I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas surrounded by friends and family or just chilling. We loved being able to share the day with a few different groups of people, plopping from one dinner to another and a glass of Champagne to a glass of wine, surrounded by the warmth of a good fire and a few good hugs.
It’s been a couple of fast paced weeks but I would not change a thing. Work is fairly busy as everyone is preparing to take some time off for the holidays. I am still getting acclimated to all the parameters of the job. Addressing everyone’s expectations can be quite tricky at times but at the end of the day, I think that everyone comes out feeling that they gave or got the best they had.
The daily collaborations are really inspiring and downright fun. There is always lots of laughter and discombobulated moments while being completely focused on the task at hand. I am around serious creative minds allowing me to be as well. I am still learning to let go and just go for it. Whatever "it" may be at the moment. Going for more contrast, an unexpected angle, a bold choice of color.
It’s been a little over two months since I started and I am slowly stopping to feel like I am on borrowed time. Seeing the change of season in a new place, new town is a nice way to feel anchored in new surroundings. After a few weeks of spending every evening and weekends with the windows wide open, it has finally started to be "Crisps and Cobbler Weather" around here. Time for some thick plush socks, a nice blanket or a cozy fire.
I have been enjoying quiet evening in the new house with the old dog but I admit, I am ready to head out to Charleston for the holidays and be with Bill. To top this good feeling off, my parents, brother, sister in law and two nieces are arriving in a week. It’s been too long since we last saw everyone! We rented a beach house for everyone, pups included and will be spending the holidays there together. To say that I can’t wait is an understatement.
I can’t wait to spend time chatting with my mom while we cook and bake together, see if my nieces are still enjoying baking as they did a couple of years ago. My brother is a fantastic cook also and it will be interesting to see what we come up with for Christmas dinner. Honestly, I just want to be with them. I’d be happy sitting in a corner watching them interact for a while.
One thing I definitely want to make when we are at the beach in a couple of weeks is this mixed berry cobbler. I dream of coming back from a long walk on the beach on a chilly afternoon and digging into a warm bowl of juicy and tangy cobbler. Maybe topped with a dollop of Chantilly. Maybe not. I plan to spend the holidays guided by the flow of the family’s rhythm. Too many people under one roof. I just want to be and enjoy them. With all their flaws and qualities and all of mine.
I am not sure the nieces ever had cobbler but I sure plan on fixing that!
Thank you everyone for the great response to the food and lifestyle photography workshop I am teaching with Clare in Gulf Shores, Alabama. I am happy to say that there are a few spots left but they are going fast! If you are interested, click here for all the details.
I hope and trust everyone to have enjoyed their Thanksgiving holidays and little time off here in the States. We sure have. Bill and the pups came to Birmingham for Thanksgiving and the older pup, Tippy is staying with me while Bill and Bailey (The Inseparables) have gone back to Charleston.
While we were busy bees around the house, hanging paintings, fixing odds and ends around the place and getting the last bit of furniture we needed, we also enjoyed being together and doing things for the two of us, as a team. We had not spent any quality time together for a long long time (September or so) and these four days felt like the ultimate luxury.
We do have a blast together. One would hope so after fifteen years together, right?! We are quick to recognize our "adjusting" period and give the other some breathing room. After operating apart for most of the summer and Fall, it is imperative that we do not waste any seconds of those precious moments. And I enjoy pampering him with good home cooked meal whenever I can and these past four days were no exceptions.
We had a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner with friends eating turkey, yes, drinking Champagne cocktails and making S’Mores huddled around an outdoor fireplace. We also hosted our first dinner in the house we are renting this year. I am pretty happy with how the decor/furniture situation is shaping up. Nothing like having a blank canvas to take your time to find the appropriate pieces.
It was in that cozy spot that I came up with this new soup. A complete "open the fridge and throw a few things together" kind of moment when I find myself with way more vegetables than days available to eat them. A mix of Swiss chard, kale, zucchini, turnips and avocado. I topped each bowl of soup with a few grilled shrimp, well seasoned with smoked paprika to make it a bit heartier since the days got wintry cold almost over night here.
I am liking the feeling of a comfy sweater, warm high socks and a big bowl of soup by the fire these days.
