Greetings from Paris! For any of our new readers, and those who may not have checked in with us over the past week; we’re posting from Paris, France. Scott and I have a 40th anniversary this year and we couldn’t think of a better place to celebrate it than in the City of Light. Did you know it’s also known as the city of love?
We’ve rented a little flat in the heart of the Latin District (We shared a pictorial tour of it yesterday – Part 1). We’ll continue with Our Little (very little) Paris Apartment – Part 2 soon, but thought we’d take a little veer today to share a fabulous (French) recipe, a fun story and a delicious adventure.
I can hardly wait to tell you about this one…
A number of years ago I read about a really unusual, really easy and supposedly super delicious crust, perfect for pies and tarts of all kinds. My interest was piqued, but honestly, I was quite doubtful.
But, the person writing about it was David Lebovitz, and I have to say, he ranks as quite trustworthy in my book. So I gave it a try. The crust was tender and flaky with a fabulous brown butter flavor – definitely the easiest pie/tart crust I’d ever made. I loved that there was no rolling, no cutting butter into flour, no pre-baking the crust and no fancy equipment involved other than a glass bowl and a sturdy spoon. I’ve been making this crust ever since and the recipe is always requested when I serve it to guests.
There was something else I learned that day, as I read David’s article. Or I should say someone else. It was Paule Caillat, a French cooking school instructor who runs a culinary school in Paris called Promenades Gourmandes. I read about her fabulous market classes where she takes small groups of students to her favorite gourmet markets and introduces them to the Parisian culinary world. After shopping for the ingredients, the class then proceeds to Paula’s Paris apartment, where they cook lunch in her beautiful Paris kitchen.
Ever since, a class at Promenades Gourmandes has been on my culinary bucket list. Earlier this year, when Scott and I were planning our trip to Paris, I emailed Paule, but figured we were probably too late to attend one of her very popular classes. To say I was excited, when she responded that there was an opening would be an understatement. Scott and I have been anticipating it ever since.
Bright and early this past Wednesday morning we left our Little (very little) Paris Apartment to navigate our way to the Rue Montorgueil, the rendezvous point Paule had specified, in front of the famous Pâtisserie Stroher (the oldest pastry shop in Paris!). As we walked to the Metro (the Paris underground transportation system) that morning, the thought ran through my head that this day would might just be one I’d never forget (I was right).
We got to the Rue Montorgueil a bit early and sat sipping cappuccinos while we waited. Bolangeries (bakeries), pâtisseries (pastry shops), boucheries (butcher shops), poissonneries (fish shops), cours des halles (produce shops), fromageries (cheese shops) and chocolaterie (you can guess what these are) lined the bustling street.
I recognized immediately Paule from pictures I’d seen online; a diminutive woman with a warm, friendly smile. She introduced herself along with a darling young couple who would be attending the class with us, Safi and Lucia, also from the United States. Her perfect English paired with a charming French accent made us all feel quite welcome and comfortable. We bonded quickly and, after Paule oriented us to the day, we were off on our culinary adventure.
Since Scott took lots of pictures so I’ll let some of them give you a peek into our day:
It was an awesome day, so awesome that no one wanted to leave. We sat around the table till almost 4 o’clock that afternoon enjoying the food and each other’s company. It’s was truly a dream come true for this little cooking fanatic!
Oh, and the Goat Cheese and Tomato Soufflé Tarts? Paule’s crust pairs perfectly with the light, fresh thyme scented filling. I made them several times recently. Once was for a best friend’s birthday lunch.
All of the guest loved them and the recipe was requested by many.
The tarts can be made in advance and warmed up just before serving. They’d be perfect for a Mother’s day or spring brunch. We’ve enjoyed them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
If you ever get a chance to visit Paris, be sure to check out Promenades Gourmandes. You won’t be disappointed. And if you want a little taste of Paris without even leaving your home whip up Paule’s wonderful crust for these Goat Cheese and Tomato Tarts or another favorite pie, tart or quiche recipe. Bon Appetit!
P.S. We’ll be back with Our Little (very little) Paris Apartment, part 2 so stay tuned!
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Goat Cheese and Tomato Soufflé Tarts
Goat Cheese and Tomato Souffle Tarts – Delicious and make ahead, perfect for special celebrations. Everyone seems to love them!
- Yield: 6 servings
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced about 1/3-inch thick and placed on several thickness of paper towels to drain excess liquid
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 4 3-4 inch sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 medium bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2-3 ounces soft mild goat cheese, crumbled
- ¼-½ teaspoons salt
- prepared tart shells, see recipe below
- fresh thyme sprigs for garnish, if desired
- Heat milk, thyme, shallot and bay leaf till it bubbles and simmers, then remove from heat and allow to steep for one hour. Strain milk through a fine strainer and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Melt butter in a heavy bottom sauce pan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to combine. Reduce heat to low and cook for 3 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the steeped milk all at once. Stir continuously till mixture is bubbly and thickened.
- Remove from heat and add egg yolks, stir well till completely incorporated. Add Parmesan and goat cheese and stir to combine. It’s okay if some small pockets of goat cheese remain.
- Place egg whites in a clean, medium size bowl and beat with an electric mixer till stiff peaks form. Add 1/4 of the egg whites to the cheese mixture and fold gently from the bottom up. Add half of the remaining egg whites and fold until combined. Repeat with remaining whites. Mix gently till combined.
- Scoop batter into prepared, pre-baked shells. Top with sliced tomatoes. Brush surfaces of tomatoes gently with olive oil. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.
- Place sheet pan in oven and bake until soufflés are puffed and light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately or keep at room temperature for 3-4 hours. Reheat for 8-10 minutes at 375˚F before serving.
- Garnish with fresh thyme leaves, if desired
French Tart Crust Recipe
Buttery, crisp and super delicious. Oh and it’s easy with no rolling, cutting butter into flour or pre-baking and it can be made in advance. Could you ask for more?
- 6 ounces (180g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used canola)
- 6 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 slightly-rounded cups (300g or 10 ounces) flour
- Preheat the oven to 410º F (210º C).
- In a medium-sized Pyrex bowl, combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt.
- Place bowl in the preheated oven for 15 minutes,until the butter is bubbling and brown around the edges.
- Carefully remove the bowl from oven. Using an oven mit to hold the bowl, pour the flour into the butter mixture and stir until the dough comes together and forms a ball. d
- Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and transfer them to 6 5-inch tart pans (with removable bottoms)
- When the dough is cool enough to handle, pat it into the pans and use your fingers to press it up the sides of the tart molds.
- Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork then place the tart pans on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.