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!).
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!).
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!
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 Frangipane Mirabelles – Almond and Mirabelles Tart
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
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)
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.