Mirabelle Plums & Almond Frangipane Tart

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Tarte Aux Mirabelles

I have not been here a week yet and my heart is already replenished and my eyes filled with beautiful memories. I keep catching myself throughout the day thinking "I can’t believe I am here". It’s good to go home and see all my cousins for a joyous occasion for once. I’ve been enjoying my mom’s wonderful cooking, let my nose take me to the cheese box and renewed my love affair with the most fragrant cantaloupes, Saturn peaches, and tiny mirabelles. I’m in complete bliss.

On Saturday my grandfather gathered the family for a celebration of his 100th birthday. As he said, never in his life did he imagine that the family that he and my grandmother started at 2 would grow to an intimate (!) group of 50 - children, grandchildren, great grandchildren (and their spouses). That’s us. We as a whole function as a giant tribe composed of many smaller clans. It’s joyous. It’s loud. It’s everywhere and all at once. It’s tensed and climatic. It’s pretty darn awesome when I get to be there (and so grateful my uncle took this photo!).

Tarte Aux Mirabelles

When you think that there are exactly 100 years between my grandfather and his last great granddaughter, well you are slightly inclined to smell the roses and open up the bubbly! And celebrate we did! My cheeks hurt so much from laughing and smiling as I looked over my shoulders to see my cousins now all grown up and parents of their own.

As I said, my heart is full. Even fuller now that I got to spend quality time with my brother’s children for a few days. Because of their age difference we were able to take full advantage of both their rhythms and while Camille was napping, Lea and I spent time baking and chatting about life and other “very serious things” (her words!).

Tarte Aux Mirabelles

We did have a little baking spree last Thursday afternoon and kept the oven quite busy while filling my parents’ home with the most captivating scents of cardamom, mirabelles, honey, almonds,… A perfectly golden Tarte Aux Mirabelles was the reward of an afternoon of rolling, mixing and whipping.

Perfect sun gold tiny mirabelles from a neighbor’s garden with soft as silk pulp and just enough juice to keep you busy licking your fingers clean. Time to pit the mirabelles literally flew by as we talked and laughed. While I was taking care of the fruit, Lea rolled the remainder of a pate sable my mom had made a few days prior and I started on the almond filling. I noticed that my love for stone fruits and frangipane is a family thing. Lea was all about it too. Of course! She’s my niece…ehehe!

Léa

We are leaving the cool weather of Paris tomorrow for the sunny terrain of the Hautes Alpes and Provence and where I grew up and finally taking a little detour to go to Toulouse in the South West to be with my brother on his turf for a couple of days. It’s going to be a few packed days of driving and visiting!

I want to walk up and down my old street once more. I want to stare at the mountain Sainte Victoire again, sit under the tree where I used to watch the old guys play “la petanque”, drink a menthe a l’eau in the shade and bite into a pompe a l’huile one more time.

Can’t wait to show you more of the gorgeous scenery and foods of the South of France.

Tarte Aux Mirabelles


Tarte Frangipane Mirabelles - Almond and Mirabelles Tart

Serves 8-10

Note: you can substitute mirabelles with any stone fruit that you favor. If you are not baking gluten free, replace the rice, millet, sorghum flours and cornstarch with 1.5 cups of all purpose flour and omit the xanthan gum.


For the crust:
5 tablespoons (70gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 egg yolks
pinch salt
1/2 cup (80gr) superfine sweet white rice flour
1/2 cup (60gr) millet flour
1/4 cup (30gr) sorghum flour
1/4 cup (40gr) corn starch
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup cold water (optional if the dough seems too dry)

For the filling:
1 stick (115 gr) butter, softened
1/3 cup (115gr) honey
1 cup (100 gr) ground almonds (blanched, slivered, whole, your call)
2 eggs
1/4 cup (60gr) heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon cardamom

1-2 cups pitted mirabelles plums (or your preferred stone fruit)

Prepare the crust:
In a mixer, whip the butter on medium speed until light and airy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Mix until incorporated. Add the salt, and all the different flours, and the xantham gum and mix briefly. Add some water, one tablespoon at a time if the dough feels too dry. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured (use more rice flour) board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between two sheets of plastic to fit your prefered pie pan. If the dough tears while you roll or/and transfer into the pan, just patch it with your fingertips. Line the dough with a piece of parchment paper, fill with pie weights or dy beans and par bake for 10-15 minutes until almost completely baked. Remove the weights and parchment paper. At this point you can refrigerate the baked crust for up to 3 days before using.

