Dear Frenchly Readers,
Thanksgiving is a mere 2 weeks away. And even if you’re thumbing your nose with an insouciant “Au Revoir, Thanksgiving,” (as Karen Karbo did last fall—and, indeed, that essay was the early beginning of her popular Rue du Soleil column about living in Southwest France), contemplating bingeing Hitchcock movies instead of eating dinner with your in-laws, or planning an elaborate (if needy) Friendsgiving, you probably, also, around this time of year, like most of us, are into the idea of tucking little sweet or savory morsels of food inside crusts. There’s something so comforting about the tidiness of a crust holding the magic of whatever you’ve nestled inside. It’s all so neatly contained and then it’s like, et puis voilá! There’s the surprise of it all: will the apples have turned to mush or held their shape while becoming buttery and tender? Did you put enough thyme and nutmeg into that Quiche Florentine to balance the tender spinach and pungent black pepper?
In our family, when Thanksgiving rolls around, I am on for two pies: one apple and one pumpkin. Apple is my older son’s favorite; pumpkin coconut for my younger one.
I have spent years since we stopped eating gluten in 2013, working on a gluten-free crust for my pies and tartes and quiches. It was trial and error, writing it down, then trying it again, then realizing there were problems, then trying it again. My standards were high: I wanted it to taste and flake every bit as it might if it were made with white flour. I found that lots of butter helped (doesn’t it always?) and I use milk instead of water and I always mix my own flour combo of tapioca starch, potato starch and rice and millet flours.
Sometimes on the Wednesday before Turkey-Day I get confused by my poorly-written-out-recipe for that pumpkin coconut pie, and sometimes I forget altogether that, ah dommage, I wrote down last year that we actually like the graham cookie crust better than the pastry crust I worked so hard to make this year!
But none of that matters the morning after Thanksgiving, when pie is the best breakfast in the world with hot, bitter coffee and the horizon of the day stretches long and filled only with leftovers.
Which is why I am going to spend this Le Weekend kicking off a week of pies and tartes on Frenchly. My hope is that even if your family has a few gold standards you relish getting back to every holiday season, you will take the time to read up and get inspired to try a new French twist on an old favorite. So, with that in mind, I have been gathering new pieces about tartes for this coming week and plumbing the archives of Frenchly to find old articles and recipes for French tartes. Keep checking back, starting tomorrow, Saturday, on Frenchly.us for new additions.
SO: Without further ado, we are opening our games this Friday with two goat cheese tartes from writer Margaret Hathaway, who owns a goat farm with her husband, Karl Schatz, in inland Maine, called Ten Apple Farm, where they make their own goat cheeses. Margaret collaborated with Karl on a book a few years ago called The Year of the Goat, about leaving NYC (and her job as the manager of the famous Magnolia Bakery) and traveling 40,000 miles around the country together to learn everything they could about goats and goat farming and the perfect chèvre. Since then, she and Karl have collaborated on six more books about food and farming, including a two-volumes of the Maine Community Cookbook. The Year of the Goat just celebrated its 15th anniversary and got a revamp for the occasion complete with a photo insert and a new introduction.
Margaret’s given us one sweet and one savory tarte to consider adding into our holiday repertoire. They look so good in the photos Karl took for us! Check them out, here.
Cook, watch & read ce weekend (Cuisinier, Regarder et Lire):
Dan and I started the new episodes of The Crown last night. I love Imelda Staunton. Not sure Dominic West is going to make for a convincing Prince Charles. He doesn’t seem at all physically right—too handsome! Too virile! Too fit! But Elizabeth Debicki as Diana—wow. Perfect. Jonathan Pryce as Philip is good; but no one is Matt Smith. And Lesley Manville is on every single British TV show this year—she is everywhere, even as Princess Margaret on the Crown. (I like her better on Magpie Murders)
I am also watching Only Murders in the Building on Hulu staring Steve Martin and Martin Short with my older son. It’s a tad (ok, very!) inappropriate, but the humor makes it worth it…I think. It’s been a while since I laughed that hard. One of my favorite lines so far: “You’re scoring a murder podcast, not DJ-ing a hobbit’s wedding!”
This Thanksgiving, we are going to watch the Johnny Hallyday Rockumentary on Netflix. Though it came out in March, I’ve been saving it, Get-Back-Peter-Jackson’s-movie-about-the-Beatles’-style, for Thanksgiving weekend. It’s a French production and I can’t wait to watch it—I love Hallyday. Do you?
I have one more pie to share—it’s called a “Sugar Pie” and it’s from a home cook and food writer who is from Brittany and writes a blog called “Pardon Your French.” In this link, here, she writes about the history of sugar in France and how this “pie” is really a brioche with a creamy, sweet topping—like a cross between a coffeecake, an upside-down cake, and a pie. It looks like it could be a perfect holiday breakfast. And easy to make ahead, freeze, and then warm up in foil while you make coffee.
Also, here’s this great list from Food 52 of tarte and pie dishes, pie weights and more in case you need a kitchen re-stock in order to create your perfect tartes this holiday season.
Three events to mention:
Coming up on December 1st, Frenchly is partnering with the Alliance Française in Pasadena to bring you a one hour afternoon program discussing how to go to France–off the beaten path! Frenchly contributors Karen Karbo, Cat Rickman, Philip Ruskin, Keith Van Sickle and myself will all be on hand to discuss places to visit and things to discover that feel fresh and far from the madding crowd. Sign up HERE.
Also, coming up: a live-streamed event at the FIAF in New York remembering the fashion designer Virgil Abloh; and this amazing French artist, Eva Jospin, will also be at FIAF with her mid-blowing artwork made out of cardboard boxes, starting this weekend.
Ok that’s it—happy pie and tart researching! See you next week.
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