that was last week (before my first grapefruit basil tian)

Last week

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

dance spontaneously in the kitchen to Joy Division and Fugazi

tell and read dozens of stories

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

Grapefruit Basil Marmalade

(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

pate sablee biscuits

and cut pastry circles

and put together my first sweet Grapefruit Basil Tian

whipped cashew cream

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.

Grapefruit Basil Tian (side)

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):

Almond ‘Pate Sablee’
Grapefruit Basil Marmalade (see below)
Grapefruit Segments
Whipped Sweet Cashew Cream

and for the assembly details visit Jennifer’s blog.

Grapefruit Basil Tian (top)

Grapefruit Basil Marmalade
Yield 2, 16-ounce jam jars
adapted from Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings and Alain Ducasse‘s Cooking School in Paris, France

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.


  1. Mary says

    That first photo of your marmalade is gorgeous, and the rest sounds fantastic too! Nice story–interesting how food triggers memories:)

  2. bunkycooks says

    This looks lovely! My hubby cannot eat grapefruit, so I avoid it, but I am sure it was delicious in the dessert.

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  4. Ruth H. says

    I am so interested in your almonds cream…! Your tian looks beautiful, but not as beautiful as your kitchen helper! Great work, both of you! :)

  5. Poires au Chocolat says

    Looks great. Very creative, too – the almond cream sounds very interesting. I love the basil – I used rosemary in mine.

  6. Aparna says

    I just love your Tian picture, and your Tian too. :)
    I was intrigued by your whipped cashew cream and checked it out. Like the sound of it. Your Tian must have tasted yum with that cream.

  7. Sue Sparks says

    Your marmalade looks picture PERFECT, and the tian looks so inviting and delicious! GREAT job! BTW, "L," even blurry, looks cute:)

  8. Prostate Gland Problems says

    Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!


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