Flaky crust, rich pastry cream and glazed strawberries - they all come together in this elegant dessert. This dessert does require some prep but I think that makes it perfect for any special occasion, as each step can be completed a day in advance then assembled just before serving!
Classic Strawberry Tart
For the pate brisee (crust):
2 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tb sugar
18 Tb cold unsalted butter, but into tablespoons
1) Whisk together dry ingredients. Add your butter and use your hands to break up the cold butter. I love make pie crust by hand - you get to control the texture. Continue to break up the butter and mix into the flour until mixture is 'sandy' and the butter resembles small pebbles.
2) Add cold water a couple tablespoons at a time, while working the dough by hand. It will slowly come together into a ball - be sure not to add too much water, you don't want sticky dough.
3) Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
4) Once chilled, remove one half from plastic wrap and roll out on a lightly floured surface. Line a tart pan (with a removable bottom) or 10-12" springform pan with dough, and approx. 1/2" up the sides. Cover with parchment paper, then pie weights or dry beans and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until edges begin to brown and dough is cooked in the middle. After 20 minutes, I carefully removed my paper and beans and baked the crust another 10 minutes to make sure it baked completely.
5) Let cool in pan 5-10 minutes, then carefully remove crust and finish cooling on a wire rack.
6) Use the other half to make another crust. Because you will want to eat this again. Soon.
Making the pastry cream:
1 1/2 cups milk
5 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tb corn starch
1 Tb vanilla extra, or 1 vanilla bean
1 Tb butter
1) Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat - do not let it boil! If you are using a vanilla bean: make a slice down the bean and scrap out seeds. Add seeds and bean to simmer with the milk. After a few minutes, you may notice the milk starts to look shimmery- that's a good sign. Heat for about 5 minutes.
2) While milk is heating, beat your eggs and sugar on medium-high speed until they are thick, pale yellow in color and when you lift your mixer 'ribbons' form on the surface. This will take a little while. Reduce speed to low, and add the cornstarch and salt.
3) With mixer still on low speed, slowly drizzle in 1/2 of the hot milk. Take it slow and steady - you are cooking the eggs with the hot milk. If you pour to fast and stir too slow, the eggs will curdle. Slow and steady wins the race and makes for a smoother cream!
4) Remove vanilla bean from remaining milk - pour egg mixture into the milk and whisk like crazy! Keep it creamy! Continue whisking - over medium heat - until cream has thickened. It may start to bubble, this is ok; just keep stirring and don't let it completely boil. You will notice the color start to change as it thickens, this is ok too. Once it is thick like pudding remove from heat and add butter and vanilla extract (if using extract).
5) Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool slightly before putting in fridge. The pastry cream needs to cool completely before using in the tart.
Amount of strawberries depends on design, I used a full pint
3-4 Tb apricot preserves or jelly
3-4 Tb water
1) This apricot with water, until it is a syrup consistency - set aside.
2) Clean and dry strawberries. You may place them whole, or slice to create a design like mine.
1) Spread cooled pastry cream evenly in crust.
2) Place fruit in desired pattern.
3) Using a pastry brush, carefully brush fruit with apricot glaze. Use just enough glaze to make the tart shiny.
4) Keep in fridge till ready to serve. Can be assembled 1-2 hours in advance, at most! Serve cold.
Crust - make 1-2 days in advance. Once completely cooled, keep securely wrapped in plastic wrap to keep dry, fresh and crisp.
Pastry Cream - make 1-2 days in advance. Keep in sealed container in fridge.
Fruit - use your favorite fruit! Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, mandarin orange slices, kiwi, peaches, bananas -- all wonderful!
Preserves - I had mixed reviews for using the apricot preserves (which is the traditional glaze choice.) Next time, I may try lemon preserves with strawberries & blueberries. Or strawberry on strawberry.... Or blackberry jam on all berries.... Or thinned honey on peach slices.... So many possibilities!
The Fancy Nancy book series are some of my daughter's favorite books. And if I'm being honest, they are some of my favorite books to read to her! They are bright, fun and adorable! So for French month, I thought it would be fun to have a "Fancy" tea party with my daughter!