Prepare the almond filling and mirabelles topping:
Place the butter, honey, ground almonds, and the eggs in a large bowl and whisk until smooth (can also be done in a food processor). Add the cream and cardamom but stir in it instead of whisking not to emulsify it or it will rise while baking.
Arrange the mirabelles halves at the bottom of the pie crust and pour the cream over them. Bake 25-30 minutes at 350F. Drizzle with a bit of extra honey if desired when still warm.

Back Home

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Home

I am home. Or what I like to call “my parents home”. I have always been happy where they live now but I left my heart in the South when we moved to be closer to my grandparents. I do however like their present close proximity to Paris and the surrounding areas. I am spending a week there in the lush and cool climate of the Yvelines before heading down to Provence where I grew up.

As I was heading out to the Boulangerie-Patisserie the other day and took a few snapshots of their town. So typical of the area. A mix of old and new. Hope you enjoy the tour…

Home

I know I am by the greenery around me. When we first moved here, we were mesmerized by how green and different trees and gardens were compared to Provence. You can bet I still have the same reaction now in South Carolina where things.

Home

You know you are in France by the road signs and the very messed up unusual intersections.

Home

I think I can safely say that every small town in France is built around the church and here is no exception. This is where I spent many Sunday mornings wondering if sermons were this long the world around!

Home

Old stones always bring about respect. Last time I said that my grandfather laughed that himself was an old stone. I can’t even begin imagine what he thinks as he looks at the Veterans Monument. The guy is a century old. He’s seen both wars. He’s got stories. That’s why we are all gathering. We can’t stop listening. And learning.

Home

I remember sitting on this bench outside the church impatiently waiting for my parents to stop chatting with their friends and to take us to the patisserie for a little Sunday treat. Today I thought what a great background for my pictures this piece of old wood could be!

Home

That afternoon, instead of coming straight home, I decided to take my niece Lea on a little walk through the park around the corner from my parents’ house. I handed her a little point and shoot and hop we went.

Lea

We walked for a few minutes and then I looked behind me and the picture before me filled my heart with love and pride. A budding photographer…

Home

The ducks at the castle were there to welcome us. As kids we used to take them day old bread. I completely forgot about it this time that I was with Lea and they figured it in no time and turned around.

Home

Yes, there is a castle in their town. One that lived through the French Revolution and that has been used after that in many different ways. It has been the City Hall for many many years now.

Home

Everywhere you walk around the castle you can spot remnants of times long gone. A mix of overgrown and preserved.

Home

One side of the castle used to be a primary school where I spent one year there. It was downright awesome… Going up stone cold stairways to get to our classroom. Daydreaming while looking through the windows over looking the water underneath us.

Home


Home

The doors are the same. The paint chips the same. Even the cobblestone have remained.

Nieces

I will be back and show you more of the trip. Other places where I grew up and lived. In the meantime, I promised my two adorable nieces to bake a tart and a cake.

Note: from reading the comments there seems to be a misunderstanding: this is not the place where I was born and grew up.

Blueberry Sorbet Macarons

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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Blueberry Sorbet Macarons

I really did not mean for it to be this long in between posts but this week really got the best of my time. Deadlines and meetings crept up all of a sudden when clients realized I may not be online as much in the next couple of weeks. But work is good. Vacation? Finally! Yes. I am taking a vacation. The first in 4 years! I am going home to France tomorrow and as much as I hate that B. can't join me, I just can't wait to put my bags down in my old room and chill on the patio with my family.

Hugs from my nieces. Chats with my mom. Mapping outings with my dad. Listening, in awe - always - to my grandfather's stories. Planning his 100th birthday party. Taking pictures. Aperitifs on the back porch. My brother's never ending supply of energy being wasted on my vacation brain. I intend to soak it all in. Smile, cry, get riled up (because that's what we do in our larger than life family). All of it.

