Strawberry rhubarb apple tart recipe

The other day, as we were enjoying a family dinner, my husband spotted a recipe book on the table and started to look through it as we were eating. (It happened to be the amazing and ever so appetizing Small Plates & Sweet Treats by Cannelle et Vanille’s creator, Aran Goyoaga). As we were eating, we started to get excited about the many recipes we were going to make off that book.

“You’re really turning into a Frenchman. Talking about food while eating”, my mother commented.

Indeed this is something French people love to do. Talk about food while eating food. Going on and on about it in fact!

I realized that unknowingly, the French are actually practicing mindful eating.

“Focus on the task at hand”, our teachers, or mothers, or grandmothers said. I guess this was another way to ask us to be mindful. To be in the moment with whatever we were doing.

This has been something I’ve been very consciously practicing with Pablo. Trying to stay away from outside distractions while at the table whenever possible. So while I do occasionally indulge Pablo with a small toy if he’s particularly tired and impatient at dinner time, I try as much as possible to keep our family engaged with our meal, with each other in conversation about our day, with the food we are eating (or will be eating), the cooking of it, the shape, flavor, color, texture of it. A lot of playfulness can arise with the “crunch crunch” of the butter lettuce, the fun of making a mini-kebab by prickling a piece of tomato with a piece of hearts of palm on the fork, or Pablo’s new favorite game, calling every item on the dinner table “Monsieur” : Monsieur Patate, Monsieur Radis, Monsieur Pain (Mr Bread) etc. (Yes, barely bearable cuteness ensues.)

I remember reading about mindful eating in Karen Le Billon’s book, French Kids Eat Everything, as one of her strategies to convert her picky eaters. It’s not about hiding broccoli in some pasta or baked good, or trying to distract our children into eating well, or rushing through meals to get them over with. It’s about showing them that eating is a pleasure.

And to find that out, you’ve got to pay attention while you eat.

Pay attention to how the food feels, how it tastes. Be mind and body (aren’t our best, happiest or most fulfilling moments in life when we are engaged both mind and body?). I remember how she described making a game of eating a chocolate mousse as slowly as possible, as a family, and talking about the experience together. What a clever idea to get kids engaged in the wonderful, vastly underestimated, communal, cultural and pleasurable experience that is the family meal.

Beyond easy and quick recipes, convenience and logistics, beyond calories and “healthy eating”, making cooking and eating about connection and pleasure, vs obligation and nutrition, is the core of this education of taste journey I’ve been documenting here. A journey that makes our life so much richer, each and every day.

Sharing today a seasonal variation to the French classic tarte aux pommes. It’s the first year I am experimenting cooking with rhubarb and its lovely flavor. This is really two recipes in one: one for the compote, which can be made on its own. But should you have a couple of apples lying around, the tart is a delicious way to put them to good use. Basil goes surprisingly well with strawberry and rhubarb, and adding it to the spelt crust was a fun, and successful, experiment.

Strawberry rhubarb apple tart on basil spelt crust

Serves 6-8

Prep time: 45 mn
Cook time: 15 mn + 35 mn

Age for babies: The compote by itself is great for a baby from 5 months on, though be sure not to use honey for a baby under 12 months. Add just a sprinkle of sugar. What you don’t use within a couple of days can be frozen for a couple of months (individual serving containers make it easier).
The tart can be given in small pieces (as long as no honey was used) from 8-10 months.



For the strawberry rhubarb compote

Yields about 2 cups.

2-3 stalks of rhubarb
1-2 cups of strawberries
2 tbsp of sugar (or honey)
1 tsp lemon juice

Peel the rhubarb by making a diagonal incision at the top and pulling off the stringy part. Repeat from both end, until all strings are gone (you will be taking off the pink part.)

Then cut the rhubarb in small pieces, place in a bowl with half the sugar (or honey), and let macerate at least 15 minutes. (The rhubarb with produce some juice in that time).

In the meantime, wash and cut the strawberries.

