The strawberry field


Les fraises

We’ll go early,” I told my mother-in-law Patricia while she and I were tidying the kitchen after dinner.

It was a nice moment of our day, I thought, as the cool evening breathe was gently filtering in through the open window above the sink. It was perhaps eight and Lulu was fast asleep upstairs.

We’d enjoyed a dinner of curried shrimp served with spring greens and coconut rice, and a shaved fennel salad on the side.

Patricia and I were chit chatting about this and that, happy to reflect on the day.

On va cueillir des fraises, d’accord ?” I said, laughing. I was referring to my craving to drive to a strawberry field the next day where I wanted to take Lulu.

I knew that the three of us would have a lot of fun there.

I could not help but remember that my mother would have planned the day in that manner too:

Get up really early and drive for an hour to a pick-your-strawberry farm in Alsace nearby;

Fill large cardboard cartons with fragrant fruit and drive home before the hottest hours of the day hit;

And then spend the afternoon in my mother’s small kitchen with the blinds drawn down, which would keep the house cool and allow us to work the fruit.

We liked to make jams and tarts and preserves.

I remember that we’d make sure to keep a basket for us to eat. And another one filled with the prettiest strawberries that we’d eventually use in a charlotte aux fraises for the Sunday lunch that followed.

I was always looking forward to that moment in the season. The car drive through the Lorraine countryside to Alsace. My hands colored red from touching the fruit. The smell of jam cooking in the kitchen. The charlotte aux fraises that my mother liked to prepare in her white Tupperware Charlotte mold.

We are blessed with the weather,” I told Patricia at the breakfast table. “I think we can go.” The rain from the previous day had cleared to leave room to a perfectly blue sky and a radiant sun.

Verrill farm was only a fifteen-minute drive from the house and when we arrived, I noticed small clusters of people already busy picking strawberries.

I hope we’ll find something good here,” I told Patricia as we approached the stand to collect our baskets. “It’s my first time to this farm.

Luck worked in our favor.

The deep green leaves of the numerous well-aligned strawberry plants proved they were healthy. Each plant was so abundant with fruit that we didn’t need to walk far to fill our baskets quickly. Lulu kept running back and forth between her grand-ma and me, excited at each time she’d spot a strawberry under the leaves.

They were shining like precious rubies in the light of the morning sun.

Une fraise dans le panier, et une fraise dans ma bouche!” (One strawberry in my basket, and one in my mouth!) ” I exclaimed as I bit into one.

The strawberries were small and sweet, and had every one of the qualities that makes me fall in love with freshly picked fruit every season.

After only a short hour, our baskets were filled.

I knew I had little time to think about what to do with the strawberries. They looked like strawberries that needed to be eaten and prepared right then. They had that color. That shape. That looks.

We ate them nature, and sprinkled with a tad of sugar and lemon juice.

Then, I played with a few dessert ideas that we included in the meals that my parents-in-law and us shared together before they left.

I made strawberry verrines with vanilla-flavored custard the first day for lunch. Because anything with the word custard attached is bound to make my Irish family happy.

Then I prepared strawberry tartares for dinner. With ladyfingers and more custard.

I baked strawberry clafoutis.

And I froze a few strawberry batches because I knew we’d love to have fresh strawberry sorbets.

And then there were these strawberry tartlets.

Glorious.

Bursting with summery flavors.

I prepared them using a gluten free teff-based rustic pastry crust first, topping the prebaked crusts with a light vanilla-flavored mascarpone cream and freshly sliced strawberries.

Nothing else.

We loved them as is.

So I decided to bake them again, but with a millet-based pastry crust the second time.

And without noticing, all of the strawberries we had picked disappeared.

A few days later, I was putting Lulu to bed when unexpectedly she exclaimed “More strawberries!

I looked at her, surprised.

La ferme, maman ?

And then I smiled. She was thinking what I was craving too.

Ok, demain, on ira chercher des fraises,” I replied while tucking her under her favorite flowered blanket. “I’ll ask Ely if she wants to come with us.

I knew she was looking forward to having her hands and lips stained red once again. Stop at the farm stand right after for a popsicle, or something else. And spend time with our friend Ely.

I was just happy that she liked all of it as much as I did.

