A Lemon-Almond Tart For All Seasons

September 29, 2019

“Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love”     ~ Rumi

Photo Credit: Paula

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You know those people whose spirit lights up an entire room?

Meet Paula Bartholomy, Hawthorn University's Director of Online Events and Registrar.  As I interviewed her for the series, I couldn't help but think,  “What a beautiful person, who radiates joy.”  Her confidence, passion for helping others, and decades-long journey in holistic health were so inspiring.

I hung up the phone, wishing I could take her to lunch, and become lifelong friends.  So far, we've

Chatted about – Her family's influence, areas she's studied, and the disease she avoided working with for a very long time

And then – Self-care, her wellness philosophy, seeking health-related truth in a world of misinformation, and the beautiful presence she brings to those at the end of their lives

I especially loved – her thoughts about our weight-loss culture, her health non-negotiables, (not-so-guilty) pleasures, and the most beautiful nightly ritual

And have been hopelessly lost in – all of her favorite resources.  Everything from colleagues, podcasts, books, journals, and social media accounts.  And, the sweet spirit of encouragement her family offered when faced with their out-of the box child

Today – As our series draws to a close, she talks about the things she loves to eat, favorite cookbooks, one of her latest projects, and a diner meal that she'll never forget.

(  ps: You can read more about Hawthorn University in Part I  |  Part II  |  Part III Part IV of the series )

Photo Credit – HealthyPlace.com

During a typical day, what do you eat?

Vegetables.  I'm high on fermenteds.  I love loose tea and either make my own or purchase herbal tea blends.  I'm not a tea bag kind of girl.  Broths.  Broths are so nourishing.  Always a variety of fresh greens, salad greens, and dark leafys.  Eggs and animal protein (this, after being a vegetarian for 25 years).  On occasion, I'll have fresh goat dairy.  I'm excited right now because in California it's the best time to eat dairy.  The grass is so luscious and new.  Rarely, I'll eat grains: quinoa, and some seasonal fruit.  I do admit to indulging on my garden's blueberries and won't resist a good cherry!

How would you describe your way of eating?

Conscious.  If I were using one word to describe it, it would be conscious.  Mindful.  Of eating fresh, seasonal, whole, organic bio-dynamically raised foods and wine.  Always in a conscious state of mind.  It's the best way to taste the full flavor of food.

Why did you move away from being a vegetarian? 

I've always taught the importance of listening to our bodies; it's the key to knowing what we need.  When I was fifty, I found myself in a health situation as my body was changing.  It was evident that I needed more nutrients than what I was getting, and that included animal protein.  Even though I recognized what was happening, what was needed, and accepted it, this wasn't easy for me. I was scared that I was going to get sick, and my stomach wasn't going to be able to handle it.  Not to mention my philosophic views for being a vegetarian in the first place.  So many things ..

At the time, a friend owned a local diner that I frequented, and they made me a beautiful lamb stew.  I looked at it, and I sat, and I prayed over it, and I cried, “How can I do this?”  But the first bite dispelled everything.  My body was immediately responsive, “Thank you, thank you.  Thank you for listening!”  It was an instant assurance and gratification that I'd made the right choice.  I didn't look back, I didn't get sick, and it didn't hurt.  It just felt right.

Is there a favorite food or recipe that you can't live without?

Ferments.  If I have to pick one thing, it's going to be fermented foods.  It started with my grandfather, I suppose; the alchemy and the excitement of what he was doing in his fermentation cellar.

You know, he was French.  My grandparents were French, lived next door to us, and he talked yearly about breaking winter's fast.  So we'd have fresh dandelion greens from his garden, and he'd open his ferments that had been bubbling for the last three to six months.  The fresh krauts came out.

It was a beautiful thing, and so that's just stayed with me ..

Paula and her family – So many years ago!

Do you have any favorite cookbooks or places you turn for culinary inspiration?

Well, I've never really followed a recipe exactly.  But I do look for inspiration in cookbooks.

I'd say anything by Rebecca Katz.

Alchemy of Herbs by Rosemary De La Foret if I'm looking for herbal recipes.

The Sacred Kitchen with Robin Robertson.

