Tarts during the winter? Only if the ingredients are right...

It’s the end of 2018 and while we’re in the middle of the uber frigid Texas winters (read as 60 degrees and sunny), but sometimes I crave a summer dish. Lemon or fruit tarts are always a good choice, but in the winter it’s a little harder to come by good fruit to create such a dish.

Enter preserves and curds. Highlighting the best parts of the fruits, with the ease of any season use. Bonne Maman Lemon Curd and Les Comtes De Provence Organic Raspberry fill these layered tarts with just the right flavors of summer, even in this dark dreary Texas wintertime.

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A little help from the Tartine Bakery cookbook for their excellent Sweet Tart dough, and we’ve got it made. These ingredients, provided by the French Food and Drink Federation are top quality porducts from France, available stateside, and really highlight the artisan nature of many of the products we don’t get here in the US.

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I’m always amazed by the breadth of ingredients that exist around the world that I hear so little about. Always it ends up being the local flavors, country or region specific tastes and flavors or just the simple ingredients that others take for granted. Getting to try these out on some individual dishes is always amazing.

The Lemon Curd from Bonne Maman has a deep, rich tart flavor that pairs exceedingly well with the fresh sweet raspberry jam from Les Comtes de Provence, both of which offset the rich buttery tart crust. Add some vanilla whipped cream and a little mint, maybe a slice of lemon and you’ve got yourself a great winter, or summertime dessert.

Running in to fall, still grasping onto the straws of summer...

Losing the warmth of the summer and the long day is never very fun, but carreening into fall has it's advantages — cider donuts, hot pumpkin pie, soups and stews — all make it worth while.

Of course, I’m still holding on to summer and the French Food and Drink Federation is a great help with that. They were kind enough to make my desire to hang on to summer all the more easy with some delicious items — ones that I had to come up with something even more summery for.

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Included were some amazing items, but the ones that caught my eye were:

A dessert was defintely in order. As I’m just not that creative, I had to enlist some help from renowed Houston Chef Austin Simmons for some creative inspiration. What we came up with, for these delectable French ingredients, what nothing short of a memorable close to a long summer, with fresh tastes, fruits, and a crisp cool send off.

First on the bench, a sorbet…

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A Wild Strawberry Sparkling Lemonade Sorbet, to be exact…

To pair, an Apricot, Almond, Coconut Milk Broth

And for an accent, crushed violet and anise mint

How does that sound??

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What it sounded like to me was summer!

  • Wild Strawberry Sparkling Lemonade Sorbet

  • Apricot/Almond/Coconut Broth

  • Lavender Chantilly Cream

  • Textural Violet/Anise Mints

  • Wild Strawberry Coulis

  • Fresh Local Mint

These ingredients, direct from France were incredible, particulary the Violet and Anise mints. Long lasting and the addition of a single anise see in each one was unusual but welcome. Definietly an interesting treat.

The dessert as a whole was fantastic — summery, crisp, minty, and smooth. The addition of coconut milk to the broth added a layer of succulent fat that kept the taste of the sorbet lingering. I’ll definitely have to make this again… or maybe just go to France.