One more thing before I go: Congratulations to Jacqui of Good Things Grow for winning Julie Le Clerc’s cookbook Made By Hand. Please send your mailing address to mytartelette AT gmail DOT com so I can send the book your way!
Traveling so much these past few months has sort of turned into an amusing social study of myself and my fellow travelers. Nothing like getting stuck a airport to reflect, notice, smile or get a few eye rolls going. I have noticed that my patience has no limits going somewhere. As if I were not really in a rush to leave home and slowly making my way to my new destination. On the other hand, that same patience runs thin when I am getting home. I want to be home and I can’t wait to be there. The time in between? The time I am working, shooting or teaching? I love it! I get fully immersed into it and don’t see it go by.
I just got back from shooting a first set if pictures for Le Cordon Bleu’s upcoming cookbook this past Sunday and I am writing this post from the airport. Yep, a short 48 hours home and I am heading to New Hampshire to teach a couple of workshops. After that, I will be heading to Birmingham with a first load of boxes to find a house (leads look good) , then it’s back to shoot Le Cordon Bleu for another week. From there, I will fly directly back to Birmingham for my first day at Oxmoor House.
I thrive on busy. I can even thrive on crazy. This is a bit insane. But, we are aware this is only temporary insanity and that a certain discomfort must take place. All these years of working toward a goal…not about to let a little crazy get in the way…! I smile thinking that one of the chefs at Le Cordon Bleu nicknamed me Le Courant D’Air….The Draft. Too bad it does not come with flying superpowers…
I think the trick to it all, beside hard work, is also to be organized. Bill and I took a big calendar and started mapping routes, airplane rides, car rides, days in, days out, hangouts with friends, dinners, dates…everything went in. I started making a separate map. I know that when I get home, he is super happy to have me back in the kitchen humming and cooking something simple and comforting. Something that tells him that I know I am gone often lately and that I appreciate his mending the fort. So, while at airports or on airplanes, I map out meals. The ones I am going to leave for him for while I am gone, and the ones I will make the day I get home.
This risotto came out of a combined desire for the comfort of slow cooked rice and the need to use up the chanterelles I could not resist getting at the farmers market. The lobster? A couple of extra tails from a shoot which were the perfect little something to say you’re special. It turned out to be the perfect way for us to reconnect in the midst of the hustle and bustle.
A comforting dish, a glass of wine and a good conversation. My idea of a lovely time.
Chanterelles and Lobster Risotto
Notes: I like to stop adding all the liquid before the end as I like my risotto on the drier side, meaning not as creamy as you would usually see it. I really like the firm bite that it provides by doing so while respecting the cooking method of traditional risotto. If you like it creamy smooth, add all the liquid, if not stop before adding the last cup or so of liquid.
2 medium lobster tails
4 1/2 cups seafood stock
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 pound chanterelles, scrubbed clean and chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
Fill a large stockpot with water, add a good pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Add the lobster tails and boil for 8 to 10 minutes or until their flesh turns white. Remove from the water, drain and let cool for about 15 minutes. With kitchen sheers, cut the shells open lenghthwise and remove the flesh. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
In a medium saucepan, bring the seafood stock to a boil and keep to a low simmer.
In the meantime, heat the butter in a large skillet. Add the mushroom and cook until tender, about 5-8 minutes, add the garlic and cook another couple of minutes. Add the white wine and rice and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add about 1/2 cup of stock and cook until the liquid is absorbed again. Keep adding the stock to the rice mixture, 1/2 cup at a time until the rice is cooked but still a little firm to the bite, about 20 minutes. I don’t like mine gooey or too creamy so I stop a little before and keep it on the drier side.
Stir in the lobster tails and cook for just a minute. Serve into big bowls and garnish with fresh chopped chives.
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.
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…!
It’s been a week clearly balanced with working and nesting. I am heading out of town next week again to shoot Le Cordon Bleu cookbook and have been spending a good portion of my free time baking, cooking, preserving, etc.. I clearly manifested an intense homemaking phase which I believe to be only normal since I am incessantly on the go this summer.
I feel I won’t be touching ground for a while and spending time in the kitchen, mixing, kneading, chopping, gives me time to think, make plans, draw list, organize thoughts and priorities. Some good music in the background and the undivided attention of the pups and I spent a couple of days stocking the fridge and freezer with some good meals and treats for Bill to enjoy while I’m away.
