Paul's voice and accent sounded just like Maurice Chevalier's and Giselle just had to be herself to one of the most elegant woman I had ever seen before. I could barely understand a
word they said but it didn't matter. If your only experience of them was what we had seen in Paris then you would have thought their farmhouse was just for show. Then they went to work. While entertaining us and pouring for us the most amazing Pinot Noir they went about cooking our afternoon meal. Paul (the businessman I had seen just two days earlier dressed in an impeccable business suit disappeared to the hen house to kill and prepare a chicken while Giselle (who clearly was no stranger to Hermes) put on her big sun hat and garden gloves, headed to the vegetable garden to harvest the rest of our lunch. Then in front of our very eyes the duo crafted the most amazing, fresh lunch without ever once checking a recipe or measuring an ingredient. Whatever it was they were making for us, it was as if they had done it so many times that it was second nature to them.
Giselle went about setting the table (while all sorts of things were cooking in the kitchen) with all sorts of amazing farm house type plates, napkins and cut flowers. I don't remember what it was she made but when I saw this tart that Dorie chose for us to cook for this weeks French Friday's with Dorie it conjured up my images of this lunch. It symbolizes so much of what I remember about casual French cooking - Giselle style. Simple ingredients, great taste, and a casual elegance once presented at the table. If I could ever commit a recipe to memory (I just can never seem to) it would be this one. I would then make it for friends in front of their very eyes while sipping wine, laughing, and setting the table and saying wonderful things in French.
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's "Around My French Table"
- 3 carrots, trimmed and peeled
- 3 thin leeks, white and light green parts. Cut lengthwise in half and washed
- 2 rosemary sprigs
- 3 large eggs
- 6 T creme fraiche or heavy cream.
- 2 T Dijon style mustard
- 2 T grainy style mustard
- Kosher salt to taste
- 1 9 1/2 tart shell from your preferred recipe.
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a bakingsheet with a
silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
The carrots and leeks need to be cut into slender batons or sticks so cut the carrots lengthwise in half, then place the halves cut side down on the cutting board and cut crosswise in half or cut into chunks about 3 inches long. Your carrots will tell you how they want to be cut! but they end up close to 1/8- to ¼-inch-thick matchsticks. Cut the leek sin the same way.
Pour in enough water into your steaming basket to come almost up to the steamer, cover, and
bring to a boil. Drop the carrots, leeks, and 1 rosemary sprig into the basket, cover, and steam until the vegetables are tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a knife, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain the vegetables and pat them dry; discard the rosemary sprig.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs together with the crème fraîche or heavycream. Add the mustard, season with salt and white pepper. Taste and see if you want to add a little more of one or the other mustards but be careful to not make things too salty!
Put the tart pan on the lined baking sheet and pour the filling into the crust.Arrange the vegetables over the filling — they can go in any which way but Gerard and Giselle would both prefer they were arranged attractively! Spokes coming out from the center of the tar
t would be nice! Top with the remaining rosemary sprig and give the vegetables a sprinkling of salt and a couple of turns of the peppermill.
Bake the tart for about 30 minutes, or until it is uniformly puffed and lightly browned here and there and a knife inserted into the center of the custard comes out clean. Transfer the tart to a cooling rack and let it rest for 5 minutes before removing the sides of the pan. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature (or lightly chilled).
Put away this recipe, pour a glass of wine and pretend you did it all from memory.
( Note: In July 2011 this post was awarded "1st Place" at the 2011 Orange County Fair in the "Personal Food Blog Post" category in the Culinary Arts division. Yeah, I didn't know you could enter a blog post in a county fair but apparently you can. )