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La Festa Al Fresco

Two of my favorite bloggers are throwing a party and we are all invited! Yvonne from Cream Puff in Venice and Lis from La Mia Cucina wish to celebrate the end of the summer and are inviting everybody to participate by making a dish using one or more fresh summer ingredient(s).
While at the market today I found small plums, also known as prune plums or Italian plums and I fell in love with the way they felt in my hand. They were perfectly ripe, smelled wonderful, their skin was soft yet still resilient as if they did not wanted to let go of summer.
I did a really broad search for plum recipes and I finally settled on a plum crumble. What better way to say farewell to summer and get ready for the fall than with a crumble? I have a tendency to only make them in the winter or fall, because I do not really like cooked summer fruits. They are usually so good on their own that they never need much handling. I finally reconcialted my dislike of cooking summer fruit with this recipe. It is incredibly fragrant, yummy and oozing of plum juices. I found the recipe in the archives of the New York Times online, you can see it and the whole article here.

Plum Crumble, adapted from the New York Times.

12 Italian plums
2 Tb. brown sugar
1 1/2 Tb. plus one cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 Tb. finely chopped candied ginger
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 egg, well beaten
1/2 cup unsalted butter

Heat oven at 350 degrees. Mix together the brown sugar, 1 1/2 Tb. flour, cinnamon, ground ginger, and candied ginger. Add the plums and mix well. Arrange the plums, skin side up in pie plate, baking dish or your favorite dish.
Combine remaining sugar, baking powder, flour. Mix well. Stir in the egg. Use your hands and mix thoroughly to make little particles. Sprinkle the whole thing evenly over the plums. Melt the butter and drizzle over the dish.
Bake for 30 minutes or until brown on top. Remove and let cool. Serve ith ice cream with desired.

I am so excited about having this for dessert tonight!!

Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Cupcakes aka Heaven on a Plate

See, Mr. B has an issue with bananas: he only eats them if their skin is green, pale yellow or with very few blacks spots. He won’t touch them if they are getting soft or old. Even if I go to the store rather regularly, I usually grab 4 or 5 for the week instead of one each time and by the end of the week there are always 2 left that the man won’t eat. Although he likes my banana pie, I try to come up with other recipes. I did not want to make banana bread or banana muffins, I wanted to find a decadent cupcake recipe. I don’t make cupcakes often, but this time I had an audience (the husband, the neighbors, their boys….almost everybody on the block!). I decided to go to one of the best cupcake resources I know of in the blogging world, Chockylit at Cupcake Bakeshop. I did a search for bananas and found the recipe I wanted: Peanut Butter and Banana Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting. Just the title makes me salivate! Since I can’t do everything exactly the same and since I had half a block of cream cheese leftover I decided to make a cream cheese frosting instead of her caramel one, but I am willing to make these again with the caramel! They are out of this world. Fudgy, dense, peanuty, just plain decadent! I made the cupcakes in the afternoon and frosted them the morning after. I left a bundle on the neighbors (3 houses) doorsteps.

You can find the original recipe here (scroll down, it is the second recipe) and visit her blog at the same time. I drool at her recipes, pictures and creativity. She is my cupcake hero!

Peanut Butter and Banana Chocolate Cupcakes

Peanut Butter Filling:
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 egg
Mix in brown sugar, peanut butter and egg in a small bowl and set aside.
Cupcakes: 24 cupcakes, 350 degree oven
11 Tbs. unsalted butter
9 oz best quality semi sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
5 oz best quality bitter sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/3 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 pinch salt
1/2 cup mashed banana (from 1 medium banana) (I used 2)
Melt butter and both chocolate over bain marie. Whisk together eggs and sugar. Add flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix to combine. Add melted butter and chocolate. Mix to combine. Stir in the mashed banana(s).
Fill cupcake tins about 1/3 full, drop a tsp. of peanut butter filling into each tin, top off with cupcake batter to about 2/3 full. Bake for 2o minutes or until a crust forms on the cupcakes.

I am not going to copy the caramel glaze recipe, but will give you mine for the cream cheese frosting:
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 stick butter, softened
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
milk if necessary to make the frosting to your desired consistency
Whip cream cheese and butter together, add powdered sugar, mix well and add milk if needed.
I have to admit I usually wing that one because I make it so often.
I notice that Cheryl makes it the same way.

These were made yesterday and they are gone! I found a straggler this afternoon
and into my belly it went (ah the joys of blogging, I am going to have to start running again!)


