Paris has been dreamy. Each day we spend hours and hours roaming the city, every nook and cranny. Two days back, we found a water fountain that dispenses carbonated water, how posh.
Other days are spent it in the kitchen, Chantal and I, sharing our own baking secrets, trading recipes. She has opened my eyes to moule et frites, clams in cream sauce, olives in quiche, and herbs in bread. Today, for our last meal in Paris we dine on paella and fig tart for dessert, cheese to follow of course.
Things to note while cooking in a Parisian kitchen, everything is tiny. The stove and fridge, both barely fitting a weeks supply. The oven will only heat if the timer has been
turned on. Cupboards are extremely tall. The washing machine is not a dishwasher, even if it's placed in the same spot. The washing machine also doubles as a dryer, intriguing.
A quick trip to the Monoprix, turns into an all day affair, new foods intrigue me, I want to try them all. I gather a handful of figs, gently placed in my bag to avoid being squished by the bread and cheese. Giant they are, sweet and earthy. Back at Chantals', it's another recipe, this one slightly different from the
. I am starting to get the hang of pastry dough, as it becomes second nature, skills I though I would never acquire. The tart cools on the windowsill, beside the basilic and persil. Once cooled, I spoon my creamy mascarpone filling into the shell, gently line my figs row by row. A drizzle of honey to compliment it all. A rich and creamy sweet dish, colorful and beautiful, a perfect ending to a wonderful stay, shared amongst friends.
We are now on our way to Croatia, a beautiful place I've heard. I am really not sure what culinary treats they have to offer, but I promise to share soon. In the mean time, I leave you with a few pictures of our travels in Paris and a some things to note. Parisian men are some of the best dressed I've seen. French baguettes now elicit some sort of Pavlovian response, with their warm sweat yeasty smells, drifting from the bakery windows in the early mornings. Ice cream and the Eiffel Tower are a must. Macarons are tiny bundles of soft chewy marshmallow type cookies, salted caramel my favorite. What I would do for a Ladurée beside my house. And finally, people in Paris know how to eat, and they take it seriously. This is my kind of place.
FIG MASCARPONE TART RECIPE
makes one 9" tart
recipe adapted from Stephanie at
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup whole ground almond flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
7 tbsp butter, chilled and cubed
3 - 4 tbsp cold water
450g mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, sliced and scraped
zest from 1 lemon
5 large figs, cut into eighths
2 tbsp good quality liquid honey
In a large mixing bowl, add the flours and the sugar. Combine the ingredients. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or you can use your hands. Continue to mix until it resembles coarse meal. Add the egg and combine. Slowly drizzle in the cold water tbsp by tbsp while continuing to combine, kneading with your hands. Continue in this manner until the mixture starts to stick together and form a ball.
Gather the dough and pat together. Form into the shape of a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Remove the dough from the fridge and place in the center of the tart pan. With your hands, start working the dough, flattening it and evenly distributing throughout the tart shell. The tart should be 1/4 - 1/2 inch thickness.
Once you have worked the dough covering all edges of the tart shell, poke
tiny pricks on the bottom of the shell with a knife or toothpick. This will allow the air to escape. Place the tart shell in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the tart has turned golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the mascarpone, cream, and sugar on medium until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla seeds and lemon zest and continue to whip until the cream forms stiff peaks. Spoon the filling into the cooled tart shell.
Wash and cut the figs into eighths. Place them on top of the filling with the flesh side facing up. Drizzle the honey on top of the figs and serve, or store in the fridge until ready to serve. Can be stored in the fridge for 2 days.