Monday, April 11, 2011

Lime tart and Milan's hidden corners

Summer arrived a few months early. During the week end temperatures reached 33°C, and I saw a thermometer in the sun that read 39°C! This is not natural, not even in the Mediterranean. So we spent most of our week end outdoors, picnicking in the park, taking walks and basking in the beautiful sunshine.

Milan, not always considered a gem among the many beautiful Italian towns, is called the city of hidden gardens, terraces and courtyards.

Here are a few corners off the beaten track (for tourists at least).

The Idroscalo was originally built for hydroplanes in the Twenties. It is now a recreational area for the city of Milan.

We also went to Villa Necchi Campiglio. Did any of you see the movie "I am Love" starring Tilda Swinton (2009)? The villa, which was said to be the real star of the movie, was built in the Thirties and is an example of Italian proto-modernist architecture, with stunning interiors, that also boasts an imposing art collection. Access to the gardens is free and it is a nice place to sit and read a newspaper while sipping a cappucino or enjoying lunch at the café by the tennis court.

The Necchis didn't have it bad, with a private garden, tennis court and swimming pool right in the center of Milan. 

Discrete garbage can
Villa Necchi Campiglio
via Mozart, 14
tel. 02.76340121

And did you know that just a few steps away, there are flamingos year-round in the garden of Villa Invernizzi? Whenever we walk by, my kids love to press their noses agains the gates and look at them.

On Saturday we went to a friends' house for a housewarming party. Inspired by the almost florescent green leaves exploding even in the most grey corners of this city, I decided to make a lime tart. Out came my Joy of Cooking, my already open pack of Digestive cookies and that bag of limes that had been patiently sitting in my fridge waiting for my attention. I had two cans of condensed milk in my cupboard from another dessert I made a while back. I was set to go. Isn't it the best feeling when you make a great dessert using things you already have? I just love it.

Notes to self: do not bake a cake that involves whipped cream at the height of summer (or in the first decade of April, like I could've known...). The whipped cream started melting while I was taking pictures.

1 1/2 cups graham cracker (I used Digestives)
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar (depending on sweetness of cookies - I used 1/4)
6 tbsp (3/4 stick) butter, melted and cooled
(1 tsp ground cinnamon)

15 oz. can condensed milk (425gr.)
4 large yolks (I used five normal sized yolks)
1/2 cup lime juice
 3 or 4 tsp grated lime zest

Whipped cream
about 1 cup heavy whipping cream
(1 scant tsp confectioner's sugar)

The recipe suggests using a 9 or 10 inch tart pan. I used an 11 inch one and added a couple of tablespoons of condensed milk and an extra egg yolk into the mixture.
Put cookies in a food processor or crush them with a rolling pin in a plastic bag. Put aside a couple of tablespoons if you want to decorate the top with them later. Mix together with the cooled butter, sugar and cinnamon. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and put crumb mixture in a tart pan and distribute evenly. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let Cool.
While the crust is baking, whisk together the condensed milk, 4 large yolks, 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice and the zest from the limes. When the crust has cooled, preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C) and pour the filling into the crust and bake for about 15-17 minutes, until the center is set but wiggles when you move the pan. Let cool and refrigerate. Whip the cream and decorate as you please or simply serve with the whipped cream. If you have key lime, use those. I am very jealous!

Pre baking

Post baking

Oh, in case you were wondering, the green beans actually turned out exactly how I expected them: crunchy, tangy, a touch spicy and refreshing. We served them to our guest with cheese and salami and a cold glass of Prosecco di Valdobbiadene and everyone liked them, kids included. The jar was promptly filled with some more and topped of with a little vinegar.


  1. I did see that movie - I could not say I liked it but the scenery was nice :)
    Milan looks beautiful and a lot more kid friendly than Rome!!
    We spent the weekend in Florence- also unseasonably hot!
    The lime tart must have been so refreshing. And how great that you had everything on hand!

  2. Your tart looks very refreshing. I really enjoy citrus desserts.

    The pictures off the beaten path in Milan are stunning. How lucky that you're enjoying Indian-summer weather. We've had tons of rain which seems to have finally left. Thank goodness! Today is spring-like.

  3. Ohhhh Milano <3!! hehehe I loved watching the pictures! I used to live not too far from Idroscalo!
    The lime tart sounds divinely sweet and tangy! I love the way you made the crust! :-)

  4. Nicole - the movie was not great but I liked the the scenery, the interiors, the general atmosphere. It was interesting. Milan has its good parts and its bad parts. Certainly not as beautiful but perhaps more orderly...
    Stevie - I am sure it will start pouring all through Easter vacation...since we are going away for a few days. Hehe
    Manu - I will post some more. And if you go back into my arhcives you can find a few more posts dedicated to Milan.

  5. Lovely creamy tangy tart! Perfect for a hot day; I have only been to Milan when the weather was cold or drizzly and would love to go back to check out these hidden beauties! the lake looks like it could be in Dallas! :)

  6. I agree, there's something so satisfying about making something from what you have and not having to go out and buy something :) It looks lovely! And can we please have some of your sunny weather? :)

  7. Lovely photos! Wish I were there especially since our weather has been cold and rainy. The lime tart looks delicious.

  8. I have not been to Milan. Looking at your photos are like taking a mini tour virtually. Love the lime tart, looks very refreshing and tasty.

  9. Sounds like the perfect weekend to be outside! And I'm sure that lime tart was absolutely delicious!

  10. What a fascinating post of the daily life in Milan. And wow, real flamingos!! Usually the ones out at the lawns are fakes ones....which reminds me, once a flamingo almost poked me in the eye. This was at the zoo.

    Anyway...lovely tart!! Bright and pucky, perfect for summer. :D

  11. Oh I'm just captivated...both by Milan and by this tart. Thank you for sharing with me tonight. I hope that you have a wonderful week full of laughter, love and good food. I'm leaving tonight feeling inspired by your creativity and kindness.

  12. ToB - on a beautiful sunny day, it is really nice to walk around the city and discover its hidden treasures. That lake is artificial, built for sea planes to land at the beginning of last century. But between Lake Como, Maggiore and Garda, we have quite a choice nearby.
    Lorraine - finally I can get back at you after all the winter months I spent being jealous looking at your wonderful summer photos ;o)
    Kelly - hang in there, spring is around the corner for you too!
    Quay Po - I love that feeling of travelling around the world when I read all the food blogs out there. Glad I could contribute.
    Peggy - yes, it was a really nice week end. They were running the marathon in Milan too.
    Sophia - poor you, nearly poked in the eye by a naughty flamingo!
    Monet - thank you for visiting. I am glad my blog provided you with a tiny bit of much needed distraction. You are an incredibly strong woman and I am constantly inspired by your capability of seeing good everywhere and in everyone despite what you are going through.

  13. I simply must visit Milan, I always get lost in your photos! It looks so lush! The tart is wonderful too...your children are happy, happy kiddos for sure :)

  14. I so want to come back to Milan now!


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