We’re all entitled to make mistakes. Even though I helped set the schedule, I went on memory and thought the dessert we were making for French Fridays with Dorie this week was the cheesecake tart. Turns out that it’s Waffles and Cream. Think of this as a preview. I’ll make the waffles when I get chance, but I might wait until the week everyone else is making the cheesecake tart.
We’ve been friends for a while now. So I’m comfortable telling you how it is. I am an adventurous eater, and there is little I won’t eat. There is one food, however, that causes me to have a visceral reaction of revulsion. I only have to think of it, not even actually see this food. Can you guess what it is? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s cottage cheese. I don’t know what it is about it. I think it’s the curds. Ricotta doesn’t bother me, or fresh goat cheese, or farmer’s cheese, but I simply cannot deal with curdy cottage cheese. That’s just the way it is.
This week, I made the cheesecake tart recipe for French Fridays with Dorie. The main ingredient is fromage blanc. Fromage blanc is a fresh low-fat cheese with a soft texture like crumbly cream cheese or farmer’s cheese. It’s not a common grocery item, but knowing that the recommended substitute was cottage cheese, I knew that I had to find the real thing.
I was looking for Vermont Creamery’s version of fromage blanc because I’ve seen it around. Instead, I found one made at Nettle Meadow Farm in the Adirondacks of New York State. (Cher, do you know the farm?) This award-winning fromage blanc is made from goat milk and flavored with honey and lavender. That seemed perfect for a dessert. I love how the package lists the different plants the goats forage on! If you can’t read the label, it says: “This cheese is a sumptuous concentration of the organic grains and wild herbs our goats and sheep eat every day, including wild raspberry leaf, nettle, kelp, comfrey, garlic, barley, goldenrod”.
I minified this one: one third of the recipe to make 2 mini tarts. One with dried fruit for me, and one without for Howard.
The tart starts with Dorie’s Sweet Tart Dough. This pastry is one of my favorite recipes in Around My French Table. I always press it into the pan, no rolling required. And the result is like a shortbread cookie base for whatever delicious filling you choose.
For the cheesecake tart, the creamy filling is made from processing the fromage blanc and the other ingredients until it’s smooth. A slurry of cornstarch and milk helps thicken it up.
First, you sprinkle a spoonful of dried fruit (I had a medley of golden raisins, cranberries, cherries, and blueberries) on the bottom of the tart (or not, for Howard). Then, you pour in the filling and bake it until it puffs up. Once cooled, all it needs is a sprinkle of powdered sugar before serving.
When I said I was making a cheesecake tart, Howard stopped listening after I said “cheesecake”. He was imagining a New York Cheesecake, not a French one. Once he got over the initial disappointment, we agreed that it was good, not too sweet or tart or heavy. We both liked It, though next time I’ll surprise him with that New York Cheesecake.
You’ll have to wait until next month to find out how the other Doristas’ cheesecake tarts came out, but if you’re interested in their Waffles and Cream, check out their links here. The cheesecake tart recipe is in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.
I adore anything made in a tart pan: sweet or savory. Hands down, the most used piece of baking equipment used in my kitchen is my tart pan. Quiche is a popular option. It’s a great way to use up leftover bits in the fridge. A pastry shell filled with bite-sized vegetables or chopped meat covered in a custard filling with a little cheese on top, and you’ve got an ever-changing series of options.
This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie is the Quiche Maraîchère. A Google translation of Maraîchère says it means truck farmer, so we’re talking about a filling that honors farmer’s market style freshness. Not much is growing outside in my neck of the woods quite yet, but the filling for this quiche relies on vegetables that are at least readily available at the grocery store all year long: celery, carrots, leeks, and red pepper. I’m inspired to rename this Confetti Quiche based on the vibrant assortment of colors combined for this recipe.
I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again. I’m not a big fan of Dorie’s Pate Brisee. My go-to recipe is Mark Bittman’s though for this quiche, I tried out Maria Speck’s Whole Wheat Butter Pastry Crust (without the sugar) from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals or on-line here. The crust was a little chewy, but much better than other whole-wheat or spelt crusts I’ve tried. I don’t think I used quite enough water so overworked it, making it a bit tough. It is a crust I will try again.
As with Dorie’s other quiches, this one has a lower custard to filling ratio which I find quite pleasing (meaning, LOTS of filling bound together with just enough eggs and cream). The only complaint I had with the quiche maraîchère recipe is that, though we were encouraged to add as much custard as would possibly fill the crust without overflowing, the quantity I mixed up per the recipe didn’t even come close to the top of the crust. I could have perhaps doubled the custard to fill it up.
It didn’t really matter though. The end results was a feast for the eyes with all those great colors and for the belly too. We both really enjoyed this version of quiche. With a tossed salad, it made a light, but satisfying, dinner. Leftovers were good for lunch too.
Carrots and celery were vegetables I’d never thought to add to a quiche, so I’m glad to discover how well they worked. I will be making, if not this exact combination, certainly other versions that include these vegetable bin staples.
You can see what the other Doristas thought of this week’s quiche by following their links posted here. You can find the recipe online here, and, of course, it’s from Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table, a book you won’t be sorry to add to your collection.