Picnic in the train...

By Mélanie, on Thursday, April 30, 2009

leek tart

Revelation : this blog is not only about baking, but also about cooking. If you look at my recipe list, you couldn't guess, right? ;-)
Well, here's the thing : I've got this stupid fear of disappointing you with a savoury recipe. I don't do anything very elaborate, so why would you care? And let's be honest : I find it much more difficult to make a salad look appetizing than some, hum, let's say, raspberry pie... I'm sure you agree, non?


So actually, I had planned to share my first cupcakes today. But then, I did the frosting in the morning, before leaving for work, and did not note the quantities. I need to check that before telling something awfully wrong...
What a better opportunity to finally open my savoury folder, just waiting to be shared?

This leek tart is quite rustic. Simple to make and comforting. Served warm with some salad, it's a delicious dinner. But because of the cream cheese in the custard, it holds together very well, which makes it perfect for transportation. You'll enjoy it cold, for lunch, or with your friends in the train on a week-end trip. Isn't it picnic time soon??

The recipe is very straightforward : start with a simple pie dough. Cut, clean and blanch the leeks. For the custard, take the best of a quiche and of a cheesecake, beating the eggs with a little cream cheese. Don't forget to add the deep flavour of grated nutmeg. Put in your oven, it's gonna be ready soon.


Pie dough
2/3 cup butter
3 Tbsp cold water
1 egg yolk
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp salt

Stir together the flour and salt with a fork to blend. Make a well in the centre, and add the fat and the yolk. Blend into the flour using your fingers.
Drizzle a few tablespoons of the ice water over the surface of the flour mixture and quickly rub the water into the flour. Continue to add the water, a tablespoon or so at a time, just until it holds together.
Gather and press the dough into a ball, wrap well, and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Unwrap the dough, place it on a floured work surface, and scatter a little flour over the top. Roll out the dough into an even round about 1/8 inch thick.
Fold the dough in half or roll it loosely around the rolling pin, and gently lift and position it over the pan. Unfold or unroll and ease the dough into the pan without stretching, making sure that the pan sides and the rim are evenly covered. Press the dough gently against the sides and bottom. Trim the overhang to 1 inch. Tuck the dough overhang under itself and flute the edges.
Prick the pastry all over with the tines of a fork. Bake it 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve.

Rustic leeks tart
1 pie dough, pre-baked
3 medium leeks
3 eggs
4 oz. cream cheese
7 Tbsp half and half (or 4 Tbsp cream and 3 Tbsp milk)
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 tsp salt
(1/4 tsp pepper)

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Prepare the leeks : Keep only the white and pale green parts and slice. Place the leek slices into a bowl filled with cold water. Swish the pieces of leek around in the bowl of water with your hands. Rub the leek pieces to remove any sand and dirt that may be on the slices, and strain.
Blanch in boiling water during 2 minutes, then strain and dry the slices on paper towels.

In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the eggs and the cream cheese until they are broken up, then whisk in the milk and the cream. Season with salt, nutmeg and pepper.

Arrange the leeks evenly over the pastry. Pour the custard mixture over it. Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake it in the middle of the oven until the top is golden and puffed and the custard is cooked through, about 40 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes before serving. You can also eat it at room temperature.

Pâte brisée
250g de farine
5g de sel
125g de beurre ramolli
1 jaune d'oeuf
5cl d'eau froide

Versez la farine et le sel dans un bol. Faites un puit au milieu duquel vous mettrez le beurre et le jaune d'oeuf. Incorporez tous les éléments du bout des doigts. Ajoutez l'eau au fur et à mesure jusqu'à obtenir une pâte homogène.
Formez une boule avec la pâte, aplatissez-la et enveloppez-la dans un film plastique pour reposer au frais pendant au moins 1 heure.

