I thoroughly enjoyed Midnight In Paris. Apart from being set in Paris, of all places, I loved the script, the costumes and the plot, and how sentimentalism – a potentially heavy and tired subject – was treated in an entertaining way without being trivialized.
I thought I knew why I enjoyed it so, until a dinner at Magali et Martin in Lyon, when the staccato notes of gypsy jazz came piping through the speakers as I dug into what is possibly the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had. Tapping my feet in time, M remarked, “That’s what Woody Allen used in the movie”.
The penny dropped. It dawned on me that the whimsical, syncopathic beats of this genre were the real reason why I count the film as one of my top favorites of 2011, for its ability, above all, to transport me to a different time and mood.
It didn’t take long before we became owners of this Django Reinhardt compilation, enjoying it on a quiet Christmas Eve with my in-laws, each of us bobbing our heads in time as we ate. It was a trip down memory lane for them, and thoroughly enjoyable for me in a chilled, low-key way.
In order to accurately stay with this month’s Let’s Lunch song-inspired theme, I suppose I should be sharing a recipe for mashed potatoes instead of this pear tart, but since I’m pretty sure that you’ve got your own arsenal of potato recipes to turn to, I thought I’d take things a step further and play on the “Frenchness” of Django’s pieces by sharing this tart recipe. Since returning home, I’ve found his short, melodic tunes are my best companion in the kitchen, inspiring me to dance while cooking, generating an optimism to face any challenge that the stove or the oven may have in store. After all, there’s no better guarantee of a delicious meal than a happy cook. Right?
Pear Frangipane Tart
In place of pears you could use other firm fruit like apples or quince. The amounts listed here always give me slightly more than what’s needed for a 9-inch tart pan. I save the dough scraps and the remaining frangipane at the bottom of the mixing bowl to make a small (about 5-inch) rustic fruit galette later in the week. Perfect treat for one.
- 7½ ounces/ 210 grams all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4½ ounces/ 125 grams unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
- 1 large egg
- 6 tablespoons very cold water
- In a medium bowl, stir together the flour and the salt.
- Add the cubes of butter and work them into the flour, with your fingers or a pastry cutter. Break down the cubes until you get small lumps of butter (about the size of peas) scattered throughout the mixture.
- Mix the egg with two tablespoons of water, then make a well in the middle of the butter-flour mixture and add the egg.
- Using a fork, slowly mix to incorporate the wet and the dry ingredients, adding water a tablespoon at a time until the dough starts to gather into a ball.
- Set aside as you prepare the filling, or keep it tightly wrapped in plastic and refrigerated until needed. I’ve kept this dough for up to a week and it’s turned out fine.
- 5 ounces/ 150 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 5 ounces/ 150 grams granulated sugar
- 5 ounces/ 150 grams almond meal
- 2 large eggs
- 3 teaspoons white rum or poire william
- ½ pound/ 225 grams Bartlett or Bosc pears, skinned, cored and thinly sliced
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until light and creamy.
- Add the sugar and mix to combine. Add the almond meal, mix, then add the rum and the eggs, one at a time. Increase the speed to high and mix until light and fluffy, about a minute. Set aside until ready to use.
- When you’re ready to bake the tart, preheat the oven to 425F/220C.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the tart dough, adding just enough flour to prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin or the surface.
- Roll out the dough until it’s a couple of inches larger than your pan, then carefully transfer it to the tart mold, gently pressing it into the bottom of the mold and against the sides. Pass your rolling pin over the top of the pan to cut away any dough overhang. Reserve the scraps for a small galette or bake it alongside the tart.
- Using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon, spread the frangipane in an even layer over the base of the tart. You’ll want to use about three-quarters of the frangipane for this – any more and you risk it bubbling over in the oven.
- Assemble the prepared pear slices on top in a concentric circle, and bake the tart, on a lined baking sheet, for 30 to 40 minutes. The tart is ready when the top achieves a consistent brown – as everyone’s oven is different, I’d recommend keeping an eye on the tart from the 30 minute mark onwards to avoid getting it too dark for your liking.
- Leave the tart to cool to room temperature before slicing and serving.
This recipe is part of this month’s Let’s Lunch theme of music-inspired dishes. Before you go, check out my fellow lunchers’ posts below. And if you’d like to join us, go to Twitter and post a message with the hashtag #Letslunch, or post a comment below.
Ellise’s Tiger Cakes at Cowgirl Chef
Pat’s Purple Rice Pudding at The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook
Lisa’s Honey Mac Wafers with Coconut at Monday Morning Cooking Club
Felicia’s Tommy’s Chili at Burnt-out Baker
Rashda’s Banana Bread at Hot Curries and Cold Beer
Cathy’s Chicken and Dumplings at ShowFood Chef
Patrick’s Quiet munchies at Patrick G. Lee
Steff’s Coconut Cake at The Kitchen Trials
Linda’s Cuban Black Beans at Spicebox Travels
Linda’s Gluten-free Thin Mints at Free Range Cookies