Tag Archives: custard

Pierre Hermé’s Traveling “Tango”

<img alt="Pierre Herme Pastry"/>

I thought I’d take a break from posting photos of our trip to Paris to give those who would rather look at food a break.  It’s only fair, I guess, after holding everyone captive with my vacation photos. But I will warn you this is still connected to Paris in a six degrees of separation sort of way.  It’s about dessert, and it’s about French dessert in particular.  French pastry from the French “Picasso of Pastry,” Pierre Hermé.  I thought my sampling of beautiful pastry in Paris was lacking so ordered his book, Pastries  as soon as we arrived home.

Continue reading

Clafoutis Two Ways: Seckel Pears and Blueberries

Seckel Pear Clafouti

I’ve mentioned before that I have a minor problem with purchasing too much produce when I make my trips to the market. It’s not so much that my eyes are bigger than my stomach, but more a need to have endless possibilities to experiment with when I am ready to cook. This is completely ridiculous, of course. I haven’t had as much time to cook lately, so getting organized for the possibility has stuffed our fridge beyond its limits with bags of arugula and baby spinach left to rest on top of milk cartons, grapes and berries stuffed into the deli drawer, and the vegetable bin so full I can barely close it. Thankfully the long weekend has given me some time to use the ingredients and not a moment too soon because a few items went from being a salad contender to a shoe-in for something baked.

Such was the cute little bunch of seckel pears I couldn’t resist when I saw them at the market. The smallest variety of pear and the only developed in the U.S., they’re very sweet. Like all pears, they’re best picked when mature, but left to ripen off the tree to prevent graininess. Although I enjoy the mild flavor of most pears, I enjoy them while still firm and the seckels I purchased, having sat for days in a plastic bag were well past that point.

Because I usually end up eating pears raw, I haven’t made that many dishes with pears that involve cooking. Something quick and easy was in order, so a clafoutis seemed to be the best choice. Traditionally a French dessert made with cherries, clafoutis is made with a batter somewhat like that of pancake, but with more egg. The consistency of the cooked custard is not unlike that of crepes, or a German pancake and quite good.

Take a look around your kitchen for fruit that has seen better days and experiment a bit to end up with something just as nice on the breakfast table as for dessert.

Continue reading

Pomegranate Vanilla Pot-de-Creme

Arils from 5 pomegranates
I can't resist pomegranates.  Although I've never owned a tree, I can remember knowing where at least one was growing when I was young — no matter where I lived — and kept an eye on it to see if it mattered to whomever owned it.  If the fruit was left on the ground after it fell, then that meant I was free to pick one from the tree and dig in, no matter how long it took — even if I had to climb over a fence.

The only places I see pomegranate trees now are around older homes, or on the perimeter of lots where homes have been removed to create something new, like a strip mall.  And since fence climbing doesn't exactly mix with middle age, I've succumbed to purchasing pomegranates when I see them at the market these days.  Pushing a shopping cart can be brutal during the rush hour, but I rarely wake up sore the next morning.

I do understand that the semi arid and temperate climate of San Diego makes it a perfect place to grow them however, and that they adapt well to containers, so I just may be in the market for my very own tree.

Why all this talk of memories and pomegranates?  POM, the nation's largest producer of the antioxidant rich pomegranate, is having a contest, so I thought I'd do some thinking about how I might use the fruit in something other than a salad.  I settled on two homey desserts — one for my husband and one for myself.  He loves creme brulee, and I enjoy baked fruit crisps, so that's what I created:  "Vanilla Pomegranate Pot-de-Creme" and "Apple Pomegranate Pistachio Crisp."

And yes, they taste great together if you want lots and lots of pomegranate!  IMG_7331

Continue reading

Basque Apple Custard Tart

Img_3405I have a cookbook that was given to me last year on my birthday that I haven’t really gotten into until recently.  I’m not sure why, because the recipes all look delicious if you enjoy Spanish cuisine.  Perhaps I went to it when I was searching for new tapas to make for a get together.  I suppose I rarely looked past the tapas section — Chapter One.  Now, how sad is that?  But now that I’ve had more time to look through the book, I’ve tagged quite a few delectable main dishes to enjoy in the future.  And this past weekend, I had the opportunity to decide whether I’d make the “Basque Apple Custard Tart” or the “Exremadura-Style Cheese Tart.”

Since it was recently my birthday, I had hoped to have the opportunity to make myself a cheesecake like my mother always did, and since we’d invited ourselves to a friend’s house for dinner, I decided I could get my cheesecake cravings satisfied, and treat my friends to the calories all at the same time.  Smart thinking, yes?

The “Cheese Tart” seemed perfect until I got online and searched for the Torta de La Serena or Torta del Casar cheese in my area.  I did find one, yes ONE cheese shop called Venissimo that stocked both cheeses, but none was available.  I’m sure it’s because many cheeses are only available at certain times in the year, and I’m not familiar with when.  Just for fun, and since the opportunity presented itself, I sent an email to the kind folks at Venissimo not expecting a response any time soon — at least that day.  Well, was I surprised when not minutes later, my email in-box chimed and I’d received a response — texted from a Blackberry no less!  Now, that’s what I call service!  Unfortunately, I now have to wait for them to contact me about when either of the cheeses arrives.   I now have something to look forward to and thanks to Venissimo, I will hopefully be able to sample the cheese tart when the product arrives.

In the meantime, I decided to settle for “Basque Apple Custard Tart”  on the very hottest day we’ve had in the five years we’ve lived in this house.  I was so miserable, that we turned on the AC as soon as the oven cooled down and we’d left for the dinner party with tart in tow, anticipating a very cool house upon our return.  It’s been on since then and I cringe to know what the electricity bill will be.

This “Tarta Vasca de Manzana de Baserri Maitea” or “Baserri Maitea’s Basque Apple Custard Tart” is from Penelope Casas’ La Cocina de Mama. If you enjoy tapas, you may be familiar with another of her cookbooks, Tapas.

The recipe calls for a 9″ tart pan, but I couldn’t resist breaking out my thin rectangular pan.  I rarely use it as I have too many people to serve.  Since I was committed to using it this time, I decided people would just have to eat smaller pieces.  Surprisingly, it fed six quite well.

Continue reading