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Friday, 20 September 2013

Strawberry Tartlets with Breton Shortbread Crust and a Cook Book Review

Tartelettes aux fraises sable breton
from The French Market Cookbook by Clotilde Dusoulier

Clotilde Dusoulier of is not a vegetarian but has chosen to eat less meat and fish  and is always looking for new ways to cook what's fresh in the market. In the French Market Cookbook she takes us through the seasons in 90 recipes.

About the Author:  Clotilde Dusoulier is the creator of the award winning blog Chocolate and Zucchini and author of the book Chocolate and Zucchini and the guidebook Clotilde's Edible Adventures in Paris, she lives in Paris, France.

About the Book: The book is divided by season with a list of 'produce to play with' each season.

Spring includes Avocado and Radish Mini Tartines; Crunchy Lentil and Watercress Salad; Poor Man's Bouillabaisse; Asparagus Buckwheat Tart; Breton Shortbread Cookies (or Tart Dough) and Strawberry Tartlets with Breton Shortbread Crust.

Summer includes Goat Cheese and Rosemary Sables, Green Bean, Red Rice, and Almond Salad; Tomato and Tarragon Bread Soup; Zucchini and Apricot Socca Tart; Corsican Bell Pepper Stew and Peach Almond and Cardamom Clafoutis.

Fall includes Seaweed Tartare, Butternut and Celery Root Soup; Couscous with Vegetables; Mushrooms stuffed with plums and hazelnuts, Easy Fresh Fig Tart and Pear and Chestnut Cake.

Winter includes Assorted Savory Puffs; Curried Leek Tart Tatin; Spelt and Vegetable Pilaf; Savoury Pumpkin and Cornmeal Quick Bread; Apple Sugar Tart and Chocolate Berawecka.

The Essentials chapter includes Vegetable Stock, Yogurt Tart Dough, Olive Oil Tart Dough; Spelt Tart Dough, various Vinaigrettes, Harissa, Bechamel sauce and Lemon Pastry Cream.

Breton Shortbread Cookies
Makes 12 Cookies or one 10-12in 25-30cm Tart Crust

1/2 cup/70g unrefined blond sugar (also sold as evaporated cane juice) I didn't have any of this so just used caster sugar
6 tbsp/85g high quality unsalted butter, softened
1 small fresh vanilla bean or 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 large organic egg
1 cup/130g all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar and butter. (Alternatively, do this by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon.) Split the vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp knife, scrape the seeds from the inside of the bean with the dull side of the blade, and add them to the sugar and butter.  Beat the sugar and butter at low speed until pale an fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg and beat for 2 minutes.

2. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt, stirring with a whisk to remove any lumps. add to the mixer and mix at low speed for a few seconds, just until no trace of flour remains.  The dough will be quite soft.

To make the shortbread cookies
1. Transfer the dough to a container and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, and preferably overnight.
2. Preheat the oven  to 350F/175C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
3. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper to a thickness of 1/3 in / 8mm.  Peel off the top sheet gently and use a round cookie cutter, about 2 in /5cm in diameter, to cut out circles of dough.
4. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, giving them a little room to expand.
5. Gather the scraps of dough and repeat to cut out more cookies. As the dough warms to room temperature, it may become to soft to work with; place it in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up before cutting out circles again.
6. Bake the sables until golden brown, 15-2- minutes.
7. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.  The sables will keep for a few days in an airtight container at room temperature.

Strawberry Tartlets with Breton Shortbread Crust
Tartelettes aux fraises, sable breton

Make eight 3 in/8cm Tartlets or one 10-12 in/25-30cm Tart (see recipe above)
1 1/4 lb/560g strawberries, preferably small, hulled and halve or quartered depending on their size
2 tbsp strawberry jam (optional)

For the Lemon Pastry Cream
1 large organic egg
3 tbsp unrefined blond cane sugar (also sold as evaporated cane juice) caster sugar should work here
2 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch
2/3 cup or 160ml milk or unflavoured, unsweetened nondairy milk
Grated zest of 1 organic lemon
1/3 cup or 60ml freshly squeezed lemon juice

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar and cornstarch.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and lemon zest to a simmer over medium heat.  Slowly whisk the hot milk into the egg, and then pour the eff milk mixture back into the saucepan.
3. Return to low heat and whisk constantly for 1 minute as the mixture thickens to a custardy consistency, making sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the pan regularly so the texture is even.  Dip a wooden spoon in and run your finger long the back of it: if the trace remains clear, the pastry cream is done.
4. Pour into a clean bowl and whisk in the lemon juice.  Cover, pressing a piece of plastic wrap onto the surface of the custard, and refrigerate for a few hours until chilled.  The pastry cream may be prepared up to a day in advance; whisk again before using.

To assemble:
Spoon the Lemon pastry cream onto the crust(s) and spread into an even layer.  Arrange the strawberries over the cream in a circular pattern, starting from the centre.
If desired, prepare a jam glaze to give the tartlets more shine:  In a small saucepan, heat the jam with 1 tbsp water until syrupy, without allowing it to boil  If the jam contains bits of fruit, strain it.  Glaze the strawberries lightly with the syrup using a pastry brush. Let set for 10 minutes before serving.

Here I have to confess that I didn't have time to make the Lemon Pastry Cream, I used some Creme Fraiche with added lemon zest!  It still tasted delicious.  As it is really the end of the strawberry season, I gently cooked my strawberries in homemade Elderflower Syrup for 5 minutes. 

Pros:  This is a delightful book full of gorgeous photographs by Francoise Nicol.  Each recipe comes with a little story, a bit like a blog post, painting a picture of Clotilde's past and present life, her likes and dislikes along with hints and tips for how to serve the dish. The recipes feature the vegetables rather than trying to recreate meat dishes. 

Cons: This is a real pot pourri of a book, difficult to pin it down as one thing or another, but full of inspiration for seasonal eating.

Ease of Use: The recipe I chose looks complicated but was actually quite simple to follow and the sables were gloriously tender, not quite crisp like shortbread with a little more of give in it, totally buttery and delicious.

Who is it for: Francophiles and anyone who likes to eat vegetables, whether with or without meat. 

The Verdict:  I will definitely be dipping into this book again as the recipes are varied and a little bit different from those that come from UK or US authors.  I would suggest you visit Clotilde's web site Chocolate and Zucchini to get a feel for the style of her cooking, if you like the look of what you see, then this book is one for you.

The French Market Cookbook  by Clotilde Dusoulier
Published by Clarkson Potter
Distributed in UK by PGUK
RRP Ā£17.99

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At 21 September 2013 at 08:32 , Anonymous Jacqueline @Howtobeagourmand said...

I'm sure I'd love this book Janice! I'm intrigued by what they use for the Poor man's Bouillabaisse,
Nice idea to put strawberries in elderflower syrup before serving. Deliciously fragrant!

At 21 September 2013 at 18:07 , Blogger Jacqueline Meldrum said...

Oh my, I want to take a fork to that!

What a great book, I totally missed this one. Didn't know it was out.


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I love to read your comments and try to reply when I can. I have had to enable comment moderation due to high levels of spam, so it may take a little time before your comment is visible. Please let me know if you make one of my recipes or if you have any questions I will try to answer them. Janice

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