Thanks for the birthday wishes, emails, ecards and presents you sent. You made my day – week – month! It’s been a week full of work which suits me just fine since I don’t really know how to relax and take it easy. Seems like I am playing a game of "Catch me if you can" this summer and you know what? I am loving it. I am loving the work, the pressure and the adventures. I’ve never felt this alive and this happy . Our household depends on it too. It’s not just for the fun ya’ll. Although… hot dang, this much fun on the job should be illegal!
What’s even more fun is to do a little feature for the gals of Design*Sponge. Grace and Kristina are always so thorough and dedicated to their craft that it’s always a pleasure to work for them. Kristina asked if I wanted to do something gluten free this time and I had no problem coming up with a few items making the best use of some of my favorite seasonal fruits.
For some reason we have been hooked on vanilla and coconut ice cream lately and as soon as the first strawberries showed up at the market we started having ice cream and lemon-thyme marinated strawberries almost every other night for dessert. That alone satisfies my better half just fine. I, on the other hand, always desire something else to sink my teeth into so I usually make a quick batch of gluten free shortbread cookies but with my crazy habit to load up on rhubarb at the market, I decided to use some of the poached one I prepared for the panna cotta and tart and use it in financiers.
Financiers, or friands in some parts of the world, have to be one of the easiest tea cakes to adapt gluten free and pretty hard to mess up too. And who can resist the addictive smell of browned butter? Obviously not us because these did not last long once all the shots were in the box. Maybe five minutes because we had to drink the ice cream first it was melting so fast?!
Our lemon-thyme and lemon balm plants have been growing wildly and we try our best to include them in most of the foods we eat this Spring. Salads, berries, spring rolls, marinades, etc… and we have been throwing whole stems in homemade lemonade a lot lately for a little extra flavor boost. Lemon thyme is milder than regular thyme and obviously on the citrus-y side which makes it a good substitute, replacement, change from mint. Hope you can give it a try one day!
I can’t quite tell if it is my mother’s warm hugs or Spring pointing its nose that has me thinking in all shades of pinks, purple and reds lately. Greens too. Colors are starting to pop everywhere and everyone around me seem to have that awakened sense of things changing around them.
I have been sneaking some work time early morning and late nights but there is one particular thing I have been looking forward to when my parents said they’d come visit: sneaking into the bed with my mom after when dad gets up. Yep, I am slightly regressing and that is all fine by me! My dad gets up early and my mom likes to linger in bed just a half hour longer. When I hear his footsteps down the stairs, I fetch him a cup of coffee, kiss him "bonjour Papa" and make a rush for the bedroom. I love the morning sun there. It kisses you just so, making you want to roll over and just enjoy.
I often told my mom that I like to pick up a book and start my day with a few pages up there, in the silence of the sun and the skyes around me. The other day when she asked why, I did not know how to explain it at first. Suddenly I felt a rush of peace and warmth. "It’s like when you hug me. It’s that moment when we are on the bed and chat with sleepy eyes and fuzzy brains."
Later that afternoon, I was flipping through some of the pastry magazines she brought me from home and I stumbled on the cutest little sables tarts, filled with raspberry jam, pink mousse cream and adorned with pink macarons. A fuzzy morning sun embrace. I turned to her and I said "That’s it! That’s how it feels when we share! Like a pink creamy tart with a bit of a crunch!" She replied "Well, we should bake some then!"
And we did… And we were quite happy to discover that they are also perfect during a passionate game of cards in the evening to calm every one’s edge!!
My apologies if I am not around as much in the coming weeks and especially if I am extremely slow in visiting your blogs. Soon I’ll be able to get a breather and park my brain on "Spring break" mode before new adventures I hope!
If you want to read more about the macaron recipe I used here, head over to Design*Sponge "In The Kitchen With" where Kristina asked me to provide a basic recipe to illustrate Matt Amerendiz’s (Matt Bites) latest photo shoot. I dream of the day I would actually spend some time on a shoot with this super talented and genial photographer. Thank you Kristina!
Raspberry Mousse Tartelettes Recipe, inspired by Vincent Gerlais
Makes six 3-inch tartlets.
For the sable crust:
1 stick butter (113 grams) butter, at room temperature
¼ cup (50 grams) sugar
2 egg yolks
1 ½ cups (190 grams) all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30gr)of cream, optional
1/2 cup raspberry jam
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping the bottom and side of the bowl in between each addition. Add the flour and salt and beat until the dough just starts to come together. If the dough seems too crumbly, add some cream, one tablespoon at a time. Gather the dough into a ball, flatten it a little to a small disk and wrap it well in plastic wrap. Refrigerate one hour before using.
