ADDENDUM TO THE FRENCH PASTRY TART . . . A COUPLE OF THINGS I FORGET TO TELL YOU ABOUT MAKING FRENCH LEMON TART

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Ahem.  The only excuse I have for omitting these steps in my recipe for FRENCH LEMON TART  is familiarity.  If you were beside me in the kitchen you would see me using a fork pricking the unbaked tart before I filled the shell RIGHT TO THE TOP with beans.  It’s all about keeping your pastry from puffing up and robbing you of space you need for your lemon cream filling.  It’s an automatic step for baking blind pastry.   But how would you know that if this if the first time you have baked blind pastry?

Then there’s the step where you ease your precious pastry gently into the tart pan.  You let the excess  pastry  hang over the edge and using the rolling pin  trim off the edge.  The next step is to gently ease a little of the dough above the edge to compensate for shrinkage.  Here’s the trick to doing this.  YOU DON’T USE YOUR FINGERS.   You take a little of the left over dough and roll it into a small ball.  THIS is what you use to nudge your precious pastry gently above the edge.

This is really not a difficult pastry to make .  You do need a stand mixer.  But it really is “a wink” to make.  Remember practice makes perfect and all tarts don’t have to be filled with lemon cream.   You could spread a little melted chocolate on the bottom of the tart and then fill it with vanilla custard and top it with  fresh strawberries or any other fresh fruit in season.  It will quickly become your “little black dress” of desserts.   Baked or unbaked tart shells can be carefully wrapped and kept in the refrigerator for three days or frozen for three months.  Bon Appetit dear friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

FRENCH LEMON TART . . . Bringing Paris home to the kitchen

 

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We bring back a million memories from Paris.  We remember how a Parisian women ties her silk scarves. And how our heart skipped a beat at the first sight of the Eiffel tower.    We pack our suitcases with French linens  and red soled shoes.  We take a thousand photographs.    We close our eyes and savor again the sublime lemon tart from our favorite patisserie.   Among all the gorgeous tarts in the bakery showcase it is always the lemon tart I choose.

The lemon tarts created by Pierre Hermes are utterly sublime.  They are not difficult to make, but with something so simple, each element has to be perfect.   The  pastry must be crisp and cookie-like.  .  The lemon filling flawless.    I have adapted his recipe and if you follow the instructions carefully you will create a tart worthy of any patisserie.   The French Lemon Tart is divided into two parts.  You make the crust and bake it.  You make the lemon cream (think curd) filling..  Then you fill your tart.  Done – except for extravagant swirls of whipped cream.

The tart should serve six to eight people, but last week at Sunday dinner I will unashamedly admit that four of us –  myself, husband, son and  and daughter-in-law went back for second servings and left an embarrassing small slice of tart on the plate.

The secrets for a perfect FRENCH LEMON TART  are yours  at MRS. BUTTERFINGERS.

 

 

 

CLAFOUTIS A LA RHUBARBE . . . Rhubarb Clafoutis

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Clafouti of any kind makes a simple and wonderful desert, or an absolutely indulgent breakfast.   It’s the kind of dish I keep in my apron pocket for those times when I want to whip up a dessert on short notice.  It’s made by pouring a very rich  eggy batter  similar to pancakes over fresh fruit and baked.   This brilliant  French dessert from the Limousin region  is easy to make and left-overs are equally wonderful as a midnight snack or a breakfast treat.

Originally  clafouti  was made with whole, stoned cherries.   Decadently delicious but the cherry season is short.  Plums, pears and apples work beautifully, but rhubarb produces superb results – almost better than the original.

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Serve it right out of the oven sprinkled with a mixture of powdered sugar and a dash of cinnamon.   The  recipe for  CLAFOUTIS  À  LA RHUBARBE  awaits you  on MRS. BUTTERFINGERS.

