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Frenchie and the Wait for Fall

24 Oct

A new region and new weather patterns.

Et l’automne ?

As I dream of red and orange twirling leaves, the trees haven’t changed here – still proudly displaying their bright summer green.

It does not look like fall but it tastes like it.

Apples, pumpkins and squash on the markets.

Vivid fall colors mixed with a summer background.

Les belles pommes !

And with apples come the pleasures of spending time in the kitchen cooking and baking.

During rainy and dark afternoons when it’s better to stay inside.

Cutting, peeling and coring apples.

Dipping a finger in the vanilla sugar container.

Stewing pears and apples in a pan to create wonders and treats.

Or during bright and shiny mornings.

Putting the final touches to a belle tarte aux pommes for a friend’s party.

And this is what I wanted to share with you.

A tart that I like to eat during the week as I browse and sort all of the Tahiti pictures.

A quinoa and hazelnut crust.

A slice of fall in my mouth as I reminisce about the trip.

Apple Tart with Grand Marnier and Rose Water

makes a 9-inch tart

for the gluten-free crust

3/4 cup (90 g) of quinoa flour

1/2 cup (60 g) of hazelnut flour

1/3 cup (60 g) + 3 Tbsp of brown rice flour

1/3 cup (40 g) of tapioca flour

2/3 cup (80 g) of powdered sugar

1.5 teaspoon of guar gum

a pinch of sea salt

optional: 1 Tbsp of vanilla sugar

8 Tbsp (115 g) of cold butter – cut in small cubes

1 egg + 1 Tbsp of water

Sift the 4 flours and the sugar together over a big bowl and combine them with the guar gum and sea salt.

Drop the butter cubes in the bowl and working slowly with your fingers, rub the butter with the flour mix until sandy, soft and well absorbed. It should be lumpy and should look like breadcrumbs.

Crack the egg in a small bowl and add the cold water to it. Whisk for a few seconds with a fork to combine the water and egg.

Dig a well in the center of the big bowl and pour the egg/water in the center.

Mix delicately with your hands in a circular motion until the dough forms a ball. Do not knead it too much.

Flatten the ball, cover and wrap with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight or for at least 1 hour. If chilled overnight, remember to remove it from the fridge and wait at least 45 minutes before rolling it.

for the filling

3 apples – choose between sweet baking apples or tart apples depending what you prefer. I tend to mix both because I enjoy the taste very much.

2 Tbsp of Grand Marnier

2 Tbsp of rose water (if you are sensitive to the taste of rose water use only 1 to 1.5 Tbsp)

1 teaspoon of cinnamon + an extra dash for sprinkling

a dash of grated nutmeg

2 Tbsp of brown sugar

the juice of 1 lemon

3 Tbsp of apple sauce – use your favorite recipe for apple sauce. Apple butter works well here too.

blonde cane sugar for sprinkling

While the dough is resting in the fridge and before you blind bake it, whisk in a big bowl the Grand Marnier, rose water, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar and lemon juice.

Slice the apple thinly. If using a mandoline, use 3 mm/1/8″. Mix the apple slices in the bowl with the juice and make sure they are well coated.

Let the apples marinate in the bowl for 30 minutes. Use a spoon to coat them again with the juices at the bottom of the bowl.

Preheat the oven to 400 °F (200 °C).

Roll out the dough to fill a 9-inch tart pan (22-23 cm). I use some of the tapioca flour to roll the dough. Line the dough with the pan, press in the corners, and trim it without any overhang.

With a fork, make small holes at the bottom over the entire surface. Cover the dough with parchment paper, drop weights on it (another smaller oven-proof dish, or dry garbanzo beans) and blind bake the crust for 10 minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven, remove the parchment paper and the weights, and bake for another 8 minutes.

When done, lower the oven temperature to 350 °F (180 °C).

Coat the bottom of the crust with the apple sauce or apple butter. Arrange the apple slices tightly on the crust. Keep their juices in the bowl and pour it all over the apples in the tart.

Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Let the tart cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan.

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Frenchie and a Summer Tart

23 Aug

Sometimes a post does not have to be about an enrapturing story.

Nor does it have to be about the magical account of a scenic trip spent in a peacefully serene location with an incomparable panorama.

Sometimes it’s just about the food and nothing but the food.

The food…

Hovering over a plate. Over a dish.

Embracing the fact that a particular recipe has to be shared with all of you as soon as possible because it’s just that good.

After receiving several e-mails about the recent pictures of a strawberry tart featured in an earlier post and inquiries about its recipe, I decided to post it.

A recipe I have now made countless times this summer.

Always a hit. Never a crumb left on the serving plate.

A soft, crusty, crumbly, buttery tart pastry.

The type of pâte brisée that was born from a mistake – pure luck. Aren’t these the best mistakes?

Paired with a fruity bite hinting on mint, lemon and orange.

