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Posts Tagged ‘Bastille Day’

As I lay under the covers this morning, trying to get one more short round of shut eye, Bastien marched into the bedroom, loudy trumpeting (yes, literally making the sound of a trumpet) a familiar tune. In my morning fog, eyes still heavy, mind still groggy, it took me a few seconds to recognize what song I was being serenaded by. Having given up on sleep when the trumpeting didn’t stop, my only choice was to play along. Name that tune! And as I opened my eyes, I realized that my own personal herald was tapping his toes to la Marseillaise, the French National Anthem. And in that brief moment between semi-consciousness and awakening, when images and reality go from cloudy to concrete in a nanosecond, I realized not what by why: today is la fête nationale en France. Bastille Day. Of course!

So in honor of my adopted country, where there is no longer a monarchy but where food is still king, I’m posting what else but a recipe.

Bonne fête et bon appétit!

Tarte aux fraises

I recently made this strawberry tart when our neighbors came for dinner. I’ve also made it with peaches and nectarines, and it could easily be paired with apricots, figs, raspberries or other fruits of the season. The recipe is inspired by one found in Food and Wine magazine.

Ingredients for the pastry:

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 -inch pieces

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons beaten egg

Ingredients for the filling:

2 large egg yolks

1 cup milk

3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Salt

2 tablespoons heavy cream

1-2 pints strawberries, hulled (leave them whole, halve them or cut them in thick slices)

Directions for the pastry:

In a food processor, combine the flour, butter, sugar and egg; pulse just until the dough begins to come together. Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a 6-inch disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry into a 12-inch round. Fit the dough without stretching it into a 9-by-3/4-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Trim the overhang to 3/4 inch; fold in the overhang and press it against the sides to reinforce them. Prick the bottom several times with a fork and refrigerate until firm.

Bake the shell for 25-30 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Let cool completely on a wire rack before filling.

Directions for the filling:

In a medium saucepan, combine the egg yolks with 3 tablespoons of the milk, the sugar, flour, vanilla and a pinch of salt; whisk until smooth. In a small saucepan, bring the remaining milk to a simmer.

Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture. Cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until the pastry cream boils and thickens like pudding, about 4 minutes. Strain the pastry cream through a fine sieve set over a bowl. Whisk in the heavy cream. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly on the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool slightly, then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours.

Vigorously beat the cold pastry cream until smooth and spread it evenly in the pastry shell. Arrange the strawberries in the tart, tips up, in tight concentric circles. Refrigerate for up to 4 hours. Unmold the tart and transfer it to a cake stand or platter before serving.

Note: The pastry and filling can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Wrap the pastry shell in foil and store at room temperature. Do not fill the shell, as it will get soggy if left longer than 4 hours. This tart is best eaten fresh!
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