In a pan, place the rhubarb and its juice, strawberries, remaining sugar or honey and lemon juice. Cook over medium high heat for about 15-20 minutes, stirring often.

Mix in food processor or blender until very smooth. Pour through a fine mesh strainer, pressing with a spatula, for added smoothness.

For the basil spelt crust

1 cup (150g) spelt flour
5 tbsp (75g) butter, softened and cut up
4-5 large leaves of basil, minced
1.5 tbsp ice water
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt

In a bowl, mix the flour, minced basil, sugar and salt.

Pour the dry ingredients on a work surface. With your hands, work the soft butter into the flour mixture, by rubbing your hands together, until you get a sandy texture. Then place the flour/butter mixture in a circle with a whole in the middle.  Place the egg yolk and water in the middle, and mix with your hands until you obtain a ball of dough.

Then fraise the dough: flatten the ball into a rectangle (of sorts), and with the heel of your hand, press the dough, little by little, onto the work surface. This is very simple (and therapeutic!), but a picture is worth a thousand words on this one, so you can get a visual here. Do it a couple of times.

Wrap in plastic and place in the fridge for 10 minutes.

To put it all together

2 apples
4-5 oz rhubarb strawberry compote
2-3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp butter +  for mold 

Preheat the oven at 375°F.

Butter a tart pan (preferably with removable bottom).

Roll dough onto a lightly floured surface so it’s slightly bigger than your pan.
Press the dough into the pan, pressing the sides with your thumb.

Spoon and spread the compote over the dough.

Peel and core the apples, reserve the peel. Slice them thinly. Gently place the apple slices on top of the compote, in a circular motion around the pie pan (I can never do this perfectly by the way, there’s always an odd piece of apple that doesn’t fit!)

Sprinkle with a bit of sugar, and add a few bits of butter throughout.

Place in oven for about 30-35 minutes, until the apples are soft.

While it’s in the oven, boil 1/2 cup of water with the apple peel and sugar for about 10/12 minutes.

When you bring the tart out of the oven, brush some of that syrup over the apples for a nice gloss.

Let cool and eat warm, or cold.

French lemon tart recipe

Today’s your birthday. I call you, you’re playing with the kids. You’re

picking lemons, to make a tarte. You love making that lemon tarte, and we laugh because it’s the fifth week in a row you’ve made it. We’re excited about tonight’s meal, a new
restaurant, it will be fun. You wonder what dessert will be. You do have a seriously sweet tooth. Do you remember how you ate all 12 madeleines I brought you at the maternity hospital? 

Later, we meet for our weekly hike.  We talk about our children, their hair, their
mischiefs, their tantrums, their giggles. About our families. About Barbara and
the opera. About the children’s book you want to write. We talk about food, about last week’s meal, last year’s meal. We talk
about morning light over LA. We talk about being tired. About how hard marriage
can be. About past struggles and future travels. Not very much about future
struggles.  

I tell you about my blog. You
love the idea, you’re so supportive. You’re excited about it for me. I love
that about you, you take on other people’s joys and make them your own.

We talk about tonight’s plan. Our children spending an evening together,
growing up together. We laugh at the thought of being two old ladies, having
the same conversation.

Denial.

That day is a figment of my imagination. It’s unfair. I fume. Why
couldn’t I get that day? Why did this happen? How in the hell is it possible? I
want to scream. I don’t know to whom, so I don’t. I hate that you’re gone. Should have been me. I hate that good
things have happened since. I hate that good things come out of tragedy. It wasn”t supposed to turn out this way. You bailed on me. I’m pissed.


Anger.

What if it had been me? Less people would have gotten hurt. What if
circumstances had been different? If I try to be as good a friend as you were,
as open and giving as you were, as good a mother, sister, daughter as you were…
If I learn to share other people’s joys as genuinely as you did… maybe then you
won’t be gone, somehow.


Bargaining.