I like to believe a sweet treat once in a while makes the distance a little more bearable (and thank you Skype inventor!). He also gets invited left and right everytime I go away, no matter how stocked up the fridge is. His parents, the neighbors, our close friends…They all seem to take pity on him! At least, I know he never arrives empty handed to a dinner…
These little tea cakes may be the most simple things to bake but there is value in the essentials, the basics. I know that I can freeze plenty for us to have one morning over brunch, to keep in the fridge for a little four o’clock pick me up with a cup of tea. I can pack a couple in his bag before he heads to work in the morning. They are full of good nutrients, blueberries, coconut sugar, whole grains and the addition of Key limes provides just the right amount of pop from the limes.
Nothing like a good basic tea cake fresh out of the oven to make you feel like the chaos around you can indeed slow down…even if only for a few minutes.
Blueberry Key Lime Tea Cakes:
Makes 24 muffin size tea cakes.
2 cups Jeanne’s gluten free flour mix (or cake flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest and juice of 6 Key limes (or 1 lime)
1 cup (2 sticks – 8 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cups coconut sugar (or brown sugar)
4 large eggs
2 cups blueberries
Preheat the oven to 350F and line the inside of 24 muffin cups with cupcake or muffin liners. Grease with some melted butter or cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Reserve.
In another large bowl or container, combine the milk, vanilla extracts, zest and juice from the Key limes (the milk will curdle but do not worry – it’s normal).
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and coconut sugar until smooth and creamy (medium high for about 3 minutes). Beat in the eggs, on slow speed, one at a time until everything looks well combined. The mixture won’t be smooth but make sure all the eggs look mixed in.
On low speed, beat in the flour mixture alternately with milk mixture in 3 additions, just until the batter comes together. Fold in blueberries with a spatula and give the batter another 10-12 strokes to finish mixing it all together. Divide the batter equally among the muffin tins.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out free of raw batter.
Back from Seattle after an amazing workshop and visit with dear friends. I love that the city is becoming like a second home away from home where I can visit and enjoy a great support system of friends and fellow photographers. There is always work associated with a trip to Seattle but it downright feels like a vacay-workathon for me. Yes, it’s work chilling and sipping wine too you know…!
I have yet to go through all my pics from the workshop and our visit there. So much done and so much left to see! It was Bill’s first time in Seattle and he absolutely loved it. The weather was a wonderful reprieve from our scorching hot days. A light breeze and 80F days felt like Spring and absolutely delicious.
We love hanging out with friends who love their city as much as we love ours. It was a treat to spend some time with Jeanne again. She gives the best hugs. Seriously. We were honored to have dinner at Sitka and Spruce with Anita and her husband who flew from San Francisco for the weekend. They never miss an opportunity to visit their old stomping grounds and I was thrilled to finally introduce them to Bill after all these years.
Once again… lots of good times, good wines, good sun, good talks and sunshine. I love how each workshop teaches me "more and better" as I like to say. More about myself so I can always work toward being a better person. Every trip, anywhere, I try not to sweat the small stuff and focus on the bigger picture. Sometimes it is just me and my work, others and the moment, sometimes it is our couple.
A constant work on improving. With taking stance and remaining silent. Much like this tart I want to share with you today. Everytime, with time and experience, it turns out a little bit better. A little bit stronger and definitely a keeper. Until the ext one…
Nectarines in South Carolina right now are as good as the best natural candy you can imagine. Juicy, fragrant. Wonderfully soft and simply at their best. I usually cut up about a pound worth and store it in the fridge so we can have a refreshing treat anytime we get a whiff of that hot humid air.
I got a bigger appetite than the number of days we would be home so I decided to use some of the nectarines I had (over) bought in a tart and take it to my in-laws who were dog(s) sitting for us. As well as watching over the fish. Always seem to forget mentioning Elliot.
I made a regular pie crust (not gluten free) but the mix I usually use (my friend Jeanne’s) works perfectly well with this. I must tell you soon about this Brazil nut crust I tried on Clare and Becky last week though. I want to tweak it one more time first… Bear with me!