KKVK what? It is the name of a blogging event held over by French blogger. Originally created by Manue, it is held this month by Ninnie of Mitaine Ecarlate. The theme this month was cheesecake.
I decided to go with individual cheesecakes because I could not decide on one flavor. There were too many I wanted to bake!
The KKVKVK is a fun game in which a theme is chosen for the month and awards given to the most tempting, good looking, downright good desserts. As with any blogging game, the interest (at least for me) lies in the joy of making something with the theme or ingredient given.

I was really turned on by this month theme, cheesecakes. Since I discovered this delicacy I cannot stop coming up with new flavors and twists on such a classic. At the restaurant I have an awesome basic recipe which allows me to change the fillings at will and come up with great stuff, like an upside down pinneaple cheesecake or a Tarte Tatin version. But this time, I could not make up my mind. Anybody who knows us would tell you that is no news (which explains why we can never decide on a restaurant and always end up with me at the stove, but that is another post).
There were only a few solution to my dilemna: bake 6 different cheesecakes and use one slice of each to make a sampler type cheesecake or make individual one with different flavors or toppings. I opted for the latter. Knowing that the batter would rise but fall upon cooling, I decided to leave them plain for the baking phase and top these ugly (really) yummy craters with various flavors: from left to right: homemade pecan praline, homemade lemon curd, fresh strawberries, chocolate ganache, honey roasted banana, homemade blackberry jelly.

Individual cheesecakes are great when you have a dinner party planned , an end of the summer picnic, or friends who know it’s 5 o’clock and you will certainly have something coming out of the oven.

Here is the recipe for the plain ones, be creative with the toppings. Don’t worry so much about the fillings because these shrink and sink after they come out of the oven, and you will be more preoccupied about "fixing them pretty", as S. says.

Individual cheesecakes, adapted from Gourmet Magazine

12 Vanilla wafers
2 (8 oz) pkges cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Lime a 12 cavity muffin tin with cupcake liners. Place 1 vanilla wafer in the bottom of each. Cream together the cream cheese and sugar, add eggs, one at a time and vanilla. Fill muffin tins 3/4 way full. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Let cool completely before removing paper liners.

Have fun with the toppings!
Bon voila pour les ricains, maintenant pour les froggies.
Pour toutes celles/ tous ceux d’entre vous qui viennent sur mon site pour la premiere fois, "Bienvenue". J’habite aux USA depuis 10 ans maintenant, mariee a un Americain depuis 8 ans, et je sympathise bien avec Estelle quand on lui pose la question "how do you like it here?".
Ce blog, Tartelette, c’est pour me faire plaisir. Je fais de la patisserie professionellement et j’en fais encore durant mes jours de conge. Et oui, je suis tombee dans le chaudron quand j’etais petite! J’adore la patisserie, et puisqu’on est que 2, les voisins en profite, les copines et tous ceux qui m’entourent.
J’adore aller lire les blogs francais car ils me permettent de garder un lien avec mon patrimoine, que je me vois de plus en plus revendiquer plus mon temps ici s’allonge, bizarre comme la nostalgie vient nous envahir! Je vous lis regulierement mesdames/messieurs meme si je ne mets pas forcement de commentaires.
Depuis que je vois ce petit jeu du KKVKVK, je me dis que ej dois bien finir par me bouger ety participer, et quand j’ai vu le theme des cheesecakes, je me suis dit "yippy! J’en fais tout le temps, j’adore et j’ai des millions d’idees!"Nature, chocolat, noix, caramel, fruits, dessus, dessous, dedans, dehors, Tatin ou pas, le cheesecake se prete a desd myriades d’interpretations. Et la croute! N’oublions pas les 31 facons de faire la croute! J’ai gamberge comme une deratee et je me suis enfin decide a faire des petits cheesecakes individuels car je pouvais ainsi les couvrir avec les ingredients que j’avais sous la main.Voila ma recette, adaptee de Gourmet Magazine.

