Thank you all so much for the well wishes and congratulations. I am really excited about the beautiful work to be done ahead with wonderful food and prop stylists working by my side. Right now, things are a severe blur. I am shooting a cookbook away from home for two weeks, while completing another assignment and looking for a place to live in Birmingham. I have never embraced technology as much as I have in the past month.
It’s both fascinating, life saving and a tad exhausting at the same time. However, the pure joy of logging online after a heavy day at work and read that Charleston friends have bought a house while my favorite food stylist has gotten engaged makes me realize that I will always be close to the things that matter. In that regard, I love you Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and more than ever Skype which has been crucial for Bill and I to plan our next everything for the three months ahead.
It makes my head hurts at time. I admit I am looking forward to the dust settling some and unplugging for a weekend. Soon I hope. A craving. A quiet day. No buzz, notifications or replies, follows and so forth. Finding that balance again. A day fit for baking I think. That day will come again when I find myself settled in our new home, wherever it will be, baking and cooking dinner with new friends.
I see a day made for tarts and tagine. The process. The hand feel. The motion. The wait. All punctuated by a chat and a glass of wine. Or a sit down and a cup of tea. It does not really matter at this point. I would be happy either way. As long as I feel the minutes go by ever so slowly.
I am not complaining a bit about the speed of things right now. I am embracing everything. I am also dreaming about the moments ahead. I dream them sweet. Sweet as Fig and Goat Cheese Tartelettes.
Again…thank you all so much for your sweet words about my last post. Your support would give anyone a skip in their step. It did for me. Thank you. ' Fig and Goat Cheese Tartelettes.
For the pastry crust:
I used this one from my friend Jeanne at The Art of Gluten Free Baking but I also recommend this one from Holly Herrick if you are not gluten free.
Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle. Roll the dough in between sheets of parchment paper if you are using the gluten free one or on a well floured countertop is using the regular one. Cut the dough the fit eight 4-inch tart rings or shells. Fill the shells with dried beans or pie weights and bake until the shells are completely cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool about 20-30 minutes before filling again. You may turn the oven off at this point and turn it back when you are ready to fill the shells.
For the filling:
6 oz goat cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoon sugar
juice and zest of one small lemon
1 large egg (slightly beaten)
1/2 cup heavy cream
In a medium bowl, whisk together the goat cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Add the lemon juice, zest, egg and cream and whisk again until fully incorporated. . Divide among the tart shells and bake at 350F for about 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool about 20 minutes.
8 to 10 small figs, quartered, (your choice of variety)
2 to 4 tablespoons honey
When you are ready to serve, place the quartered figs on top of the tarts and drizzle with honey…as much or as little as you like…!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Custards With Figs & Balsamic Syrup, (custard recipe adapted from Sweet Seasons by Richard Leach).
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.
– 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.
You have no idea how good it feels to finally take time in this crazy schedule to come here and write a little, share a recipe and possibly a good laugh or two. Although now that I am here I am drawing a super "ugh" kind of a blank. Yes, even that brilliant paragraph I wrote in my head this morning in the shower. Pouf! Gone. I am seriously thinking of designing a waterproof notepad or carrying a waterproof in there.
Oh yes…it just came back to me: Bill’s birthday is next week, the 27th to be exact, and I do need your help. I can’t decide what to make him for his birthday dessert this year and I thought I would ask you for some suggestions. In order to make this a bit more fun for everyone, I thought about pairing it with a little giveaway. So here it is folks:
– Tell me what is the most raved about dessert you have made (please provide link to recipe or as many details as you wish) in the comment section of this post. No need to have a blog, just the main idea of the recipe. (No anonymous without a name will be approved).
– On Monday night, I’ll pick one I know my better half would love for his birthday, make it and post about it, (with full credits to you and the recipe of course).
– But that’s not all, the person whose dessert was picked will be sent a copy of "Artisan Breads – At Home With The Culinary Institute of America" (I’ll ship worldwide)
Hope ya’ll can hit me with some major sweetness! And anything goes: the man likes everything, ahaha!
And I am ok with losing my mind over this… it’s the season after all and I admit I absolutely love it. Well, apart from not being able to cook and post as much, answer emails on time, and piling up clean laundry instead of folding it. Why am I telling you this? It all relates to these Cherry And Plum Crumbles and how I need a mini "brain check" before bedtime lately.
