grapefruit curd tart + how to plan your perfect birthday

Image + styling: Olaiya Land

I had a birthday over the holidays. In honor of which I made myself this grapefruit curd tart. Because grapefruit is one of my favorite flavors. And because grapefruit goes really well with champagne. And because I love champagne.

Some people might think a person shouldn’t have to bake her own birthday dessert. I have to disagree.

We live in an age of endless to-do lists. Tsunamis of work obligations. The creeping suspicion (developed after too many hours on Instagram) that our ass is too big. Or too small. Or not clad in the right brand of aggressively tight workout gear. Or too often glued to our couch as we binge-watch Netflix.

Image + styling: Olaiya Land

Which is why we need a day set aside to remember that everything about us is OK. Beautiful even. Regardless of how few items we’ve checked off our productivity app. Or how our boss feels about our TPS reports. Or the size of our backside.

And what better occasion to proclaim “fuck it” to all the obligations of adulthood and spend the day doing exactly what you want than your birthday?

Yes, it is impractical. Yes, you might feel like you don’t deserve it. Yes, it might even feel a little sinful. And yes, it will be 100% WORTH IT.

To help you fully celebrate yourself, I’ve put together a list of the 10 Birthday Commandments. As someone with a Christmas birthday who still manages to make the day her own, I consider myself something of an expert. Consider this your modern self-care manifesto.


The 10 Birthday Commandments

  1. Sleep in. Ask your partner to get the kids ready for school. Tell your roommates to wake you under absolutely no circumstances. Because you need plenty of delicious sleep to wake up feeling like the goddess that you are.

  2. Skip work. Yes, I mean it. Take a personal day. Call in sick. Bribe your boss with cronuts for a month. I don’t care. Do whatever it takes to get the whole day to yourself. Remember: work is highly detrimental to the art of celebrating yourself.

  3. Start the day out by eating your favorite things. Chicken and waffles? Pancakes? Leftover pizza? Birthday cake? Yup. Kick that diet mindset to the curb. Nothing is verboten on your b-day. To make your birthday morning extra delightful, make sure you have what you need for said breakfast on hand. Hangry is no way to start the day.

  4. Wear your favorite outfit. Feel like zipping into a skin-tight dress and super high heels that make you feel sexy AF? Do it. Prefer to spend the day in your softest tights and hoodie? It’s all good. Today is a day for living your best life.

  5. Proclaim yourself queen for the day. Seriously. This is a thing we do in my family. When it’s your birthday, you get to choose the food, the music, the pace, the movie. Make sure your friends and fam are on board beforehand though or things could get a little heated.

  6. As Your Royal Highness, you now have permission to fill your day with things you love to do. Get a massage. Take in an art exhibit solo. Hit a spin class to get yourself energized. Have lunch with your best friends at your favorite restaurant. Make it happen!

  7. Buy yourself a present. As nice as it is to receive presents from others, your friends and family are not mind-readers. Only you can buy yourself exactly what you want. Right color. Right size. Right details. Buy yourself something that brings you joy, and feel no guilt.

  8. Let your squad celebrate you. Even if you aren’t used to being the center of attention. Letting your friends and family shower you with love is one of the best parts of having friends and family.

  9. But don’t expect anyone to make your day unforgettable. Don’t get me wrong--a perfectly executed surprise party or a bottle of champagne for two by firelight are pretty special. But unless you are supremely lucky, they aren’t going to happen every single year. Which is why I’m a big fan of taking matters into your own hands. Communication is key. Let those around you know what you want and need on your special day. Then plan some (or all) of the festivities yourself. It’s your day; you get to live it however you like.

  10. Disregard any (or all) of these commandments if they don’t fit your personality. Add your own birthday commandments if you want. The most important thing is that you fill your day with all the things and people you love most. And that you create a moment to celebrate your beautiful, amazing, perfect self.

Image + styling: Olaiya Land

Grapefruit Curd Tart

  • 1/2 recipe pâte sucrée (see below)
  • 1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 160g (3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 160mL (2/3 cup) freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated grapefruit zest
  • Pinch kosher or sea salt
  • A few drops red food coloring (optional)
  • 70g (5 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces
  • 240mL (1 cup) heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar (optional)
  • Few thin slices grapefruit to decorate the tart (optional)

Pâte Sucrée

  • 320g (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher or flaky sea salt
  • 220g (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 60mL (1/4 cup) ice water, plus more if needed

*Notes: The pâte sucrée can be frozen up to 1 month. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with the recipe.