Blueberry Sorbet

My parents now reside outside of Paris and we will be spending some time there before heading out on a mini road trip, heading down South. Toulouse first where my brother can't wait to show me the house he built. Then it's a trip down memory lane stomping my old grounds in Provence and the Alps where I grew up. That's the beauty of France being on the small size, one can cover a lot of territory in a relatively short period of time. And it helps that someone else is driving, ahah!

Blueberries

Of course, I have already been volunteered to be the photographer at my grandpa's birthday party/family reunion but I am really looking into capturing the places of my childhood. Unlike Beatrice from La Tartine Gourmande who grew up in Lorraine, I can't promise you pictures of cows, apple trees or fields and crops. Nope. I grew up among endless seas of lavender fields, olive tree groves and red clay canyons. Valleys, mountains, rocks and wildflowers. That's my France. Just thinking about it makes my soul and heart at peace. But that's what I love about France. The diversity of people and places within human (driving) reach.

Blueberry Sorbet & Macarons

As I was jotting down places and things I wanted to see and visits, foods and desserts and I wanted to eat again, I was also working on leaving a "happy fridge" for Bill while I'd be gone. The phrase is pretty self explanatory: the man does not cook or bake so I tend to leave homemade meals for him to reheat after work. I also know he'll be invited at the neighbors and his parents so I am not worried. And he can boil water!

One thing that is really easy to leave also is a bunch of frozen treats so I did make lots of ice creams and sorbets this week as well as his favorite cookies, macarons. He like to eat them like Oreos. Separate the layers, eat the filling. Or dunked in his coffee. I don't question. I am just happy he is willing to try my ideas.

Blueberry Sorbet & Macarons

One thing we've been eating just about everyday is the blueberry sorbet I last made with the loads of blueberries we keep getting at the farmers' market. I pretty much made 3 batches in a row we could not get enough! One night, instead of giving him a bowl of sorbet and a couple of macarons shells, I just filled said shell with said sorbet and that's how these came about. There are a dozen at the ready in the freezer. And I know I am a tad envious because dang! that sorbet was awesome.

Oh wait... what am I talking about? I am going home to my mom's cooking. Forget what I have said in the previous paragraph. Well, no. Make that sorbet first. Then some macarons and eat them together. You won't be disappointed. I promise!

One more thing: Caitlin and J's engagement set is finally up for your viewing pleasure, here. I had such a great time, I can't wait to photograph their wedding!

Blueberry Sorbet Macarons


Blueberry Sorbet Macarons:

Makes about 30-35 filled macarons and about 4 cups sorbet

Blueberry Sorbet, adapted from Richard Leach in Sweet Seasons:
3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
zest and juice of one lemon

In a medium saucepan set over medium high heat, place the blueberries and the rest of the ingredients and bring to a quick boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Puree until smooth in a blender or food processor and then strain through a fine mesh chinois (strainer). Process in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Macarons:

For the shells:
90 gr egg whites (use egg whites that have been preferably left 3-4 days in the fridge)
25 gr granulated sugar
200 gr powdered sugar
110 gr almonds (slivered, blanched, sliced, whatever you like)
1 tablespoon cherry pink powdered food coloring

Prepare the macarons:
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, (think bubble bath foam) gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue (think shaving cream). Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. Place the powdered sugar and almonds and powdered color in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.
Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 280F. When ready, bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store the shells in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks (longer and the sugar starts to seep out which makes them sticky).
Fill the macarons with the sorbet and store in the freezer in an airtight container. Eat them within the week if you can.

Roasted Tomato & Vegetable Soup With Tasso Ham

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Roasted Tomato & Vegetable Soup with Tasso Ham

As I have said before, summers here are hot and muggy. Very. And usually hot, muggy and wet in the late afternoon when thunder rolls in and we get caught by quick rain showers. Except these past few days. Rain has been around pretty much from sunset 'til dawn.

