I am on a (short) date with my mister, dinner and a walk around town
play wiffle ball and kickball at the park with D and L
replace the oh so dusty furnace filter
fix the disassembled dryer hose with silver tape (again)
recover a deleted blog post (this is kind of a big deal)
dream I write, “show love” on my palm in crayon
listen to D read the first pages of a new book project
make grapefruit basil marmalade
and forget to scrape away the inside membrane
of the five-time blanched grapefruit slices to reduce their bitter qualities
(however, it still turns out to be the best ever marmalade I’ve tasted since a trip to Brazil
when A and I eat homemade orange marmalade smeared on fresh baked bread close to every morning
for six weeks straight – more on this soon…)
The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.
help L roll out almond ‘pate sablee’ dough
and cut pastry circles
and put together my first sweet Grapefruit Basil Tian
with whipped sweet cashew cream
which all reminds me once again of that slow summer spent in Brazil, long before last week
when A and I land in Sao Paulo and dine with a family of strangers without understanding portuguese
it is my first time outside the States and I soak in the cold winter mornings before
the sun bakes the day
smells of burnt sugar and fried eggs
afternoons spent horseback riding by the sugar cane fields
and mid-day caipirinhas, knockdown cafezinho, blazing afternoon sun, Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, and trails of burnt orange dirt
the novel is as real as the landscape stretched before me, as real as my memories of orange marmalade and gauchos corralling cattle across the open road
and dinner conversations when I thought my head would explode trying to decipher the swirl of languages spoken: Portuguese, Swiss-French/German, Dutch, Spanish, and (some) English
and piranhas fished on the Rio Negro, crocodiles sunning themselves on the riverbanks, and puma tracks in the sand
next to outhouses and Cokes served in glass bottles
we eat chocolate squares and biscuits instead of feijoada (black bean and meat stew)
and drive for more than two days across the state of Mato Grosso do Sul
through cattle and farm fields in a pickup truck to end up in a mosquito net house
this is before we find coffee beans, eucalyptus trees, and a bus ride to Paraguay
when the bus stops in the middle of a small town and two women board
each with a basket on top of her head, one sells fresh bread, the other, oranges
and seeing Foz de Iquacu seventeen years before my first trip to Niagara Falls
this is all long before last week, when I eat marmalade for breakfast once again and wonder if I’ll ever return to the little town of Lucelia or go on another date anytime soon.
For the challenge, I created a dairy and egg-free tian flavored with ruby red grapefruit, basil, vanilla bean, lime, sweet almond pastry, and whipped cashew cream.
Grapefruit Basil Tian in Five Parts (the recipes used are either linked or included below):
and for the assembly details visit Jennifer’s blog.
2 large Ruby Red grapefruit (thinly sliced)
1 large Ruby Red grapefruit (juiced plus 1 tablespoon of zest)
1 lime (divided, juice and zest)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 2-inch piece vanilla bean (split lengthwise)
1 tablespoon agar flakes
2 tablespoons kudzu (dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons water)
3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves (chopped)
Wash the grapefruit. Juice and zest 1 grapefruit; set aside. Juice and zest 1 lime; set aside.
Thinly slice 2 grapefruit. Place the grapefruit slices in a medium pot filled with cold water. Bring to a boil over low heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain the grapefruit slices, return them to the pot, cover with cold water, bring to a boil, and again simmer for 10 minutes. Repeat this process 3 more times, for a total of 5 blanchings.
Drain the grapefruit and allow to cool. Scrape away the remaining inside membrane and flesh from the peel with a sharp-edged spoon. Finely mince the grapefruit with a knife or a food processor.
Return the minced grapefruit slices to the pot and add the grapefruit and lime juices, sugar, split vanilla bean, agar flakes, and kudzu mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches a jam-like consistency, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before removing the vanilla bean. Stir in the grapefruit zest, lime zest, and chopped basil. Transfer to a jar and store in the refrigerator.
Almond ‘Pate Sablee’
from Sweet and Natural by Meredith McCarty
Yield 12 pastry circles (each 3 1/2 inches)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour or white spelt flour
1/2 cup almond nutmeal (nuts toasted then finely ground)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup almond oil or other light oil (walnut, avocado, grape seed)
1/4 cup maple syrup
up to 1/4 cup soy milk (as needed)
Preheat oven 350 F. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
Place the flour, almond nutmeal, baking powder, and salt in the container of a food processor. Add the oil, and pulse briefly. Add the maple syrup and pulse again. Gradually add the soy milk, enough so the dough holds together in a soft ball; do not overmix. Add a small amount of flour if necessary. Shape the dough with your hands into a flattened disc.
Roll dough out between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper; dust flour over the bottom sheet and on top of the dough. Use quick gentle strokes to start rolling from the center outward in each direction, think compass. Take the top layer of paper off and invert rolled dough into oiled pie or tart pan. Peel off other paper layer.
Use a biscuit cutter or a mason jar lid to cut pastry circles. Pierce the dough with the tines of a fork and bake for about 10 minutes or until the pastry circles are just golden.