Full Moon Feast – I don't know if you're familiar with Jessica Prentice?  She's a chef, author, and founding member of Three Stone Hearth, a community-supported kitchen in Berkeley, California, and a rock star, really, in the local food arena.  She's known for coining the word locavore, a movement in which people seek to eat locally grown foods, often defined as those available within a 100-mile radius.  The word, “locavore” is now in the dictionary!  She creates a lot of unique fermented foods and beautiful drinks.  It's a beautiful cookbook, lovely.

There's the Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Micky Trescott.

Occidental Arts because they're right here in California.

The Wild Table is a beautiful book.  If I need inspiration, I think, “What's wild in different parts of the world in various seasons?”  And so from there, I'll look at a recipe and think, “What did they do and how did they do it?”  I'll look at the ingredients I have and spin something that feels right.

Speaking of Rebecca Katz – She's a Hawthorn graduate

Yep, she is.  Of the Master's program and wow, did that open doors for her!

I like cookbooks that draw my attention, and that's one of the reasons I like hers so much.  Some authors weave a beautiful storyline around the recipe.  And with Rebecca, you feel like you're right there in the kitchen with her.  I feel like she's talking just to me.  That's the fun part.  I'm not alone.

She was a colleague of mine for quite some time and debated “Paula, do you think I need a master's?  Why do I need a master's?”  After various conversations, she enrolled, graduated, and has had a brilliant career.  The work she's doing with the Food is Medicine, and their conferences are enormous.  As is her work with cancer.  She started with a cookbook on cancer, One Bite At A Time, and her latest is The Healthy Mind

So, she's covering the bases of the major diseases that we're seeing in our lives and addressing them.  With beauty and grace and humor and fun and deliciousness!  Thank you, Rebecca Katz.  I'm so proud that she's a graduate of Hawthorn.

Speaking of cookbooks

Remember when I said I didn't want to get close to working with cancer?  Well, here's the most recent way I get very up-close and personal.  I'm working on a special project with Harmony Hill Retreat Center, a place near and dear to my heart.

This is a place of respite, renewal, and support for people with cancer.  A place their caregivers and families can come and stay, at no charge.  Support comes from workshops, programs, and donations.  For me, it's quite special to go on retreat there and to be giving and receiving so beautifully at the same time.  I've had the honor and pleasure of attending two retreats with Dr. Deanna Minich and met the founder and visionary, Gretchen Schodde.  We are like two peas in a pod!

Everything about this place is exceptional, including the garden to plate meals.  They deserve a cookbook that reflects their mission, philosophy, and food.  That's where I come in, with a desire to help them manifest one.  They will use this to support the people with cancer who visit and would like their recipes.  There is no budget for this, all I have is thirty recipes to work with, and I want to include the details of their mission, philosophy, food, and chefs creating it.  Gretchen hopes to have this ready for press by Thanksgiving!

What are a few of your favorite fermentation sources?

Jessica Prentice is one.  Sandor Katz is another.  He's written several books, including The Art of Fermentation.  Also, Dr. Sarica Cernohous, who's an instructor on Traditional Food preparation methods via her book The Funky Kitchen and its 6-module course, “Fresh, Fun, and Flavorful in the Funky Kitchen”  Both Sarica and Sandor have done webinars for Hawthorn and are so fabulous.

I have a proclivity for the taste sour and then bitter.  As a kid, we would go grocery shopping with my mother.  You know how it is, the kids are in the very front of the grocery cart getting pushed around and reaching for sugar.  Instead, I was like, “Mom, can I have a lemon?” She'd look at me, “You are a weird kid.”  I'd be very content to just sucking on that lemon as we went through the store.

We didn't have sweets and sodas and things like that in the house with any regularity.  They were special treats.  And so it suits, right?  The ferments and flavors that come from them.

— —

Thank you, Paula, for the wisdom, knowledge, and kindness you bring to everyone you meet.  Most of all, for being all sorts of wonderful(!)

Photo Credit – Instagram – @dallasclayton

The end to a series just wouldn't be the same without a bite (or two) of dessert.  Something lemony, in her honor.

A flourless, crustless tart that's more than a custard, but not quite a cake, either.  A mostly stovetop creation that's lovely and light, with a perfect bounce.  A dessert frittata (maybe?) that's as simple to make as an omelet, but chewy, rich, and sweet.