- The tart shell can be baked a day in advance. Cool it completely in the pan then wrap tightly in plastic wrap until you’re ready to fill it.

- I prefer to top the tart with the whipped cream just before serving. But it can be assembled and topped with the whipped cream up to a day in advance without losing much in terms of texture. If you go this route, be sure to use powdered sugar in the whipped cream as it helps stabilize it. Place the tart on a large plate and invert a large bowl over the top to protect the whipped cream before putting it in the fridge. (This is also how I stored the leftovers.)

- Remove the tart from the fridge 30 minutes before serving.

Image + styling: Olaiya Land

For the crust: Pulse the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor to combine. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Add the yolks and pulse to just combine. With the machine running, add the ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube until the dough just holds together (no longer than 20 seconds). Check the dough by stopping the machine then pinching some of the dough together in your hand. It should come together into a ball when you squeeze it. Don’t wait for the dough to come together in the machine.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Gather it together into a ball then divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a 1/2-inch thick disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour (and up to 2 days).

Roll out one disk of dough to roughly 1/4-inch thickness. Transfer the dough to an 8-inch shallow, removable-bottom tart pan. Lift and press it into the edges of the pan. Do not stretch the dough into the edges as this will make your crust shrink as it bakes. Trim the edges of the crust. One trick I use is to press the sides down into the flutes of the tart pan to make them a little thicker then the bottom. I use a rolling pin to roll over the top of the tart, trimming off any excess dough. Then I use my fingers to push the sides up just slightly past the top edge of the pan. Use a fork to prick holes evenly over the bottom of the tart (this is called docking). Place the tart pan in the freezer until the dough is frozen solid (15-20 minutes).

When you are ready to bake the tart shell, arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 400°F (205°C). Line the frozen shell with parchment paper and then fill it with pie weights (I use beans. You can also use rice.)

Bake the shell until the edges are starting to brown, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove the parchment and pie weights (they will be very hot), reduce the oven to 375°F (190°C) and continue to bake until the center is golden brown and dry, about 15 minutes more. (Cover the edges with aluminum foil if they are darkening too quickly.) Transfer the tart shell to a wire rack and cool completely in the pan. When you’re ready to fill the cooled tart shell, carefully remove it from the tart pan and place it on a serving plate.

For the curd: Whisk together the gelatin and cold water in a small bowl, and set aside to let the gelatin absorb the water. Set a fine mesh sieve over a medium bowl and set aside.

Place the sugar, eggs, juices, zest and salt in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk well to combine. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until just warm to the touch. Add 1 piece of the butter and cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof spatula to prevent scorching, until the butter is almost melted. Repeat with the remaining pieces of butter. If using, add food coloring 1 drop at a time, stirring well after each addition, until you reach your desired color.

Cook the mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. If you want to use a candy thermometer, cook the curd until it reaches 175° F (79°C).

Once the curd thickens, remove the pan from the heat and pour the curd through the fine mesh strainer into the bowl to remove any bits of cooked egg. Microwave the small bowl of gelatin for 10 seconds, until it is liquid. Add the liquefied gelatin to the bowl of grapefruit curd and whisk well.

Pour the curd into the baked and cooled tart shell and transfer it to the refrigerator. Chill until the curd is set, at least an hour.

To serve: Place the cream and powdered sugar (if using) in a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat at medium-high speed until firm peaks form. Take care not to overwhip the cream. Mound the whipped cream in the middle of the chilled tart and spread with the back of a spoon to make decorative swoops. Arrange the grapefruit slices over the whipped cream and serve.

Makes 1 8-inch tart

Pâte Sucrée recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cooking School. Curd recipe adapted from SugarHero!

Image + styling: Olaiya Land

apricot triple berry galette

Image: Olaiya Land

Seattle has bestowed an improbably beautiful June upon us. Normally, it rains right up to (and often through) the Fourth of July. But this year, the days have been bright and warm and the nights perfect for sleeping. My street is fragrant with jasmine and roses bending under the weight of their blooms. The tomato plants in my neighbors' gardens are growing like jungle vines.