And we love it. Our backyard loves it. Our pecan tree is digging it. Bailey is literally jumping in and out of the creek to catch rain drops. On the other hand, Tippy gives me this look of "Hey! Can you do something about this rain? Really cramping my style now" every time we go for a walk. I suspect though that he enjoys the towel drying time afterwards.

Roasted Tomato & Vegetable Soup with Tasso Ham

The sun will trick you into forgetting your umbrella. The heat will convince you that you don't need to take your rain coat. We have gotten soaked more than once lately and we really just laugh it off. It actually feels good. Being neither hot or cold feels darn appropriate after our temperatures were steadily hovering between 100F-110F down here. Sunny with a side of rain? We're in!

The only problem with this weather is what it does to our eating habits. Braising, stewing, roasting are very much kept to a minimum. We love to be reminded that seasons are here for a reason and to take full advantages of the changes and new rituals they bring about. Thus, we are grilling and enjoying cold or warm fares a lot. Our favorite lentil salad is now served cold. Cooked and cooled rice gets a boost from freshly chopped basil and some feta chunks.

Roasted Tomato & Vegetable Soup with Tasso Ham

When the weather turns to rain as it has these past few days, all we really want is to sit down in front of a warm bowl of soup. B's favorite, tomato soup, quickly became mine too when I started making it from scratch with some basil and cream. As years went on I replaced the cream with eggplant which gave the same creamy results as well as a boost of nutrients and flavor.

This time, I picked up loads of local San Marzano tomatoes at the market, as well as some zebra eggplant, baby Vidalia and garlic, roasted them all together one evening and pureed them the next day into a soup. I served it at room temperature with some homegrown basil and a splash of tea seed oil (gift).

Roasted Tomato & Vegetable Soup with Tasso Ham

We have a wonderful pork purveyor at the market, Meathouse, operated by Jason and his wife Katie who always have freshly made Butifarra, Italian and andouille sausages, fresh cut applewood smoked bacon, and one of our favorites, freshly smoked and perfectly seasoned tasso ham. It is perfect with the creamy soup and you could substitute thick cut bacon if it's easier. I think it took us every bit of restraint not to polish off the entire pot on our own.

Before I head out, congratulations to J M. Smith from Do It All for winning the Threadless tee-shirt and BlogAid Cookbook! Send me your mailing address at mytartelette [at] gmail [dot] com. Thank you!

Roasted Tomato & Vegetable Soup with Tasso Ham


Roasted Tomato and Vegetable Soup With Tasso Ham

Serves 4-6

2 pounds fresh tomatoes
2 small zebra eggplants or one medium regular eggplant
1 head of garlic, cut in half
4 small vidalia onions, cut in half
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2-4 cups water
salt and pepper to taste
fresh basil
olive oil or tea seed oil, avocado, walnut or pumpkin (optional)
1/2 cup diced tasso ham or thick cut/slab bacon, cooked and drained

Preheat the oven to 450F.
Slice the tomatoes and eggplants and place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil. Place the garlic and onions on a separate baking sheet and drizzle with 1-2 teaspoons olive oil (if you have room left in the first pan, skip that step and add the garlic and onion to the tomatoes and eggplant). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Place both baking sheets in the oven and roast the veggies until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool.
Peel the garlic off its skins and place with the rest of the vegetables, saving a few tomato slices for garnish, in a food processor. Add about 1 to 2 cups of water and puree until smooth. Add enough water to reach your preferred consistency. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if desired.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with reserved tomato slices, drizzle of your favorite oil and some basil. Add some tasso ham as desired and serve.

French Word A Week - Confiture de Peche

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Peach - Vanilla Bean Jam

I realized too late last week that I had forgotten about the "French Word A Week"...again. You'll have to excuse me, it's a full, packed and pretty awesome summer. One busy making good use of all the produce around me too. Peach jam especially. Let's remedy my short term memory lately with this week's French Words: confiture de peche (click on the words to hear the pronunciation).

Beside working, I must take time to enjoy and make the most of the produce around me and nothing could be quite as perfect right now as South Carolina peaches. Actually, the scent of peach jam in the making while editing pictures or writing is quite distracting. But the wait is oh so worth it!

