Thursday, November 04, 2010

Friendship through the lens of a pear tart, kindred spirits, and my first of many Dorie Greenspan recipes

One of the very joyful parts of having good friends is that they encourage your passions.  Such was the case when my friend gave me the gift of Dorie Greenspan's "Baking From My Home to Yours" cookbook.  Dorie herself feels like she could be a friend because we are kindred spirits when it comes to our love for baking, cooking, Paris, and French food culture.  Her book "Paris Sweets", which explores the city's best pastry shops, is definitely in the spirit of The Great American Bakery Hunt.  Ever since discovering it I have had a bit of heartache over the fact that I did not have it as a resource years ago during any of my Paris trips.  Luckily, now I own three of her books ("Baking with Julia" being the 3rd) and I'm sure all of her writing will eventually find its way to my shelves. 

With my love of food, I've become a bit of a cookbook addict.  When I received "Baking From My Home to Yours," it sat sadly on my shelf for awhile because I received it during an incredibly busy time at work.  Since returning to a more normal schedule, I have recently taken advantage of a reunion with my tiny but well-loved studio apartment kitchen.  A potluck invitation was all it took to allow Dorie G's recipe to finally reach its destiny at my table. 

After searching around its pages, I chose the French pear tart.  I believe that creating a simple fruit tart is an art.  Even with such basic ingredients, fruit tarts have an elegance that  transforms dessert into more than sweet tooth satisfaction and adds to the feeling that the last course is indeed a special conclusion. 

This tart was perfect for preparing most steps ahead of time since the recipe prompts you to partially bake the pte sablée dough in the tart pan and prepare the almond cream and fruit topping before the final hour of baking.  It was the perfect situation for carefully transporting the tart across a few west LA neighborhoods before its final stage of transformation, though beware this might be a disaster during peak traffic times.

Before being placed atop the tart, the pears are poached in a syrup of lemon juice, water, and sugar , then brought to room temperature

Blanched almonds are prepared for the almond cream that will form a delicious foundation under the pears 

Once I arrived at the potluck, we put the tart into the oven to bake for the remaining hour as we enjoyed our dinner.  While not necessary, I think this created a nice effect of additional anticipation as the scent of the tart wafted through my friend's house during the savory portion of our feast.

While I have not yet made every dessert in existence, I am going to state right now that fruit tarts will always be among my favorite treats to share at gatherings.   A special sidenote of thanks goes out to my lovely friend who gifted me Dorie's cookbook.  There's a pear tart waiting for you with your name on it the next time you're in California.
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