I was all set to make cherry and plum sorbet the other day when I realized I may not have picked up enough of each at the farmers' market and I was about to head out the door for more, B. shouted from the garage that his mom was stopping by with extras from her market trip "she thought you might like more plums and cherries". What did I hear instead? The tiny influx of rush and stress of my own mental notes but not a word he said.
I started thinking I should pick some flowers for his mom as a thank you. That I’d better not lolligag while at the store, get my stuff and jet. My mind drifted and wondered if I’d have time to churn that batch of ice cream before bedtime. I thought about the vet, the delivery guy, the dentist every one in between! It felt crammed up inside my head. Have no fear, I am not driving while under the influence of the voices. The car seems to be a free zone.
I got home right on time to invite my mother in law inside for a very cold glass of lemonade and a few cookies. We unloaded our bags together and busted out laughing right away. I was staring at enough cherries and plums to feed the whole neighborhood. I’ve always considered this kind of happening a joyous opportunity to poach extra fruit and freeze them for when I crave cherries in January, plums in November, or ripe and juicy pears in June.
Poaching fruit in a concoction of lemon juice, water and spices is something I learned from my mom and grandmother very early on. It used to generates suspicious looks from my husband when we were newlyweds and he’d come home to find me elbow deep skinning and pitting a box of bruised peaches for poaching and freezing. Why not can you might ask? I make jams regularly so I am running out of room already in the pantry and I go through the frozen fruit faster than the jams.
I had enough fruit this time around to make cherry and plum sorbets, poach and freeze some and make Cherry Plum Crumbles with the rest. That’s a lot. Even if it’s summer and it is bloody hot outside, I still went ahead and made crumbles. I needed to plan comforting treats for the busy day ahead. The mix of crunchy bits of dough and soft fruit all warm out of the oven topped with a generous scoop of ice cream is my idea of the ultimate comfort.
I am too ticklish to get a massage. I am too claustrophobic to enjoy a facial. Not girly enough to go for mani-pedis. So crumbles it is. Curled up on the couch, passed midnight, the pups next to me. Preferably with a side of summer rain but without is alright too.
Cherry and Plum Crumbles With Goat Cheese Ice Cream:
For the fruits:
4 plums, pitted and chopped into small dices (about 1 cup)
1 cup fresh cherries, halved and pitted
1/4 cup honey
zest of one lemon
2 Tb lemon juice
2 Tb cornstarch
For the crumble:
1/2 cup light brown sugar (I used sucanat)
1/3 cup millet flour
1 teaspoon cardamom
6 tablespoons butter, cold
Prepare the fruits:
Preheat your oven to 350F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the fruits with the honey, lemon zest and juice and cornstarch. Toss with your hands to coat the fruits evenly. Divide between 4 to 6 ramequins and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil as the fruits are most likely to release their juice, causing a spill. Set them aside while your prepare the topping.
Prepare the crumble:
In a medium bowl, toss together the sugar, millet flour and cardamom. Add the butter cut in small pieces and mix with your fingertips until you get a mixture that resembles coarse crumbs. Divide th topping evenly on top of the dishes. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the topping is golden brown.
Goat Cheese Ice Cream:
3/4 cup sugar (170 gr)
2 egg yolks
2 cups milk (500 ml)
1/3 cup heavy cream (100 ml)
1/2 vanilla bean, seeded
4 oz goat cheese (120gr), at room temperature
In a large bowl whisk the sugar and egg yolks until pale. In a saucepan set on medium heat, bring the milk, cream and vanilla bean to a simmer, slowly pour a small amount on the egg yolks to temper. Pour the remaining over the yolks and sugar. Stir well then pour back in the saucepan and cook over medium low heat until the cream thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon, stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the goat cheese until completely melted and incorporated.
Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until cold. Process in an ice cream maker according to your machine’s manufacturer’s instruction. Freeze until firm.