Preheat oven to 350F. Flour your work area well and start rolling the dough from the center out, lifting it from the work area every 2-3 times you roll over it. Do not be afraid to flour the work area well as you feel the dough getting warmer and softer.
Cut out six 4 inch rounds and fit them inside six 3 inch tartlet molds pastry dough inside them, patting the dough in with your fingertips if needed. Place a small piece of parchment paper inside the tart shells, fill with beans or pie weights and blind bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool to room temperature and remove the shells from the rings. Divide the raspberry jam evenly among the tart shells.
For the raspberry Diplomat cream mousse:
1 1/2 teaspoons (3 sheets) gelatin
1 tablespoon (15ml) cold water
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped (throw the seeds in the pot with the milk)
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup (50gr)sugar
2 tablespoons (25gr)cornstarch
1/3 cup raspberry jam
1 cup (250ml) heavy cream
In a ramekin, sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let stand until you prepare the cream. In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar, egg and egg yolk together, add the cornstarch mixing until you get a smooth paste. Set aside.
Meanwhile in a saucepan combine the milk and vanilla bean on medium heat until boiling. Remove from heat and add slowly to egg mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling, (pour through a strainer if this happens). Remove vanilla bean. Place the egg mixture back into a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until thick, stirring constantly. Add the jam, cook another 30 seconds and remove from the heat. Immediately add in the gelatin and stir until completely dissolved. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the cream so that it does not develop a skin as it cools to room temperature.
Whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form and gently fold it into the pastry cream. Pipe or spoon the mousse immediately in the cake rings. If you have any leftover, spoon into dessert dishes or glasses for quick snack.
Decorate with a macaron and some chopped pistachios.
I live for the little things in life, the simple and little things that are enough to make us happy and brighten our day. Being contacted by Kristina, one of the editors of Design*Sponge was definitely one of them. I think I read her email about four times saying out loud "You would like to do a "In The Kitchen" feature with me?", "vraiment?", really? I love Design*Sponge, I love the articles, the features, the styles. I have discovered so many great talents and artists that I felt a little very nervous participating.
Kristina asked if I could create something savory for the feature, to give their readers a bit of a change. Hmmmm….even if you are new here, it won’t take long to notice that there is not one bit of savory on this blog…It’s pastry, pastry and more pastry. It took about five seconds for me to decide I was going to make: savory tartelettes! After the initial nervousness disappeared, I did start to look forward to baking and photographing a savory item. I know, I know…I made tartelettes….What can I say? Can’t help it!! These bacon, green onions and parsley tarts filled the house with the wonderful aromas of my childhood and my home back in France.
One thing that we love to make in my family as an easy and casual meal is a savory tart or quiche with a side salad or soup. It was our Saturday night dinner growing up and still is, even though I am miles away from my family. The crust and the egg filling are simply a springboard for all your favorite ingredients and spices. We enjoy variations like salmon, dill and leeks, chicken, oregano and fresh tomatoes, sausage, rosemary and spinach….the possibilities are quite endless once you let your taste buds allow the ingredients to come together.
The tarts were so good that I am making another batch for Sunday night as my parents arrive from France and will be with us through March! I am so excited I can’t hardly contain myself!! Maybe I can coax my mom into guest blogging, what do you think?
You can check out the rest of the feature by following this link. A big "Thank you!" to Kristina and Design*Sponge for this wonderful opportunity. I had a great time!
Bacon, Onion and Parsley Tartelettes Recipe:
Makes six 3-inch tartlets or one 9-inch tart
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
5 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into small slices
3 to 4 tablespoons ice cold water
Mix together the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or a fork until the mixture forms pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water over the flour mixture and toss with fork until moistened. Repeat with the remaining water, one tablespoon at a time and gather the dough into a ball with your hand. Do not handle the dough too long. Wrap into a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This will allow the dough to relax and make it easier to roll, keeping it from becoming tough. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface, applying pressure from the center to the edges until it is about 12 inches in diameter. Cut out six 4 inch circles onto the dough and press them into the tartlet pans (or one 9 inch pan if making a larger tart). Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.
6 slices bacon
4 stalks green onion, sliced, white and green parts included
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 ½ cups milk
Pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a medium sauté pan set over medium heat, cook the bacon slices until crispy brown. Drain them on a paper towel. Crumble them and set aside. Wipe the pan of the bacon dripping with a paper towel and place it back over medium heat and cook the green onion for a couple of minutes, just to take the raw edge off. Divide the bacon, onion and parsley evenly among the tartlets and place them on a baking sheet.
In a bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper until combined and slowly pour the mixture over the tartlets. Divide the cheese evenly in between the tarts and bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Individual sizes bake faster than a whole pie so keep an eye on them after 20 minutes. Let cool before unmolding and serving.
These are best at room temperature with a salad and a simple vinaigrette.