Last week I made a French pear tart that had been on my mind for a while. It’s the perfect tart to serve with tea and is very easy to make. I think it’s also a great treat to start the week with! PS: stay tuned because tomorrow I will be sharing my recipe for my galettes des rois — a traditional French Three Kings’ tart which also calls for an almond cream filling.
Here’s the recipe!
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Tarte aux Poires
- 1L water
- 3 tbsps brown sugar
- 2 small Doyenne du Comice pears, peeled, cored and halved
- a 28cm circle of puff pastry
- 100g butter, softened
- 100g sugar
- 2 eggs
- 100g almond flour
- 1 1/2 tsps almond extract
- 1 tsp apricot jam & 1 tsp water
- powdered sugar, to serve
Preheat the oven to 180C and line a 24cm pie pan with the pastry, trimming off the edges using a rolling pin or sharp knife. Place the pan in the fridge. Mix the water with the sugar and bring to the boil. Simmer the pears for approximately 10 minutes and drain well. Cream the butter and the sugar using a standing or hand-held mixer. Beat in the eggs one by one. Beat in the almond flour and almond extract. Slice the cooked pear halves thinly. Spread the almond cream over the pastry. Arrange the pears over the cream and fan them out slightly. Bake the tart for approximately 45 minutes. Check after about half an hour to see if the tart is not browning too much and cover with foil if necessary. Whisk the jam with the water and heat. Brush the tart with the syrup. Allow the tart to cool completely before unmolding. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
My first jambon-beurre, which literally translates to ‘ham-butter’ was at a café somewhere in Bourgogne. After a morning of driving through vineyards, we decided to stop for a quick bite at one of those cafés that only serve a set menu for a few hours from noon. If you arrive a little later, you’ll either be turned away or have to settle for frozen quiches warmed up in the microwave and a small selection of sandwiches, which are always the better option.
Though the French love their three-course menus at lunch, in larger cities, most opt for a no-frills yet satisfying sandwich, such as the jambon-beurre, which in fact, is one of the most popular of its kind. Also known as ‘le Parisien’, it consists of three basic ingredients, all of top quality: real, hand-churned artisanal butter from Normandy (unsalted), thinly sliced, salt-cured Parisian ham (jambon de Paris) and a crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside baguette.
To make a good jambon-beurre, simply slice open your baguette, spread generously on both sides with the butter and layer with a generous amount of ham. You may want to add a few extras such as a touch of mustard or a few crisp, tart cornichons. In my opinion, nothing beats a simple glass of Merlot alongside.
Cake salé (savory cake) is easy to make and extremely versatile (you can experiment endlessly with different types of cheeses, meats, herbs and condiments). A good cake salé is lovely as lunch or a light dinner with soup and a salad. I also like to serve it as a late afternoon apéro in the company of a fruity, rosé Crémant de Bougogne.
Though the cake is best eaten on the day it is made, it does freeze well.
Cake with Olives, Goat Cheese & Piment d’Espelette
- 100g whole wheat flour
- 100g all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp piment d’Espelette
- 3 medium eggs
- 150ml milk
- 4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
- 150g soft goat cheese, in small chunks
- 100g kalamata olives, whole
- 1 ½ tbsps chives, chopped
- salt (preferably fleur de sel) and freshly-cracked pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 26 x 11 cm cake tin with baking paper. In a large bowl, mix the two flours with the baking powder. Add the piment d’Espelette and mix again. Make a well in the center of the mixture and crack in the eggs. Pour in the milk and oil, and whisk gently, just until combined. Using a spatula, fold in the goat’s cheese, olives and chives. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for approximately 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool before serving. Delicious with a green salad and a mustardy vinaigrette
One of the things I look forward to most during the weekend is going out for lunch with my husband. Though we usually stick with places that have become firm favorites, sometimes we like to try something new. So on Saturday morning, I installed myself on the couch with a cappuccino and went in search of places that have just opened nearby.
One of them was La Cave in Bussum, a French bistro and traiteur that opened late this past August. After one look at the menu online (classic French salads, soups, sandwiches, egg dishes, oysters, langoustines, cheese, charcuterie and more), my mind was made up — La Cave it was going to be!
Shortly before we left, hubby asked me for the address, and you wouldn’t believe our surprise when we both realized this was the exact location of Allegria, one of our favorite Italian restaurants which had closed down last February, much to our dismay. We really loved that place.
Eager to see if this new establishment would bring the location on Kapelstraat 11 back to life, we drove to Bussum in delicious anticipation. Though there was no wine list online, the name obviously meant there was good wine to be had!
When we arrived, we were immediately greeted by the very friendly and smiley waitress. We chose a table, ordered shrimp croquettes as our appetizer and were advised a fleshy Touraine sauvignon blanc to wash them down with. The crisp tiny, little croquettes promptly arrived, steaming hot, though perhaps a little too brown for our liking.
Looking around, I took notice of how much the place had changed. Whereas Allegria was homey and cozy, La Cave has an understated elegance with a modern edge. Simple, rustic wooden tables and chairs; minimalistic lamps; an open kitchen; and walls decorated with maps of wine regions, specials written on chalkboards in French, and crates filled with interesting wines. I even spotted a few handsome Givrys.
For our main, we both decided on the ‘Salade Lyonnaise’ paired with a jammy pinot noir (their best ‘by the glass’ choice). The salad was beautifully crisp, as were the diced potatoes and bacon. The egg was perfectly poached, and the baguette had a wonderful crust and a light, airy and chewy crumb.
The serving size was just right — a good thing because that meant room for dessert. Hubby opted for the apple tart with vanilla ice cream, and I had mousse au chocolat with pears and an orange sabayon which was absolutely delightful.
The food, wine, service and ambience were excellent. Our only gripe was the espresso that ended our meal — way too watery, it may as well have been a minuscule coffee.
Nevertheless, we’ll be back, for dinner. There’s confit de canard to be had!
PS: Before leaving we purchased a 250g pack of butter made by renowned cheesemaker in Boulogne-sur-Mer, Philippe Olivier. Ten euros for the pack, but worth every penny. I did have a laugh though when the owner warned us it was going to be “very expensive”…
La Cave Bistro, Traiteur & Négociant, Kapelstraat 11, Bussum