Peaches

Making jam always puts me in a great mood. It reminds me so much of the steps my mother and grandmother took each summer to capture the best of what the markets had to offer. I remember afternoons spent dicing apricots, cutting strawberries, peeling oranges. Mounds after mounds of sugar. Hours of stirring and cooking down the fruits.

Everyone has their favorite recipe for jams and preserves, ours was pretty standard. Fruit, sugar, cook until caramelized almost then can. I have ventured out in other methods but I always go back to the same one. Nothing says home to me like the heady aroma of fruits caramelizing on the stove. So far I have turned a 25 pound box of Southern peaches into jars of Peach-Vanilla, Peach-Ginger and Peach-Grand Marnier jams.

Caitlin & Fiance

Nothing made me happier to give a couple to Caitlin from Engineer Baker and her fiance who came for a quick visit this weekend. As a present, I offered to photograph their wedding this coming November and since they recently moved to North Carolina, I welcomed them to come down one weekend so we could do some informal engagement shots and we have been having a blast so far and the weekend is not over yet!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Peach Vanilla Jam:

Makes about 8 cups

3 pounds peaches, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
1.5 pounds sugar
1-2 vanilla bean, cut lengthwise
juice of one lemon

In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, place the peaches, sugar and vanilla bean. Add the lemon juice and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to heat and simmer 1-2 hours until the fruit has taken on a dark orange color and is almost caramelized. Make sure to stir every so often to prevent the bottom from burning. Can.
If you add liquor, add as much as you like up to 1/2 cup right before turning the jam off.

36-Hour Chocolate Chip Cookies & Threadless Giveaway!

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies. Milk. Afternoon showers. Looking at the shoreline through the window. That was just the medicine needed the other day. Even if just for the enticing aroma of warm chocolate wafting through the house. I did not know the power of chocolate chip cookies until I moved to the US though. We don't really do those back home. We have eclairs, macarons, financiers. These I knew as my pick up-feel better-never let me down treats. Until I met B.

Turns out I married a chocolate chip cookie monster. It does not matter which kind comes out of the oven, a tray usually disappears in its entirety as soon as the cookies are cool enough to handle. And before I am done with the batch I can pretty much start over. His favorites are hands down chocolate chip cookies and I think I have baked 100 different recipes so far. Always in search of the next best one.

I must say, after years of marriage and oodles of batches behind me that I get it. the French have their baguette and chocolate bar as a snack, here it's cookies and milk....and I love that too. Unlike B. I am good after a couple of cookies but I had to find a gluten free recipe now and one that he would not even blink twice about trying. And liking.

Cookies & Milk

I really had not particularly trying to find one until the good folks at Threadless contacted me about a promo they were doing. I have a personal rule not to do product review here, mostly because I hate to commit to a deadline for one when work is already full of deadlines as it is. But it's Threadless tees...I love them. I bought my first one four years ago and probably bought over a dozen for friends and family since then. They are awesome. Different, fun and they promote artists and individual talent.

Before I agreed I checked the selection they wanted to promote, trying to tie it in somehow with this blog and give you something back at the same time in the form of a new recipe. You can guess I fell in love with the Cookie Loves Milk design. And I had the perfect reason to search for that gluten free chocolate chip recipe my repertoire was missing.

I picked the most reliable gluten free source I know, my friend Shauna from Gluten Free Girl and The Chef. I know the extent with which her recipes are developed and the love she puts in making them for us around. If you doubt it, watch this video trailer for their upcoming cookbook. See what I mean? I picked her cookie recipe in the Blog Aid cookbook we both participated in to raise funds for the Haiti this past winter. Tons of your favorite bloggers contributed pictures and recipes! And dorky as I am, I baked in my brand new Cookie Loves Milk tee....

Milk

You know what I love about that tee-shirt? It brings a smile on everyone's face. Even the cranky bank teller giggled. Five seconds of giggles in your day and you have already done a great deal for your inner self. Smiling. The good for the soul kind of workout. Something I am definitely happy to promote and stand behind. Not to mention that this tee is so comfortable to wear I almost went to bed with it..eheheh! The flip-flops that came along? Just what I needed for the beach...

