Bonjour! Welcome to another exciting edition of “Just Eat!” I have had such an exciting week here in my lovely home of Caen, France (Normandy)! As some of you may know, I have plans on starting culinary school in France, after I graduate from my American university in Nashville, TN. Well, In the matter of two weeks, pieces have fallen together and shed light on a new path!
I had been looking at a couple of schools here in Basse-Normandie (Lower Normandy) and I had my eye set on two. Notre Dame de Nazareth in Douvres-la-Délivrande(Point B on map below) and François Rabelais in Hérouville(Point A on map below), I have heard great things about both and really wanted to return to this lovely part of France. Well, I wanted to start checking out regulations for foreign students on both schools, so I started contacting both. It turns out, all I need to do is fill out the application, pay tuition, and get my visa renewed (to start in the FALL). My professor, he teaches a culinary-based vocabulary class in French, has offered to be my reference to one of the schools and is opening up so many doors for me. Also, I mentioned my school option in Douvres-la-Délivrande to a coworker at the middle school I teach eat, and she offered me a place to live as she lives in that town! Did anyone else get a chill?! All these pieces are falling into place for me to start this Fall. It’s incredible!
“Joshua, what about your degree in America?” Glad you asked! I only lack a couple of real classes, then the rest are all electives. According to my advisors, my final French classes can all be done WHILE I do culinary school in France! There are the most advanced French classes, so I must write a proposal and say that I will do French culinary research, write a cookbook, or even turn my blog into an all-French one! That is all I have to do! Another piece in place! Coincidence? I think not. Everything happens for a reason!
This isn’t completely set in stone, but things are looking pretty good!
On a high from the Omnivore Festival, I decided to travel to another town for a “crêpe festival.” We got to the town, Viller-sur-Mer, and it was such a cute small town! Of course, I didn’t spend too much time visiting the city, a good chunk was spent at the city’s main attraction: the beach! Following the suggestion of a friend, she and I took off our shoes on this cold day and ran all across the beach. I had a blast, as you can see!
I am sad to say, the crêpe festival was not really even a festival. To create our own celebration, the group I lugged with me to Villers-sur-Mer and I went to a crêperie and got our crêpe-on there!
On Sunday, I took the usual stroll through the open-air marché, which consumes most of our downtown area, with a couple of friends. During my quest for my weekly apples, I came across the biggest and most beautiful strawberries(fraises) I had seen, which is odd as they are not yet in season! All three of stood there pondering whether or not to buy them. Suddenly the vender shouted, “Une barquette, trois euros!” We were sold. All three of us bought a carton of strawberries, roughly a little over a pound. Now that I had so many of these berries, all I could think about was baking! I had been wanting to try out a strawberry recipe, but they were not currently in season. Coincidence? I think not.
Now, what will I bake? Keep it simple, sweetie! Une tarte aux fraises! (Strawberry Tart)
Tarte aux Fraises
There are two things to cook in this recipe, both are quite simple! The first is, of course, the base of any tart or pie: the crust. The other is our cream, la crème pâtissière! The rest is just cutting and assembling! Such a simple recipe, but so tasty!
The following recipes are recipes I have translated from French and adapted as my own, enjoy the fruits of my labor!
Pâte Sablée (Pastry Crust)
- 2 c All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 c Sugar
- 2/3 c Cold Butter
- 1 Egg Yolk
- Cold Water
1. Sift the flour into a bowl.
2. In a food processor, or you may use your hands, cut in the butter and sugar into the sifted flour. Once crumb is pea-sized, add egg yolk and water just until dough comes together.
3. On a well-floured surface, knead dough just until ball forms. Chill dough for two hours in the fridge.
4. Remove dough and roll out on a well-floured surface to about 1/4 or 1/5 inch thick.
5. Gently place dough into a large tart pan, weigh the dough down with pie weights/dry bean to prevent bubbling, and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until done. Let cool.
Crème Pâtissière (Pastry Cream)
For many pastries, this is the common cream used. It is so good! Smooth, packed with vanilla flavor, and easily compliments any flavor!
- 2 c Whole Milk
- 4 Egg Yolks
- 1/2 c Sugar
- 1/4 c All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Vanilla Bean
- 2 tbsp Butter
1. Split the vanilla bean length-wise and scrape seeds into a bowl using the bath of a knife.
2. Over medium heat, place the milk, vanilla pod, and seeds into a pot.
3. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil, then remove pod, and let cool slightly.
4. In a separate, and cool, bowl, add egg yolks and sugar. Beat until mixed and color is pale yellow.
5. In 2 turns, add the flour to the mixture.
6. Mix until just combined.
7. Add cream a small amount at a a time to the egg mixture, stirring constantly.
8. Add butter and mix well.
9. Over medium heat, add cream mixture to pot and stir constantly. Heat until thicker consistency is formed.
10. Place cream in a heat-proof bowl and chill in the fridge.
Les Fraises (The Strawberries)
- 1 lb Fresh Strawberries
Once the cream is fully chilled, wash and slice your strawberries!
Look how gorgeous these berries are! I was very food safety-conscious while cutting them. To ensure their safety and quality, I tried a slice from every berry! Haha! So good!
Now that all this cold, we are ready yo assemble this tart!
First, fill the entire tart shell with the pastry cream.
Then, cover the entire cream surface with berry slices in a pretty design, such as mine!
Refrigerate for at least an hour, then until needed!
Oh, my. What can I say about this tart? DÉLICIEUSE! (Delicious) The cream and strawberries were perfect together! Such a great balance in flavors! Between about 3 of us, we nearly polished of this HUGE tart! I will definitely be making this again, especially with strawberry season coming up here in France!
You may ask, “Where the heck could Joshua be taking me on the next AMAZING entry of ‘Just Eat!’?” Well, you are in for a treat! I am finally making it to Paris, I got caught up traveling through my beloved Normandy! Above, my friend and I began planning what and where to visit using a giant map and vitamins as markers. Hey, we are college kids! I have a list of some famous pâtisseries, so you can be sure there will be plenty to talk about! Not to mention the picnics by the Eiffel Tower or Luxembourg Gardens! I am so exited!
Alright, that wraps up this edition of “Just Eat!” I hope your mouths are salivating from my tarte aux fraises and your stomach is jittery with excitement from all the news I shared, because mine definitely are!