Saturday, November 21, 2009

Coffee, please

Yesterday morning my coffee maker just up and died.  On a Friday morning at 6:00 am without a warning.  I get up, put the coffee on, take my shower, come back to the kitchen for a cup of coffee to drink while I dry my hair.  That's my getting-ready-for-school routine.  Only yesterday, I got out of the shower and came back to the kitchen only to find no coffee.  Not a drop.  Grrrr  But, being ever resourceful, I found my little Italian pot that I bought at the Arles market and set about making coffee the way I did each morning at the B&B.  It is a very small pot, so I made a couple of pots, poured them in a thermos to stay warm and tackled the hair drying.
Saturday mornings are a bit more relaxed, so I tried again to figure out what is wrong with this less than one year old coffee maker.  No success, just a lot of water all over the counter and floor.  So, out came the Italian pot again, along with the small French press that I bought several years ago but never use.  So, I do have coffee, in my little Le Cailar cup that I bought from Véronique just before leaving last winter.  It made the journey home, in my purse, without getting broken.  It just feels right to drink coffee made in the pot I bought in France in my little French cup.  Now, if only there is that one piece of French blueberry tart still in the refrigerator where I hid it a couple of days ago...

This recipe is from Joanne Harris (the author of Chocolat, Holy Fools and Blackberry Wine, just to name a few of her books) and Fran Warde.  I made it for our recent middle school faculty meeting.  If you use a store bought crust, it is done in no time flat.  Do not buy puff pastry, though, but pie crust that is rolled up.  We always used pre-made crusts in Arles, so I do the same here, finding them in the refrigerated section at Harris Teeter or Target, near the cookie dough and refrigerated biscuits.  I have a bottle of crème de cassis (black currant liqueur) tucked away in my refrigerator for when I fancy a kir before dinner.  The Wine Authorities sells the real deal from Bourgogne, the home of M. Kir, mayor of Dijon.  You can also find it at the liquor store.

Blueberry Tart 
Serves 6
For the pâte brisée
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus extra for the tart pan
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 large egg
1/2 Tbsp. cold water

For the filling
1 lb. blueberries or other berries (black currants, raspberries, blackberries all work well) stems removed
3/4 c. heavy cream
2/3 c. sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. crème de cassis

Make the crust.  Rub the flour and butter together with your fingertips until the mixture looks like coarse bread crumbs.  Mix in the sugar, then add the egg and water, using a round-ended knife in a cutting motion to combine the ingredients until they form a dough ball.  Put the ball on a cool, floured work surface and briefly knead with the palm of your hand to ensure an evenly blended dough.  Wrap and refrigerate to chill and rest for 40 minutes.
Lightly butter a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Lightly flour a cool surface and roll out the chilled dough slightly wider than the pan (because you do not want to stretch it).  As this is a high-butter content pastry, take care not to let the pastry stick to the surface-- keep dusting lightly with flour.  Line the pan with the dough, letting the excess dough hang over the edges.  To trim, simply roll the pin over the tart pan.  Refrigerate the lined tart pan for 20 minutes.
Heat the oven to 400F.
Place the berries in the lined pan.  In a medium bowl, mix the cream, sugar, eggs, flour and liqueur until smooth and pour over the fruit.  Lightly sprinkle with a little extra sugar and bake for 35 minutes.  Serve cooled, if you can wait.

Bon appétit, le café du weekend!

PS-  Using Joanne Harris' book makes me think of the movie version of her novel, Chocolat, and that naturally makes me think of Johnny Depp.  A logical progression, non?  He was voted Sexiest Man Alive again this year (and they didn't even ask me to vote).  The un-ex and I discussed this last night.  Can you believe that he compared Johnny Depp to Kid Rock?  I just had to end that conversation right there.  I have seen Kid Rock up close while shopping at the same store as him once in Raleigh.  I have not had the same opportunity with Johnny Depp.  Until I do, I will not even let that comparison into my head.  Johnny, if you read this and you need to do a little shopping next March while I am in Paris or Arles, just let me know.  I will come check you out.  Or Raleigh, if you need cowboy boots like Kid.  Now my coffee is cold... French presses and Italian market coffee makers do not keep it warm.  That's what microwaves are for, I guess.

PPS- For the record-- I just bought the new People with Johnny on the cover.  Mon dieu bon dieu  pretty much covers it all.  And he absolutely DOES NOT resemble Kid What's His Name.

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