French tomato pie with goat cheese and Imperial IPA beer jelly (or honey)

This is a classic in French cuisine – mustard, tomatoes and cheese layered on a flaky pie crust. This was my first recipe published last year in my blog: Alchimie et gourmandise. We love this pie – we call it the French pizza. I wanted to revisit this classic this summer, and add a little of “je ne sais quoi…”.

As I am working with local craft beer, my idea was to add some Imperial IPA beer jelly to the mustard and to pair this aromatic jelly with goat cheese… A must to try. I hope you will enjoy this French pie with a Canadian twist as much as us.

If you don’t have any beer jelly, don’t worry. You can use also honey or apple cider jelly.

I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe:

Pie crust recipe

Ingredients

250 grams all-purpose organic unbleached flour

125 grams of butter, cubed and very cold

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

100 ml very cold water, plus more is needed

Directions

Whisk together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Add the cubed butter to the flour mixture, and cut it using a pastry cutter (rubbing it in with your fingertips also works in a pinch). Keep working the butter into the dough until in coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces.

Scrape off any residual butter-flour mixture from the pastry cutter, and drizzle in the water.

Gently work the water into the dough with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon until it becomes a shaggy but relatively cohesive mass. Give the dough a few kneads with your hands (fewer than 10) so that it forms a rough ball.

Try to work these steps as fast as you can. This is one of the secrets for a flaky crust.

Wrap the ball in plastic wrap, and chill for at minimum one hour or overnight. This allows the water to fully hydrate the dough, making for a more cohesive product that’s easier to roll out.

The tomato mustard French pie

 Ingredients

100 g of mustard

I use normally a combination (50/50) of artisan whole-grain mustard (not sweet at all) and Maille Dijon Originale mustard. French mustard like Maille is the best choice because it is not sweet and it will pair perfectly with the Imperial IPA beer jelly, honey or apple cider jelly.

1 tablespoon + 4 to 5 teaspoons Imperial IPA beer jelly (or honey or apple cider jelly as an alternative)

If you are using honey or sweet apple cider jelly, put a little less because it is going to be too sweet.

3 large or 5 medium ripe heirloom tomatoes (like candy’s old yellow, green zebra, cavern…)

5 to 6 round slices of goat cheese – 250 g (8 ounces) (like The Tournevent, la fromagerie Hamel, Quebec)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of fresh herbs of Provence (a combination of parsley, marjoram, rosemary, thyme or oregano)

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Fit the pie crust into a 11-inch pie dish (or smaller size like a 9-inch). With a fork, poke holes into the bottom of the crust.

Precook the crust for 7 to 10 min. Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes into slices 3-5 mm thick. Lay the slices as on paper towels to remove excess water content in tomatoes if needed

Remove the crust from the oven.

Mix together the two kinds of mustard with one tablespoon of Imperial IPA beer jelly. Spread it over the bottom of the pie crust in an even layer. Cover the mustard with slices of tomato, overlapping in a spiral from the edge to the center. They will slightly shrink while cooking. Then, don’t be afraid to put two layers of tomatoes.

Arrange the slices of goat cheese on top, and add a teaspoon of Imperial IPA beer jelly on each disk of goat cheese. Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes, and sprinkle the tart with the herbs of Provence.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 450 degree F, or until the dough is cooked, the tomatoes are tender, and the cheese on top is nicely browned. Depending on the heat of your oven, if the cheese doesn’t brown as much as you’d like it, you might want to pass it under the broiler until it’s just right.

Remove from the oven and let it to rest for 15 min.

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Peach Tatin Pie with Lemon Verbena Whipped Cream

(Peach is one of my favorite fruits during the summer season. I think it might be strongly related to my great childhood memories: pick directly from the tree during a hot day or freshly bake – French peach pie or preserve for the winter season – jam and canning experience with my grandmother Adele. My grandparents had one kind of peach in their orchard – the “pêche de vigne” (peach of the grapevine), delicate small white peaches full of fragrances. It was (and still is) a delicacy!

