Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pear & Chèvre Tart

What better way to celebrate the height of summer than with a fall tart? After some deliberation, Dylan decided we should christen our new tart pans with a combination of honey, goat cheese, pears sauteed in butter and bourbon, on the most sublime crust ever. Off we went separately for the ingredients and met again in the kitchen, hungry and excited to concoct our own recipe together.

We tend to have a general idea of how to create a dish, relying heavily on memories of restaurant meals or old cookbooks, but I wanted to go to the source for the tart dough. I googled tart dough and the first several recipes listed the usual, Martha Stewart-ish sugar dough, which looks delicious but has about eight more steps than I care to deal with, especially the dreaded, chill for 6 hours to overnight. Really? I stared at the screen convinced instructions like this are how the French keep the rest of the world from bastardizing their cuisine by dent of our sheer laziness. Ha Ha! Zey zink you ef to cheel eet over ze nuit! Eediots. So, I kept searching, and voila! David Lebovitz blogged the end all, flakiest, tastiest, most incredible tart dough courtesy of Chef Paule Caillet. 20 minutes start to finish. No tendonitis from trying to combine cold butter and flour, no giving up and resorting to boxed puff pastry dough. This dough is truly sublime. I will use this recipe to make simple shortbread cookies, with fresh rosemary or maybe lavender sugar, or pistachios. Ooh, or making a tomato tart version, or peaches and marscarpone cheese...I love experimenting.

While I prepared the dough, Dylan sliced the pears (2 small Taylor Golds) and sauteed them in butter, brown sugar,  and a bit of bourbon until soft. I spread the warm dough into the buttered tart pan and baked it for about 10 minutes, just until it started to brown. When it cooled a bit, he spread honey goat cheese on the bottom, sprinkled some freshly chopped rosemary on top, drizzled local honey on that, and then layered the pears. Back into the oven until the crust browned and the pears caramelized a bit. The aroma! Oh my, the aroma alone was enough to wish we had made two tarts so I could eat the first instantly and take the pictures later.

The finished tart was worth the wait. The crust was flaky, buttery, with a satisfying amount of crumbly texture. The rich, savory, cheese paired nicely with the fruit and honey sweetness. This would make a great brunch dish. Who am I kidding? I could eat this tart morning, noon, and night. My only word of caution is to definitely make two. You'll be sad the next morning thinking it would have been fabulous for breakfast. Live and learn and make (several) tarts!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Summer in Progress

Where has the summer gone? It's gone into my watercolor journals, afternoon thunderstorms, visiting family and friends, hummingbird watching, photo shoots, and tons of drooly baby kisses.

I'm excited to share my husband's website,  dylanstruysphoto. He's been extra busy this summer on photo shoots. I have so much fun assisting him. Although, I tend to start snapping my own shots, of pretty little blog things, like lanterns and cups of coffee, so I do more running to catch up with him and the model than actual assisting, really. Holding the giant diffuser is the best part; it makes me feel like a kid with a kite. Congrats, Dylan, your portfolio is fantastic!

We definitely need a studio room in our next house. Having to clean up our art supplies and camera equipment after each use is a drag. No wonder my kids don't want to clean up their rooms; it isn't a mess, it's creativity in progress! I'll try to remember that the next time I step on a lego.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Pepper Place Market

Pepper Place Market is one of my summer pleasures. The bustle, the noise, the smiling crowds, and overflowing tables of produce delight me. We have a small market a couple of miles from my house, but it is in infancy stage, with more craft vendors than food vendors, so we take in the stalls in ten minutes, then make the forty minute drive into the city for Pepper Place. Here, we stroll, sip, taste, talk, tap toes to great music, and people watch for hours.

My husband appreciates the days he can snag some scapes, fiddleheads, and uncommon greens, and I especially love the presentation and styling the farmer's put into their displays. The combination of burlap with hand lettered chalk or slate boards is charming, freshly on trend, and as appealing visually as the produce is gastronomically. These people have passion for this dirty, sweaty, uncertain business of farming, and I admire their energy.

There is a vendor, the TartBandit, a pastry chef from Atlanta, who makes such beautiful, colorful, tasty looking macaroons, I am drawn to her table every Saturday, even though I don't like macaroons. I've yet to get a decent shot of Mary-Claire's offerings because of the crowds camped out in front of her booth. Ah, I have a mission and another excuse to make the drive! If you know anyone who is under the weather, contact TartBandit, and they will stealthily leave a box of pastries on the downtrodden's doorstep; random acts of pastry. Love. Love. Love.

Another fantastic vendor, and one that gives me hope for our future food consciousness, since the evil corporations misdeeds are being dragged out into the light, is Jones Valley Teaching Farm. Jones Valley is a non-profit farming cooperative to promote nutrition education and sustainable farming. Their yields are amazing, their community outreach, like food crates for seniors and hands on learning for youth are commendable, and the wild flower CSA is a great deal for people like me who like to treat themselves to fresh flowers on the table without breaking the bank. Small luxury investment, huge return on joy.

It is useless to force the rhythms of life. 
The art of living is about learning 
how to give time to 
each and every thing. 

 Carlo Petrini, founder of Slow Food