12 petits biscuits vanille (genre palets bretons, ca marche bien)
500 gr. cream cheese, mou
2 oeufs
175 ml. sucre
extrait de vanille
Dans le bol d’un mixer electrique melangez le cream cheese et le sucre. Ajoutez les oeufs et la vanille et melangez bien mais pas trop longtemps pour ne pas incorporer trop d’air.
Prepare des moules a muffins, en mettant des caissettes en papier dans chaque emplacement, mettez un biscuit dans le fond de chaque caissette et repartir l’appareil a cheesecake sur chaque biscuits.
Faire cuire a 189 degree celsius pendant 20 minutes environ et laisser refroidir avant de demouler.
J’ai chapaute les miens avec (de gauche a droite): praline au noix de pecan, lemon curd, fraises fraiches, ganache au chocolat, tranches de banane roties au miel, et confiture de mure.
Et voila! Ma premiere participation, et je l’espere pas la derniere!
A bientot de vous lire et de vous rencontrer peut etre un jour!

4 X 4

No, I did not start a construction business! I am just regressing in pure childhood memories and tastes. It must be the end of the summer that makes me nostalgic and longing for homely desserts. This season flew by. The particular name of this cake is the "Quatre Quarts". Each major component, butter, flour, eggs, sugar have to weigh the same and all four equal parts come together to make a whole of goodness. It is lighter than the American pound cake although the one my mom used to get at the store was close to an etouffe chretien, something so dense it could have "choked a Christian".
This recipe comes out of ones of the first cookbooks I received as a child, and pictured above. It was really neat to be able to see the dancing egg on the pages transformed into a talking character, helping me to whip up some goodies for the family. Some of desserts are quite daunting for a child, like cream puffs or genoise. This cake is really easy to come together and is a staple of most French household I know, much like the Yogurt Cake we learn to make early on. It is traditionaly baked into a loaf pan, but since I can never do everything like everybody else and I have a tendency de n’en faire qu’a ma tete (do things my way)

Here is the recipe from the book "Desserts en Dessins, la patisserie en bande dessinee"

Quatre Quarts

3 large eggs
same weight in flour
same weight in sugar
same weight in butter
1 tsp. baking powder

In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, add the eggs one at a time, and mix until the whole thing is pale white and very creamy. Add the flour and baking powder. Mix thoroughly. Pour into a 9 inch baking pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 40-45 minutes.
Note: add a tsp vanilla, or other flavoring of your choice. That day, I used coconut extract to celebrate summer.

Even my husband could make that! Yeah well, he probably does not because the kitchen is my terf!

Feeling Just Peachy!

Yesterday was just the kind of sundays we need once in a while. We got up late, had brunch, worked in the yard went to the movies and tried a new tapas restaurant. Needless to say I stayed in my pjs as long as I could…just because I could!
I took the time to read a lot of blogs, but on the weekend, when my brain is more at ease I really enjoy reading French blogs. I revel in the words, the phrasings. I laugh at expressions and idioms I have not heard in a while. I make notes of new ones. I feel these blogs keep me up to date with what’s going on in the food world over there, the latest food trends, restaurants, chefs, etc… but it is also a way for me to claim my territory, to expand people’s taste around me. Some blogs out there are also an inspiration for me to broaden my cooking horizons. I mostly blog about pastries and desserts but the world of bloggers inspire my daily to cook meals with an Asian, Australian, Russian, Italian, Spanish, German flair. French bloggers like to expand their own horizons also and cook some American influenced meals and pastries.

I found this particular recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Eggs & Mouillettes. A "mouillette" is a thin stick of bread that people use to dunk into their soft boiled egg. A bread fry if you want.
I like this recipe because it comes together in a pinch and can be easily adapted to any combination of fruit and spices. Once you have the base, the rest is really up to your imagination!

Peach and Cinnamon Muffins ( adapted from Fabienne)(I used peaches and cardamom)

2 eggs
100 ml milk
10o ml yogurt (I used all yogurt)
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
4 peaches
300 gr. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp cinnamon
100 gr. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 360 degrees. In a bowl, combine the eggs, milk, yogurt, oil and vanilla. Add the brown sugar and mix well.
Dice 3 peaches, and cut one in thin slices that you will use to decorate the top.
Together, sift the flour, baking pwder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon. Add to the wet ingredients and add the peaches. Don’t overmix, it’s ok if it looks a little lumpy.
Pour into muffin tins and bake for 20 minutes.
I added a Tb. of wite sugar on top of each prior to baking to add a little caramelizing action.

These were easy, delicious and made good use of fine local Southern peaches.
Thank you Fabienne!