I made French Sable cookies, we drank milk and I read her a Fancy Nancy book. We both had a great time and it was a wonderful rainy day activity. Enjoy! -Rachel
Pouring milk for our tea party...
Recipe for French Sable cookies (recipe from Food Network)
1/2 cup salted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for rolling the dough in
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed. Mix in egg yolk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Pour flour mixture into butter mixture and mix together on low speed. The dough will be a little crumbly. Shape the dough into a log (you may need to flour the surface just a little). Wrap the dough in waxed paper. Place in refrigerator for at least an hour (side note: don't accidentally put your dough in the freezer unless you want to wait a while for it to be soft enough to cut up).
Once your dough has chilled, turn on your oven to 350 degrees and beat the whole egg. Brush the dough with the beaten egg. Then roll it in the extra granulated sugar (I brushed it with the beaten egg and rolled it in the sugar on the waxed paper that I rolled it up in when I chilled it). Slice the dough into cookies about 1/3 - 1/2 inch thick. Put the cookie slices on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until they begin to brown around the edges.
This recipe made about 2 dozen cookies.
Ahh the souffle. A seemingly intimidating dish of whipped eggs reaching perfect baked heights or falling into a dense fail. I always think of this scene from my favorite movie, Sabrina....
My results? Well there was rise, but not enough -- the flavor though was wonderful! It is not a difficult dish to make, just requires preparation and patience. Don't be afraid of the souffle! I am excited to try new flavors and especially practice a chocolate souffle!
3 Tb butter
3 Tb flour
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp salt
pinch cayenne and nutmeg
4 egg yolks
5 egg whites
1 cup cheese (Gruyere, Parmesan or Swiss)
Extra butter and 1 Tb cheese for dish
You need to have all ingredients and dishes prepped and ready. Separate your eggs, pour your milk, grate your cheese - get your mise en place! (a French phrase for 'putting everything in it's place!) You will need a small saucepan, wooden spoon or whisk and a mixer. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Prepare your dish: Get a piece of aluminum foil long enough to wrap around your souffle dish. I recommend folding the foil in half to make a sturdier 'wall.' Wrap around your dish and secure seams with paperclips. Brush bottom, sides of dish, and the inside of the foil walls with melted butter. Sprinkle bottom of dish with 1 Tb shredded cheese. Place on a cooking sheet (for easier transition in and out of oven) and set aside.
Next, you make a simple Bechamel - which starts with a roux (equal parts fat & flour.) In your small saucepan, melt 3 Tb butter on low heat. Once melted, whisk in flour - cook for a couple minutes, stirring often, to help 'cook out' the flour taste. Do not let it brown, or it will taste burnt. Slowly whisk in milk and seasonings. Continue to stir as the sauce thickens. Once it starts to coat the back of a spoon, remove from heat and place saucepan on a folded towel. Now, with all the vigor and elbow grease you have whisk in the 4 eggs yolks, one at a time. If you take it slow or let the egg sit for a moment it will start to curdle in the hot sauce. You want to whisk until velvety smooth. Set aside.
Mixer: Beat your egg whites and pinch of salt until whites are stiff - smooth in texture but stiff when tested. Very carefully fold in bechamel sauce - don't deflate your eggs! Then fold in 1 cup of cheese, reserving 1 Tb to sprinkle on top. Pour souffle batter into your prepared souffle dish, sprinkle with reserved cheese and carefully place in the oven. Immediately turn oven temp down to 375. Bake 25-30 minutes, till golden brown on top and a tester come out clean (go in on the side of your souffle rise, don't puncture the top or you risk deflation.) Remove aluminum foil and serve hot!
Just reading a Julia Child cookbook and watching my souffle rise.....
Here is my souffle - as I mentioned, it wasn't as high as I would have liked, but after reading some recipes by Ms. Child I'm certain I OVER beat my eggs. It was still pretty tasty. We ate it all immediately!
Use to large spoon to crack the surface and scoop out the souffle.
I have a lot of respect for Julia Child, she was ahead of her time, a true pioneer. I used her recipe for one of our main courses for our French Themed Progressive Dinner. I am sure she would have shook her head on how my chicken looked (it is the first time I have trussed a chicken) but, I think she would be okay with it's taste.
