Ok. Now for recipe number two in the French Style Supper series: the tart, or quiche. First of all, for this recipe, you will need a free-bottom tart pan. Second of all, don’t do what I did; make sure the crust is thin enough – especially down in those corners! – otherwise your tart will be heavy and the crust won’t be crisp.
Alright, crust comes first. For my crust, I used Julia Child’s Pâte Brisée recipe, which can be found here. HOWEVER, PLEASE don’t use vegetable shortening! Use lard – it’s real, and it’s good for you. Anyway, that’s all from me. Once you have your crust all done and pre-baked, you can start on the filling.
Another fun thing to do when you’re home alone is to bake – and then bring things into work so that you don’t eat it all yourself, and so your coworkers like you. 🙂 I’m particularly partial to cupcakes myself – chocolate please! Usually I just make my favorite chocolate cake from Gourmet, Dec ’87. After all, that’s the year and month I was born – it must be made for me, right? But, this time I decided to switch things up a bit. I’ve never made a chiffon cake before ’cause I’ve always heard they were more finicky. Maybe they are, but I had good luck with this recipe, and now, in my opinion, chiffon is the way to go for cupcakes. Light, fluffy, moist. But they have a firm enough texture that they don’t fall apart when you take a bite. Perfection. I even ate one without any frosting and it was good! But then, to top it all off – to guild the lily as the saying goes – I decided to fill them with pastry cream and smother the top in chocolate-coffee ganache. What?!
Not too long ago, we decided to try a little experiment. We all love sushi – I mean love it. We can’t get enough. Especially with that totally un-authentic spicy mayo. But good sushi is SO expensive, and who KNOWS what they’re putting into that spicy, creamy deliciousness?! So, why not try making it ourselves? There’s a fish market in Stockton that carries INCREDIBLY fresh fish, and although his prices are high, it still comes out to way less than three people eating out at a sushi place.
Every few weeks, we go to a farmer’s market in Chestnut Hill, a neighborhood in Philly, and we get these amazing French-style tarts (sweet and savory) from Market Day Canelé. The flavors vary from week to week depending on what is fresh and in season. This past weekend we were not going to get there because we had prior plans.
I had recently discovered the blog Becoming Madame, and I had read her three posts on “Eating like the French“. So I thought, inspired by these posts, why not make my own French-style tarts? Especially since I already had beef for steak tartare thawing in the fridge and needed a second course to accompany it. Done. I would make a quiche/tart. And while I was at it, I might as well use those apples sitting in the fridge. Apple tart it is! The resulting menu was: Steak tartare, bacon and onion quiche, and apple, cardamom cream tart. I had small serving of yogurt between the main course and dessert, my parents opted for a small glass of kefir – same concept. We accompanied all this with a bottle of Gruet Blanc de Noirs, because who doesn’t like a little dry bubbly? The result was quite satisfying – and my first attempt at steak tartare was a success, if I do say so myself. Thanks for the idea, Becoming Madame!
Cool evenings send us to the dark liquor. However, being out of whiskey and cognac there was nothing for it but to go with rum. Not that I have anything against rum. Rum is great. It’s the closest I can get to recreating a tropical vacation here in the Mid-Atlantic. Anyway, I was thinking a dark and stormy might be tasty, but we didn’t have any ginger beer. We did, however, have fresh ginger. So I sliced some of that and pounded it in the mortar and pestle, poured lime juice over it, and let it sit for a few minutes. Strain it into a glass, add rum and top up with seltzer and tadaa! A gingery rum drink.
Last week when I went to fetch limes from the produce section at the grocery store, I was distracted by a basket full of deep sunset yellow fruit. Meyer Lemons! I was buying citrus for cocktails, so of course I had cocktails on my mind, and I had to try a couple. After all, I’ve never seen meyer lemons looking so ripe. I grabbed a couple, and here’s the drink I came up with. An interesting thing I noticed was that the shaved zest on top gave off a distinctive vanilla like aroma – very different from a conventional lemon. The juice itself smelled of oranges and tasted of lemons (though less tart). A very interesting fruit and I hope I find some again to try out more experiments!
So, I saw this pin on Pinterest (yes, I spend too much time on that site. But, all the cool ideas I find there!). Anyway, someone pinned Lavender Nectarine Muffins. Sounds damn good, I thought. So (after repinning, of course) I clicked for the recipe. Despair! It was in German! What now? I don’t speak German! Ahhh, but the internet can do anything – right? Hasty Google search. Some copy and pasting. Soon I have a VERY rough translation. Well, I’m creative. I can make this work; I WANT ME SOME MUFFINS.
Of course, being the impatient person I am, I decided to experiment on my first go. I wanted to use less flour by substituting coconut flour. This is not quite as straightforward as I thought it would be since you have to add equal parts extra liquid to coconut flour and sometimes you even need more egg for loft. Add to this that I was working with oz (weight) instead of cups (thanks European measurements). Anyway, for a bit, it was very confusing. However, in the end I actually came out with a batch of tasty muffins. Turns out the combination of nectarine, lavender and coconut flour results in a something that tastes a little like a corn muffin. Who knew? I think I may want to try making the straight flour version just for the sake of comparison. We’ll see…
The school my mom works at has a couple of fig trees, so, of course, we picked a bunch of figs. They were delicious. Nothing beats fruit picked ripe and eaten fresh from the tree. You can keep your flavorless, California fruit that was picked green and shipped across the country. Anywho, we had so many that we couldn’t eat them all right away, so I made a tart. The recipe was partly inspired by the most recent issue of Fine Cooking and partly by some research I did. We are a low-grain family so we really don’t eat much flour and my first thought was that I would make an almond flour crust. Unfortunately I forgot to set the timer on the blind-bake and – well – it was a disaster. Back to the beginning. This time with a classic short-crust. Melt in your mouth.
Lots. Of. Butter.
If you are one of those people who thinks butter is bad for you, this recipe probably isn’t for you. I suppose you can substitute a different type of crust, but I guarantee it won’t be as good. I say: eat more (good) fat. But, do as you will with the crust – here’s what I did: