Monday, October 15, 2007
After our Sunday stroll through the forest in Baarn, not far from Groeneveld Castle, I was inspired to take us back to France. The trees were already in all their autumn glory, tinted in warm shades of red and yellow, and the sky was clear and sunny. I wondered how impressive the vineyards would be at this time of year and the thought alone told me it was time to finally open that bottle of Bourgogne-Hautes Côtes de Nuits Rouge. If there was ever a wine that deserved beautiful simplicity, than it was certainly this one!
In a way, I felt a little sad opening the bottle. I remembered the lovely conversation I had with the vigneron in Nuits- Saint- Georges who sold me the wine. It's funny how someone I met and talked to for just moments caused such a huge impression on me. What I loved most about this man was his passion for the wine. He spoke about it as though it were one of his children, giving me instructions as to how I could best care for it and of course, how to enjoy it. Even the way he wrapped up the wine was a pleasure to watch.
We enjoyed the wine at a perfect 16C along with some cheeses and some thin- crusted pain de campagne smeared thick with my latest find- lightly salted and wonderfully creamy beurre d'Isigny from Normandy. The wooden packaging with its green checkered accents was enough to tell me how good this butter would be. Because good bread and butter need nothing more than a hot, clear broth, I made a pot of my mushroom soup with cognac. It's a simple recipe. Just perfect broth slowly simmered with 500g sliced chestnut mushrooms, 1 sliced leek, some shallots and 60ml cognac.
For dessert I whipped up a very fuss- free tart. The pastry came from Nigella's recipe for Blackberry Crostata in How To Be A Domestic Goddess. It's one of the easiest pies simply because there's no blind baking involved! I topped the pastry with crème fraîche flavored with a touch of honey and then layered on some pear slices which I had sauted in butter, star anise and a little rum. A sprinkle of lavender finished off the tart before it went in the oven. We enjoyed it warm with the last of the wine.
There's nothing like uncomplicated beauty to let a good wine shine.
Here's the recipe for the tart:
For the pastry:
*60 g flour
*30g fine cornmeal
*1 tbsp sugar
*1/4 tsp salt
*50g cold butter, in small chunks
*15g margarine, in small chunks
*3 tbsps ice water
For the filling:
*100ml crème fraîche
*1 tbsp honey
*1 1/2 pears, halved and sliced, not too thinly
*2 tbsps butter
*1 tbsp rum
*2 star anise
*3/4 tbsp lavender
In a food processor, pulse the dry ingredients. Add the fat and pulse again until it resembles bread crumbs. Add the water and pulse a few more times. Take pastry out of processor and form into a fat disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Saute your pear slices in the butter with the anise on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the rum and increase the heat. Saute for 3 more minutes. Whisk the creme fraiche with the honey. Preheat oven to 190C. On a floured surface, roll out you pastry to a disk of about 25cm in diameter. Smear the crème fraîche on the pastry leaving a free edge. Top with the pears and sprinkle with the lavender. Roll the edges slightly towards the filling. Bake 30 minutes at 190C and then give it another 15 minutes at 220C.