Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friends and Fromage

The "real" world is calling me, not softly, but in a loud, ever-so-impatient voice. I just spent two (more) days sitting in front of my computer with St. Karl working on my school moodle site. I wish I knew how to best describe what moodle is. Let's see, it will be a place where my students can get their assignments, add notes or thoughts from class and see the cool stuff that I hope I will be able to remember how to post there! So, I've worked on it for a total of six days this summer and I think I am ready to allow access to it to my students. Or at least I will be on August 24, the day before classes start.
The best part of the two days was not the computer, though, or the cool websites I found. It was being in a room with my amazing colleagues who also gave up two of their last days of summer vacation to moodle. But they are not just my colleagues. They are my friends. I am very, very lucky to work with such a funny, talented group of teachers. Yolanda, one of my Arles 6 gang, was there making me laugh and calling me back to look at a video of Arles she found at Discovery Learning. She and Mary were sitting together on the back row (hmmm... troublemakers in the back??) and I gave them a lavender sachet to sniff for relaxation purposes. Mary gave me a new book to read-- The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food by Judith Jones, the woman who was responsible for publishing Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. By the way-- Happy Birthday, Julia!! I have started the book and love it! Jamie and Claire, new teachers, were there, but quiet (it's hard to get a word in edgewise with some of us around). Virginia was behind me. She and I go way back. I taught her when she was in the middle school. I still have flashcards that she made. She still clips out "France in the News" articles and leaves them in my mailbox. I really need to give her extra credit! I am so proud of her. She taught my son, Grant, fifth grade history a few years back. Senor Glass sat next to me and we helped each other. He helped me the most... he has been moodling for a couple of years now. He brought me fresh figs from his tree and shared recipes from his Facebook page. Thanks for friending me, senor. (Sorry, I can't figure out how to actually put that tilde thing on top of the n. French accents are about all I can handle!) I ate most of the figs yesterday but used the leftover ones today to make a fig-honey-goat cheese spread. (Not as good as Dave's from Elodie Farms, but he was sold out by the time I got to him this morning.) Marian was in attendance. Yes, we "old dogs" can learn new tricks, Marian! Wanda and Michele were there (go, FL teachers!!), sitting in the corner but being very good and brave in the face of all this technology. Timmy was there-- his site is already amazing. He and I have taught together for 29 years and he is one of the funniest, most creative people I know. I am sure I am leaving some people out, but my brain is tired from two days' worth of work. Pauvre moi. Marianne and Sophie were hanging out but not in the lab. It was fun to see them. Sophie is Marianne's daughter and she will be a student at DA this year!! Very exciting! All in all, we worked, but we also caught up with each other. We talked about our kids, a shower we are hosting for two colleages who are having babies soon, our parents, our weeks at the beach, recipes, our gardens, etc.
Another colleague, Betsy, brought me tomatoes from her garden yesterday so I invited her over to sample my tomato tart. That's the recipe that I included in this week's article in the Durham Herald-Sun newspaper about my adventures in cooking for the Wine Authorites guys ( On the very day it came out (August 12), I was sitting in the waiting room at Michael Jordan Nissan while my car was being worked on. A lady next to me was reading the paper and I kept glancing over to see if she was reading my article. (She probably thought I was either nuts or too cheap to buy my own paper.) But, sadly, she did not read it. She skipped right over it to the comics and crossword puzzle. She left it on the seat when she left and I took it so I'd have an extra copy to send my mama. Oh well. Anyway, someone had left a New York Times and I picked up the food section. Lo and behold, there was a short article called "Just Like Grandma Makes" featuring a recipe called Granny's Tomato Tart. It was about a café in Soho called Once Upon a Tart run by two chefs, Jerome Audureau and Frank Mentesana. Jerome is French and his recipe is one his grandma in Châteauneuf de Gadagne, a small town near Avignon, has been making for him forever. He is now 44 and grand-mère is 98 and still baking. I looked them up on-line (once again, what did I do before google??) and found a menu for their shop-- my mouth is still watering. They've also written a cookbook. I read some of the reviews on Amazon's website and know that I must add this one to my collection.
My final adventure of the past couple of days was to head to the Durham Farmers' Market this morning. Steve and I weren't looking for anything in particular. We just love to people watch and I love to just look at all the brightly colored vegetables and smell the wonderful odors that drift in the air-- fresh peaches, French-style bread in the form of miches and pain de campagne, goat cheese, coffee, warm tomatoes, just picked basil and flowers. We ran into some friends from school, parents and colleagues, including Kathy who was shopping for tomatoes to make my tart!! I have one fan, even if the lady at the car shop ignored me. One parent asked me if I'd read The Olive Farm books by Carol Drinkwater (I have- they are set in Provence) and promised to drop off a book that features pictures of the farm for me at school. I saw Dave Artigues from Elodie Farms and he gave me some of the Camembert cheese that I helped (in a very small way) make with the Teen Chefs back in late June. And best of all, I was able to greet Yolanda very loudly as she made her entrance into the market. I wonder why she puts up with me sometimes. I really do... Wine and whine soon, Lucy? I'll make the tomato tart, I promise.

Granny's Tomato Tart
(from "Once Upon a Tart) by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau (Knopf, 2003)

Time: 1 hour plus 1 hour for chilling dough and 15 minutes for cooling shell

For the tart crust:
2 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp semolina flour
1 tsp salt
12 Tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3 Tbsp chilled solid vegetable shortening

For the topping:
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
8 oz. Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated
12-14 ripe plum tomatoes, ends trimmed, very thinly sliced into rounds
1 tsp herbes de Provence
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

1. For tart crust: In a food processor, combine flours and salt. Pulse to combine. Add butter and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles moist crumbs; do not overwork dough. Transfer to a bowl and sprinkle with 4 tablespoons ice water. Shape into a ball, adding ice water 1 tablespoon at a time (as many as 6 more may be needed) until dough is just past crumbly and holds together.
2. For two tarts, divide dough in half and wrap each in plastic wrap, and press each with palm of your hand into disks. For one tart, wrap in plastic and shape into one large disk. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out dough into two 9-inch diskes or one 10-by-16-inch rectangle 1/8-inch thick. Transfer to a baking sheet and crimp edges 1/2-inch high. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Prick all over with fork. Place parchment paper or foil on top and weigh down with pie weights or dried beans. Bake until lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool; do not turn off oven.
4. For topping: Spread mustard thinly over bottom of cooled shell. Scatter evenly with cheese. Arrange tomatoes in even, slightly overlapping rows, and season to taste with pepper. Bake until tomatoes begin to shrivel and cheese melts, 10 to 12 minutes. Sprinkle with salt, and serve hot or at room temperature.

Bon appétit!!


Martha said...

You two better not be wining and whining without me!

The Sabbatical Chef said...

We have very strict requirements for joining our group... sure you are up for it?

Jeremy Salamon said...

love this blog !!!!