You are gone. We will not grow old together. I listen to songs that make
me think of you, with a lump in my throat. You meant more to me than I meant to
you. Terrible things happen. They will happen again and again. Nothing will ever be the same.
Time passes, fades things away. Details we desperately hang on to, to keep our head above water and not drown in sorrow. There’s that lump in my throat again. Sometimes it’s so heavy it goes right
down to my heart, pulling me down to darker depths.


Depression.

You are gone, and you are with me, every day. I go through the motions of beating
sugar and eggs, pouring butter, squeezing a lemon. Putting the tarte in the
oven. It’s strange. You went through the same motions in your kitchen, while kids were playing nearby, a long time ago.

Wonderful connections and friendships have occurred since you left us. Amazing
generosities and moments of true joy. It does seem terribly unfair it had to
happen that way. But I am grateful for them. You’ve taught me a lot of things.
Mostly unknowingly. But your final lesson is the most important of them all. Never
take life for granted, and cherish those you love. Nothing else truly matters.

With a heavy heart, I think of you today. I shall have a slice of my ever
imperfect tarte au citron. Perfection doesn’t exist. If it did, you wouldn’t be
gone.  With every bite, I am thankful for all you have brought into my
life.

Acceptance.

Tarte au citron – French lemon pie

Serves about 6

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cook time: 25 mn

Age for babies: 12 months above, because it is very sweet.

1 1/2 cup pastry flour
1/2 cup + 1/3 cup butter + a bit to butter the pie pan
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 egg
The juice of one lemon

Preheat the oven at 375°F.

Place 1/3 cup butter in a hot water bath to melt it (a ramekin in a pan with water will do – or in a pinch, melt in the microwave).

Meanwhile, make the dough (pâte sablée) mixing the flour with about 1/2 cup of soft butter. You can do this by hand or with a food processor (with dough blade). Add 1 or 2 tbsp of water to get it moist enough to form a workable dough.

Butter the pie pan (I used three smaller ones, you can use a larger one, 7 inch diameter for example).

Spread the dough in the pie pan(s) using your finger to even its thickness throughout. (Use some flour on your hands if the dough is a bit sticky).

In a bowl, whisk together the sugar and egg, until it’s white and foamy.  Whisk in the 1/3 cup melted butter, and the lemon juice.

Pour the lemon mixture into the pie pan(s) with the dough. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until the crust is crumbly. Put another 5 minutes in the broiler to brown the top. (Note: the lemon filling will remain very soft and almost liquidy. It firms up some when it cools down).

Let cool, and enjoy with some mint tea and good company.

Savory cranberry tart recipe

I’ve been thinking of the roles we play lately. Or rather,
the roles we have in our life.There’s this man, he runs a workout studio I go
to. This guy is what I would call “cool”. Will Smith cool. He’s in his 40’s,
family man, athlete, business owner, and I always marvel at how seamlessly he’s
able to go from one role to another with complete grace and ease. He can be a
role model and teacher to kids and also gently flirt with young women in his class, dance
and have fun carefree like a teenager, and be in charge of his business and
people working for him. He’s man, father, brother, husband, teacher, boss, role model, boy, athlete, dancer, friend, buddy, mentor, trainer… He’s
all of those things and at the same time completely himself. I don’t know him
personally and know nothing of his private life, but he always struck me as one
of the most balanced people I know.

I think there’s this direct link between the roles in our
life and how balanced we feel. When one role overwhelms all others for long
periods of time, I tend to feel stuck, frustrated, limited and somehow lacking.
As a mom, I know I’m not alone in that longing to have time to step out of that role, even for five minutes, to have an adult conversation, to be spontaneous and carefree, to finish a cup of coffee.

Because we are not one thing.

We are so much more complex than that. Embracing our multiplicity is the way to truly be ourselves. Our
humanity has so many facets, all deserving to be expressed in some way. We are not just mothers and fathers. We are not just our jobs. We are more.