It’s no secret that I love tarts. Obviously with a nickname like Tartelette. Oh you thought it was just the name of this site didn’t you? Well, not entirely. My family gave me the moniker of Tartelette when my age was still in the single digit category. I love tarts. Sweet or savory. Square or round. Rectangular or triangular (have yet to make that one!). The sky is the limit when you make a tart. I just happen to like them all…
And it really bugs me that I can’t register the domain "tartelette" but have to put "my" in front because someone grabbed it already (and is just sitting on it). This is not "my tartelette" ya’ll, it’s yours, it’s everybody’s. It’s a place to come satisfy all your senses, your eyes, your tastebuds, your brain. Read a little, smile a lot. I don’t know. I hope it feels as much of an open invitation to come sit at my table as I hope to convey.
That’s probably why we love to have friends come visit. Stay for a while or just in passing. We live in such a gorgeous city. We love to walk the old cobblestone streets with them, have dinner on the patio or go to the dock to get some crabs for dinner. You can’t help being in a good mood with all this sun year round and beauty of the city. We may not have all the stores and convenience of a big city but we are truly spoiled by the richness of the history and the spirit of the people.
I think Tami felt that when she visited us a couple of weeks ago. She came to relax after some grueling days at work and we had also made plans to contribute on a project together. I’d say our friends have varied personalities and lives but one common trait is that they all love food and they all love to eat good food. So you can bet that in the midst of working hard and playing harder, Tami and I made sure to eat fresh and satisfying foods to keep us going.
She came at the right time too! I had just made a couple of batches of gluten free puff pastry, to find the combination of flours we liked best and to make sure that the results were consistent each time. I had plenty of leftover dough but no real desire for anything sweet. I ended up blind baking and freezing three tart shells instead. At least, if I did not use them right then and there, I’d have them ready to whip up a quick quiche or tart for a light lunch or an impromptu gathering.
Tami and I shared a tart filled with a light custard filling and topped with fresh dandelion greens (she’s hand modeling for me too!, heirloom tomatoes and goat cheese. We devoured it. Almost all of it. I saved a couple of slices for B. and he wanted more. He made me promise to make more. Soon. So I did.
The second one I made shortly after was filled with a simple salad of arugula, goat cheese and cherry tomatoes tossed in a simple vinaigrette. Score once again. I literally could have eaten it all by myself but the pleasure of sharing with Bill just to see his face light up as mine did was priceless. Gosh it was good! The world goes rounder with tarts. That is all…
Check out Shauna’s Rough Puff Pastry that she just posted here. Such determination… Props:
Someone asked me where I found the wooden spoon shown with these cakes. It’s a picnic set that my mom got on Sprout Home but Anthropologie announced today they now carried them (price gauging them too).
– vintage knives: etsy & antique store
– enamel plate & Bowl: Pottery Barn
– cutting board: World Market
– glasses: Pier 1 (on sale for $1)
3/4 cup whole milk
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 cup heirloom tomatoes, halved
2 cups chopped dandelion greens (or other strong greens)
3/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup vinaigrette (depends how soaked you like your salad)
Prepare the crust:
Preheat oven to 350F.
On a lightly floured board, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thick and line it into a 9 or 10-inch round tart pan or rectangular, etc… Place the tart on a baking sheet and line it with a piece of parchment paper on top and fill with dried beans or ceramic weights. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool.
For the filling:
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg and the milk until well combined. Add the salt, pepper and mustard and whisk to incorporate. Pour the filling inside the shell and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely.
Mix all the tomatoes, greens and goat cheese in a large bowl. Toss with as little or as much vinaigrette as you like and spoon the salad on top of the tart. It’s ready! C’est pret!
Almost a week without posting makes me feel like I am missing out on all the fun. Can’t believe February is over and gone. Makes me wonder why so much always gets packed into such a short month but I am relieved that all the projects have been completed and deadlines met. So, "Hello March! Let’s get going!" Yep, this month is definitely another kind of busy, filled with travels, workshops and visits and you can bet I am looking forward to the change of scenery. Oh yes.
Taking small breaks throughout the work day is vital for everyone. You’ve probably noticed it just by peeking your head outside for 10 minutes or taking a walk with a colleague. One thing I find most invigorating is lunch. I can’t do without. I guess it stems directly from my childhood when my mom would pick us from school for lunch. She had nothing against cafeteria meals but she enjoyed taking the time to do it. It was nothing fancy really but breaking away for an hour also meant picking up a new book at the library, getting more stickers at the book store, stopping by the bakery for a treat. A little fun in the middle of a long work day. Always a treat when you are a kid. Or an adult.