Après le temps de repos, préchauffez le four à 180°. Beurrez et farinez le moule à tarte.
Farinez abondamment le plan de travail ainsi que le rouleau à pâtisserie, puis étalez la pâte sur 2 à 3 mm d'épaisseur.
Foncez le moule avec ce disque, piquez le fond avec une fourchette. Faites cuire 15 minutes. Sortez du four et réservez pour la tarte.

Tarte rustique aux poireaux
1 fond de pâte brisée pré-cuit
3 poireaux de taille moyenne
3 oeufs
100g de fromage à tartiner (type St Moret)
10cl de crème liquide legère
10cl de lait (ecrémé ou demi-ecrémé)
1 demi cuillère à café de noix muscade moulue
1 cuillère à café de sel

Préchauffez le four à 180°.

Préparez les poireaux : enlevez les racines et les feuilles, ne gardant que 5cm de la partie verte.
Découpez les tiges en rondelles, et nettoyez les dans un grand bol d'eau froide. Laissez les tremper un moment pour que les impuretés tombent au fond, et égouttez les. Faites les blanchir (cuire 2 minutes dans une casserole d'eau bouillante).

Pendant ce temps, dans un bol, mélangez au fouet les 3 oeufs et le fromage à tartiner. Une fois que la préparation est homogène, incorporez la crème, le lait, la muscade et le sel.
Disposez les poireaux sur le fond de tarte pre-cuit, et versez l'appareil dessus. Faites cuire 40 minutes, jusqu'à ce que la tarte ait une jolie couleur dorée et soit légèrement gonflée.
Laissez refroidir 10 minutes avant de déguster.
La suite, please

Another spin on rhubarb and strawberries

By Mélanie, on Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Do you remember the roasted rhubarb from Monday? All the combinations imaginable with strawberries? Wanna play some more?


If the last post didn't convince you, I hope these pictures will have you running to your grocery store!

This time, we're making verrines (which is the french for "little glass"). They are veeery creamy. It's like eating a yogurt cloud, minus the acidity. Not the small and pale clouds in a warm day, which would leave you nothing but air in the mouth (not that this isn't good sometimes). No, the big and fluffy ones, the glossy white ones in the blue sky. A delicious cloud, filled with fruits... You know what? It could totally be the care bears' favourite food! (ok, I realize I watched way too much TV as a kid!!)

Now, they may seem complicated, because of the 3 different layers. But they're all based on the same thing, so all you have to do is whip some cream, puree some strawberries, get some more roasted rhubarb (because you've already eaten the previous batch, right?), and you've already done almost all the work!


Note : You won't need all the rhubarb for the dessert, it's the same recipe than in the previous post.
Roasted Rhubarb

1 pound rhubarb
1/4 cup sugar

Cut the rhubarb into 2 inch strips.
Toss the rhubarb with the sugar in a baking pan. Bake at 375F for 15 to 20 minutes (until it is soft).

Little Strawberry and Rhubarb verrines
For 4-5 people

1/2 cup + 1/8 cup heavy cream
8 oz. strawberries
8 oz. "fromage blanc" (you probably could use some cottage cheese or mascarpone cheese instead)
2 Tbsp sugar
5 oz. roasted rhubarb
2.5 tsp powdered gelatin

Whip the heavy cream to soft peaks with one teaspoon sugar.
Puree 7 oz. strawberries and cut the rest into small dices.

In a small bowl, sprinkle 2 tsp gelatin over 2 tablespoons of water, and let it sit while you make the rest of the mousse.
Combine the remaining sugar, the fromage blanc and half of the strawberry puree. Melt the gelatin in the microwave for 20 seconds and add it to the mousse. Fold in 3.5 oz. whipped cream, then the strawberry dices. Pour the mousse in little glasses or jars and let sit 30 minutes in the fridge.

In a small bowl, sprinkle 1/2 tsp gelatin over 1 tsp of water. Melt the gelatin in the microwave and add it the to remaining strawberry puree. Pour a layer over the first mousse in each glass and refrigerate.

Combine roasted rhubarb with remaining whipped cream, and divide between glasses. Decorate with strawberries or macarons...