But that's not all... Threadless has nicely offered to giveaway a "Cookie Loves Milk" tee shirt to one lucky reader of this blog (they unfortunately ran out of flip-flops) and I am am adding a copy of the Blog Aid - Recipes For Haiti cookbook where the following recipe comes from. To enter:
- leave a comment on this post (why not tell me your favorite cookie?) between today Wednesday August 11th and Sunday August 15th, midnight eastern US time.
- one entry per person, duplicates will not be published
- no anonymous entry. Sign Zorro or Bambi if you must...

Threadless Tee


36-hour Chocolate Chip Cookies - originally adapted from David Leite from Leite's Culinaria, now adapted from Shauna's version.

Note: Read more about why 36 hours in the fridge makes them better here.

1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup corn starch (you can sub tapioca starch)
1 cup potato starch
1 cup millet flour
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup plus granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
Sea salt

In a large bowl, whisk together each of the flours and "starches" along with the xanthan gum, baking soda and baking powder.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and the sugars on medium speed for a couple of minutes. then mix for 1 minute more. Don’t overmix. the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well in between each addition and scraping the sides and bottom of your mixer bowl if necessary. Add the vanilla extract and beat an extra 30 seconds.

Add the flour mixture into the batter, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing just until the dry ingredients are coming together. Add the chocolate and mix briefly to incorporate.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 36 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F, position a rack in the middle of the oven and line baking sheets with parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat.
Scoop your preferred size of dough balls onto your baking sheet, 2 inches apart from each other. Sprinkle the tops with the sea salt.

Bake the cookies about 12-15 minutes, depending on the size of your cookies or until golden brown. Let cool the cookies 10 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to cooling racks.

Peach, Blueberry & Lemon Thyme Galettes

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Saturday, August 07, 2010

Peach - Blueberry Galettes

If everything goes according to plan, I'll be home in France in two weeks. It's been four years since I have not been back and it was not for lack of planning or trying. Just happened that way. But now, as we get closer to the date, I buzz about even faster. As B. said "now you're like a buzzy bee on a sugar high"... There is so much to do, straighten out, finalize, revise...Things I don't want to do while away. People to see, places to be, milestones to celebrate. Life. Family. Time. Away.

Peach - Blueberry Galettes

I am already thinking about all the flavors of my childhood. Lavender fields, apricot jam and cherry clafoutis, cantaloupe with a splash of port wine, nectarines, barbecues and Champagne and cassis cocktails. Picking berries on the side of the roads by the Durance river. The juice of fresh peaches trickling down my chin, and my arm, and ruining my dress. But always leaving me happy happy.

Peaches

I've always thought my little corner of Provence has some of the best stone fruit until I tried a Southern peach here. I can't even compare they are so different. South Carolina peaches are a treat for sure. Think about your favorite peach scented anything and there you have it. It sounds like it has magical powers doesn't it? Well it does. Right now, it makes the perfect dessert. Breakfast. Snack. I am even tempted to call it dinner tonight.

Peach - Blueberry Galettes

Imagine how giddy I was this week when I found myself the recipient of over 10 pounds of just ripe, just perfect peaches. Yeah. Giddy. It did not take me long to figure out what I wanted to do with them. Instincts kicked in and once back in the kitchen I started the little dance I'd do everytime at the restaurant. I started poaching, roasting, peeling, dicing...Pots and pans filled every corner of the stove and countertops. From savory to sweet, salsa to sorbet. Truly a good day.

Peach Blueberry Galettes

The first thing I made though was galettes, free form tarts. I poached four peaches in jasmine tea, let them cool completely, peeled, pitted and sliced them thin. I used half a peach per galette, some I left all peach and some had a small handful of blueberries added to them. All were sprinkled with sugar infused with lemon thyme like I did previously in these Fresh Berries Tartelettes. Simply rub herbs and sugar together, can be citrus zest too, it works wonders!

I love how packed the summer gets. I love the epic heat of a day spent outdoors followed by stormy winds and thunderstorms. Summer. When rules are bent and time extends following the sunset. And mostly, right now, I love summer because of peach galettes....