In the meantime, I am leaving you with this super simple, yet delicious Nectarine and Pomegranate Tarte. Yes. I know. Pomegranate are not in season in the US at the moment. See, I love pomegranate so much, that once Winter rolls around, I freeze enough pomegranate seeds to last us through Springs and Summer. We use them all the time in refreshing salads, as sprinkles on desserts and so forth. Here, they were in perfect tandem with the sweet ripe nectarines.
Nectarines and Pomegranate Tarte:
Makes one 9 to 10-inch tart:
For the crust:
2 tablespoons (20gr) slivered almonds
1/2 (60gr) cup powdered sugar, unsifted, divided
1/2 stick (57gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
pinch of salt
3/4 cup (90gr) all purpose flour or Jeanne’s gluten free all-purpose flour mix
For the filling:
4 to 6 just ripe nectarines, peeled, halved, pitted and sliced thin
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon chopped almonds
2 to 3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds (fresh or frozen)
Place almonds and 1 tablespoon powdered sugar in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely ground. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter, ground nuts and salt on medium speed until well-combined. Slowly add remaining powdered sugar and flour and mix well. Add a couple of tablespoons of cold water to help the dough come together if necessary. Shape 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 1/4-inch thick round.
Place in a 9-inch tart pan, trim the edges. Prick the dough with a fork and refrigerate 30 minutes up to 2 hours. (you can even freeze the dough in the tart pan at this point and let thaw in the fridge overnight when you are ready).
Once the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle shelf.
Layer the nectarines in the shell, overlapping each other until the whole tarte area is covered. Drizzle with the honey and almonds.
Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes until the tarte is golden.
Remove from the heat and right before serving, sprinkle the top with the pomegranate seeds.
I sort of took last week off from blogging, writing, commenting, etc… It does not mean I took the week off from cooking or shooting but I had to focus on prepping the coming months. We celebrated a friend’s birthday, enjoyed the fireworks for the 4th of July while I already started shooting Fall and Thanksgiving features for a couple of magazines.
I thought shooting pumpkin pies and plump turkeys would make me crave the cooler weather of Fall but nope…did not happen. At the hand of a day spent in the heat of a covered porch or a well lit studio, all I wanted was to dive in some ice cream, grill a little and just put my feet up while sipping a gin & tonic.
I also made a commitment to be gentle of myself last week. A way to protect my time with friends and family before the chaos of the next few months. When I going over my schedule with my mother-in-law, she exclaimed in the sweetest Southern drawl "Da’lin…you made my head spin. Let me fix you some iced tea". Iced tea fixes everything. I am about 95% convinced of this by now.
Starting this week, it will be a few months of "crayzeeeee" until the Christmas holidays. Kicking things off when I head out to Alabama today for a real tasty two day shoot. Then it’s Scotland and Ireland, Washington D.C, Seattle, Canada, New Hampshire, more Canada and home for more shoots. There is time enough in between two planes for an anniversary, his birthday, a load of laundry and a few good meals with friends.
A good mix of workshops and photo shoots. I was asked to submit a couple of bids for photography on cookbooks (which got accepted) and while I must wait a little longer to give you all the deeds on them, I am very grateful for the opportunities they provide. One takes me out of the country while the other lets me create a team with stylist and assistants I am friends with but also trust with my eyes closed. And the fun part? I won’t have to pay them in lollipops! All legit!! Ahahah!! Feels stupendous to be able to spread the love and create a team that inspires you and has the same need to create.
If only I did not have to have to crunch numbers, prepare bids and tally invoices. Always feel like it’s taking me away from creating, heading in the kitchen on a whim and just unplug and bake and write and blog. It’s a balancing act I am still trying to figure out. Everything I have done so far was to lead me to what I am doing now so it’s my responsibility to find the balance, the happy medium.
And thank goodness for pies! Galettes, tarts, tartelettes… you name it. Where there is a crust and a filling, there is me, generally baking one or trailing not too far behind a piping hot generously filled pie.
They bring balance into my life. Or more precisely, the act of making a galette or tart forces me to stop. The action of rubbing flour and butter together gives me those five crucial minutes I needed to just take a moment. Rolling pie crust is incredibly good for stress relief. The moment you take a pie out of the oven. That wonderful "ahhhh…" that follows a sigh. Happy sigh.