3 lb roasting chicken
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of pepper
2 Tblsp butter
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh tarragon or 1/2 tsp of dried tarragon
Season the cavity of the chicken with salt, pepper and 1 Tblsp butter. Place tarragon inside chicken. Truss the chicken, watch Ms Child's You Tube Video for this method. Dry the chicken and rub skin with remaining butter.
Use a heavy casserole, large enough to hold your chicken, set on moderately high heat and add:
2 Tblsp butter
1 Tblsp oil
When hot, place chicken, breast side down and brown for 2-3 minutes. Turn carefully using wooden spoons, be careful not to break the skin (As you can tell I had problems with this). Brown on all sides. Remove chicken. If your butter has burned, pour out and add 3 tblsp butter. Melt butter and Add:
1/2 cup sliced onions
1/4 cup sliced carrots
1/4 tsp salt
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh tarragon or 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
Cook for 5 minutes without browning, add salt and tarragon.
Sprinkle 1/4 tsp salt over chicken. Place breast side up over the vegetables and baste with the butter. Lay aluminum foil over the chicken, cover the casserole and reheat on top of stove, when you hear it sizzling. Place casserole on middle rack of oven at 325 degrees.
Roast for 1 hour and 10-20 minutes. Baste once or twice with butter from the casserole. The chicken is done with the drumsticks move in their sockets, and when juices run clear.
Place on platter and use carrots, onions and butter to cover up any mistakes, it worked for me.
Enjoy, Casserole Gal Rhonda
Blog Parties: Foodie Friday and Everything Else, Meet Up Monday,
Full Plate Thursday, Made by You Monday,
Welcome Home Wednesday
I have had a couple of fails/learning experiences this month while learning to cook new recipes for French month. Some things were my fault and some were just not liking the recipe. I have enjoyed making and trying some new recipes this month, but I'm glad they weren't all fails and this one was definitely a good one! These Croque Monsieur Sandwiches are cheesy, rich and melty. Once everything is prepped and the sauce is made, the actual sandwiches come together quickly using a metal casserole dish in the oven. Enjoy! -Rachel
Recipe (adapted from Bon Appetit)
Makes about 6 sandwiches
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
Salt to taste
12 slices of French bread, sliced to your desired thickness
8 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced thin
6 slices of ham
Garlic powder to taste
Place metal casserole dish or cake pan in oven. Turn oven on to 425 degrees.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for about 3 minutes, whisking constantly. Slowly pour in the milk, and whisk constantly until sauce is thick. Whisk in the nutmeg and then season with salt to taste. Remove skillet from heat.
Spread sauce on one side of each piece of bread. Carefully remove casserole pan from oven. Place 6 slices of bread, sauce side up, in pan. Carefully layer mozzarella cheese and ham on each piece of bread. Put the other 6 slices of bread, sauce side up, on each sandwich. Sprinkle with garlic powder to taste.
Bake for 10-11 minutes.
My recipe today comes from Around My French Table, it is a side dish for our French Themed Progressive Dinner. The tomatoes were a little tart but, I will try the recipe again this summer, using my ripe home-grown tomatoes.
Slow Roasted Tomatoes
8 oz cherry or grape tomatoes
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 Tblsp olive oil
1-2 sprigs thyme
1-2 garlic cloves peeled and fourth long way
Cut tomatoes in half and place on cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper. Drizzle olive oil over tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place thyme and garlic cloves with tomatoes.
Use immediately or pack them in a jar with the oil, thyme and cloves.
Bake for 3 hours at 225 degrees
Enjoy Casserole Gal Rhonda
I started reading My Life in France after we had decided to do a month of French themed cooking. This book is written by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme. I don't know a lot about Julia Child, just bits and pieces I have picked up here and there. I was very excited to learn more about her from this book.
My Life in France is mostly about the time she and her husband spent living in Paris, France. There was information included in the book about their families and backgrounds. When talking about France, most of the focus was on food, her journey to become a chef, and writing her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. In this book, Julia also writes about the time her and her husband spent in other countries, although French cooking continued as a major theme throughout the book.