We woke up early the next day. It was sunny. Hot. And after an hour, we drove home with four kilos of strawberries.

Ready to be taken care in all sorts of tasty ways.

Oh summer!

Strawberry tartlets with mascarpone cream

For four 4.5-inch tartlets


For the sweet crust:

  • 2/3 cup millet flour
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons blond cane sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons xantham gum (if using)
  • 6.5 tablespoons (90 g) cold butter, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons cold water


For the garnish:

  • 7 oz (200 g) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons blond cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 24 small strawberries, hulled and halved

Steps:

  • To prepare the sweet crust: In a bowl of the food processor, pulse the flour, cornstarch, almond meal, xantham gum and sugar.
  • Add the butter and continue to pulse until crumbs form.
  • Add the egg and pulse to incorporate.
  • Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, and continue to pulse until the dough detaches from the bowl.
  • Divide into 4 balls and place them in a bowl dusted with flour. Cover and place in the fridge for one to two hours.
  • Bring the dough back to room temperature. Roll and garnish the molds–you might have a little leftover. Using a fork, make small holes at the bottom and place the molds in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 F and cover the dough in each mold with parchment paper. Top evenly with dry rice (or whatever you use to blind cook a crust). Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the paper and rice, and continue to bake for 5 minutes. Remove the molds from the oven and let the crusts completely cool (you can prepare them a day before too, if you prefer).
  • To prepare the cream: In a bowl, beat the mascarpone with the sugar until soft. Stir in the vanilla.
  • Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form soft ribbons. Fold in the mascarpone preparation. Divide the cream between the crusts, making sure it is leveled, and top with the strawberries.
Le coin français
Tartelettes aux fraises et à la mascarpone

Pour 4 tartelettes


Pour la pâte sucrée :

  • 80 g de farine de millet
  • 45 g de maïzena
  • 40 g de poudre d’amandes
  • 2 càs de sucre de canne blond
  • 1,5 càc de gomme xanthane (si vous l’utilisez)
  • 90 g de beurre non salé froid, coupé en dés
  • 1 oeuf
  • 2 à 3 càs d’eau froide


Pour la garniture :

  • 200 g de mascarpone, à température ambiante
  • 4 càs de sucre de canne blond
  • 2 càc d’extrait de vanille pur
  • 2 blancs d’oeuf
  • Pincée de sel de mer
  • 24 petites fraises, nettoyées et coupées en deux

Etapes :

  • Pour préparez la pâte: dans le bol de votre mixeur, mélangez en utilisant la fonction pulsez la farine de millet, la maïzena, la poudre d’amande, la gomme xanthane et le sucre.
  • Ajoutez le beurre et continuez à pulser jusqu’à ce que de grosses miettes se forment dans le bol.
  • Ajoutez l’oeuf et continuez à pulser.
  • Ajoutez l’eau, une càs après l’autre, en travaillant la pâte jusqu’à ce qu’elle se détache du bol.
  • Divisez-la en 4 petites boules et mettez-les dans un bol, saupoudrées de farine. Filmez et mettez au frais pendant 1 à 2 heures.
  • Sortez la pâte du frigo pour qu’elle se ramolisse un peu et étalez-la. Garnissez-en de petits moules à tartelettes. Faites de petits trous dans le fond avec une fourchette et remettez au frigo pendant 30 minutes.
  • Préchauffez le four à 200 C et couvrez chaque fond de tartelette avec du papier sulfurisé. Ajoutez un poids (du riz cru par exemple) et faites précuire les fonds de tartelette pendant 10 minutes. Retirez le riz et le papier et poursuivez la cuisson pendant 5 minutes. Sortez du four, démoulez et laissez refroidir (vous pouvez préparer les fonds de tartelette la veille, si vous le souhaitez.)
  • Pour préparez la crème: dans un bol, fouettez la mascarpone avec le sucre. Ajoutez la vanille.
  • Montez les blancs en neige avec une pincée de sel jusqu’à ce qu’ils forment des rubans. A l’aide d’une maryse, ajoutez-les délicatement à la crème à la mascarpone, en veillant à ne pas faire tomber la masse. Garnissez les fonds de tarte de cette crème et ajoutez les fraises. Dégustez sans attendre.