Then comes the wait. The ever so long twenty minutes to let that wonderful pie cool so you can go right ahead, grab a fork and dig in. If it’s for dinner with friends, it’s even harder to wait. But the rewards are well worth it. The smiles on other people’s face as you hand out a slice of pie. As long as I have served pies, I haven’t seen any furrowed brows yet…
Right in the middle of Summer, it would be criminal not to fill such a galette with all the stone fruits well abundant around at the market. Apricot, velvet apricots, peaches, cherries, nectarines, etc… Stupendously delicious. My new favorite word combination.
I love the simplicity of free formed galettes once in a while. It’s relaxing not to have walls and edges, trims and pie shells. Make dough, roll a rectangle, a square or a circle and fill. Pull the edges together and bake. Then dig in.
I am leaving some of that stone fruit galette in the fridge as I head out of town but you can be sure I am fixing myself a little slice for the plane ride. Or breakfast. It’s all about finding balance.
I hope the months ahead provide you with the same feelings of exhilaration, accomplishment, necessary adrenaline rush and relaxation. Hopefully with pie…
All pictures © Helene Dujardin Photography.
Stone Fruit Galette:
Serves 6 to 8
2 peaches, skinned, pitted and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 apricots, skinned, pitted and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 velvet apricots (or 2 large plums), skinned, pitted and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Saturn peaches, skinned, pitted and cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4 cup cherries, pitted and halved
juice and zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Your favorite pie crust. Or this one which I love.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a large bowl, toss all the prepared fruits with the lemon zest, juice and the honey. Mix well with a wooden spoon.
On a silpat or piece of parchment paper, roll the dough into a 10×15 rectangle (approximate). spoon the fruits right in the center, leaving about a 2-inch border on all edges. Fold the edges of the two short edges over the fruit, do the same for the long edges as if you were closing up a package but not quite closed all the way in the middle.
Brush the milk over the crust with a pastry brush. Sprinkle with the sugar and bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until golden brown.
Thank you Joanna for having me again. It was a lot of fun to be participating in this series!
You can catch up on the first recipe I contributed, Roasted Tomato Soup With Parmesan Croutons, here.
These tartines? They just feature my favorite way to eat mushrooms and eggs together. With plenty of parsley and garlic. Tender soft scrambled eggs and buttery warm toasts.
I am curious. What is your favorite way to eat eggs? I like scrambled but I prefer poached eggs to tell you the truth. You?
UPDATE: I have been told that due to a family emergency, one person had to cancel their spot in my workshop/retreat in Northern Ireland, July 19th – 23rd. If you want it, please email or call the Belle-Isle Cookery School where the workshop and retreat will be hosted, here.
Saturday Scrambled Eggs With Parsley & Garlic Mushrooms
For the mushrooms:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup mushrooms of your choice (we like shitake or chanterelles, but any earthy mushroom will do), chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
For the eggs:
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons crème fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon olive oil or butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh or toasted bread
In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook the mushrooms, with the garlic, until the mushrooms are just beginning to soften. Remove from heat, add the parsley and toss with a wooden spoon. Make sure not to burn the garlic or it will become really bitter.
Crack the eggs over a medium bowl and scramble them a few times with a fork. Mix in the crème fraiche (or sour cream). Season with salt and pepper. In a smaller sauté pan, heat the olive oil (or butter) over medium heat, add the scrambled eggs and gently stir them with a wooden spoon as they cook. You can decide to cook them until dry but we like them a bit soft and runny.
Serve the scrambled eggs over fresh or toasted bread and spoon a generous amount of sautéed mushrooms over each toast. Enjoy!
This mixed berries galette has all the attributes that often make me weak in the knees when I think about an uncomplicated Summer dessert. One that is not perfect, a little tart and puckerish, refreshing and vibrant with colors. One that does not require lots of heating and whisking over a hot stove when the temperatures are already blistering outside. One that takes the best of the season and wraps in a buttery blanket of homemade pastry crust.
We are right at the prime time for peaches, plums and lots of stone fruits. Even with strawberry season coming to an end, blueberries are now in full swing, along with raspberries. While I can find all these at the farmers market, I did not expect to find golden raspberries at our neighborhood (read tiny – last minute shop stop) store.