I love a good salad with tons of colorful vegetables, sometimes topped with a hard boiled egg, or two. Soups are another favorite staple but nothing says lunch break more than a savory tart and a side salad to me. Quintessential French bistro food. One that warms my very soul being so far away from home. One that makes me feel all grown up although I have been there for a while. Savory tarts are the perfect vessels to get a good dose of all the food essentials your brain and body need to function properly without too much effort or planning. Once you have the crust, thrown in anything that strikes your fancy or whatever you have on hand. The sky is the limit regarding fillings, spices, herbs, etc…
Funny thing is that in my family a savory tart is also the meal of choice for any exhausted traveler. Whenever we go home, I know our first meal will be my mom’s quiche Lorraine with a salad and my dad’s shallot vinaigrette. Whenever they come visit, there is quiche ready for them to get a quick bite after a long day of travel. How did it come to be this way? I don’t know. It’s tradition. And you don’t mess with tradition. Well at least no this one, ehehe.
I guess you can call this Swiss Chard, Goat Cheese and Prosciutto tart a rehearsal of sort for my parents' arrival in two weeks. I finally came up with a savory gluten free crust that I am in love with. Tastes good, bakes good and rolls like a charm. For the filling, I used what I had on hand: a bunch of Swiss chard languishing in the fridge, some goat cheese and prosciutto left over from a tapas night with friends. Next time it might simply be bacon and onion. Who knows…
I can’t believe I’ll be in L.A on Wednesday and Seattle on Sunday! If you are registered for any of the workshops, well, "thank you" in advance and I can’t wait to meet you! There are some tweet-ups/meet-ups being organized as I write this so if you are interested, the best thing is to check my Twitter feed (@SweetTartelette) or any of the (crazy – awesome – fun) gals who will be showing me around town this week: Rachael (@fujimama), Jen (@jenjenk) and Gaby (@WhatsGabyCookin).
Since I know it’s going to be pretty tight to get any major post in and to avoid a major "post travel" blog post, I thought I’d do quick and fun entries throughout the weeks. Capturing the moment. I have never been to any of these cities so I figured it’d be fun to post quick accounts of things that strike me. Landscape, people, food, the macaron and photography workshops, whatever… I am looking forward to it all and everything in between.
For the crust:
5 tablespoons (70gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup (80gr) brown rice flour
1/2 cup (60gr) millet flour
1/4 cup (30gr) sorghum flour
1/4 cup (40gr) tapioca starch
(or 1.5 cups of all purpose flour if not using gf flours)
1/2 teaspoon xantham gum
For the filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion (I used 1/2 of a giant sweet Vidalia), sliced thin
1 bunch Swiss chard (red – green rainbow – your choice), washed and patted dry
4-6 slices prosciutto
3 eggs, slightly beaten
2/3 cup whole milk
salt and pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
4 to 6 oz (120gr – 180gr) crumbled goat cheese
a few sprigs of thyme
Prepare the crust:
In a mixer, whip together the butter and mustard 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 all the different flours, and the xantham gum and mix briefly. 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. (I went with rectangular this time) 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 15-20 minutes until completely done. Remove the weights and parchment paper. At this point you can refrigerate the baked crust for up to 5 days if not using right away or freeze it for up to 3 months.
Prepare the filling:
Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle.
Heat the oil in a large sautee pan over medium high heat and cook the onion until translucent (about 3-4 minutes), add the Swiss chard and cooked until wilted. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool. In the same pan, quickly sautee the slices of prosciutto to get them nice and crispy. Remove from the pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Layer the onion and Swiss chard at the bottom of the crust and slowly pour the egg mixture over it. Top with slices of prosciutto and crumbled goat cheese.
Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the tart starts getting golden brown and the custard is cooked. Spinkle with freshly chopped thyme.
