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    Oxo Good Grips Small Wooden Spoon

    everyone needs these, many of them.

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    Mauviel Cuprinox Style 8-inch Round Frying Pan

    Scarily, I can say I have enough copper. Not many people can utter those words.

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    Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 5-1/2-Quart Round French Oven, Red
    Le Creuset

    The same thing could be said for Le Creuset, but still. Great for braising and soup making.

  • The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century
    The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Classic Recipes for a New Century
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    Nordic Ware Bakers Half Sheet, 13 X 18 X 1
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    What did I do before I started using this half sheet? Cry.

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Entries in quick desserts (2)


Fig tart with raspberries - summer's best tart

Finished fig raspberry tart

I originally wrote this post in September 2006. While the words still ring true, the recipe has changed for the better.  The tart is easily adapted to other fruits, but please take advantage of early figs and the last of the summer raspberries and make it now.  If you read this is August, fear not. Some think that Fall raspberries are better than July ones and the figs will still be available.


still life with figs

While I sit and listen to Ernest the puppy sneeze thirteen times in a row (yoghurt up the nose?) I am hearing TH sigh happily as she finishes her piece of fig raspberry tart. My first exposure to such a beast was in June 1992 when I flew to Berkeley after TH's mother died. While I never had the honor of meeting her, that day began a seven year relationship with her father that started with a meal at Chez Panisse and continued on with love of food, bassets hounds, landscape history, France, geography and his daughter to bind us.

I had only heard of Chez Panisse before that day, and that meal upstairs was very good. I can't remember what my main course was, but the dessert was a fig tart with raspberries and lavender honey ice cream was memorable. I have made it for the last fourteen and change years. The recipe is simple and elegant and brings back memories of a more innocent time with a start of a great relationship.


pre-baked fig configuration

Fig tart with Raspberries (adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts, 1984.)

One lb puff pastry (thawed - I use Delaurenti's and one lb is the right amount). Pepperidge farm will do as well. One sheet.
1 pint fresh figs (mission, but if you have kadota, why not mix it up?)
1 cup fresh raspberries
2 T sugar
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 T milk for egg wash
2 T butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 deg. F

Rinse figs, cut off tops, cut into quarters.

Roll or fold out pastry, score the ends and sides and fold over so you have an edge. Brush edges  of puff pastry with egg wash. Place figs with cut sides up in rows (overlapping if you can). Brush figs with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

Place in oven for 25-30 minutes or until puff pastry starts to brown and figs are softened but still hold their shape.  Remove from oven. While still warm, sprinkle raspberries over top of tart.  Serve either warm or at room temperature with lavender honey ice cream, vanilla ice cream or on its own.


Tarte tatin 101 - the easy hack

Tired of pumpkin pie? Stuffing? Your relatives?

How about a nice piece of tart?

Tarte tatin is my standby quick dessert. Its a lovely french tart that often is served cold and not very attractively at those formule restaurants near train stations in Paris. Those restaurants that attract people who need something to do before the train their train to Dieppe leaves. If I was to judge tarte tatin by those standards, I would never eat one again.

I used to use the Chez Panisse Dessert's recipe. Create a simple caramel with sugar and butter, don't over cook it or it'll crystalize and you'll have to start all over again, slice some apples or pears, place them decoratively in a pan and cover with pastry or puff pastry. Bake. Remove from oven. Let cool a bit and flip over to serve with the baked fruit glazed with caramel on a now soaked crust. Easy Peasy.

I have made it easier.

At first I used caramel sauce to replace the homemade caramel.

Then I found a stash of French salted butter caramels that I had misplaced in the fridge.  What about using these caramels? They are the same thing, just in a solid form.

Yup, that worked.

Before you go off looking for the best flight deals to Paris to get caramels, recognize that we have amazing caramels here in the US.  Look for local sources at farmer's markets, farm stands and your grocery store.  You'll be surprised by what you will find.

Three simple ingredients - a hunk of pie dough or frozen puff pastry, a few caramels and a ripe pear or apple or three and you have heaven on a plate.


Tarte Tatin aux poires (with apologies to Julia Child and Lindsey Shere)

Serves 6, with no leftovers.

Prep time: 15 minutes, baking time 35 minutes, to table ca. 1h 10 minutes.

1/2 lb all butter puff pastry or a 3" ball of pie crust (usually what I have left over from a standard recipe in this case, Kate McDermott's fabulous recipe)

2 ripe, but still firm pears or 4 ripe apples depending on the size of your fruit

3 T caramel from a jar or 4 or 5 1" caramels with wrappers removed

Preheat oven to 350.

Find a heavy cast iron skillet or a heavy bottomed skillet that is oven safe. Place skillet over low heat. Add caramels and allow caramels to melt but not bubble or burn. Remove from heat. Peel and core fruit, slice in half and then into quarters.  Place with either the round side down on top of the caramel in a lovely arrangement as seen in the picture or onto the side with the tapered side to the middle of the pan in a circle. Don't worry if all the pieces are not coated with caramel, it will redistribute as it bakes.

Roll out the puff pastry or pie crust to fit the pan.  Place on top of fruit mixture and tamp the sides down to go under the fruit. This way you will form an crust to keep in the juices and the caramel when it is flipped. Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes until crust is golden and fruit is burbling. Remove from oven, let sit for 15 minutes and then flip over onto a plate. Serve warm with ice cream, whipped cream or just plain.

pears are better served in caramel, non?

Depending on the juiciness of the fruit (pears being more juicy), you may want to eat this sooner than later. It does keep for a day, but my guess is that it won't last that long.