Nantucket Tart is one of those recipes.   If you have ever been asked to bring a dessert you know how nerve racking it can be to come up with a recipe that you think will appeal to people and yet is simple enough to execute without mishap.  But stress no more.  This is the recipe for you and perfect for this time of year when fresh cranberries are available and there are lots of family and social gatherings. You'll also want to freeze some cranberries so you'll have this as an option any time of year.   It's very easy to make, delicious, a little different and almost impossible to ruin (she's actually taken it under-cooked and had the entire tart eaten and complimented).  So without further ado here's my sister's Nantucket Tart Recipe ~


2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 cup (scant) sugar (you can use just regular white granular sugar or mix in a bit of white sparkling (course) sugar which adds a nice crunch)
1/2 cup (generous) finely chopped pecans (or walnuts which is what my sister uses)
2 eggs
3/4 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup heaping white granular sugar (you can use up to 1 cup which is what my sister uses)
1 cup all purpose flour


1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously butter a  pie or cake pan that is preferably 10" but even a smaller 9" size will work.  I used a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom for my tart pictured above.

2.  Evenly sprinkle cranberries, 1/2 cup sugar and chopped nuts into the base of your pie or pan.  Set aside.

3.  Prepare dough as follows:  whisk eggs, 3/4 cup (heaping) white granular sugar, and flour in a medium sized bowl. Using a dough whisk or wooden spoon incorporate the melted butter until a smooth and fairly thick batter forms.

4.  Pour batter evenly over the cranberries/sugar/nuts.  If you use a smaller (9") pan you should use less of each the cranberries and batter.  I like the look of the cranberries showing through on top so I only add enough batter to just cover them.  There is no rising agent in the batter so you can easily gauge the depth of the tart and how much you wish to fill your pan.

5.  Bake at 350 degrees 45 minutes if using fresh cranberries and up to 60+ minutes if using frozen.

6.  Serve directly from the pie or cake pan or cut into slices and remove onto a serving tray as I did. You can also (while the tart is still warm) turn out onto a plate for an upside down cranberry cake which is very festive with the cranberries on top.  Optional is to add powdered sugar on top with a scoop of ice cream for a fancy dessert.


Until next time be well, love well, and have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Steve, Simcha and Claudia.

Our tired little Santa.  Too much eggnog and dancing to Baby It's Cold Outside.


Anonymous said...

Love the cowl and the look of that tart, Claudia. I especially like the color of the cowl. Light and bright and and the lace is gorgeous. And thanks for the recipe. I hope to make it soon. I've never used fresh cranberries and am curious how they will have "morphed" after they've been baked. They always look too crunchy to soften with the oven heat. You sure seem to be a talented family! Chloe

Willow said...

Believe it or not, I haven't tried knitting with beads. Maybe in 2016?? Your shawls are always beautiful!

Kristen Rettig said...

You always make the most beautiful shawls! Merry After Christmas and Happy New Year!

Allie-oops Designs said...

Oh that is just stunning, Claudia!!!! And that pic of Simcha would make a wonderful Christmas card. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year!!!

Tanya2 said...

Happy New Year! Simcha looks adorable and the tart is definitely going in my recipe box.

Kate said...

Your photos are just spectacular, Claudia. How on earth did you get that hat on Simcha? Was he really sleeping through the photo shoot? I wish you a very happy and healthy 2016, full of beauty and love. -- Kate

Carolyn said...

Happy New Year to you all at Simcha Towers. Loving that hat pic, how do you do it ?