Le P’tit Coin Francais:
Tarte aux Bettes, Chevre et Prosciutto:
Pour 4 a 6 personnes:
Pour la pate:
70gr beurre mou, non sale
1 cc moutarde de Dijon
3 jaunes d’oeuf
pincee de sel
80gr farine de riz brun
60gr farine de millet
30gr farine de sorghum
40gr de farine de tapioca
(ou de 210gr de farine blanche)
1/2 cc de gomme de xantham
Pour la garniture:
2 cs d’huile d’olive
1 oignon moyen, coupe en tranche fine
1 petite bottes de bettes
4-6 tranches de prosciutto
3 oeufs, legerement battus
150ml lait entier
pincee de muscade fraiche
120gr a 180gr de fromage de chevre emiette
quelques brins de thym
Preparer la pate:
Dans le bol d’un mixer, battez le beurre et la moutarde pendant 2 minutes. Ajoutez les jaunes d’oeufs un a un, tout en melangeant bien apres chaque jaune. Ajoutez les farines sans gluten, le sel et la gomme de xantham. Melangez brievement et verzes le contenu sur un plan de travail. Ramassez en boule et metter au refrigerateur pendant une heure.
Prechauffez le four a 180C et positionnez une plaque au milieu.
Etalez la pate sur un plan de travail legerement farine (farine sans gluten de preference), ou entre deux feuilles de papier sulfurise. Foncez en un plat a tarte (rectangulaire ou rond), mettre une feuille de papier sulfurise dans le fond, et des pois/riz. Faire pre-cuire 10-12 minutes. Sortez la tarte du four et laissez refroidir.
Preparez la garniture:
Prechauffez le four a 180C.
Dans une grande poele a feu moyen, faites revenir l’oignon dans l’huile. Ajoutez les bettes et cuire jusqu’a ce qu’elles apparaissent fanees. Retirez de la poele et faites-y revenir les tranches de prosciutto. Laissez refroidir.
Dans un grand bol, melangez les oeufs, le lait, sel, poivre et la pointe de muscade.
Repartissez les oignons et bettes au fond de la tarte. Versez dessus le melange oeufs/lait, parsemer des tranches de prosciutto et de fromage de chevre. Faites cuire 30-40 minutes. Parsemez de thym frais a la sortie du four.
There aren’t many things you’ll see me do because they are cool and there are very few people I (almost always) agree with or trust (almost always) blindly. My dear B. will tell you I spend my life with an imaginary raised eyebrow and my right ear pointed up. I am not skeptical, I am curious. Sometimes cautious. Sometimes not at all.
When Shauna mentioned that she was working on gluten free graham crackers, I had my ears tuned in to her updates. When she posted them, I blindly and happily followed her trail and made a batch. Then two. Then B. said they’d be even better under a cheesecake. So I made a batch of mini Lemon Goat Cheese Cheesecakes with Blood Orange Syrup. Then two.
I often talk about tea time as being an important ritual of my day (as much as my schedule lets me) and when I moved to the US, I became quite fond of having a few graham crackers with my tea. I was a student, they were cheap and a box lasted a while between roomie and myself.
Then I stopped having a cookie with tea altogether. Partly because it’s not that much fun a ritual when done alone so I’d save those moments for when my parents would visit and partly when I discovered it was not helping my health issues. I stopped. Until last week.
I made a batch of Shauna’s gluten free graham crackers as soon as I came home from Atlanta. I sat down with my cup of tea and my just baked cookies and sighed. Content and thankful. Bill started saying that they were pretty close to the real thing but not quite until I stopped him, with my eyebrow raised, and asked "if the real thing is what makes us truly happy then these are it for me" and added "it’s ok if you don’t like them as much…more for me!"
Men don’t generally take a hint and yet mine likes to give me some, especially when it comes to desserts. He starts by fidgeting around the cookie jar. Opens the fridge, closes it. Plays with the cookie jar some more. Until I break down and ask if he has a suggestion. He may not bake or cook, but he’s got good ideas about eating. I had all forms of citrus laid out on the countertop for an article I was working on and he suggested we use some of the lemons and make a cheesecake if possible.
Since it was spur of the moment, I had about half the quantity of cream cheese I needed but being a big fan of goat cheese in desserts, I used some to make up the difference. The tang of the fresh goat cheese worked perfectly with the tang of the lemons. I felt it needed some color though and made a quick blood orange syrup to go with it.
