Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tarts, Pies, Galettes

In France they are the dessert of choice. From quiche to apple tart--some sort of crusty based pastry is going to make its way onto your plate at sometime during the day.
Considering you can buy pre-made shells for less than 50 cents it makes sense.
Oh, these puns are painful, but I can't stop! Blame my dad, he passed this down to me.

Anyways here are a few I have made.

The galette was homemade. A Martha Stewart adaptation. You can substitute the butter for vegetable shortening or those Vegan butter sticks if you would like to got the no animals-involved route, and it will be just as delicious. Plums, apricots, apples work great and hazelnuts just as well.

Plum and Peach Galette


Last piece!

Caramelized onions, Roquefort/Goat Cheese tart

I couldn't decide which cheese would go better with the onions so half and half. I am partial to the Roquefort.

Apricot tart

Fruit Galette
Adapted from Martha Stewart

Serves 8

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (or Vegetable shortening)
5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ice water
1/4 cup almonds, toasted (or hazelnuts)
6 to 7 plums, apples, apricots, peaches halved, pitted and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 to 2 tablespoons heavy cream or egg white (0ptional)

In a large bowl combine 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon sugar and salt. Mix together then add butter. Using a pastry cutter cut in the butter until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup ice water. Mix into the flour mixture until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeeze. If necessary, add 1 tablespoon of ice water at a time until you reach the right consistency. Shape dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor add toasted almonds, 5 tablespoons sugar, and 2 tablespoons flour; pulse until ground unto a coarse meal.

Preheat oven to 350°F. On a floured surface roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle dough with almond mixture. Fan fruit out onto dough, leaving a 2 inch border. Fold edge of dough over fruit. Refrigerate 20-30 minutes. Brush crust with cream or egg wash; sprinkle galette with sugar. Bake until crust is golden and underside is cooked through, about 70 minutes.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Citrus, Olive Oil and Salt

I went to the market this morning. This is what I got. I get a high from going to the market. It takes every willpower cell in my body to resist buying everything there. This was restraint at its peak.

I have a tendency to over-think my dishes.
I get inspired and then get distracted by the bazillion ingredients I could combine it with and spend far too much time trying to decide on how to combine them all.

Today was a day that I was reminded why I should clam down, look at what I have and not obsess on creating some blow-your-mind flavor sensation that the world has yet to discover. Seriously.

Unless you are some master-wizard chef, most flavor combos have been thought of and we are all plagiarizing to a degree.

Every time I think of a new dish I could make all I need to do is hit the Google and ta-da!


50 other people have already done it.

So much for originality.

BUT we can all put our own spin and stamp on things. And why mess with a good thing?

I will never be some molecular gastronomy chef. That involves Science which involves math, which I failed.

I get inspired by ingredients and produce and eating and people who love to eat my food.

Especially people who like to eat my food.

Without an audience I feel like a circus clown under house arrest. (What does that mean? It sounded good at first but upon proofreading...hmmmm...)

Anyways. Here was my lunch.

I was reminded why simple is best.

Tablespoon of olive oil. Juice of a lime. Sea salt.

When in doubt look to this threesome. They never disappoint.

Couple handfuls of arugula and some of the lovely shelled peas. Chop up some mint---around a couple tablespoons. . Sprinkle with feta or another salty cheese.

Manchego or parmesan but not shredded parmesan that comes out of anything plastic.

If you go the parmesan or manchego route use a vegetable peeler to cut off long stips. Toss and dive in!

PS. I hate being in front of a computer. Uploading posts is like forcing me in front of a computer. There is no metaphor because I am it. So if I must, this is now the view I expect my office to have.

Spoiled brat.

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Wine. I love it. Red. White. Rose. Sparkling. All are in my good books.

France is number 1 at making it.

No, I am not saying they are the best (but they do a very good job) but they do make the most of it.

Since my love affair with it began, I am more in love with it today than when we met.

I cannot say that about many things.

At first, I was introduced to it do the “vendanges” which is the grape harvest in Switzerland.

Yes, Switzerland makes wine.

The year was 1996 and I needed to make some extra cash while traveling. It was such a memorable experience. Waking up at 7, hitting the vineyards, having a glass by 9:30am—I love it when drinking on the job is encouraged!

Since then and especially in the last 7 years or so I have developed a great appreciation and tolerance for this fermented grape liquid.

I must confess I have acted snobby and silly towards it and am slightly embarrassed of my behavior. It is like wine is the cool kid in school and you have to say the right thing and wear the right clothes in order to be their friend.

I think the more wine knowledge you get the less snobby and pretentious you become. Like confident yet humble people, I think if you know you don’t need to boast.

I recently just took the level 2 Wine and Spirit Education Trust course. This certifies me to be really annoying to people who are not into wine at all.

But I digress.

My point is that I had the most fantastic instructor. This guy knows alot about wine.

He was so un-judgmental and open with his views on it I was almost taken aback.

I approached him with like an eager 5 year old on the first day of Kindergarten

“You know everything! Now give me your opinion!”

But he didn’t.

He just let you decide.

If he didn’t share your opinion, stated why, the reasons and in the most non-condescending way.

What it taught me most of all was two things:

1. Wine is Objective

2. Wine is Subjective

Yup. Some people only drink red. A red over $75 dollars in a restaurant.

Some people only drink red. A red under $ 15 dollars in the liquor store.

Some people love white. Some love white with bubbles but ONLY if the bubbles were carbonated from a specific area in France.

Some people don’t give a shit and will drink whatever is put in front of them.

And the right answer to how to drink wine is all of the above.

Because really, if it makes you happy, you are having a good time and the wine is enhancing whatever experience you are in, then that is what it is all about.

I have been pretty damn blessed to get to drink some lovely wines while here. The other night we did a blind tasting of some Bordeaux's.

I was able to identify each (cough cough--boast-ing) but really what that means is that the wine course taught me to dissect wine and identify its particular traits, characteristics and flavours.

So, while the most expensive bottle definitely was the most complex and had a lot going on, it was not the most desirable on the palate.

Which brings me to the moral of this story.

Since, I have been here, I have drunk a considerable amount of wine.

What kind you ask?

This kind

A rose from Provence in a box.
That retails for around 10 Euros. For 5 litres!

Oh and this is the latest aperitif to hit France.

juice/syrup and Rose.

Don’t jud
ge me.


BUT, taste it and then tell me it isn't like a boozey non-carbonated pink Fre
sca dream.

Seriously. It is delicious. If the word wine wasn't on the box it wouldn't be under such harsh criticism.

Hot days demand a cool refreshing drink and in the wise words of my wine instructor “When I am at the beach in July I don’t want a Chateau Margeaux, I want a cool $10 dollar bottle of Pinot Grigio or a light Rose”

Amen. And cheers.