This
has been a new way to look at my life, which has geared me away from harsh self-judgment,
to give way to a detective-like, or explorer-like, perspective: looking for the
roles I want in my life, the ones that make me happy and fulfilled, that
reflect what profoundly matters to me, and finding creative ways to fill in those roles.

I started on this train of thought recently as I was walking
back home with the stroller and Pablo sleeping in it, after having purchased a
few knick-knacks for my food styling experiments. The holidays were coming, I
was thinking of my holiday menu. And it hit me. Right there, in that moment, I
was feeling like a mother, walking with my child getting some needed sleep, but
also like a blogger and writer, thinking of this post, like a food
stylist and photographer (in training!), thinking of how I would use my new
props. Like a cook, thinking of tweaking some recipes. And looking forward to
being a good friend and host during the holidays – one of my most cherished roles, little matters more to me than
being a good friend to those I love.

That was a good walk. I felt grounded, myself.

I want to be all those things (and a few others). They are
all part of me. I think of a bridge. It can’t be held by one pillar, can it? It’s held by many pillars. Those roles are our pillars. Nurturing them helps us not fall apart at every blow life throws at us. They give us balance, and strength.

I also think this is crucially important as a model to my
child. Having no other role in life than that of his mom, wouldn’t be good for him (or me). I want many pillars for him. I want him to see that we can have many facets in life, pursue different
roles that ring true to us, and which may evolve over time. That’s what makes
us who we are. I guess that’s why I hate labels with a passion. “He’s shy”, “she’s
studious”, “he’s rambunctious”, etc. We are all those things at one point
or another. We are not just one thing. This idea is both grounding and freeing. I hope to impart some of that sense to my son so that he may learn it perhaps with a bit more ease than I have.

So instead of resolutions this year, I’d like to think of the roles I
want reinforce, or improve in two thousand thirteen, and the ones I want to lessen. New roles I want to build, too. I hope to find the courage to step in roles that I may not be so comfortable in, as well. It
seems a more realistic way to achieve that “happy new year” everyone wishes us, rather than resolutions I’m
bound to fall short on.

One of the roles that has become such a wonderful,
fulfilling part of my life, a labor of love really, is this blog. Actually, it
has been a great way to combine many roles I’ve been longing to express
for a long time. That’s the thing about expressing. You just want someone out
there to hear you somehow. And if there’s just one person reading
these lines, it’s immensely worthwhile. So thank you.

Now… just a little bit about this recipe. This was an
experiment I had to tweak a few times until I got the dosage just right. I got
some fresh cranberries in a CSA delivery and wanted to use them in something
else than sauce or muffins. I’ve also been wanting to experiment with duck fat
in pie crust since I started to look into pie crust recipes around Thanksgiving (starting with this cornmeal lard pie crust recipe on Local Milk).
That’s how this savory tart was born. It’s a nice combination of sweet, tart
and savory. Half pie, half quiche, it makes for a nice brunch entree with a
salad.

It’s not the “whip-up at the last minute” type of dish. More a “I’m in the
mood for slowing down, being in the moment and cooking for good friends” type of dish.
We need those in our lives, once in a while. To stop and smell… the savory
pie.

Our years are never just happy, are they? So I’d like to wish you and your loved ones a fulfilling new
year with moments of true joy; may you find ways to express many facets and roles in your life.

Gorgonzola cranberry tart in a duck fat crust

Inspired by the awesome cornmeal lard pie crust from Local Milk + invaluable lessons in baking from Cannelle & Vanille

Serves 6-8

Prep time: 30 mn + 90 mn rest time for crust
Cook time: 45 mn

Age for babies: 12 months+ for the eggs.