On the other hand, lemon verbena is a leafy herb with a strong lemony flavor. It originated in South America and was brought back to Europe, where it served as both a decorative and functional plant. When I was living in France, verbena has been one of my favorite herbal teas, the most common use for a lot of people. Here in Canada, I didn’t have the opportunity to drink any longer a cup of verbena tea, and I was so pleased when I have had the opportunity to source this delicacy here in Toronto a few years ago.

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When you live overseas, there are simple pleasures, like finding products that bring you back home and make you feel cheerful: mustard of Dijon and perrier for me, “bonne maman” jam for my friends… and for a lot of us, the petits beurres (French butter cookies) also, French cheeses of course, and verbena.

Lemon verbena can be used when cooking, generally in sweet dishes, and this is something I wanted to explore for many years. In most of the recipes of peach tatin pies I have reviewed for this blog, people are using fresh verbena. Unfortunately, here in Toronto, it is quite difficult to find a verbena plant. In contrast, verbena as an herbal tea is quite easy to find – ask your favorite gourmet tea boutique, I am pretty sure they have some. To get all the flavor possible out of the dry leafs, the best solution is to infuse the dry leafs into a liquid. This can be done by steeping the leaves in boiling or near boiling liquid, much the same way as you might make tea, then straining them out before using the liquid in another recipe. And this is exactly the way that I have chosen to follow for the verbena infused cream.

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Like in Provence, peach and verbena is the perfect combination for a sweet summer treat. The touch of lemon verbena lends an incredibly bright and fresh streak to the sweet cooked peaches in the tatin pie. Yummy… I was ready to try!

I love making pies, any kinds. I do it mostly without looking at a recipe. However, for this specific pie, it was quite different and really challenging. First, it was a new recipe for me. Secondly, I didn’t find any recipe online (except America Test Kitchen) that talks openly about the major issue when baking with peaches: they are really juicy and your pie or cake can be really soggy.

For my first peach tatin pie, I followed the recipe I have found online. No juice before I started to cook the pie in the oven, but after 35 minutes … A flood of juice above the crust, soggy, soggy. I did it again and again – in total we ate 6 peach tatin pies, improving each time a little bit more to get at the end the perfect peach tatin pie. I still love peaches… not a problem!

My advice

Don’t be afraid to cook your peaches on high heat, to caramelize them perfectly (you can see my pictures soggy vs caramelized). The peach is a delicate fruit and I was afraid to overcook them and obtain some sort of peach marmalade, but it has not been the case. The dry-heat/high-heat method cooks off a lot of water (and you need this) and helps to cook the peaches to just the right texture.

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I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe:

Prep Time: 30 min                           Cook Time: 50 min                                         Yield: One 9-inch pie

Ingredients

8 to 10 peaches, ripe but firm

60 grams (4 tablespoons) butter

80 grams (1/2 cup) sugar

1 sheet puff pastry

1 pinch of salt

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

If your peaches are not yet at maturity. Place them in a paper bag for 2 to 3 days.

Wash peaches

Remove any stems and leaves still present on the peaches. Brush away any visible dirt or residue by hand. Fill a bowl or partially fill your kitchen sink with water, adding a small amount of soap as it fills. Place the peaches in the bowl or sink, rubbing the surface of the fruit to remove dirt and residue. Rinse the peaches in cool running water.

Cut them into quarters. Pan fry them quickly in butter (be sure to use a pan large enough to have one layer of fruits) on high heat for 5 to 7 minutes.

Add the granulated sugar and mix. Lower the heat to medium heat and wait for peaches render their juice (it can take 10 to 12 minutes). Increase the heat to high and dry and simmer the peaches until there is no more juice.

It is really important to have at that point no liquid at all because the peaches may release some juice when cooking in the oven, and if this is the case, the peach pie will be soggy.

Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the peaches from the caramel and transfer them to a 9-inch pie dish.