 

A RIVERBOAT PILOT’S BOOK

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I was prowling the dusty corners of a used book store  and discovered a  small battered book.  This leather covered book had belonged to a river pilot who used it to navigate the Western Rivers.  The last date in the book was a correction dated September l, 1893.

We live beside the mighty Fraser River.  I thought perhaps the pilot had lived in our area, but worked the rivers to the south of us.  The story that follows is just that.  Obadiah Smith didn’t exist.  But men like him piloted the river boats more than one hundred years ago.

Scroll down to RIVER OF DARKNESS.

RIVER OF DARKNESS … A TALE OF A RIVER PILOT

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The mighty Mississippi River.

The Red River.

The Ohio, The Kanawha and The Tennessee.

Silver ribbons twisting and winding.

Beckoning, beautiful and dangerous.

Siren calls for the river pilot.

In the silent darkness of the night Obadiah Smith scanned the river banks. Searching for the lights that marked safe navigation of the river.   Mile 771.5, Black Hawk,  on the right side of the channel he searched for a white light.  Then mile 773.6 Black Hawk Point, right side again, white light.  Next 2 miles up river Consort Point, left side of channel, white light.

Night running of the river was made possible by this List of Post Lights.

As each beacon passed he ticked the entry.  He scribbled quick notes.

“High Banks at Fort Adams.”

Then at Row Land “all night”.

Then the note.  One word.  A word of sadness and loneliness.  “Thanksgiving”.

Dark clouds lifted and the moon shone brilliant on the water.   The beacon lights disappeared.  It is too dangerous to continue.   Tonight  they would camp the rest of the night at the river’s edge.   He thought of home.    Thanksgiving away from  his wife,  his only child.

Remembering with a smile.

A calloused finger caressed a lock of hair

This was a river pilots life.

 

CASSOULET … celebrates Bastille Day

I will never forget the first time I dined on cassoulet.    It influenced forever my passion for this sophisticated and humble French peasant dish that is a glorious version of pork and beans.  IMG_2443

The  handwritten invitation arrived in the mail.   The back of the envelop sealed with  red wax incised with the fleur- de- lys.     An invitation to dinner at the home of friends,  Dunc and June, to celebrate  the storming of the Bastille.   In the lower left hand corner the words “dress beautifully”.

In that magic time between dusk and twilight the “beautifully” dressed guests arrived.  The women wearing filmy, barely there summer dresses and shimmering  jewellery.   The men at once both elegantly and magnificently attired.  Dress military  uniforms had been resurrected from storage closets.   White dinner jackets dazzled.  One gentleman wore a fez and a richly embroidered caftan.      Another a romantic  poet’s shirt of finest white linen.

On a large round table  forty white pillar candles chased away the dark evening.  Champagne glasses sparkled.   Edith Piaf sang of love.   From the kitchen came the  enticing, earthy aroma of our very French meal – cassoulet  . .  my introduction to this glorious, rich slowly cooked dish of meat, pork and white beans.

There are as many versions of cassoulet as there are regions in France.    My adapted  recipe takes full advantage of our garden raised dried Heirloom French Tarbais white beans and our own milk fed pork.   Substituting  dried white  beans and having an understanding butcher you can easily create your version of this classic dish.

This is not a difficult dish to prepare but it is time-consuming.  This is not a recipe for “slow-cooker” aficionados.    The final two hours of cooking demand you stay close to your oven.  The recipe can be prepared over three days  and is then put together a   few hours before you plan to serve it.

The recipe for CASSOULET awaits you in my kitchen – MRS.BUTTERFINGERS.  Bon appetit!

 

 

TURNING THE DETRITUS OF PARIS INTO A BOOK

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When you brush the silver dust of Paris from your ruby slippers.

When you empty you handbag, your wallet, your pockets of the bits and bobs of your travels.

You gather your memories and tuck them into an altered book.     A book that collects your treasures, your memories, your thoughts and dreams.  My Paris book follows.  KEEP SCROLLING dear friends and look at Paris in a new way.