Rappel : j'avais fait la rhubarbe rôtie précédemment, tout n'est pas nécessaire pour les verrines.

Rhubarbe rôtie

500g de rhubarbe
50g de sucre

Préchauffez le four à 180°.
Nettoyez la rhubarbe sous l'eau, et coupez-là en tronçons de 4 cm. Disposez-là dans un plat et saupoudrez de sucre. Enfournez pour 15 à 20 minutes, jusqu'à ce qu'elle soit tendre.

Verrine au fromage blanc, fraise et rhubarbe
Pour 4-5 verrines

15 cl de crème entière liquide
250g de fraises
250g de fromage blanc
25g de sucre
125g de rhubarbe rôtie
2,5 feuilles de gélatine

Battre la crème en chantilly avec 5g de sucre (une cuillère à café).
Réduisez 200g de fraises en purée et découpez en morceaux les fraises restantes.

Faites tremper 2 feuilles de gélatine dans un bol d'eau froide pendant que vous préparez le reste de la mousse.
Mélangez le fromage blanc, 100g de purée de fraise et 20g de sucre.
Egouttez la gélatine et faites la dissoudre au micro-onde pendant 20 secondes avant de l'ajouter au mélange. Incorporez ensuite 110g de chantilly puis les cubes de fraises, et versez dans vos verrines.
Laissez prendre au frigo pendant 30 minutes.

Faites tremper la demi feuille de gélatine dans un bol d'eau froide. Egouttez-la et faites la dissoudre au micro-onde pendant 10 secondes avant de l'incorporer à la purée de fraise restante. Versez la dans les verrines au dessus de la mousse de fromage blanc. Laissez prendre cette gelée au réfrigérateur pendant 15 minutes.

Mélangez la rhubarbe avec les 50g de chantilly restante, et repartissez la dans les verrines. Décorez de fraises ou d'un macaron.
A conserver au frigo jusqu'à la dégustation...
La suite, please

The truth is

By Mélanie, on Sunday, April 19, 2009

1- My file "To post" is about to make my computer explode. Et non, I did not forget you. I keep thinking about the blog, taking lots of pictures, plating things that would normally go directly inside a tupperware, buying extra cute dishes for photography...


2- Unfortunately, I take time to cook, to take pictures, even to write down the ingredients (big improvement already!!!), but not to write the entire recipe to give it to you. Confession : I always plan more things than I have time to do, and because the recipe writing isn't on top, it always get squeezed. And that I need to change, my friends!

3- My "To post" file isn't helping : the longer a recipe stays in, the less likely it will eventually come out of it. No matter how enthusiastic I was about it. Even if I only did it for you. Maybe it works like in The Neverending Story. Maybe we should blame the Nothing, and my lack of confidence in this.

So, let's break the spell and start with some very seasonal produces.


Don't you love going to the farmers market and seeing everywhere little proofs of spring? The vibrant colours of fresh radishes, the small and tender carrots with their abundant green top. The wonderful smell of lilacs at the flower shop. And of course, the first sight of the rhubarb pinkish stalks. Even the grey sky did not stand a chance against those evidences!

Once home, after some small prep work, it's time to decide how to manage all these...


First, I roasted the rhubarb. You won't need everything for the little cakes, but I'm sure you'll be just like me, and you will find plenty of uses for it.
For example, you could lightly toast a slice of brioche in your oven, and top it with some of the rhubarb and fresh slices of strawberries. Mmm, the buttery taste of the brioche against the delicate acidity and sweetness of the fruits? Please, try this, because it's just too delicious not to be experienced.


Or you could add it to your favourite yogurt (along with some strawberries dices!). I know this is what I'll have tomorrow for lunch, and I just can't wait!

So you see, this "accord "works so well that you can play it with any variation. I choose to directly mix the roasted rhubarb with some strawberry puree, to obtain a delicately sweet jelly as a base. To add some texture to it, a vanilla bean macaron seems a good idea, doesn't it?


