La réserve – my squirrel storage
I have a special liking for tarts. Not sure why and how that happened. I guess it must always have been this way. It is the crust, the oven cooking time and the fact that you have everything in one dish, all of these little things. So when I am not food inspired, hence I have no idea what to do for dinner, I always wonder whether I have enough in the fridge to make a tart. Most of the time, it works, as lucky me, I keep a fair amount of basics available, and ready to be used spontaneoulsy such as leeks, onions, garlic, peppers and carrots at least. Call it being a bit crazy, maybe a little bit, but my mum trained me this way, so I do not even think about it. C’est naturel! Comme le vélo! (Like biking!)
While growing up, we always had at home what my mum used to call la réserve, that is where she kept the extra bags of flour, sugar, vinegar and such things. No more vinegar? No problem, no need to run to the store, you would find a nice fresh clean new bottle in la réserve. “Go and get one in la réserve” she would ask me. In a cooler room, she would keep potatoes and carrots burried in sand so that they were kept fresh. Like having an épicerie at home. These are tricks I never forgot and so since you learn from seeing and doing just like parrots do, I have repeated what I have learned and developed a habit to always keep things in my réserve, just like a squirrel storing nuts.
And here is another layer. My mum was born during the Second World War in France, in Lorraine more particularly, during times when her mum -my grand-mother- had to store things just in case of shortage, for matters of survival then. Hence my mum acquired this habit of hers from her own mother. The simple passing of generations. The apple not falling far from the tree. Merci mémé!
Now times have changed but I still keep this family habit. I have my réserve and I like it large although my kitchen cupboards tend to be too small because of all the, …well never mind, I still want this new pair of plates I recently saw.
To make this particular tart, I had enough in my réserve to make tartelettes aux légumes.
For the dough:
- 220g flour
- 1 butter stick (113 g)
- 1 pinch of salt
- Water, adjust accordingly for the dough consistency
See how to make it here for example.
For the vegetable topping:
- 1 fennel bulb
- 2 carrots
- 2 zucchinis
- 1/2 red pepper
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- Fresh coriander
- Fresh parsley
- Thyme sprig (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tbsp crème fraîche
- Fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
- Start by brushing the carrots well (don’t peel them, the vitamins are in the skin), so make sure you chose nice organic ones. Wash them and then cut them in 1.5 inch sticks.
- Wash the zucchinis and cut them in 1.5 inch sticks as well.
- Wash and slice the fennel bulb (Keep some of the green part for decoration).
- Wash and cut the pepper in thin strips.
- Chop the garlic thinly.
- Take a frying or sautee pan and heat 2 tbsp of olive oil.
- When hot, add the garlic and ground cumin and coriander. Cook for a few mns, then add first the carrots and fennel, then after a few mns, the zucchinis and pepper. Add the chopped coriander and parsley with the thyme. Cover and cook until softer, but not too soft, about 15 mns on medium heat. Check to see how you prefer the vegetables.
- Preheat your oven at 400-420 F.
- Roll out your dough and place in individual ceramic (or non stick) molds pregreased. Make small holes in the dough.
- Beat together the eggs, cream and the freshly chopped parsley. Add the parmesan, salt and pepper and pour over on top of the vegetables.
- Cook for about 30 mns or until the crust has a nice golden colour.
-10-Place the vegetables at bottom, starting by arranging the fennels first (bigger pieces)
I served those tartlets with a green tossed salad, red beets (I know not everyone shares my love for beets!), dry-roasted hazelnuts and a strong mustardy vinaigrette. And it was delicious!
So think in those terms la réserve. It saved our dinner plan.
And since I had more vegetables than I needed, I decided to add a variation for the following day’s lunch and added the extra vegetables on top of the tartlets, like shown on the picture. We were delighted. Thank God for leftovers.