The days are magnificently long, too. (I’m writing this at 9.16pm and the sun is only just starting to set). Which means Beau and I have been fixing simple dinners--whatever vegetables we have, thrown on the grill along with a few sausages or maybe a pork chop, and a bottle of rosé--and eating most of our meals outside. This is my idea of summer perfection.

Image: Olaiya Land

Baking has felt decidedly unappealing--all that time and mess and heating up the house when I could be spending time outdoors. But last week at the farmers market, I spied a pile of the season’s first tiny apricots. They were so cute with their downy, blushing cheeks--I couldn’t not buy them. I loaded up my basket and told myself I’d figure out what to do with them later.

Naturally, I let them sit on my counter, until they teetered on the very edge of being usable.

Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land

Then I decided to suck it up and turn on the oven. It was time for a galette. 
With their tart, fruit filling and buttery crust, galettes are one of my favorite pastries. Their free-form nature makes them relatively easy to throw together on the fly (and thus perfectly in line with my no-fuss summer cooking policy), especially when made with this super easy galette dough.

Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land
Image: Olaiya Land

After I pulled this beauty out of the oven, all caramelized and bubbling, Beau and I cut ourselves thick slices, topped them with vanilla ice cream and took them outside to eat in the afternoon sun. I didn’t regret turning on the oven or dirtying a few dishes for one second.

Image: Olaiya Land

Apricot Triple Berry Galette

  • ½ recipe Galette Dough
  • 1 lb ripe apricots, pitted and halved if small, quartered if larger
  • 1 ½ cups mixed berries (I used raspberries, golden raspberries and tayberries)
  • 3-5 tablespoons sugar, divided (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Salt
  • 1 egg
  • Coarse sugar, such as Turbinado, Demerara or sanding sugar (regular old sugar will work, too)
  • Vanilla ice cream, creme fraiche or sweetened whipped cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the disk of dough to roughly 1/4-inch thickness. Transfer to the baking sheet (the pastry will likely hang over the edges a little bit). Refrigerate the for 10 minutes.
While the dough is in the fridge, place the apricots in a large bowl and place the berries in a medium bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of sugar, the cornstarch and a tiny pinch of salt to the apricots. Toss, then taste and add more sugar if your apricots are a bit tart. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and a tiny pinch of salt to the berries. Toss, taste and add more sugar if your berries need it.
Spread the apricots on the pastry to within 2 inches of the edge. Arrange the berries over the apricots. Fold the edge over the filling, pleating as you go. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with a tablespoon of cold water and brush it over the dough then sprinkle with the sugar. (For an extra pretty galette, place it in the fridge or freezer for 15-20 minutes before baking--this keeps it from slumping in the oven.) 
Bake in the center of the oven for 50-60 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling. Let the galette cool slightly before cutting into wedges and serving with ice cream, creme fraiche or sweetened whipped cream.
Serves 6-8.

Image: Olaiya Land

Galette Dough
13 ¾ oz (3 cups) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 ¾ teaspoons kosher salt
9 oz (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons  or 2 ¼ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
8 tablespoons (or more) ice water
1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar
*Note: This is a tender (as opposed to flaky) dough because it's made in the food processor. It's the most failsafe, forgiving dough I've ever encountered (it's been my go-to for over a decade) and a great place to start if you're nervous at all about working with dough. If you don't have a food processor, you can substitute my pie dough, or use the method described in my pie recipe to rub the butter into the dry ingredients. This will yield a flakier, but equally delicious galette dough.

- This dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days, or placed in a ziploc bag and frozen for up to 2 months. If frozen, thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight and soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.