I really enjoyed this book. The style of the book is very conversational and enjoyable to read. My only criticism of the book is that several times, words are written in French without then being translated. I would recommend this book though. -Rachel
"One of the secrets, and pleasures, of cooking is to learn to correct something if it goes awry; and one of the lessons is to grin and bear it if it cannot be fixed." -Julia Child, My Life in France
This is the perfect French comfort food - in my humble opinion. It is very easy to make yet has a truly decadent quality that makes it a great dish for company. Serve with a roasted chicken and simple tossed salad or roasted vegetables and it completes the perfect meal.
Soubise (soo-BEEZ) is an onion and rice casserole reminiscent of a risotto in texture. Now, you may have heard of Soubise Sauce - which is pureed cooked onions blended into a bechamel sauce -- but today I am sharing a casserole!
1/2 cup rice
4 Tb unsalted butter
2 lbs yellow onion
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
Preheat oven to 300F.
In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups water and 1 tsp salt to boil - pour in rice. (See Notes) Boil for 5 minutes - immediately remove from heat and drain off excess liquid. Set aside.
While your rice is boiling - slice onions. You can see my mandolin in the picture above which is helpful in achieving very thin slices. If you don't own a mandolin, cut the onion(s) in half and slice as thinly as possible (safely!).
Melt butter in medium-large skillet. Add onions and stir to coat with butter. Saute onions just till they start to turn translucent. Add the 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste. Stir in rice.
Pour into small casserole dish - bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and stir in cream and cheese (See Notes). Taste test your rice, then bake 20-30 minutes more. Serve hot.
You can make this in advance and reheat just till hot through before serving.
Rice -- Arborio rice is great for this recipe. However, I used a medium grain rice, because honestly it was 1/3 the price of arborio. A medium grain is important in achieving the proper texture. A long grain, thin white rice will not cook and bake to a creamy consistency, but will be dry. I found my bag of medium grain rice at Wal-Mart for less than $2.00
Cheese - Gruyere is a type of Swiss cheese - I found the cheese shown above in the deli section of Wal-Mart. It is large enough to use in several recipes. (Cheese Souffle perhaps??)
Happy National Pi Day! Our second pie today is pudding with brownie pieces, topped with homemade whipped cream and more brownie pieces.
My daughter helped me make this pie one afternoon. She got to mix up the pudding, help mix up the brownies, pour the pudding into the pie shell, and of course, lick the spoons! We had a lot of fun making this simple pie together.
Frozen pie crust, baked according to directions on the package and cooled
5 oz box of chocolate pudding mix
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoons maple syrup (more or less to taste, you can also use powdered sugar if you don't care for maple syrup)
Your favorite brownie recipe (I used this recipe here), baked in an 8x8 or 9x9 pan and cooled
Place bowl of stand mixer in refrigerator. In a large bowl, whisk together chocolate pudding mix and milk. Put in refrigerator to set up.
Cut brownies into 1 inch cubes, set aside 5-8 brownie cubes for the top of the pie.
Using cooled bowl, whip heavy whipping cream on medium high speed with stand mixer. Whip until stiff peaks form. Fold in maple syrup (or desired sweetener).
Stir brownie cubes into set up pudding. Pour into prepared pie shell. Top with whipped cream and reserved brownie pieces. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
It is just my husband and I and we often want something sweet but a whole cake or pie would be too much. I came up with this simple recipe that uses agave sweetener, fresh fruit and an oatmeal topping.
2 cups fresh or frozen berries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries
5 Tbsp Agave sweetener
1/2 stick butter, softener
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup uncooked oatmeal
Place 1 cup of berries in each lightly greased dish, mine are 5 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches deep. Pour 1 Tbsp sweetener over berries in each dish.
In a small bowl mix butter, cinnamon, oatmeal and 3 Tbsp sweetener. Divide mixture over berries, place dishes on baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.
Blog Parties: Foodie Friday and Everything Else, Meet Up ;Monday,
Full Plate Thursday, Made by You Monday,
Welcome Home Wednesday
Cooking everything in casserole dishes!
With busy lives & sometimes quick meals, we mom & daughters team are always looking for healthy, tasty & convenient dishes to serve our family. So, please join us as we share everything from appetizers to main dishes & desserts!