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Cut a 10-inch disk out of the puff pastry sheet. Drape it over the peaches in the pie dish.

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Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 to 25 minutes.

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Cut around edge of cake pan to loosen pastry. Carefully place a plate on top of the pie, slide your hand under bottom of the pie pan (be sure it’s cool enough to handle, or use a pot holder), and flip over the tart. Carefully lift off cake pan. The caramel should ooze out and pool around the tart. Rearrange any peaches that may have become dislodged. Cut warm tart into wedges; serve with verbena infused whipped cream.

I recommend to cook the pie when eating the first and second courses of your meal, and flip over the tart at the last minutes, just before to serve it. If it is not possible, it can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Let stand in cake pan at room temperature. Rewarm tart in 350°F oven for 10 minutes before continuing.

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Verbena infused whipped cream

Yield: 8 servings

Ingredients

2 cups heavy cream

4 teaspoons dry lemon verbena

4 tablespoons icing sugar

Preparation

Bring cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from heat; add lemon verbena. Cover. Let steep 15 minutes. Strain cream into a medium bowl. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Beat infused cream with 4 tablespoons sugar to soft peaks.

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Ready for the peach tatin pie…

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Bonne Appetite!

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Socca … An easy going but delicious Provençal street food

One funny thing, I never ate socca when living in France. I went to Provence several times, but never to Nice specifically (the kingdom of socca).

How did I discover socca?

In little India, here in Toronto. Funny! We were in an Indian restaurant, enjoying our vegetarian meal. As we try not to eat too much meat, we were looking for inspiration – some ideas for “meatless meals”, and we started to look at the different ingredients used in vegetarian Indian recipes. Chickpea flour was one main ingredient of the food we were eating, and I started to look on internet what we could do with this flour… and this is how we have discovered that chickpea flour is used since a long time and with a lot of success in French cuisine.

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Socca and Cade are Provençal pancakes that go back at least to 1860. Cade de Toulon, probably the most ancient, was made from corn flour and the Socca de Nice that evolved from it is made from chick-pea flour. In that ancient time, there were cade/socca sellers at the marchés and at work sites where they provided the favorite morning meal of the workers. The cade/socca sellers used special wagons with built-in charcoal ovens to keep their wares hot while they announced them with the appropriate cries of “cada, cada, cada” or “socca, socca, socca caouda”. Some of the ambulatory socca/cade sellers (or their descendents) are still to be found in the markets at Nice, Toulon and la Seyne-sur-Mer, where the slices are served in paper cones. In Nice, the Cave Ricord restaurant has been selling socca continuously for the past 80 years.

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Socca is a simple but easy to love traditional Provence street food made of chickpeas flour. Yesteryear, it was cooked using a large round (50-70 cm diameter) copper “pie tin” (plaque) in a very hot wood-fired oven for about six minutes, until the top is golden. The copper is important for spreading the heat evenly. Nowadays, you can cook socca in the oven or on the stove in a cast iron skillet. Personally, I like to use a good quality non stick skillet or a non stick cookie sheet because socca can badly stick to your pan. I have experienced this misadventure several times in the past before I decided to switch for a non stick skillet. You can make your socca really fine and crispy, or a little more thick – still crispy outside but creamy inside. Yummy!

Chick peas (like chick pea flour) is gluten free and really nutritious: 22 grams protein and 11 grams fiber per 100 grams as well as a low glycemic index that help to control hunger cravings (satiety). It can also help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, and it is a good source of minerals (like magnesium (41% daily value) and phosphorus (32%) – essential to healthy bones, potassium (24%) – help keep fluids and minerals in balance in the body and regulates blood pressure, and also iron (24%), zinc (19%), copper (46%), and manganese (80%) per 100 grams) as well as vitamins (thiamin (32%) and vitamin B6 (25%) – two of the B vitamins that help you convert food into energy, folate (104%) – essential to red blood cell development and the prevention of certain birth defects and vitamin K (11%) per 100 grams).