Image: Olaiya Land

Blend the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor to combine. Add the butter, one piece at a time, using on/off turns. Process until the dough looks like sand with some pebbles in it. Drizzle in the cider vinegar while pulsing the dough. Then add the 8 tablespoons of ice water and blend until moist clumps form. 
The mixture should be moist enough to form a dough when you pinch it together. If you have used 8 tablespoons of water and the dough seems dry, give it a few more pulses in the food processor and then pinch off a golf ball sized piece. Squeeze it and see if it wants to come together into a dough. If it’s too crumbly and won’t form a dough, blend in a bit more water, a teaspoon at a time, until the mixture forms a dough when you pinch it together.
Turn out the dough onto a large work surface and gather it together into a ball. Do not knead it as this will toughen the dough. Divide it in half with a bench scraper or knife. Form each half into a ball and then flatten each ball into a disk about ¾-inch thick. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour before rolling. (Ok, to be honest, this dough is so forgiving, I’ve rolled it out without chilling it. But that’s only for emergencies. You’ll get a much nicer galette if you chill the dough!)
Makes 2 dough disks (enough for 2 galettes).

brown sugar pumpkin galette with bay ice cream

brown sugar pumpkin galette on millys-kitchen.com

Ok. I’m going to level with you guys. It’s not always easy to turn out a weekly blog post. As I’m sure you can imagine, I sometimes have zero culinary inspiration and Beau and I end up dining on chili from the hotbar at Whole Foods. Some weeks, taking the time to create, prep and shoot a recipe feels like too much. Not to mention finding something engaging to write about it. Sometimes I just don’t want to. 

brown sugar pumpkin galette on millys-kitchen.com

This week was starting to look a lot like a just-don’t-want-to sort of week. I’ve got holiday gift classes to prepare for and I’m getting ready to launch my next culinary tour. It seems like the majority of my friends have had babies in the last month, so I have a mountain of baby gifts to get in the mail. Thursday’s Thanksgiving, which means shopping and cooking and all that jazz.  

But I’ve had this idea for a pumpkin tart floating around in my head for months. And since there is (obviously) no better moment for a pumpkin tart than the week of Thanksgiving, I figured I’d better get on it. 

brown sugar pumpkin galette on millys-kitchen.com

Pumpkin pie has been my favorite Thanksgiving dessert since forever. Apple pie is nice. Pecan pie, delightful. But pumpkin pie, wreathed in a fluffy halo of whipped cream captured my young heart and has held sway over it ever since. For years, my go-to recipe has been this one, with the spices doubled and a little maple and rum thrown in for good measure. This is my dream pumpkin pie--velvety and rich with a complex spiciness. But I’m not so particular when it comes to pumpkin pie; I eat the samples they hand out at the grocery store with almost as much gusto. With the savory-sweetness of pumpkin, a creamy custard base and the alchemy of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, it’s pretty tough to mess up pumpkin pie.

brown sugar pumpkin galette on millys-kitchen.com

That said, I wanted to try something different this year. A riff on the classic. Maybe a little less sweet and with the pumpkin itself playing a starring roll. So despite my just-don’t-want-to state of mind, I pulled out the ingredients for galette dough and headed to the market to select a pumpkin. The next day I queued up several episodes of This American Life and got to work. 

Somewhere around the time the disks of dough were in the refrigerator and my pumpkin was neatly peeled and seeded and sliced, I realized that this chilly Monday morning spent chopping and kneading in my warm kitchen was a pleasure and not a slog. There’s something about the methodical nature of baking that clears my head. It’s precise. And technical. You have to focus on the task at hand, which is it’s own sort of meditation. 

Baking this tart turned out to be the perfect antidote to a mounting tide of pre-holiday stress. And it’s almost as good as the ethereal pumpkin pies I remember from my childhood. 

Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving, whatever sort of pie you fancy!



brown sugar pumpkin galette on millys-kitchen.com

Brown Sugar Pumpkin Galette with Bay Ice Cream

  • ½ recipe Easy Galette Dough (recipe follows)
  • One small baking pumpkin (mine weighed 2 ½ lbs), halved, seeded, peeled and sliced ⅓ inch thick
  • ½ vanilla bean
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch (1/16 teaspoon) ground allspice
  • Pinch (1/16 teaspoon) ground cloves
  • Pinch (1/16 teaspoon) ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 oz (3 tablespoons) butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons rum (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon milk or cream
  • 1 tablespoon sanding sugar (demerara, turbinado or even plain old granulated sugar will work, too)
  • Bay Ice Cream, to serve (recipe follows)

*Note: You can use any winter squash in this recipe. You might want to add a bit more or less sugar depending on which squash you choose (butternut and acorn are sweeter, kabocha is more savory, etc.). Cook times will vary depending on the variety of squash and how thickly it's sliced.

brown sugar pumpkin galette on millys-kitchen.com

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper. Roll out one disk of dough on a lightly floured work surface into a ¼-inch-thick round or oval. Transfer the dough to the sheet pan.  Arrange the pumpkin over the dough, overlapping the slices slightly and leaving a 1 ½-inch border. Place the sheet pan in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. (This keeps the dough from slumping when you bake your galette.)