Roasted Rhubarb
1 pound rhubarb
1/4 cup sugar

Cut the rhubarb into 2 inch strips.
Toss the rhubarb with the sugar in a baking pan. Bake at 375F for 15 to 20 minutes (until it is soft).

Vanilla bean macaron
Note : the recipe indicated 1 cup powdered sugar, but this was overly sweet. I would recommend only using 3/4 cup.

1/4 cup almond flour
1 cups powdered sugar
2 egg whites
1/8 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean

In a large bowl, sift together almond flour and confectioner sugar.
Beat whites in mixer at medium speed until they form soft peaks. Add regular sugar gradually, and continue beating at high speed just until whites are thickened and form stiff peaks.
Sprinkle dry ingredients and vanilla over whites and fold in with a rubber spatula gently but thoroughly.
Place the mass in a pastry bag and pipe 3.5 inch rounds on the sheetpan lined with parchment paper. Let them dry at room temperature for an hour.
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the macaron (20 minutes for a 3.5 inch macaron).

Rhubarb and strawberry little cakes
For 4

5 oz. strawberries + 6 reserved for decoration
4 oz. roasted rhubarb
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tsp. powdered gelatin, sprinkled over 2 Tbsp water
4 macarons (as above)

Puree the strawberries, the rhubarb and the sugar together.
Melt the gelatin in the microwave for 20 seconds and mix with 2 teaspoons fruit puree before adding everything.
Pour into four 3.5-inch rounds and let in the fridge for one hour.
Once the jelly is set, unmold, top with slices of the 6 strawberries and with the macarons.

Rhubarbe rôtie

500g de rhubarbe
50g de sucre

Préchauffez le four à 180°.
Nettoyez la rhubarbe sous l'eau, et coupez-là en tronçons de 4 cm. Disposez-là dans un plat et saupoudrez de sucre. Enfournez pour 15 à 20 minutes, jusqu'à ce qu'elle soit tendre.

Macaron vanille
Note : La recette indiquait 110g de sucre glace, mais j'ai trouvé le résultat beaucoup trop sucré. La prochaine fois, j'essaierai avec 75g.

60g de blancs d'oeufs (équivalent à 2 blancs)
25g de sucre en poudre
55g de poudre d'amande
110g de sucre glace
1/2 gousse de vanille

Dans un bol, mélangez la poudre d'amande et le sucre glace tamisé.
A l’aide d’un batteur électrique, fouettez les blancs pour les rendre mousseux. Incorporez alors le sucre en poudre au fur et à mesure, tout en continuant de battre, puis en augmentant la vitesse. Vous devez obtenir un mélange ferme et brillant.
Ajoutez alors la totalité du mélange d'amandes et les graines de vanille, et incorporez les doucement à l’aide d’une cuillère en bois ou d’une maryse.
Dressez à la poche à douille sur une plaque de papier sulfurisé et laissez sécher à température ambiante pendant 1 heure (on dit de laisser croûter).
Préchauffez le four à 150° et faites cuire 12 à 20 minutes selon la taille des macarons (20mn pour un macaron de 9 cm de diamètre).

Montage des gâteaux
Pour 4 desserts de 9 cm de diamètre

150g de fraises + 6 fraises tranchées pour la déco
100g de rhubarbe rôtie
1 cuillère à café de sucre
2 feuilles de gélatine
4 macarons (ci-dessus)

Mixez les fraises, la rhubarbe et le sucre dans un hachoir.
Faites ramollir les 2 feuilles de gélatine dans un bol d’eau froide. Egouttez-les, et faites-les chauffer (soit 20 secondes au micro-onde, soit dissoutes dans une cuillère à soupe d’eau bouillante). Mélangez avec 2 cuillères de purée de fruit, puis mélangez tout ensemble.
Coulez la préparation dans 4 cercles de 9 cm de diamètre, et faites prendre au réfrigérateur.
Une fois la gelée prise, démoulez, garnissez de tranches de fraises et surmontez le tout d'un macaron.
La suite, please