Peach Lemon Thyme Galettes


Peach and Peach Blueberry Galettes With Lemon Thyme Sugar:

Makes 8 individual galettes (we share but you don't have to)

Notes:
- I use lemon thyme a lot this year because our one little plant is going wild. Our lemon balm and mint have suffered from the heat but you could definitely use those flavor.
Rosemary, oregano, chocolate mint and sweet basil work beautifully too. The sky is the limit!

- we are not fond of the taste of tapioca flour so I use cornstarch instead but feel free to use either or.

- If you are not baking gluten free, replace the rice, millet, sorghum flours and cornstarch with 1.5 cups of all purpose flour and omit the xanthan gum.

- you can make this as one large 9-inch galette if you want to.


For the pastry dough:
5 tablespoons (70gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 egg yolks
pinch salt
1/2 cup (80gr) superfine sweet white rice flour
1/2 cup (60gr) millet flour
1/4 cup (30gr) sorghum flour
1/4 cup (40gr) corn starch (or tapioca flour)
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup cold milk

For the fruits:
4 peaches
1 tea bag jasmine tea (or your favorite)
2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup blueberries

For the lemon thyme sugar:
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon thyme finely chopped

Prepare the crust:
In a mixer, whip the butter on medium speed until light and airy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Mix until incorporated. Add the salt, and all the different flours, and the xantham gum and mix briefly. Add enough milk to moisten it. Dump the whole mixture onto a lightly floured (use more rice flour) board and gather the dough into a smooth ball. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.

Prepare the fruits:
While the dough is resting, place the peaches, tea bag, sugar and enough water to cover the fruit in a large saucepan set over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and poach the peach until just fork tender. Remove from the heat and let them cool on a clean kitchen towel. Once cooled, peel and halve them, remove the pits and slice the peaches thin.

Prepare the sugar:
In a small bowl, mix the sugar and lemon thyme together with your fingertips and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.
When the dough is nice and cold, roll it out on a lightly floured board or in between two sheets of plastic. If the dough tears while you roll, just patch it with your fingertips. Cut eight 4-inch rounds, rerolling and using the dough as you go (ig it gets too soft, just refrigerate for a few minutes as you fill the other galettes with fruit).
Arrange the slices of half a peach in the center of each round and gather the edges, pleating as you go with your fingertips (don't worry about being even - these are free form. Imperfections are wonderful anyways...). Add blueberries on top if desired and sprinkle with some lemon thyme sugar.

Place all the galettes on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 30-35 minutes.

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Props:
- bike and handlebar basket: ours
- basket on bench: Dollar Store (yes...)
- wooden bowl: Star Provisions, Atlanta
- linen last picture: Cicada Studio, etsy
- wooden forks: Sprout Home
- enamel pot: ebay

Goat Cheese Custards With Figs & Balsamic Syrup

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Goat Cheese Custard With Figs & Balsamic Syrup

I love Saturdays around here. Right now. In the blistering hot summer days of the Lowcountry. Oh yes...I do love our Saturdays. We literally jump out of bed and head out for the farmers market first thing in the morning. Some times we are a bit more tired than others (depending on the festivities of the night before), and can't decide whether we are ready for breakfast or brunch. But that's ok. It's summer. Bountiful. The choices are enough to make our head spin.

Simplicity is key: we nibble on radishes dipped in a bit of salt, some tomatoes rubbed on thick pieces of bread. A handful of warm olives and soft boiled eggs. Big chunks of watermelon just as juicy as the sun ripened peaches we get every week. Promises of grilled corn and freshly caught fish for dinner. It's easy to forget the heat in those instances. We did just that the other day as soon as we felt a breeze coming in. A sure sign of a storm later on in the afternoon.

After the Farmers Market

We snacked on fresh figs and fresh goat cheese, fresh eggs scrambled with some chives from the garden and big mugs of coffee. Our pups decided to have a barking session with the neighbors' pets, cats included and within minutes we were down by the marsh making afternoon boating and late dinner plans with them. I really love where we live. So easy going and laid back. Reminds me a lot of summers back home.