66 comments

  1. Tres charmant. Beautifully evocative. Merci!!! Reminds me of picking fruit when I was little. Quelle joie!

  2. Beautifully evocative. Merci!!! Reminds me of picking fruit when I was little. Quelle joie!

  3. What a lovely story. There are several pick your own strawberry farms near us and opening day is July 1st for the first strawberries of the year. The rest of Australia won’t get fresh strawberries for months but up north we start early. I can’t wait.

    I will make one of your strawberry tarts that can only be done right using beautifully fresh strawberries. Delicious post for the eyes and the tummy.

  4. Thank you for the wonderful stories and photos. They’ve inspired my own memories of filling long cardboard boxes with strawberries when I was a little girl. We lived so close to the farm — less than 15 minutes — that until now, I never realized how lucky I was. Thank you.

  5. That is so lovely. I just wanna dive into the strawberry field and never come back. Why couldn’t REAL strawberries be a year round treat?

  6. Those tartlets are fabulous! As a child, I loved going strawberry picken with my family while on holiday in England.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  7. Belle histoire et superbes photos… Avec d’aussi belles fraises on ne peut que se régaler. Cela me rappelle les fraises que je piquais en douce dans le jardin de ma grand-mère!
    Bises à Lulu…

  8. This tartlets look beyond delicious. I have my granny’s birthday party to plan and this little treats would make a great dessert. Have to try it out!

  9. Mon fruit préféré. Tellement préféré que je l’ai rangé dans la catégorie des légumes: excuse parfaite pour en manger encore un petit peu plus :-)
    Natures ou en tarte sur lit de crème fouettée… je crois que c’est ce que je vais faire ce WE!

  10. I wonder if you went to Verrill Farm? I love these pictures! I used to go all the time with my little one. He would even come with me now if I could rouse him out of sleep on his very short window of summer vacation. I went by myself, but alas, it was not the same. (But I did procure enough for jam and tarts and….eating!) Carpe diem!

  11. Sally, yes yes ;-) It is the place. I am looking forward to their tomatoes too!

  12. Hm ça a l’air délicieux et simple à faire ces tartelettes! J’ai envie d’essayer, les fraises du Québec sont arrivées!

  13. Our strawberry picking season is over down here in Texas but it was wonderful. I also made some strawberry tarts with frangipane. I enjoyed blackberry picking this year. That is my childhood favorite! Beautiful photos to wake up to this morning. What does the xanthum gum do? I’ve never used that ingredient.

  14. I’m happy for this recipe. There is a July 3rd birthday in our house that needs to be celebrated with mascarpone and summer ripe berries. Thank you.

  15. Look at your daughter’s muscles!! It even looks like she’s flexing them in one of the pictures:)

    Are those pistachios in the tartares? They look exotic and delicious.

  16. I’m in love with this post, Béa! I will make this tartlets but instead of using strawberries (not in season in Hungary now) I’ll use rhubarb! :)

  17. Nice to see strawberries resting on proper straw and not plastic!
    And …I love your green colander.

  18. I could not find good strawberries anywhere around here this year – one of my all time favorites! Heartbreaking to miss out on such a wonderful early summer treat. I’m holding out hope for blueberries next week. Thanks for sharing! Makes me hungry for berries!!

  19. Emma, yes they are pistachios.

    Snippets of thyme, I use a little xantham gum so that it’s easier to work the dough. It’s not necessary but bear in mind that because the crust is gluten free, there’s not as much binding to the ingredients. At times, I omit it too and the result is just as delicious. I don’t like to add too much but just enough.

    Thank you everyone. It’s so special to have seasonal fruit, isn’t it?

  20. In love. Just in love! Why again was I not on the invite for this lovely outing? Ohhh, right – that whole NOT IN THIS COUNTRY thing.

    xoxox!

  21. gorgeous, gorgeous! i have so many fond memories of picking strawberries growing up – need to make the time to do it this season, before i miss it completely. thank you for sharing this beautiful little story!

  22. Lovely post. Thank you for taking me back to Alsace, if only for a moment. The photos of the farm, Lulu, strawberries are beautiful, and the desserts, oh my! LOVE summer fruits!