For the crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter (cut into 1/2″ pieces)
2 tbsp cold rendered duck fat (cut into 1/2″ pieces – stick in freezer 10 mn before starting crust if possible)
2-3 tbsp ice cold water

For filling:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small fennel bulb, thinly sliced, stems removed (keep some of the “fuzz” for garnish)
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 cup of cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
one pinch of salt
one pinch of sugar
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 sprig of rosemary
2 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
2-3 oz crumbed Gorgonzola (or other blue cheese of choice)

In a large bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal and salt. Pour in a food processor (or do by hand if you prefer), and add in the butter and duck fat. Pulse until the pieces of fat are about the size of peas (do not overmix, as this will affect the chemistry of the gluten and the crust will end up very crumbly… learned this the hard way).

Put the mixture back into the bowl, and slowly add the ice cold water, tbsp by tbsp, working it into the dough by hand, until it comes together (add the water very progressively, harder to fix if you put too much than too little). It will form a ball, albeit somewhat wet and greasy.

Place dough on plastic wrap, form a disc 4″-5″ across, wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

Dust a surface with some flour. Roll the dough to the size of a 9-inch pie pan.

Fill a 9-inch tart mold (glass works well) with the dough, pressing on the sides. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for another 30 mn.

(For pie crust questions and fixes, I found this very helpful article on Food Science.)

Preheat the oven at 375°F. Take the pie crust out of the fridge, cover with parchment paper, and place dry beans or rice as pie weights (unless you actually have pie weights!) so the crust doesn’t swell while baking. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling:

In a sauté pan over medium heat, put the olive oil, fennel, onion and thyme with a pinch of salt, and cook until tender and slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir. Add the cranberries and the pinch of sugar, and stir, until they all pop. Remove from heat and set aside.

Warm up the cream (without boiling it), remove from heat and place the rosemary sprig in it. Cover and let steep 10 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream.

Let the pie crust cool for a few minutes. Then spoon the fennel-cranberry mixture into it. Add the crumbled Gorgonzola on top, and pour the egg-cream mixture over the filling.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until custard is set (knife comes out clean).

Serve warm, with a salad. We served it with romaine lettuce in a creamy vinaigrette (3 parts heavy cream / 1 part vinegar, salt & pepper.)

(Leftovers can be served the next day, but the tart does taste better reheated in the oven for a few minutes).

Fruit Tart Recipe

And we get to another month of world on a plate. For those of you that missed the first two rounds, World on a Plate is a monthly blogging event at which bloggers from around the world get together and share a typical recipe from their home country. Today, we are sharing fruit dessert to celebrate summer.

I am so curious to see what delicious concoctions my fellow bloggers will propose! What fruit will they use? Is it going to be cake? Sppon desserts? Fruit salad? Well Anna is going to tell us about Australia, Biren about Malaysia, Ewa about Sweden, Katerina about Greece, Katherine about the US, Hyosun about Korea, Raymund about the Philippines, Suchi about Northerm India and Vijitha about Southern India and as usual I am telling you about Italy.

When I started thinking about what to make, two things popped in my head: fruit salad and fruit tart. Turns out fruit tart is BF’s favorite dessert, so I went with tart.

Fruit tart makes its appearance at birthday parties and other festivities especially in spring and summer and it is a favorite among kids and adults. It looks great and it tastes even better!

Fruit tart is a great dessert that manages to be rich, refreshing and simple at the same time. The pastry cream makes it rich, the fruit makes it refreshing and the simplicity of ingredients and preparation make it easy to make. Plus it looks great! Bring one of this dessert to the table and you will be hailed as a great chef!

Don’t forget to check out what everyone else did at the bottom of the post!