Balsamic Vinegar Syrup  & Figs

The sound of doors swinging open and kids running out. Free. Loud. My mom's tabouli salad with tons of mint, oilve oil and lemon juice. I felt my heart nagging at me when I called home the other day and my brother was heading to the chalet where we'd spend our summers. I could taste the camp fires, the dives in the river and the hikes up our favorite trails. Filled me with serenity and the strong desire to keep on building my own new memories and trails here. Miles and years away.

I find it a bit harder here where people are constantly on the move but it seems that our street has finally found stability again. The group has changed a bit and that's a good thing. New faces, new stories, new opinions. Same kindness and desire to share which fits right in with the old team. So you see, it's not unusual to wave people over for a nibble and to have them stay the day.

Goat Cheese Custard With Figs & Balsamic Syrup

When that happens I like to have something easy to whip up and serve for dinner and one of the recipes that often comes to my mind is custard. Creme brulee, creme caramels, pots de creme...things like that. This time though I went and dug out one of my all time favorite cookbook for a something new: Sweet Seasons by Richard Leach.

Seasons oriented cookbooks are not "news" but his book is the first one that stuck such a strong cord with me. A perfect mix of simple flavors and recipes with more high end ones. No matter which core recipe you settle for, you can pick one, more or none of the elements around it. This is the only cookbook that I have used from page one til the end. There is absolutely zero flaw in the recipes, explanations and techniques.

Goat Cheese Custard With Figs & Balsamic Syrup

I had ear marked Chef Leach's recipe for Mascarpone and Goat Cheese Custard with Fresh Berries moons ago and you guessed it, never got around to make it until this past Saturday. We were nibbling on goat cheese and fresh figs when the proverbial light bulb came upon me and I remembered the recipe in Sweet Seasons, promptly removed the goat cheese plate from under B.'s nose and headed to the kitchen.

A friend in town put the bug in my ear one day about figs and balsamic when she was describing tart flavors she was putting together. I could not wait to get more figs at the market to pair them with a sweet balsamic reduction. Let me tell you...the combination with the goat cheese custards was perfect. A little sweet, a little tart, a little tangy. I made eight. I served six. Yep. We just could not wait...

Goat Cheese Custard With Figs & Balsamic Syrup


Goat Cheese Custards With Figs & Balsamic Syrup, (custard recipe adapted from Sweet Seasons by Richard Leach).

Makes 8

Notes:
The custards are a breeze to prepare and you could substitute cream cheese instead of mascarpone if you needed to.
These are best prepared a couple of hours in advance and can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.


For the custards:
3/4 cup mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
3/4 cup fresh goat cheese
1/3 cup honey
zest of one lemon
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
3/4 cup heavy cream
pate brisee or gluten free tart dough.
2 cups fresh figs (depending on the size you might have to quarter them)

Preheat the oven to 300F.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cheeses, honey and lemon zest until smooth. Add the eggs, egg white and heavy cream and whisk until smooth. This is best done by hand so you don't incorporate too much air in the batter which would make your custard rise, fall and crack.

Roll the pastry dough to about 1/8 - inch thick and cut eight 3.5-inch disks from it. Place the 8 disks on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Gently indedt a 3-inch metal ring into each disk but without cutting through.
This will form a seal between the baking sheet and the custard and provide a bit of a crunch when you eat the custards. If this step is too time consuming, simply bake the custards in ramekins.
Bake the disks with the rings for about 20 minutes and allow to cool before filling.

Lower the oven temperature to 250F.
Fill the rings to about 3/4 full with the cheese custard and bake for about 30 minutes or until the filling seems set (should not wiggle anymore). Let cool and run a knife inside the rings to release the custards. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the balsamic syrup:
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup honey

Put the vinegar and honey in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to a strong simmer over high heat. Turn the heat down to medium and let the vinegar reduce by half or until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Keep warm.

To serve, place cut figs (either halved or quartered depending on the size) and drizzle with balsamic syrup.

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Props:
- plates from Heath Ceramics
- tea towel from Jewelweeds on etsy
- silverware, milk bottle, sugar jar from vintage shop in town
- cup from Anthropologie
- vintage strawberry short baskets from Sadie Olive on etsy.

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