Tartelettes à l’orange- Orange Tartlets
Our friend Brendan is funny, witty, lively and recently I just heard he can cook! The amazing Brendan works at Radio Open Source with Christopher Lyndon, and a bunch of great people like David, Katherine and Robin; this might explain the booming constant outburst of energy coming out of Brendan. A few days ago, he (the amazing Brendan) decided that he was going to have us and other friends over for dinner. I thought “Wow, just after the daily radio show (ending every day at 8 pm), he will have the energy to pull a dinner together? Quel mec! “(What an impressive bloke!) All the more amazing as he added that this was one of the first times he was actually cooking dinner for friends in this format (not sure what he meant here). He soon added however that some help might be required and asked whether we could all cook something for that event. My cooking assigment was dessert. “Mais bien sûr! Pas de problème!” said the nice polite me! Mais oui! Mince alors! (Crap) I was totally cooked-out after zillions of the little things I had cooked this week (you might have noticed!) because I had no patience to wait until next week (hence we had quite a bit of food supplies!) but could I say no to Brendan? Of course not! Pas à Brendan! Absolument pas! My initial thought fell into believing that it was easy, I could just go to Wholefoods and buy a fruit tart. Until I remembered the last time I had done such a thing. I had come back with a very sweet tart that tasted just like, well like what really if I think about it, artificial, processed (yes at Wholefoods I felt that!), not natural, too sweet, too much jelly on the filling, and with a heavy crust. Now, if I were to go to Wholefoods, I could have that same kind of dessert and be disappointed. No no! The little fairy fluttering around my ears just dropped me these words (my imagination): No way! You cannot do that! So I was in it, I had to make dessert.
I had no idea how many people we were going to be, but what the heck, I decided to set myself for a number of 8, no more, as I had 8 little tartlet molds and I was in the mood to make individual servings.
In France, we love tarts (I mean the pie, ah, is it one of the English language tricks on me again? I did not fall into it this time, ah!) One of my fondest memories is early spring or late summer days, when for our 4 O’clock snack (in French we call that le goûter), my mum would make a homemade cherry tart with cherries from our trees, or a quetsche tart. Worth noticing that une quetsche is a delicious plum found in the North-Eastern part in France, which we use for tart toppings, in jams and to make a V E R Y strong liqueur (that is, almost 100%). My grand-mother used to own a licence (that was required) to distill that liqueur and as I am writing, I can remember the fragrance of the fruit in the big vat downstairs. Enough to make you feel drunk! If you have ever made alcohol, you will surely agree. I had none of those fruit at home, not even mentioning that in any case, they are out of season – and I try (not always I admit) to stick to eating in-season ingredients. But I had oranges, so I decided to make Orange tartlets. I found a recipe in Cuisine et Vins de France, and added a few modifications (less butter in the dough and less cream).
For the dough:
- 350 g flour
- 130 g butter
- 2 eggs
- 60 g sugar
- Pinch of salt
For the topping
- 1 orange and its peel
- 4 eggs
- 200 g sugar + 50 g for the syrup
- 10 cl water for the syrup
- 4 tbsp crème fraîche
- Mint to decorate
You can start by the orange peels to be better organized.
- Take a vegetable peeler and make nice long peels in the orange.
- Blanch for about 5 mns.
- Drain and then place them in a pot with 10 cl water and 50 g sugar.
- Cook for about 10 mns on low heat. (Confire l’orange)
To make the dough
- Place 300 g flour, 130 g butter, and a pinch a salt in the bowl of your food processor.
- Mix well until you get a crumbled consistency.
- Add the egg yolk, one by one, then 5 or 6 (adjust, I rather added 6 to 7) of cold tbsp water.
- The key is this. Your dough is ready when it detaches from the bowl and form one piece.
Place in a bowl covered, and place in the freezer for 15 mns.
To make the topping
- Mix together the eggs with the sugar until very light and white, then add the orange juice and the crème fraîche.
- Roll your dough out and place in individual small buttered molds. Place the dough inside, make small holes at bottom with a fork, and place a pieces of parchment paper with beans on top (This is called cuire a blanc, in other words, precooked your dough).
- Cook in a preheated oven 350 F (180 C) for about 15 mns. Then remove the parchment paper and pour some of the cream.
- Cook again in the oven for about 20 to 25 mns. Just check regularly.
- Decorated with the orange peels and the mint.
Brendan’s dinner was a great success. When I think it was the first time he was receiving guests for a dinner party, I could hardly believe him. You rehearsed, didn’t you? His friends were just great fun, a whole patchwork of nationalities. We heard stories from Cairo to Paris, Geneva to Germany, Ireland to Canada. Always material that fascinates me and one of the reasons why I like the USA. In Boston, I can see what I learned in books. People living here truly come from everywhere. Ellis Island was no myth.
As to food, how do you say it in English? Delicious. Marvellous. Gran!
We had Cheese and wine to start, then a tasty Mexican Taco soup (with lime and coriander), a mixed salad (loved the vinaigrette, what was in it?), meat and ricotta lasagna, moist chocolate brownies and my orange tartlets.
Thursday night was fun! We went to bed late, pretty late actually, but who cared then?