French Fruit Tart — A Classic

French Fruit Tart — A ClassicCamp de Cuisine
I’ve written about my daughter and her summer kitchen shenanigans a few times over the past weeks. And, you might be happy to know that things are still going full steam (just ask my dishwasher). Right now, she seems to be in a French pastry phase. While I fully support her curiosity and creativity, I am wondering when she’ll get to the one bowl or less phase….

Though she hasn’t quite reached that Julie & Julia work her way through an entire cookbook level of obsession, she’s pretty close. For Fourth of July, she made Pâte à Choux for red, white and blue cream puffs with raspberry cream and blue sprinkles. That same week, she tackled French Macarons and they turned out way better than any of my attempts. The macarons actually had feet—and anyone who’s watched any of the baking championships knows how important feet are. Thankfully, my sons are her taste testers or there would be no way for my husband or me to fit into our pants.

This week, my kitchen (and the dishwasher) is getting a much-needed break as my teenaged chef de cuisine is attending a summer pastry camp. (Where was this when I was 12?) Yesterday they made a classic French Fruit Tart and I actually learned something new. If you spread a thin layer of semi-sweet or white chocolate on the bottom of the tart shell and then put the pastry cream in, the tart will not get soggy. (My mind is blown.)

These tarts are so versatile and fairly easy to make that you will find it easy to whip one together for any of your summer get-togethers. To make it even easier, I will substitute a good quality vanilla pudding mix like Dr. Oetkers or even Bird’s custard mix instead of making the pastry cream. Feel free to use any combination of ripe summer fruits to finish.

French Fruit Tart — A Classic
Adapted from Sur la Table
Finish the top with the ripest, most luscious seasonal fruit you can find. Summer berries are an obvious choice, but also try slices of nectarines, plums, poached pears, mango, or kiwi, depending upon the season.  Read more…

Almond Stone Fruit Tart

Almond Stone Fruit TartGone Stone Crazy
In case you haven’t been in the produce section lately, I am here to let you know that stone fruit season is upon us! And, that makes me very happy. It also creates a bit of a problem…

I am a fool for stone fruits. I look forward to this season every year. To me, there is nothing better than a juicy peak-of-season peach. I have been buying nectarines by the dozen…and don’t get me started on the cherries. I’ve become a bit of a stone fruit hoarder. I just can’t help myself. I see ‘em and I gotta have ‘em.

My fruit hoarding has presented other problems. Usually, I can count on my family eating all of the fruit before I can even get to it. But, my current obsession means that they are having trouble keeping up—which is how I found myself with a few pounds of black plums that needed to be consumed ASAP. So I made this almond stone fruit tart.

The best thing about this tart is that you can use whatever fruit you have on hand as long as you let it dry a bit before baking. I’ve made it with peaches and nectarines. Cherries are good too or even a combination of all three and, of course, plums or pluots are amazing!

Almond Stone Fruit Tart
This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan. She uses orange sections for her tart. I decided to be different…

If you want to make this tart gluten-free, we recommend using King Arthur Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour instead of the regular flour.

This tart takes some time to make, and we have marked where is possible to prepare some of the steps a day or so in advance for ease of assembly on the day you bake it. Read more…

Roasted Pork Chops with Fresh Fig Sauce

Roasted Pork Chops with Fresh Fig SauceWho gives a fig?
The other day I found myself in possession of two beautiful baskets of fresh Black Mission figs. Knowing that they wouldn’t last long in the hot weather I set about figuring out how to use them.

I knew I didn’t want to use them in a dessert—the last thing I really need to be eating is dessert. Also, that seemed too easy. I wanted something different. So I went searching for savory recipes that included figs.

There are a lot of things you can do with figs beyond just shoving them in your mouth. There’s fig and balsamic jam. Fig pizza. You can slice them up in a salad with fresh goat cheese. Or, you can wrap them in bacon and throw them on the grill. (See our recipe for Prosciutto Wrapped Figs and Blue Cheese.)

When I think of the combination of figs and savory, pork often comes to mind. Probably, because pork can handle the sweetness of the figs the same way it can with apples. So, it was no surprise that my search for something new landed on a recipe that was the inspiration for these Roasted Pork Chops with Fresh Fig Sauce. I knew I had found what was for dinner.

The original recipe calls for pork tenderloin, but I brined some thick-cut, boneless pork chops instead. I used the same pan that I used for the pork to make the fig sauce. Once the sauce was done I pulled the chops from the oven and spooned the figgy goodness on top.

Roasted Pork Chops with Fresh Fig Sauce
Adapted from Food 52
Read more…

Quick and Easy Fruit Cobbler

Quick and Easy Fruit CobblerGobbler of Cobbler
The fourth of July is upon us. So, let the BBQ planning begin. I gotta be honest though, there isn’t going to be much to plan. I’m going low key.

See, we just got back from a crazy (yet fun) experience back East and I just don’t have the mental capacity to put together a big party. I know we will be grilling and we will most likely watch the parade downtown. But beyond that? Not a whole lot going on…

There are some things that you must have on the Fourth. Potato Salad is one. The grilled meat of your choice is second and without fail there has to be some sort of dessert. For most that would be a pie—because nothing says Happy Fourth of July more than a pie. I like a good pie as much as the next guy, but just thinking about rolling out the dough makes me tired.

I’m going the lazy route and making a Quick and Easy Fruit Cobbler. Nothing could be easier. You find your favorite fruit. You toss it with some sugar, a little thickener, throw some biscuits on top and Ta-da! Yummy, tasty dessert that took no time to make. Top it with some vanilla ice cream while it’s still warm and you’ve reached nirvana.

Peach Cobbler is probably the most common. And when peaches are in season, like right now, it can be fantastic. However, the berries that are currently available are also at peak season. And, when you run across a flat of plump sweet blackberries or a few quarts of blueberries, you have the makings of something pretty spectacular. Even better, you don’t have to choose. Mix your berries together to get a little bit of the goodness from each. Or get really wacky and throw some peaches in, too. There are no rules!

Whatever your plans for the Fourth of July holiday, I hope you get to spend some quality time with family and friends…and some cobbler.

Quick and Easy Fruit Cobbler
Both tapioca flour and Instant ClearJel are good choices for thickening. They keep the fruit’s juice clear and the fruit flavor true. The resulting color and flavor is spectacular. Read more…

Cherry Clafoutis

Cherry ClafoutisCherries Jubilee
Over the Memorial Day weekend, we found ourselves driving through Brentwood on the way to a tournament in Stockton. And, it was all I could do not to blow off baseball and spend time in the cherry orchards. The signs were everywhere announcing that the orchards were open for picking. It was killing me not to stop.

The good news is that the boys played well. The bad news is we came home too late to do some pickin’. Some of our friends from other teams got to stop…and I am so jealous. And, they now are the proud owners of buckets of cherries that they can use to make tasty treats like this Cherry Clafoutis that is relatively simple to make.

Alas, our schedule is booked yet again for this coming weekend. Otherwise, I’d be heading out there, bucket in hand. So, if you find yourselves with nothing to do this weekend, consider enjoying some fantastic weather and a little taste of heaven from the trees.

And, you can get directions and other information here to help you find your perfect Brentwood cherry picking spot…

Cherry Clafoutis
Adapted from Julia Child
Yields: 6 to 8 servings for dessert, or 4 for breakfast.
We like to make our Cherry Clafoutis in a blender—it is incredibly easy!

Read more…