Friday, May 15, 2009
Create a taste test for yourself while you're in Paris. For example, one year my father and I went around town looking for the best financiers (small bite-sized almond cakes). Another year, we were on the hunt for the best baguette. On yet another trip, we stopped in every patisserie we passed to try their tarte citron (lemon tarte; photo above).
Last week, SJG and I hosted former colleagues and now friends for a spring dinner. We started with asparagus soup with a dollop of creme fraiche in each of the big white serving bowls. Then came grilled lamb chops and spring greens topped with roasted pecans, blue cheese, and slices of red pears. I used the honey balsamic vinegar our neighbor brought us from Oregon at Christmas to make a light vinaigrette dressing for the salad. And for dessert? French tarte citron!
My lemon tarte recipe is adapted from Paule Caillat's, of Promenades Gourmandes fame. She's become a friend over the years, and it is she who introduced me to the best tarte crust ever . It's also the easiest crust recipe I've run across (as long as you use a fluted, two-piece tarte tin; the type where you can separate the bottom from the side ring), and it works equally well for sweet and savory affairs.
When my father and I first made lemon tarte with Paule, we agreed it was the winner in our search for the best lemon tarte in Paris. Try it. It wowed the dinner guests last week!
1 parbaked tarte crust (photo above) a la Paule Caillat
(See this recent entry on David Lebovitz's blog devoted entirely to making Paule's crust. It's a perfect introduction to the how-to of it.)
For the filling:
3-1/2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup (75 grams) sugar
3 eggs, separated
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
zest of one lemon
powdered sugar for serving
1. Melt the butter.
2. Beat the sugar into the egg yolks until the mixture becomes almost white. This happens quickly (a minute or two).
3. Slowly add the melted butter, then the lemon juice, then the zest.
4. Beat the egg whites until stiff and then gently fold them into the batter.
5. Pour filling into the parbaked tarte crust. Bake the tarte for about 23 minutes in a 350-degree oven.
6. The tarte is done when the top is lightly browned and the filling is set. Depending on your oven, that may be a little more or a little less than 23 minutes, so check the tarte after 20 minutes and go from there.
7. Allow the tarte to cool for about 30 minutes before removing the side ring and placing the tarte on a serving plate (don't bother to remove the bottom of the tarte tin).
8. Just before serving, sprinkle the tarte with a little powdered sugar (by passing the sugar through a small sieve for a fine dusting). I sometimes add a spring of fresh mint in the middle for color contrast, although I didn't this time. The recipe serves about 6-8 people.