Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pâte (not pâté): a French convenience food I've come to love.

Lately, I've been on a tarte kick. And not because I'm a whiz at making perfect pastry either. You need cool hands, ideally a marble surface, and time to do that. Here, in France, you just go the local supermarket where, in the cooler section, you find pastry all ready to--I was going to say "roll" but, forget that. All you do is open the packet, unroll the pre-rolled disk of dough and pat it into your pie pan.

I wish I could say that this shot is of a home-made tourte (just to distinguish between tartes and tourtestourtes have a top crust too). It's not. It's from last year's apple festival in Mirepoix. 

What I did make last week though was an evilly rich tarte of mushrooms, onions, crème fraîche, thick cream and eggs (plus an extra yolk to up the already stratospheric cholesterol content). Oh yes, it was good.

But back to the topic of pastry. You can buy the classic pâte brisée for straightforward quiches and so on. Pâte feuilletée--flaky pastry--is another option. Recipes using both of these in dozens of different ways are in a cookbook that came (for an extra 99 centimes) with this week's Femme Actuelle, which is said to be France's most popular women's magazine. 

Among the recipes are an onion tarte tatin, small individual pork pies, and a rustic tourte made with potatoes, fresh cheese, goat cheese, crème fraîche and garlic. Any of those plus a sharply-dressed green salad? Works for me. 

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