This first forray into a completely gluten free cheesecake was such a success that I made another batch a couple of days later. Yes. That good.
Lemon Goat Cheese Cheesecakes with Blood Orange Syrup:
Makes 8 mini cheesecakes
For the graham crakers: follow the recipe on Shauna’s site blindly…you won’t be disappointed, and grind enough graham crakers to make 1 cup crumbs.
For the cheesecake:
1 cup (250ml) graham cracker crumbs
4 tablespoons (60gr) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup (200gr) sugar, divided
8 oz (240r) fresh mild goat cheese, at room temperature
8 oz (240gr) cream cheese, at room temperature
juice and zest of a whole lemon
3 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 325F and position a rack in the middle. Line 8 standard sized muffin tins with liners and slighly spray with cooking spray. Place the muffin pan in a large roasting pan. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, the melted butter and 1/4 cup (50gr) sugar. Divide the mixture evenly among the prepared muffin liners and pat with the back of a spoon. Bake for 5 minutes. Let cool. Lower the heat to 300F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the remaining sugar with the cheeses and the lemon zest on medium speed until the mixture is completely smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time and beating well after each addition. Add the lemon juice and beat another 30 seconds. Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin liners. Add hot water to the roasting pan but do not worry about coming up halfway the side of the muffin pan too much. The oven temperature is already so low that the water is just to be on the safe side. Add at least one inch inside the roasting pan.
Bake the mini cheesecakes for 20 minutes or until slightly giggling (or jiggle – whatever suits your mood) in the middle still. Keep an eye on them as they bake rather fast this way. Let cool completely before unmolding and serving with the blood orange syrup.
Notes: I made 8 small ones (baked in muffin tins) but you could make two 4-inch ones and bake them for about 10 minutes longer at the same heat.
For the blood orange syrup:
1 cup (250ml) fresh blood orange juice
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, stir together the blood orange juice and the sugar over medium high heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer down until the liquid is about reduced by half. Let cool and serve with the cheesecakes.
Le P’tit Coin Francais:
Pour les fonds de cheesecakes: suivez la recette de Shauna ici ou utilisez des miettes de Petits Lu ou sables bretons.
Pour les cheesecakes:
250ml de miettes de petits gateaux
60 gr de beurre mou, fondu
200 gr de sucre, utilise en 2 fois
240 gr de fromage de chevre (frais et doux)
240 gr de cream cheese ou autre fromage frais
jus et zeste d’un citron
Prechauffez le four a 160C. Habillez des moules a muffins avec des caissettes en papier de la meme taille et badigeonnez l’interieur d’huile avec un pinceau (ou utilisez un spray a huile comme ici). Placer les moules dans une grande et profonde leche frite par example.
Dans un bol de taille moyenne, melangez les miettes de biscuits, le beurre fondu et la moitie du sucre. Melangez bien avec une spatule et distribuez de facon egale a l’interieur des moules prepares. Tassez avec le dos de la spatule. Faites cuires pendant 5 minutes. Mettere de cote. Baissez la temperature du four a 150C.
Dans le bol d’un mixeur, battez au fouet les deux fromages, le reste de sucre et le zeste de citron jusqu’a ce que la pate soit lisse. Ajoutez les oeufs, un a un et en battant bien apres chaque ajout. Ajoutez le jus de citron et battez 30 secondes de plus jusqu’a obtenir une pate lisse.
Repartissez la pate entre les moules et ajoutez environ 2 centimetres d’eau chaude dans la leche frite. Faites cuire environ 20 minutes. Retirez les cheesecakes du four avant qu’ils soit completement cuits. Laissez refroidir completement avant de demouler. Servir avec le sirop a l’orange sanguine
Sirop a l’orange sanguine:
250 ml jus d’orange sanguine (frais de preference)
100 gr sucre
Placez le jus d’orange et le sucre dans une casserole a fond epais et portez a ebullition. Reduire la temperature sous la casserole et faire reduire le sirop de moitie. Servir avec les cheesecakes.