And trying to resist eating a second piece is to no avail.

I made this tart with several other fruit throughout the season – other berries and stone fruits.

My favorite one in the end was the strawberry tart.

Une tarte vraiment délicieuse.

Enjoy!

And thank you to BostInno, NoshOn.It and FriendsEAT for featuring Frenchie and the Yankee this month in various pieces. Check them out below:

Boston’s must-read food blogs.

The roasted tomato and garlic quiche featured for a Gluten-Free Sunday post.

And a Favorite Blogger of the Week highlight interview.

Grand Marnier-Flavored Strawberry Tart with Mint and Lemon Verbena

makes a 9-inch tart

for the gluten-free crust

3/4 cup (60 g) of sweet white rice flour

2/3 cup (80 g) of almond meal

1/3 cup (40 g) + 2 Tbsp of millet flour

1/3 cup (40 g) of tapioca flour

3/4 cup (90 g) of powdered sugar

1.5 teaspoon of guar gum

a pinch of salt

1 Tbsp of finely chopped lemon verbena

8 Tbsp (115 g) of cold butter – cut in small cubes

1 egg + 1 Tbsp of water

Sift the 4 flours and the sugar together over a big bowl and combine them with the guar gum, sea salt and lemon verbena.

Drop the butter cubes in the bowl and working slowly with your fingers, rub the butter with the flour mix until sandy, soft and well absorbed. It should be lumpy and should look like breadcrumbs.

Crack the egg in a small bowl and add the cold water to it. Whisk for a few seconds with a fork to combine the water and egg.

Dig a well in the center of the big bowl and pour the egg/water in the center.

Mix delicately with your hands in a circular motion until the dough forms a ball. Do not knead it too much.

Flatten the ball, cover and wrap with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight or for at least 1 hour. If chilled overnight, remember to remove it from the fridge and wait at least 45 minutes before rolling it.

for the filling

about 15 oz (400 g) of strawberries – hulled and halved

1 Tbsp of Grand Marnier

1 Tbsp of finely chopped mint

1 Tbsp of finely chopped lemon verbena

2 Tbsp of blonde cane sugar

1 finely zested organic orange

2 Tbsp of red currant jelly – or black currant jelly for a different colored tart

While the dough is resting in the fridge and before you blind bake it, place the strawberries in a big bowl with the Grand Marnier, mint, lemon verbena, sugar and orange zest. Mix and make sure the strawberries are well coated.

Let the strawberries marinate in the bowl for 30-40 minutes. Every 10 minutes or so, use a spoon to coat them again with the juices at the bottom of the bowl.

Preheat the oven to 400 °F (200 °C).

Roll out the dough to fill a 9-inch tart pan (22-23 cm). I use some of the tapioca flour to roll the dough. Line the dough with the pan, press in the corners, and trim it without any overhang.

With a fork, make small holes at the bottom over the entire surface. Cover the dough with parchment paper, drop weights on it (another smaller oven-proof dish, or dry garbanzo beans) and blind bake the crust for 10 minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven, remove the parchment paper and the weights, and bake for another 8 minutes.

When done, lower the oven temperature to 350 °F (180 °C).

Arrange the strawberry halves on the crust. Keep their juices in the bowl.

Whisk the red currant (or black currant) jelly in the bowl with the sweet juices and pour all over the strawberries in the tart.

(You might need an additional 1 Tbsp of Grand Marnier depending how thick the jelly is)

Bake in the oven for 35 minutes. Let the tart cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the pan.

Frenchie and the Beginning of Spring

23 Mar

Voilà le printemps ! I said at the beginning of the week while opening three bedroom windows to let the cool and crisp morning breeze air out a sleepy room and unmade bed.

Soon it will be green everywhere. Different shades of green.

That’s how I know spring has arrived. Green.

But for now, I will just have to content myself with the unusual warm “summer” temperature drastically contrasting with trees still wrapped in their winter gloom.

Green, green, green.

Lawn green – when the bright grass shines in your eyes and make you squint.

Forest green – the first trees showing leaves while taking a walk on a warm Sunday afternoon.

Mint green – and the first buds with leaves sprouting in the garden.

Lime green – when it feels refreshing to squeeze a slice in a big tall glass of cool water and letting it drop at the bottom.

Spring green – coloring up the city all over in patches for a more springlike urban outfit.

And since I’m impatient, I won’t wait for green to come into my life.

Green pears and pistachios will do the trick in the kitchen. A new tart maybe?

And green towels too for additional shades.

On pourrait presque manger dehors !We could almost eat outside!

And what better adventure than to celebrate spring on the Massachusetts coast in Marblehead, climbing rocks to find a cozy spot for a late afternoon goûter with green tinted tartlets?

It’s the kind of afternoon when clothes transition between winter and spring, between light jacket and scarf, between shade and hot sun and when the breeze might make you shiver but the strong light will kindly warm up your muscles.

