Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Memories of Days Gone By

Right after Jeff and I got married, which was 15 years ago this month, we lived in England while I did my Master's degree. We did some traveling while we were there, including a few trips to France. As anyone who has been there can tell you, the fruit tarts are out of this world!

Excuse my drool, but yum!

Seriously, I have dreams about these tarts. Luscious fruit on a bed of slightly sweet vanilla cream and a crust that's so tender! Mmmmm...

Once when we were overseas, Jeff went to France and left me behind studying. (Unfair!) But, being the WBH (World's Best Husband) even way back then, he brought back a box with two beautiful little fruit tartlets in it. He went to take a shower and when he came back he found an empty box and a very grateful wife.

Unfortunately, both of the tartlets were not for me.

I believe that is as close as we have ever come to divorce.

You think I'm kidding.

I'm not.

What can I say? The French can make pastry like no one else!

Anyway, ever since then I have attempted to recreate The Fruit Tarts That Nearly Led to the End of My Marriage.

When the spring berries appear in the store, I start searching for the perfect recipe. There are thousands out there, and while many were good, none were quite right.

After 15 years, I'd pretty much resigned myself to another swing and a miss. Something that was good enough to make us say, "Almost..." and vow to go back to France again someday.

Paris, 2002. More research!

Then this year rolled around. I had no intentions of making a tart. Too much work! Too much time! But, a 4 lb. carton of strawberries and a 2 lb. carton of blueberries from Costco convinced me that I needed to do something with all that fruit.

Since I am short on time, I decided to forgo trolling the Internet and all of the big name chefs' cookbooks for recipes. I pulled Joy of Cooking off my shelf and looked for a fast, easy fruit tart.

Good, old Joy of Cooking. I've only had my copy for a couple years. Got it for Christmas one year and thought, "I don't really need another cookbook." Then I made a few things out of it and realized how very, very wrong I was! If you don't have this cookbook, get it. Now. Amazon is always open!

Now where was I...? Oh, yes. Short on time. So what's easy? Pat in the pan shortbread crust. Perfect. Nothing to roll out. I'll use that.

Vanilla pastry cream. Sure! Why not? It's about the 40th recipe for cream that I've tried, but it looked simple and fast to make. Though all three babies cried the entire three minutes I had to stir the filling. Of course.

A little tip to moisture proof the crust with an egg yolk glaze during baking and a couple tablespoons of melted jam before adding the cream, some gorgeous fruit on top and...


Or, at least close enough to perfection to BEGIN to redeem myself after that critical error I made 15 years ago. (Not that WBH would hold anything like that against me or bring it up annually, especially not for more than a decade. Unless, of course, it meant I'd make this tart more often.)

I'd post a picture, but I'm sure you've all seen an empty pie plate before.

1 comment:

Amy said...

Good for you, Christy! That's awesome:).

I personally love the Barefoot Contessa's berry tart recipes...she cooks in the French style most of the time. And I am a huge JOy of Cooking fan.

Andrew and I made brioche yesterday and today we piled it up with berries and sauce for a summer yummy. (Andrew ate bananas in his high chair while I did this...and made cute noises:).