Unfortunately, chickpeas, like all nuts and seeds, grains and pulses, contain food phytate that can bind minerals, and prevent their full absorption. Furthermore, chickpeas, like other pulses, can be difficult to digest. However, the minerals in chickpeas like the minerals in other pulses, grains and nuts, are better absorbed when the chickpeas are prepared properly through sprouting, soaking or souring.   These traditional processes render the minerals found in these different foods more bioavailable, and can also render the bean easier to digest.

For this specific recipe, I am using the souring technique – i.e. soaking the chickpea flour overnight (or for 24 hours) in an acidic environment (lemon juice or beer + lemon juice). It also gives the final flatbread a wonderful, faint, tartness that complements the naturally earthy, nutty flavor of the chickpeas.

I think it is time to cook, this is my recipe:

Adapted from Nourished Kitchen recipe.

Prep Time: 12 to 24 hours                            Cook Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 1 thick 12.5 inches pancake or two thin 7 inches pancakes

Ingredients

1 cup chickpea flour

3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (or only 2 teaspoons lemon juice if you use beer)

1 1/4 cups water (or 3/4 cup American Pale Ale beer + 1/2 cup water)

I will recommend to use a light beer for this recipe like the American Pale Ale from Black Oak. I find its buttered bread, english muffin kind of malt taste works perfectly with the naturally earthy, nutty flavor of the chickpeas. The hops flavors are also present with a soft aftertaste bitterness.

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for greasing the pan

1/2 teaspoon unrefined sea salt

 

Instructions

Dump the chickpea flour into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and water (or beer + water + lemon juice). Cover the bowl, and allow it to rest at room temperature at least 12 and up to 24 hours.

Whisk in olive oil and salt, until it forms a thin, smooth batter.

Film a non stick pan with oil and set over medium-high heat. Pour in the socca batter. Decrease temperature to medium heat. After about 8 to 10 minutes (shorter time if you are using a smaller pan) when the edges are firm, gently lift the pancake and flip it. Cook on the other side for another 2 to 3 minutes, until both surfaces are dry and beginning to brown.

Gently remove the socca from the pan, continue with the remaining half of the batter if you are using a smaller pan. Cut into squares, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with a little good olive oil.

Socca is best if eaten immediately after baking while still warm, but can be refrigerated (keep it in aluminium foil) and re-toasted for up to a week.

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Socca is delicious sprinkled with salt and pepper and served with some olive oil, cured olives, cherry tomatoes, Mediterranean cheese… You can also be inspired and creative – use or serve socca with whatever you happen to like (some great ideas here).

Bonne Appetite!

September is ….Tomato merry-go-around

It was really difficult to choose the recipes I will share with my guesses for this amazing dinner party. I love tomatoes and I cook them in so many different ways… all so yummy. These are some of my favorite recipes, new ones I have developed here in Canada as well as my family’s recipe: “les tomates farcies”. A must!

Join us in September to enjoy a dinner all focusing on tomatoes … savory and sweet … there is no limit!

tomato merry-go-around

Register at The Kingston Social

References for the pictures:

http://www.kireei.com/tomates-y-flores/

http://www.cuisineactuelle.fr/recettes/tomates-farcies-au-boeuf-hache-209505

http://www.showfoodchef.com/2010/08/tomato-canjam.html

A taste of Provence … this is our demo + dinner party for August

I don’t have to go back to France, I will simply cook some of my favorite Provencal dishes to feel “I am at home, with my friends and Family in the region of Avignon. Join us in August for a taste of Provence:

A taste of provence

We will published the recipes in August…

Register at The Kingston Social

Reference for the pictures:

http://french-riviera-blog.com/2012/03/24/a-walking-tour-around-the-old-town-of-nice-and-restaurant-guide/

http://www.pratique.fr/recette-ratatouille.html

http://www.pratique.fr/recette-ratatouille.html

My Late-Summer Heirloom Tomatoes Pie

I love cooking tomatoes. It reminds me of my childhood, the summer season in France as well as my vacation with my two grandmothers and the pleasure to cook and preserve foods together. I am from Burgundy, France and I grew up on a farm. My two grandmothers were amazing cooks, in a different way. Grandmother Lucie was like Julia Child, a lot of butter, cream and eggs. She went to culinary school and cooked for a wealthy family before WWII. Grandmother Adele was a goddess for preserving and canning the taste of summer.  Impressive heritage!