#WorldOnAPlate: Fruit Tart

Ingredients

    • Crust
    • 10 oz. flour
    • 4 oz. butter
    • 3.5 oz. sugar
    • 2 egg yolks
    • pinch salt
    • vanilla extract and/or lemon peel (optional)

Pastry cream

    • 3 egg yolks
    • 1 cup milk
    • 1 tbsp corn starch
    • vanilla extract
    • 2 oz. sugar

Topping

  • seasonal fruit
  • 1 packet gelatin
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions

    1. Crust
    1. Using a food processor cut the butter into the flout. It takes about 30 seconds and you should get a mixture of rather fine flour crumbs.
    2. Pour the mixture on a table or in a big bowl and make a well. In the well add the sugar, the yolks, the salt and the flavorings.
    3. Mix well and start kneading until the dough comes together in a smooth mass.
    4. If the dough is to dry, add a bit of the egg whites. If it is too sticky add a bit of flour.
    5. Make a disk, wrap it in saran wrap and place in the fridge to cool down for about 20 minutes.
    6. Roll out the dough and place in a buttered oven dish.
    7. Using a fork puncture the crust so that it does not rise while cooking.
    8. Cook for about 20 minutes in a 375F oven covering the borders with aluminum foil if they become too dark.
    9. Let it cool down.

Pastry cream

    1. Warm up the milk with the vanilla extract until simmering. Turn off the heat and let cool down slightly.
    2. Whip the yolks with the sugar until they become pale yellow and double in size.
    3. Slowly add about 1/3 of the milk straining it so that the skin that forms on top of the milk does not get in the egg mixture.
    4. Mix well and add the corn starch and mix again.
    5. Pour the mixture in a pot with the rest of the milk and put on a low fire. Stir the mixture until it thickens up (should become a lemon curd like consistency).
    6. Immediately transfer to a cool container and cover with plastic wrap so that it does not form a skin.

Topping

    1. Sprinkle the gelatin over 1/5 of the water, mix and let rest for about 5 minutes.
    2. Add the rest of the water and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Mix well. If the gelatine is not completely dissolved microwave for some extra time in 5 sec increments.
    3. Let the gelatin come to room temperature.

Assemble

  1. Pour the cool pastry cream over the cool crust and smooth it out.
  2. Layer some fruit on top of the cake making it as artistic as you can.
  3. Brush the gelatin over the fruit.
  4. Put the cake in the fridge and let the gelatin solidify.
  5. If needed after 10 minutes add a second layer of gelatin.

Rhubarb cream cheese tart

Rhubarb season is finally here! With the crazy weather we had so far, the season for produce to be very much behind. And even things such as rhubarb that thrive in the colder weather have be late in coming. After all we had snow up until a month ago!

Anyway, as soon as I found some rhubarb I bought a bunch and started thinking about how to use it. I have a great recipe for a rhubarb cake that I made multiple times last year, but this time I wanted a Scouting the internet, I found this recipe by Daniela at Penna e Forchetta

I immediately set out to adapt it to what I had on hand and to my liking of rhubarb.


I didn’t have cream cheese so I swapped it with strained Greek yogurt (which basically is cream cheese) and I cut the sugar by a lot because I love the acidity of rhubarb.

The tart turned out even better than I expected. It has the sourness of rhubarb I love and the flaky crust and the sweet cream topping to balance it all out. And it looks great too!

Rhubarb cream cheese tart

Ingredients

Crust

    • 1 heaping cup flour
    • 1 stick butter
    • water

Rhubarb

  • 1 bunch rhubarb (about 1 lb.)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • about 3/4 cup sugar

Directions

  1. Start by straining the yogurt by placing it in a fine sieve mesh colander and let it drain.
  2. While the yogurt is draining, make the crust. Cut the cold butter into the flour and when the mixture is crumbly add enough water to make the dough stick. As soon as the dough is formed wrap it in plastic and put in the fridge to cool down.
  3. For the filling, quickly cook the rhubarb with a couple of spoons of sugar until the rhubarb softens up. Drain the liquid and let cool down.
  4. Mix the yogurt with the yogurt and enough sugar to sweeten it up to your preferred sweetness. I only added a couple of spoons, but you can add more if you like things on the sweeter side.
  5. Assemble the cake by placing the dough in a greased pan, layer with the rhubarb and finishing it with the yogurt cream. Decorate with some additional rhubarb stalk if you like it.
  6. Bake at 375F for about 30 minutes or until the top is set and lightly browned.