Bill says that he is over the whole "birthday week" idea and that he’s been feeling that way since his last 30th birthday. Good thing I am not because as it gives me the opportunity to post about these Goat Cheese and Berries Tarts that were part of his dessert table a couple of weeks ago. Actually, I made these on three separate occasions prior to his birthday. Each time they disappeared as fast as the donuts.
They are good. They are pretty. They are a breeze to make. Simple pleasure. Sexy too. Indeed, as soon as I put these on the table the other day, our dear friend T. exclaimed "sexy tarts for SPOC!" And this is where I have to backtrack a little and explained why the entire room bursted out laughing, except Bill.
A couple of years ago, my dear husband was voted "SPOC", short for Sexiest Professor On Campus, by the College newspaper. (makes me wonder if the writers of Star Trek had something else in mind). That evening, Bill walked through the door furiously waving the paper in the air, red as a carp and exclaiming "I am SPOC! I am SPOC! I am ruined!"
I picked up the paper from his hand and started reading, half smiling, half laughing the whole way through. Actually, I thought it was pretty darn cool! I was married to the Sexiest Professor On Campus!Hello?!! Mine is what younger women refer to as "seasoned gentleman", you see. Told him I totally agreed with their hotness rating and that it was just a light topic to read during exams. No one said it was international news they were writing about. I could not figure why he was so upset.
"People voted for my looks and not my academic capabilities. How will I ever be taken seriously by my peers now? Looks over content! That’s terrible!" (notice the drama bit here). He went on and on like that for a couple of minutes until I broke his rant by saying "Is that all? You don’t find it demeaning? You don’t feel cheated, cheap?" He looked at me completely surprised by my last comment, adding "well, geez! Thanks! You sure know how to make me feel better!"
I called him over to the kitchen, handed him a slice of cake and said "Dude! First, by looking at the other professors in the running, they would have been out of their minds not to pick you! Second, it’s all meant in good fun. Third, well, shiz Bill, you are sexy so shut up and eat! Dang you make it really hard to pay you a compliment!"
I thought we were done with this mini crisis (Oy! My girlfriends' seem easy all of a sudden!) until his bestfriend T. put his hands on a copy of the paper, circled SPOC in red, framed the article and presented it to Bill for his 50th birthday that same week. We knew it was meant as a joke but I could hear Bill sigh as he tore open the wrapping paper. I quickly brought over a piece of cake, said "shushh and eat up! You sexy thing" and made a popping "SPOC" sound with my hand and my mouth. He did not find funny. At all.
To this day, whether we want to brush his ego or push his button, depending on the mood and occasion, we all insert SPOC anywhere we can in the conversation and make popping SPOC sounds whenever we can throughout the day. And most often we like to add "shushh and eat up!" And you know what, even after a gazillion desserts, Bill still retains his sexy figure. Men…Not fair!
One thing he asks me to make about every other week is these tarts, filled with a mild goat cheese mousse and topped with berries during the Spring and Summer or caramelized apple during the winter (they would be great with roasted quince too, come to think of it). We love goat cheese and berries together, especially goat cheese ice cream and cherries so we tend to use medium bodied cheese but if you are hesitant regarding the final taste, try with a mild one first. I have tried all sorts of different pastry doughs for these but I always go back to a short crust. It tends to stay crisper longer while filled with moist cheese or mousses.
For the pate sablee:
2 tablespoons (20gr) slivered almonds
1/4 cup (50gr) cup sugar, divided
1/2 stick (56.5gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
pinch of salt
3/4 cup (90gr) all-purpose flour
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the goat cheese mousse:
200 ml heavy cream, cold
4 oz (120gr) goat cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons (25gr) to 1/4 cup (50gr) sugar, depending on your preference
juice and zest of half a lemon
2 cups assorted berries such as raspberries, red currants, blueberries, etc…
Prepare the pate sablee:
Preheat oven to 350F.
Place almonds and 2 tablespoons (25gr) sugar in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely ground. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter, vanilla bean seeds, ground nuts and salt on medium speed until well-combined. Slowly add remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and flour and mix well. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix until incorporated. Shape the dough into a ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.
Place the dough in between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper and roll it out to about 1/8-inch thick. Cut out four 6- inch rounds and fit them inside four 4- inch tartlet rings, patting the dough in with your fingertips if it breaks on you as you transfer the rounds. Gather the scraps and set aside.