This means that I have a passion for good ingredients and tasty foods. When combine together, they can create a surprising alchemy that will titillate our taste buds. This is the kind of comfort food I like. My partner calls this pie, the French tomatoes pizza pie. I take this as a compliment!

The secret… use local, organic (if possible) and fresh products. For the crust, go creative! Use a combination of locally produced (or not) whole-grain flours. It will taste nutty with a deep and spicy aroma, which will work perfectly with mustard, tomatoes, fresh herbs and cheese. It will taste so good that you will think there is bacon or some sort of meat sauce inside… not at all. This is the secret of good alchemy!

Ready for a new experience, it is time to cook now…

This is the recipe for a 9- to 11-inch pie. First, we will start with the crust and then we will assemble the different ingredients to create this gorgeous French tomatoes mustard pie. Our late-summer heirloom tomatoes pie, when it still possible to taste the gifts of summer.

Pie crust recipe

This is my grandmother Lucie recipe; I keep the same proportions for flour and fat (2 for 1) and I go creative. I like to experiment new combinations to improve the taste as well as the nutritional value.

Ingredients

250 g flour (I used for this pie a mix of 50 g all-purpose organic unbleached flour, 125 g of red fife flour and 75 g of barley flour)

125 g of butter, cubed and very cold

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

75 ml very cold water, plus more is needed

Directions

Whisk together the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl.

Add the cubed butter to the flour mixture, and cut it using a pastry cutter (rubbing it in with your fingertips also works in a pinch). Keep working the butter into the dough until in coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces.

Scrape off any residual butter-flour mixture from the pastry cutter, and drizzle in the water.

Gently work the water into the dough with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon until it becomes a shaggy but relatively cohesive mass. Give the dough a few kneads with your hands (fewer than 10) so that it forms a rough ball. Try to work these steps as fast as you can. This is one of the secrets for a flaky crust.

Wrap the ball in plastic wrap, and chill for at minimum one hour or overnight. This allows the water to fully hydrate the dough, making for a more cohesive product that’s easier to roll out.

The tomatoes mustard French pie

Ingredients

100 g of mustard (I used a combination of artisan grainy brown mustard and Maille Dijon Originale mustard)

3 large or 5 medium ripe heirloom tomatoes (like candy’s old yellow, green zebra, cavern)

100 g of grated artisan cheese curds (I like Monforte Dairy here in Toronto)

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 tablespoons of fresh herbs of Provence (a combination of marjoram, rosemary, thyme and oregano)

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Fit the pie crust into a 11-inch pie dish (or smaller size like a 9-inch). With a fork, poke holes into the bottom of the crust.

Precook the crust for 5 min. Meanwhile, cut the tomatoes into slices 3-5 mm thick. Lay the slices as on paper towels to remove excess water content in tomatoes if needed.

Remove the crust from the oven.

Mix together the two kinds of mustard. Spread it over the bottom of the pie crust in an even layer. Cover the mustard with slices of tomato, overlapping in a spiral from the edge to the center. They will slightly shrink while cooking. Then, don’t be afraid to put tomatoes.

Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes, and sprinkle the tart with the herbs of Provence. Cover with cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes at 450 degree F then cover with aluminum paper for an additional 20 min. After those 20 minutes, remove the foil and cook for another 5 minutes open oven door.

Remove from the oven and let it to rest for 15 min.

It is delicious with a green salad. Bon appetite!