It’s the kind of afternoon when your body remains calm listening to the last sounds of winter disappearing away behind the cloudless blue sky.

Marblehead provided everything needed to enjoy the beginning of a new season and celebrate in style.

Vibrant craggy coast.

Historic old town.

Fascinating quaint streets.

And colorful friendly mood.

An escape from the city to daydream and bask in a lovelier light.

And how were the tartlets you probably wonder?

The first batch was good. Especially in front of the ocean, sitting on warm rocks next to bright purple flowers.

The second batch was even better. Improved and gone in seconds.

The third is a definite winner. A new recipe to keep – and share – for other spring escapades to continue to admire and gaze at the new shades of greens.

And because it is so fitting here, I will finish this post with a small text by French author Philippe Delerm from his book We Could Almost Eat Outside – An Appreciation of Life’s Small Pleasures, translated from French (La première gorgée de bière).

Happy spring everyone!

We Could Almost Eat Outside

It’s the almost that counts, and the use of the conditional. The suggestion seems absurd at first. It’s only the beginning of March and there’s been nothing but rain, wind and showers all week. And now this. Since this morning, the sun’s been shining with a sort of dull intensity, a calm persistence. Lunch is ready, and the table’s been laid. But everything seems different somehow, even inside. The window’s slightly ajar, there’s an audible hum from outside and the air feels fresh.

“We could almost eat outside.” The phrase always comes at precisely the same point in time. When it’s too late to change things because everyone’s just about to sit down, and the tablecloth’s already been spread and the first course set out. Too late? The future’s what you make of it. Perhaps you’ll all feel the mad urge to grab a sweater, rush outside, wipe down the garden table like people possessed, and direct the stunned offers of help towards shaping the general mayhem. Or perhaps you’ll collectively resign yourselves to eating inside in the warmth – after all, the chairs are too damp and the grass is so overgrown…

It doesn’t matter. What does matter is the moment in which you articulate that little phrase. We could almost… A perfect existence, the one lived in the conditional tense, like those childhood games of “What if…?” A world of make-believe pitted against life’s certainties. The freshness of something only a hand’s span away, something you almost experienced. A simple fantasy, involving the relocation of a domestic ritual. A tiny breeze of delirious wisdom which changes everything and nothing…

Sometimes you catch yourself saying: “We could almost have…” The jaded phrase of adults who’ve opened Pandora’s box to discover only nostalgia inside. But then one of those days comes along when you catch a possibility as it passes, grasp the fragile instinct behind a hesitation, without tipping the balance. One of those days when you could almost…

Clove-scented Pear and Pistachio Tart

1 recipe for pâte sucrée or sablée – I add a lemon zest to mine for this particular pear tart recipe

1 cup (120 g) of powdered sugar

1 cup (100 g) of ground pistachios

7 Tbsp (100 g) of butter – melted and at room temperature

3/4 teaspoon of ground clove + a dash for sprinkling

1 egg

1 heaping Tbsp of flour

2 lemons – juiced

3-4 organic pears (I choose Bartlett) – thinly sliced 1/8″ (3 mm)

Preheat the oven to 350 °F (180 °C).

Make sure to remove the dough from the fridge 30 minutes before you plan on rolling it.

Roll out the dough to fill a 9-inch tart pan. Line the dough with the pan, press in the corners, and trim it without any overhang.

With a fork, make small holes at the bottom and place the pan in the freezer for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, prepare the pistachio paste in a medium bowl by mixing the sugar, ground pistachios, ground clove and melted butter.

The pistachio paste should be smooth.

Add the egg and continue mixing. Lastly, add the heaping tablespoon of flour and fold it delicately until you end up with a sticky smooth paste. Set aside.

Juice the 2 lemons and pour the juice in a medium bowl.

Slice the cored pears thinly. I prefer not to peel them so the green skin slightly tints the tart and matches the green pistachio paste underneath. This is better done with organic fruits. Feel free to peel the pears if you prefer.

Drop the pear slices in the lemon juice and make sure they are well coated so as not to turn brown immediately.

When you are ready to assemble the tart, remove the pan and dough from the freezer.

Pour the sticky pistachio paste in the pan. Working delicately all around the frozen tart shell, spread the paste slowly. I find that using the back of a big spoon helps. Make sure to spread the paste all over and up to the tart edges.

Remove the pear slices from the lemon juice. I prefer not to strain them so they keep a bit of the lemon juice on them, which adds a great second flavor to the tart and match the lemon zest bite in the crust. Arrange them delicately on the tart.

Sprinkle the tart with a dash of ground clove and place at the bottom of the oven – on the last row.

Bake for 40 minutes. When done, let it stand for 15 minutes before serving warm. This tart is also excellent made the day before and served at room temperature.

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