Prick the dough with a fork and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Place a piece of parchment paper inside the tart shells, fill with beans or pie weights. Bake the shells for 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool completely on wire racks and remove the pie weights.
Prepare the goat cheese mousse:
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream to medium stiff peaks and reserve it in the refrigerator while you prepare the mousse.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the goat cheese and sugar with a spatula (if the goat cheese is soft enough there is no need to put your mixer to use on that one). Add the lemon zest and juice and mix thoroughly until incorporated.
Carefully fold the reserved whipped cream into the goat cheese base by placing your spatula in the center of the bowl, scooping the bottom over the top. Give your bowl a 45 degree turn and repeat until the batter is smooth. Fill a pastry bag with the mousse and divide it evenly among all tart cooled tart shells.
Divide the berries evenly over the mousse and refrigerate the tarts until ready to serve.
Lately I have been on a fresh goat cheese and cherry kick. A bite of soft cheese of bread followed by a couple of cherries, pitted cherries filled by a spoonful of creamy goat cheese, chopped cherries folded into goat cheese cream on toast for breakfast. Nope, not pregnant, just enjoying the simple pleasures of summer and life in general. Like dipping my feet in the river when I can catch the right tide, catching crabs or taking the neighbors' kids down the creek at low tide to watch the herons. I live for moments like these and thank you Tea for reinforcing my feelings that the immediate, simple things in life are to be lived to the fullest.
You must be wondering if I live in some sort of idyllic community. It’s hard to understand our rhythm until you come visit like my aunt and uncle did earlier this month. Dinner? Let’s go check the crab traps! Sunset? Let’s get the sailboat and go for a ride? Just yesterday, C. called because our dogs had decided to trade house for the evening! I had Poo running award in the yard and she had Tippy begging for cake! Finally the twins created a little diversion with the cat and the turtle and everybody was back in their due abode. If we are eating outside on the patio and there is activity next door outside, it’s not long before we are "summoned" to bring that plate over and we’d better add a beer with it! Thanks to the weather, winters are just about the same.
Little things like these are big things for me being so far away from home. The warmth and appreciation for life in our neighborhood make it a lot easier to be away. It is never intrusive, always supportive and I am glad that my family got to sample a little bit of our life in this sea town that is Charleston. The heat and the water nearby make it very difficult not to feel like you are on vacation most of the week…except when the mean man calls about a past due phone bill…oops! My rhythm adapted along the years, not very different from my upbringing in Provence, and I don’t think I could go back to big city life now!!
Why this rambling about living to the fullest and being appreciative? Well, because I needed to write it out and also to tell you about another basic pleasure I enjoy: homemade ice cream. And you thought this post had nothing to do with food! The ice cream machine has indeed been working overtime this week, churning batches of classic flavors like vanilla and salted butter caramel but more interesting ones like goat cheese. With this heat, I have had no desire to crank the oven on, except to make our bread and that was done way late at night when it was a mere couple of degrees cooler.
I chose a fresh mild goat cheese for the ice cream since I was taking it over to the neighbors and did not want anybody to go "ewww" on me. It worked beautifully with the cherries that I just pitted and sprinkle with some lime juice. Obviously, with the heat outside, the whole thing turned into cherries with puddle of goat cheese cream, but at least I did not hear any complaints!! I hope that Mike from Mike’s Table likes the concoction because I a virtually sending these over his way for his Frozen Dessert Event!
For the ice cream: 2 cups milk (50 cl)
1/3 cup heavy cream (10 cl)
3/4 cup sugar (170 gr)
2 egg yolks
1 Tb vanilla bean paste or 1/2 vanilla bean, seeded
3 oz goat cheese (90gr)
Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. In a saucepan set on medium heat, bring the milk and the cream to boiling point, slowly pour a small amount on the egg yolks to temper. Pour the remaining over the yolks and sugar. Stir well then pour back in the saucepan and cook over medium low heat until the cream thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and whisk in the goat cheese until completely melted and incorporated.
Cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate until cold. Process in an ice cream maker according to your machine’s manufacturer’s instruction.
For the cherries: Mix together 2 cups pitted cherries and 2 Tb fresh lime juice