Use a paring knife to halve the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out. Place the vanilla seeds in a small bowl with the granulated sugar. Use your fingers to rub the vanilla into the sugar; this will keep it from clumping. Transfer the vanilla sugar to a medium bowl and add the brown sugar, salt and spices. Whisk to combine then rub the butter and rum into the sugar mixture. 

Remove the galette from the freezer. Crumble the brown sugar mixture over the sliced pumpkin. Fold the dough over the pumpkin and lightly brush the edges of the galette with milk or cream. then sprinkle with the sanding sugar. Bake, rotating the galette as necessary for even browning, until the crust is golden brown and the pumpkin is cooked through, about 60 minutes. Cool slightly before slicing and serving with Bay Ice Cream.

Easy  Galette Dough

  • 13 oz (3 cups) all-purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt

  • 9 oz (2 ¼ sticks) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes

  • 8 tablespoons (or more) ice water

  • 1 ½ teaspoons apple cider vinegar

: I love, love, LOVE this dough. The food processor does most of the work and it comes together in no time. It is also very forgiving, which makes it a great dough for novice bakers. Unlike my flaky pie dough, which requires a bit more work, this is a tender dough--more like a pâte sablé. If you'd like a flakier crust on your galette, feel free to substitute this dough recipe.

brown sugar pumpkin galette on millys-kitchen.com

- This dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or placed in a air-tight plastic bag and frozen for up to 2 months. If frozen, thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight and soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.

Blend the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor to combine. Add the butter, processing between each addition using on/off turns, until the dough looks like coarse meal. Gradually add the ice water and cider vinegar and process until the dough just comes together. You may need to add more ice water by teaspoonfuls if the dough is dry.  

Turn the dough out onto a large work surface and gather it together into a ball. Do not knead or you risk toughening the dough. Divide the dough in half with a bench scraper or knife. Form each half into a ball and then flatten each ball into a disk about 1 inch thick. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour before rolling. 
Makes 2 disks of dough (enough for 2 galettes).

Bay Ice Cream

  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream

  • 10 black peppercorns (whole)

  • 6 Turkish bay leaves (fresh or dried)

  • 1 cup whole milk

  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar, divided

  • Pinch fine grain sea salt

  • 4 large egg yolks


*Note: This ice cream will keep for up to a week, though the texture is best on days 1-3. After that it can get a little grainy, especially if you open and close your freezer a lot. 

brown sugar pumpkin galette on millys-kitchen.com

Place the cream and peppercorns in a medium saucepan and place over medium heat. If you’re using fresh bay leaves, slice each into 4 or 5 pieces and add to the pot. If you are using dried bay, crush the leaves a little before adding them to the pot. When the cream comes to a bare simmer, remove the pot from the heat, cover and set aside to steep for 40 minutes. When the cream has infused, pour it through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl. Discard the bay and peppercorns. 

Prepare an ice bath by filling a large mixing bowl half full of ice and then just covering the ice with cold water.

Return the strained cream to the pot along with the milk, ½ cup of the sugar and salt. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches a bare simmer. Do not boil. 

Whisk the egg yolks and remaining ¼ cup sugar together in a medium bowl. Gradually warm the eggs by adding the cream mixture in a thin stream while whisking. Return the egg and cream mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium-low, stirring constantly with a flexible heatproof spatula (be sure scrape the bottom and corners of the pan so the custard doesn’t scorch) until the mixture coats the back of spoon like this. If you’re more of a technical cook, the custard should register between 170 to 175°F on an instant-read thermometer. Do not let the custard boil or it will break and look grainy. 

Immediately strain the thickened custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl set over the ice bath and whisk to cool. Transfer the cooled custard to the fridge and chill for at least 6 hours (overnight if possible--the colder your base is, the smoother your ice cream will be). Freeze the custard in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions then transfer to an airtight container and place  in the freezer to harden, at least one hour.

Makes about 1 quart.

brown sugar pumpkin galette on millys-kitchen.com