  23. Stunning photos to go with a beautiful story!!! Enjoy the summer! regards, ~rose

  24. How wonderful! I love lulu’s polka dot hat. Such great abundance and so many great dishes you describe here.

  25. Nothing compares to the aroma of fresh strawberries in summer! The memories you are making with your little one are so special. Thanks for sharing.

  26. One of my favorite childhood memories is going to a sunfilled strawberry field with my grandmother who would skold me for eating more strawberries than I’d put in my little basket because they were so irrestistably sweet and fresh! You and your daughter are so lucky to do this together!

  27. The strawberry fields look amazing out there. I look forward to a chance to pick some one day.

  28. divine! we feel as if we’ve just had a short vacation into pure sunshine and have squishy bits of strawberries left in the bottom of a bowl

  29. What a great idea for an outing. Alsace is a bit far for a day trip, but I just spent the last ten minutes looking for places near Zürich and found some good possibilities. Lovely photos full of life and inspiration!

  30. Stunningly wonderful!! Your photos shine with summery light and happiness, and your tarts are absolutely scrumptious. :-)

  31. Jolie palette gourmande mais je ne suis pas objective .. la fraise est mon fruit préféré !!
    J’adore ces couleurs d’été ..
    Nedj

  32. Dans chaque famille en France où on aime faire de la pâtisserie maison, ce qui est le cas de ma famille ici en Bretagne dans le finistère sud, on a tous 1 voire 2 moules à charlotte blancs Tupperware; moi j’en possède 2 que j’adore; un, hérité de ma grand-mère (il est presque patiné tellement il a servi !) et un autre plus récent que j’ai acheté car si on est nombreux, une charlotte ne suffit pas ! Ces moules représentent des moments gourmands de bonheurs familiaux partagés… ! j’espère les transmettre à mes fils et puissent-ils faire autant de charlottes que les générations d’avant ! God save Charlottes !

  33. Quelle belle histoire, ça me rappelle mon enfance! J’ai eu le sourire avec le “moule à charlotte Tupperware”; ma maman avait le même et c’était un de nos desserts préférés. Cueillir ses fruits pour les déguster avec cette belle tartelette c’est un vrai bonheur!

  34. oh my goodness, i could die of happiness just thinking about those tarts. wonderful.

  35. what an absolutely beautiful post. it’s so wonderful that’s she’s growing to have your interest and passions! :) delicious strawberries!

  36. When I was only ten years old I went strawberry picking in a fairy farm in Finland. Strawberries were as sweet as sugar dissolving under the sun. I’ll never forget about it, as Lulu too.

  37. Quick question, would you recommend eating the tarts right away or can they be made ahead of time? I’m thinking that the juice from the strawberry might make the mascarpone filling liquidy and ruin the whole tart if prepared and put aside until the end of dinner. Thoughts?

  38. Frenchie and the Yankie,

    I suggest assembling the tartlets just before eating. But that said, the second time I made them, we had two leftovers and they kept fine until the next day.

  39. les fraises : le fruit de l’enfance par excellence, objet de tous les fantasmes enfantins : chewin gum fraise, tarte aux fraises, fraises au sucre.. la cuillette des fraises a du etre un moment d’extatique bonheur pour l’adorable ptite bonne femme :) en tout, toutes ces photos sont absolument délicieuses ds tous les sens du terme!

  40. Capping strawberries is one of the things I remember fondly from my childhood! And I love the relationship you have with your daughter. It’s nice that you share what you love with her and that she in turn enjoys it :)

  41. Oh, and I also sent you email last month but haven’t got answer. I understand if you’re busy but I hope you could reply soon. :) Thanks!

  42. Pingback: Frenchie and The Fourth « Frenchie and the Yankee

  43. Thank you everyone.

    Frenchie and the Yankee, glad you were inspired by the tartlets to make your own!

  44. Great photos and so delish! We recently went strawberry picking out on Long Island, and we ended up with so many we had to throw most of them out! Wish I knew about your great recipe before.

  45. I love this crust recipe! I am making miniature pumpkin tarts for our gluten free wedding and this recipe is perfectly flaky! Now I’m making one batch dairy-free using frozen vegetable shortening! Merci!!

  46. Tart and photography are outstanding! Cooking with Books led me to you.

  47. Pingback: Des fraises pour un panneau d'inspiration gourmand | PLUMETIS Magazine

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>