Palets Bretons

Yesterday, the Cookie Monster I married came down from his study and started looking for cookies. I usually try to keep a kind around but not this time. I had been working on some other projects and he knows that I don’t like buying store bought cookies, even in an emergency.
I usualyy keep the cookies, in a metal box that originally contained a cookie from Brittany: les galettes du Mont Saint Michel. I did not have chocolate chips of any kind, did not feel like chopping nuts anddid not feel like running to the store. Light bulb! I remembered a post by Ellie at Kitchen Wench about a friend of hers longing for homemade "palets Bretons". All you need for these cookies are the basics for baking: eggs, flour, sugar, butter. Looked like Mr. B was in luck!
The tin needed a proper companion and I could use some cookie TLC myself.

Here is the recipe, inspired by the one Ellie found, I made a couple of changes, just because I can’t help it!

Palets Bretons, adapted from Ellie
4 egg yolks ( I see macarons in the future with the whites)
240 gr. butter
120 gr. sugar
300 gr. flour, sifted
milk, for basting the cookies before they bake
I added 1 tsp. orange blossom flower water and one pack of vanilla sugar

In a mixing bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar until pale yellow. Add the butter and whisk (stand mixer of hand held) in the butter until well incorporated. Add the flower water and vanilla sugar if using. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Pat the dough into a rectangle on a piece of plastic paper or foil and refrigerate one hour.
Form the dough into 2 logs, about 3 inches in diameter and refrigerate another 30 minutes. Cut the dough into rounds, 1/2 inch wide. Place them on ungreased cookie sheet and baste them lightly with some milk. Bake art 375 for 12 to 15 minutes.

These were so good, took me right back home and satisfied the Monster’s cravings!

Five Things

What a cool project! Melissa at The Traveler’s Lunch Box found this list published by the BBC of 50 things one should/must eat before they die.
It was fun to pick out the things I had not tried yet: Moreton Bay bugs, kangaroo, reindeer, guinea pigs, barramundi, haggis. 44 out of 50. I don’t know about you but I don’t feel bad about the bugs.
Anyway, here is my list of five foods to try:

Morrocan Couscous: I am not talking about the pasta itself but about the whole stew, filled with lamb, merguez, chciken, turnips, chickpeas and enhanced with harissa. My grandparents were stationned in Morroco during WWII and my grandmother learned how to make a mean one!

Vacherin: I remember quite many parties around this cheese! Kinda like having a fondue but way much better when you get to sit and eat the original. Vacherin is rare and out of this world!

Cassoulet: This specialty of the south west fo France is to die for. Dive into pure buttery meats bite after bite. You can find many great cassoulet around the Toulouse area but I have to tell that the one they make around Carcassone rocks!

Flamekuche: not quite a pizza, not quite a tart, it is definetely a pie of its own. The best I have had were in Belgium and Belgian cafes in France. Creme fraiche, bacon (lardons), onions, rich, buttery, crusty all washed down with a good beer and it is heaven.

Calissons d' Aix: I used to find them allright when I was a kid, (it was more about the sugar high than anything else) but as I grew older my mouth finally discovered and understood all the intricate flavors of this almond confection. I remember sneaking into my parents' bedroom to find the box and eating a couple on their balcony looking right at Cezanne’s Mont Sainte Victoire. I hold them dear to my heart because they remind me of my childhood but also because they make excellent components for ice cream and other desserts.

So here is my list. What are your 5 things ?

Blame it on blogger

When I spot a yummy thing I just have to try it and when I read about these I immediately thought of the perfect snack bar to have around the house at the end of the summer.

Blogger has been playing tricks with me since last night so I am going to leave you with a "devinette". The game is to guess which other blogger provided this recipe and what it is.
I will come by this afternoon for a real post.
If you recognize your dessert, please don’t say a word.
There will be a goodie for the winner.

Well, since nobody wants to play the game … I am just going to continue with the post.
The answer was Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars.

I don’t know if it is because of my European background but I am not a big fan of peanut butter. Well, let me rephrase that, I am not a big fan of peanut butter straight out of the jar and I’d rather have it in a cookie or a confection. On the other hand, Mr. B. really does not care what form it takes as long ther is some around the house!
These bars were made yesterday and as of today they are gone. No, we did not eat the whole pan! My friend S. called with an emergency: she needed to bring a cookie bar type snack for a potluck and the girl can’t cook to save her life. Could I help? "Well, let me cut some and take a picture and there, you can have the rest." I saved the sample and now I have got to make another batch tomorrow or Mr. B. will never let her step foot in the house again. The sounds coming out of our mouths were something like "Hmmm…wahhh…dang…hmmm", you get the picture.