Friends, this is the cake to bake the day the weather begins to turn.  When you first catch the crispness of fall air as you head out for the day.  It's the cake to bake when your friend sends you a message, “I'm in town today.  Ok if I stop by?” and you respond with a happy emoji, inventory the lemons on the kitchen counter, preheat the oven.

It's a cake you could envision Paula (or any of the inspiring Hawthorn grads!) balancing on the floor mats of their car, quietly jostling at every turn, en route to yet another person in need of some sunshine



ps:  You can read more about Hawthorn University and Paula Bartholomy in Part I  |  Part II  |  Part III  |  Part IV  |  Part V  |  Part VI Part VII  |  Part VIII  of the series

— — —

~ Adapted from Mark Bittman via The New York Times

A Lemon-Almond Tart For All Seasons


  • 4 eggs (large or XL)
  • ½ cup natural sugar (Sugar in the Raw or Turbinado)
  • ½ cup ground almonds
  • ½ cup cream
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
    + more for garnish
  • 1 lemon, zest, and juice
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • powdered sugar,
    for garnish


  • Heat oven to 400° F
  • In a bowl, combine eggs, sugar, salt, ground almonds, cream, sliced almonds, lemon zest, and juice.
  • Melt butter in an 8" ovenproof skillet over low heat; when the foam has subsided, add the almond mix to the pan, tilting to distribute batter evenly.
  • Continue to cook tart on the stovetop until edges have just begun to set, then put the pan in the oven and finish cooking (~ 10 to 15 minutes more)
  • When the tart is done, put it under the broiler for about a minute, or until just golden on top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and sliced almonds.
Serves: 6
Nutrition + Show
Calories 290
Total Fat 26.6g
Saturated Fat 8.5g
Carbohydrates 22.1g
Fiber 2.7g
Sugars 18.2g
Protein 10.3g
Print This Recipe

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  • Reply Heather September 29, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    Man, thinking of Harmony Hill and how many brave people there are in the world. It’s really amazing to read about these places of healing and people like Paula, who are doing what they can to make the lives of others just a little bit better. It really puts my own little problems and anxieties into perspective! Thank you for this.

  • Reply Tracie September 29, 2019 at 11:51 pm

    Well, here it is, the recipe to transition out of summer and into the crazy amounts of rice pudding that we make at our house during the colder months.

  • Reply Mike September 30, 2019 at 5:26 am

    There is something about a recipe that doesn’t ask for much. A recipe without pretense. And yet a slice of this cake looks like perfection. Damn. I hate when it’s that easy.

  • Reply Deb September 30, 2019 at 8:04 pm

    I just loved reading about Paula and Hawthorn University. She’s amazing, and and you can see her heart shining through in every picture! Please, Ali, let us know when the Harmony Hill cookbook is ready, I’m going to order one for my mom. She’s in the middle of treatment for breast cancer.

  • Reply Rebecca September 30, 2019 at 8:56 pm

    I adore lemon tarts and have been wanting to make this since I ran across it in the New York Times. I consider the coincidence of having four fresh lemons and your post as all the fate I need. Thank you in advance for what will be tomorrows wonderful dessert!

  • Reply Annie October 1, 2019 at 2:36 am

    I loved this series! Paula’s philosophy on life is so similar to my own. The Funky Kitchen and course, I need those in my life. I’ve been wanting to do more with fermented foods.

  • Reply Amanda October 1, 2019 at 4:12 am

    Well if she isn’t just the most radiant person ever!!

  • Reply Janice October 1, 2019 at 9:55 am

    What a great series! She is so beautiful and so inspiring. Love her confidence and incredible spirit of service.

  • Reply Anna October 2, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    I made this last weekend with some gorgeous meyer lemons and took it to work. It was gone in about an hour. At this moment I have another one in the oven, made with blood oranges this time. A perfect way to bring some sunshine into a rainy week!

  • Reply Rebecca October 7, 2019 at 7:29 am

    5 stars
    Paula sounds absolutely fascinating! I’d love a slice of that lemon almond tart, it looks totally delicious.

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