21 December 2010

Tarte aux pommes et à l'amande / Apple Tart with Almond Cream

We were invited to a potluck dinner party this past weekend, and Thomas had volunteered us to bring dessert.  I never pass up a chance to bake (my eyes get wide like saucers with excitement) and this dinner had presented me with the perfect, long-awaited opportunity to make this apple tart, published in Food & Wine magazine in 2009.  They have also published it on their website.

France - Paris - Restaurants - Le Garde Robe

When Thomas and I were in France this past summer, we found ourselves a bit unprepared as to what we should do during our stay.  We had been busy getting our belongings ready for moving, and thinking about what to do in Paris was sent to the backburner.

So I did some internet research while I was there, including reading referencing the blog by David Lebovitz, a former pastry chef at the famous Chez Panisse in Berkley, CA, and cookbook writer, who now lives in Paris.  One of his posts led me to Le Garde Robe, a wine bar in the 1st arrondissement.  Since it is a wine bar, it does not serve full meals, but it sounded perfect for going at the end of the day, when you just want to eat something small and sip a glass of wine.

20 December 2010

Truffes au Chocolat / Chocolate Truffles

The holidays always evokes an image of baking and candy-making.  For the past few years, I have made cookies, biscotti, and marshmallows to give away as gifts, but I think one of the cutest and easiest was the chocolate truffle.  It is a bit messy (chocolate will get on your hands as you roll it into balls), but it is fun and if you really love chocolate, you will enjoy being surrounded by the intense aroma of quality chocolate.  A chocolate truffle is a mixture of solid chocolate and cream (called a ganache) that is then chilled to set, and then cut into pieces so that you can roll them up into individual balls.  The pieces are then rolled in a topping of your choice: cocoa powder and ground nuts are common.  What is also great about them is that steps are best separated over a three days; this makes it easier to make around a busy schedule because the individual steps do not take that long.

23 January 2010

Key Lime Tart

One of the things I never understood was why this sweet-sour confection was called a pie.  My idea of a pie was a flaky white crust that was made of a lot of butter with a thick layer of filling, and more of the crust on top of the filling.  Key lime "pie" is not like this. 

The Key lime  "pie" as we know it has a graham cracker crust with a creamy citrusy filling.  Therefore I like to call it a tart rather than a pie.  For those of you who could care less, please just let me induge myself with this ridiculous notion. 

Jessica had made a wonderful Key lime tart for a dinner party one night.  I refer to it as "Jessica's Key Lime 'Tart'" even though the truth is, she obtained the wonderful recipe on a bottle of Nellie and Joe's Key West Lime Juice.  I absolutely fell in love with it and she kindly let me keep the bottle. 

Well, I have to say that the bottle sat in my kitchen neglected for a while.  Reasons being I could not find this bottled juice in my area or I would try other kitchen projects.  A few weeks ago, however, my local Whole Foods had fresh Key limes by the bag available.  Aha!  This was my chance!  I bought a bag, a box of graham crackers, and decided to make Jessica's Key Lime Tart for a dinner party that we hosted last weekend. 

I will say right now that one can buy readily available graham cracker crusts at supermarkets.  However, I wanted a crust that was thinner and crisper.  I actually also have a crust recipe that uses the ingredients of graham crackers, but it calls for some ingredients that I do not use regularly so I did not think it was practical to buy it just this one tart.  Maybe someday. 

Needless to say, the tart was a success.  Almost everyone had two servings; the exception was Thomas and a guest, who each had three.  The next evening, we were invited to a friend's house for dinner, to which I volunteered to bring dessert.  Thomas and I were still riding on the euphoria of the Key lime tart that I made it again for the following evening, where I must admit that we also ate a heafty chunk of the tart as well. 

For those of you who are intimidated by baking or avoid baking because it takes so long, don't do it with this recipe.  It truly is one of simplest to make.  And you can always use the supermarket graham cracker crust (I think Keebler's is a good one). 

04 January 2010