Red currants and golden raspberries can’t ever be local, I have been told. Too hot down here apparently but I admit, I could not resist getting a couple of pints of the raspberries. It’s so rare to see them around and after sneaking in a taste, I tried to come with desserts where their sweet and mild flavor would used to their advantage. Well, beside finding their way directly into my mouth…
I am still a hard core fan of raspberries and Chantilly for dessert. Nothing else. Nothing less. Nothing more. But…I think I am the only at the house who does that. My dear husband would rather have a little crust to go along with all that berry goodness. Something to tame the pucker-up factor which I so love.
Making any kind of pastry dough is a way to relax for me. The mixing, kneading, rolling. All focused and intentional steps to have something good to share with loved one for dessert. Finding the right balance of fruits, sugar. The right amount being mounded onto a buttery crust before being enclosed, free form. The smell filling up the entire house as the berries release their juices and aromas.
There is always a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction when I pull a galette out of the oven. I can’t describe it really. A peaceful second where I feel and understand years and years of family cooking and cultural belonging. It is a fleeting second, indeed. But one that anchors me in the moment and the moments to follow where we will cut right through that galette and smile.
Finding peace and balance has never been as important to me as it is now. I’ve never felt the need to actively seek them. There are always in me. However, the family events of the last five months have made me dive head down into my work and not allow myself to feel negative emotions. I am aware that I need to voice things out, write them down, and scream out loud if need be.
Nurturing comes from within oneself first. For me, it has been as simple as baking. Late at night when I let myself get sad and angry. Making jam. Cutting fruits. Anything that makes me feel close to the ones I love. When we had a problem in my family, we would make a cake. Did not matter if one person or twelve would come eat it. The intent to create was a simple human attempt at conjuring the absence.
So I made a galette. And another one. One morning, B. woke up to a dozen cupcakes, a banana loaf and another galette. One night, we almost had apricot tart for dinner. It’s winding down…thank goodness. It’s actually been great practice for the workshops I am teaching at Squam this week. I am also looking forward to the scenery of New Hampshire. A bit of wet weather and colder temperatures.
I am also looking forward to sharing with other students the personal reward that is to create, to make something by hand and to tell its story. To leave a trace and to find a spark within oneself. For some it is painting, knitting. For others like me, it is baking, kneading, whisking and taking a photograph. Journaling the process. Leaving a trace. A thought. An emotion or a connection.
If you are heading to Squam this weekend, come say hello!. I will make sure we have a slice of pie to share together!
Mixed Berries Galettes:
Makes three 6-inch galettes (enough for 6 to 8 people depending on size)
Notes: the crust is taken (and slightly adapted) from Holly Herrick’s book Tart Love which I recommend to everyone who has issues with making pie crust. Techniques, tips and troubleshooting ideas are well explained by Holly and the recipes are creative and delicious. And I can safely vouch for them since I also happen to have made and photograph 45 of them for the book…No plug intended… I just love that book…
For the crust:
1 1/2 cup Jeanne’s all purpose gluten free flour mix (or regular all purpose flour if not gluten free such as While Lilly)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
110 gr cold butter (1 stick)
1/4 cup cold milk beaten with 1 egg yolk
For the filling:
1 cup each raspberries, golden raspberries, strawberries (hulled and cut small), blueberries
juice and zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot
1/4 cup honey
Prepare the crust:
In the bowl of a food processor, (or follow the same instructions if doing by hand), pulse together the flour, salt and sugar until incorporated. Add the butter and pulse until the butter resembles small peas and is evenly incorporated. Gradually, stream in the cold mil & egg yolk mixture until the flour just comes together. Turn the mixture out onto your work surface and form into a 2-inch thick, round disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (or overnight) before rolling out.
Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the center.
Prepare the filling:
In a large bowl, combine all the berries with the lemon zest and juice, cornstarch (or arrowroot) and honey. Fold gently until everything is incorporated. Let stand while you roll the crust.
On a large surface area, well floured, roll out the pastry dough to 1/8-inch thick and cut out three 8-inch circles from it. Transfer right away to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Mound half the fruit filling on one circle and repeat with the other one going close but not all the way to the edge. Leave a 2-inch border of pastry all around. Gather the edges of the pastry dough, pleating as you go with your fingertips (don’t worry about being even – these are free form. Imperfections are wonderful anyways…). Bake for about 40 to 50 minutes or until the galettes are golden brown