“J’vais faire les courses (I am going grocery shopping),” I cried out bundled up in my thick coat, hat and gloves on, clearly ready to step outside within the minute.
“Did you warm up the car?” P. shouted back from upstairs.
“Merde,” I thought. I had not.
If I was not going to, P. would give me a hard time, I knew that part. Well, I suppose that this is what you have to do during cold wintry days — warm the car up — so I did without complaining. Winter is definitely not looking as if it is decided to leave us any time soon, even if today the temperatures are much milder. Last week, we’ve had two good snow days, giving us good excuses to go out to snow shoe, make a snow man, cuddle up on the couch inside, and share a fabulous dinner prepared with our friends R. and J.: R. made a pumpkin flan for dessert; I prepared a risotto with an arugula side salad. I know that the days when summer humidity hits again are closer than we think, and I will be one of the first to suffer. And complain. So for now, let it be colder.
I walked into Whole Foods and headed towards the vegetable and fruit section of the store, as I usually do without even thinking about it. It is without doubt my shopping routine: I always start with the vegetables and finish with the cheese. I like that I do not need to decide since it happens naturally from habit.
I casually tossed the vegetables I always buy in my cart: leeks, fennel bulbs, carrots, celeriac and parsnip for the vegetable broth and hachis parmentier I had planned to prepare during the week; mâche and arugula along with fresh herbs; a large paper bag of Mc Intosh apples for our freshly squeezed morning juice. As I leaned to grab a few kiwis, I suddenly caught sight of something bright and red at one corner a few stands away, in the refrigerated section where fresh berries were displayed. I looked again to be sure, feeling my cheeks turn red with excitement. This could not be. Was I really seeing what I was seeing?
They had red currants.
De belles groseilles rouges juteuses.
And a few boxes away, long red sticks were packed together: they had rhubarb too!
A smile bigger than my lips stretched my whole face but for the seconds that followed, I still tried to reason myself.
Non Béa, tu ne peux pas acheter des groseilles en hiver (Béa you should not buy red currants during winter). And rhubarb neither.
But what the heck? Was it going to be such a terrible crime? Vraiment ? My head started spinning with ideas for deliciously colorful desserts. With rhubarb on top, it would be a pure slice of heaven.
But reason seemed to affect me more than I had anticipated. I kept hearing “you cannot buy these unseasonal fruit” in my ears.
I moved on and tried to finish my shopping trip, but the sight of the bright juicy fruit kept coming back to me, making me forget other things to buy. Well, it would not be that bad, would it? See, I didn’t believe that someone would blame me for buying a little box of deliciously summery looking red currants and a few sticks of rhubarb. They were guaranteed to bring a beam of sunshine in the kitchen and make P. and I cheerier as we would taste a lovely dessert comfortably seated on the couch that evening.
Forget about reason!
I zoomed back to the area where I had caught sight of my treasure, hoping that no one else would have the same idea, hence leaving me with nothing. But it seemed that I was the only one with this summer fruit urge since there were plenty left. I hesitated between grabbing two, but eventually settled for one. I could always come back if I needed to.
Back home a few hours later, I set myself to work quickly. I surely had been inspired!
The first dessert I made was a red berry and rhubarb crumble I will tell you about later.
The second one was red currant and almond teacakes, the very ones I would easily pack with us on a hike or for a picnic with friends at the beach.
These cakes use white rice and almond flours, and only egg whites instead of the whole eggs — a nice option for any egg white leftovers. They are flavored with lemongrass and vanilla, and have poppy seeds in them for added crunchiness. I use my coffee grinder to chop the lemongrass as finely as possible, but a nut grinder will work too. The cakes are quick to prepare and light in texture: in short, a real success in my book.
Did I feel guilty?
Alors là, mais pas du tout ! (not at all!)
In fact, instead, I decided to close my eyes and imagine for a second that I was lying under the cherry tree after a fabulous picnic, smelling the freshly cut grass and feeling the sea breeze brush against my skin. Oh let me tell you, I cannot wait for those times to happen soon again.
Mon cher monsieur le printemps (my dear Spring), my kitchen and I are ready whenever you are.
- 1 lemongrass stick, chopped finely (I used a coffee grinder)
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped out
- 5 Tbsp butter
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 1/2 cup almond flour, sifted
- 1/4 cup white rice flour*
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 2 egg whites, lightly beaten with a fork until foamy
- 1/2 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1/3 cup red currants
*You can substitute white rice flour with all-purpose flour
- Preheat your oven at 350 F and butter 4 muffin molds; set aside.
- Melt the butter in a pot and set aside.
- In a bowl, mix the flour, almond powder, confectioner’s sugar, salt and baking powder.
- Add the vanilla seeds and lemongrass.
- Make a hole in the middle, then add the white eggs and mix well.
- Add the melted butter while continuing to mix.
- Add the red currants and poppy seeds, and divide the batter between the 4 molds.
- Bake for 30 min.
- Remove and let cool down for a few min before unmolding on a cooling rack.
- 1 bâton de citronnelle, haché finement (j’utilise un moulin à café)
- 1/2 gousse de vanille, fendue et grattée
- 65 g de beurre
- 60 g de sucre glace, tamisé
- 60 g de poudre d’amandes, tamisée
- 50 g de farine de riz blanche*
- 1/4 càc de poudre à lever
- Pincée de sel
- 2 blancs d’oeuf, légèrement battus à la fourchette pour être mousseux
- 1/2 càs de graines de pavot
- 40 g de groseilles rouges
*Vous pouvez substituer cette farine par de la farine T 45.
- Préchauffez votre four à 180 C et beurrez 4 petits moules à muffin ou à bord canelé; mettez-les de côté.
- Faites fondre le beurre.
- Dans une jatte, mélangez la farine de riz, la poudre d’amandes et le sucre glace avec le sel et la poudre à lever.
- Ajoutez les graines de vanille et la citronnelle.
- Faites un puits au milieu et ajoutez les blancs d’oeuf. Mélangez.
- Ajoutez le beurre fondu tout en mélangeant bien.
- Ajoutez ensuite le pavot et les groseilles et divisez cette pâte entre les moules.
- Enfournez pendant environ 30 min.
- Sortez du four et laissez refroidir un peu avant de démouler sur une grille.