Now for the reveal: you can find the recipe for Mary on her fantastic blog Alpine Berry, here.
Thank you dear for such a good recipe.

"Zee" Lemon Meringue Pie

I am not the one saying this but over 400 people at Marmiton, a French recipe site much like the Food Network TV one. Now that’s some feedback.
We were invited to Sunday night supper and a game of Scrabble at my in-laws with T & D, and somehow the prospect of leftover banana pudding for dessert did not appeal to me. Being the dessert freak that I am, I volunteered to bring something. I must be completely hormonal or seasonal, but I am craving lemons again, and I wanted to try something different.
The last time I made Lemon Meringue Pie, I was probably 12 or 14 and I remember vividly looking at a gorgeous picture in one of my mother’s magazine. It was my first attempt at meringue on a pie, and if I remember correctly, I did a fair job.
I had forgotten how comforting Lemon Meringue Pie can be. This particular recipe gives a very tangy filling, a not too sweet meringue in a nice shortcrust bottom. Perfect to mark the end of summer (although here it is year round, but we like to pretend we have seasons).
You can find the original recipe here, but here is a translation:

Lemon Meringue Pie

For the crust
25o gr. flour
125 gr. butter
70 gr. sugar
2 egg yolks
5 cl water (1/4 cup)
In a bowl, mix the egg yolks and the sugar until pale, add 2 Tb. water.
In a separate bowl, mix te flour and butter until ressembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg/sugar batter and mix quickly until the dough forms into a soft ball. Add a couple extra Tbs. water if necessary while you incorporate the ingredients.
Refrigerate 30 minutes, roll the dough out and fit it into 10 or 12 inch pie plate. Prick with a fork, cover with foil and pie weights (I use dry beans) and cook at 350 until the dough is completely cooked through.

Lemon Fillling:
4 lemons, zested and juiced
150 gr. sugar
3 eggs.
1 tbs. cornstarch
Mix sugar and eggs into a bowl, add the cornstarch and mix well.. In a saucepan, heat up the lemon juice and zest. When it is hot, slowly pour over the eggs and sugar to temper them and return to the saucepan, let it thicken over low heat, stirring constantly until the consistency is like mayonnaise.
Pour into the cooled pie crust and refrigerate.

For the meringue:
3 egg whites
100 gr. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking powder
With an electric miser, beat the egg whites to a foam, slowly incorporate the sugar and baking powder, one Tb. at a time, until the egg whites are stiff.
Arrange the meringue on top of the lemon filling and bake at 290 for about 30 minutes.

So good, light and tart. My kind of comfort food.

My First Sugar High Friday

Well, it’s about time a blogging pastry chef decides to participate in this great event better known as SHF. I was inspired by its very own creator, the Domestic Goddess, to start a blog but always seemed to miss the call for entries deadline. Not this time!
The theme this month is "Can You Can?", and is hosted by Nicky at Delicious Days.
I’ve always felt inspired by the other SHF themes because they often pushed me to look at an ingredient in a different manner or to open a cookbook I had forgotten was on my bookshelves or even to come up with something completely ad lib.
I never thought of jam as anything other than a topping, a common ingredient for breakfast.
I make jams and preserves on a regular basis but they only seem to be either topping our sunday scones or being given away to friends or family.

Since I make danishes about every weekend and use diffrent kinds of fillings or toppings, I thought I could use some of my recently made Fig and Hibiscus Jam.
A few years ago, Mr. B brought back from a trip to Egypt a pack of loose Hibiscus tea leaves and we have become in love with the slightly tart taste and flowery fragrance.
I had promised Danielle at Habeas Brulee a jar of Fig and Lemongrass jam but decided for hibiscus instead. After browsing online I finally decided upon this recipe for the jam. I cut the figs, mixed them up with the sugar and put a hibiscus tea bag in the pot and let it steep overnight. The result is incredibly fragrant and light.
The danish were wonderful with it.
You can find the recipe for the danishes in a previous post, and the recipe for the fig jam here.

The best part about this jam? It was great to use as a filling for some rose macarons I made yesterday! But that’s another post.

I am taking another poll though. I am thinking of dropping the "aux USA" (in USA) for a more casual "Tartelette" as a blog title. What do you think?

8/23/06 Update: I have to add that the labels are made out of a picture of the jams I made a couple months back, printed on cardstock and glued on the jars.