It's been 3 days and I've already listened to half of Julia Child: The French Chef In America. It's the sequel to The French Chef and is an in depth look into Julia's life post-France. For any of the Julia-obsessed like myself, this is a great listen. You learn so much more about Julia outside of the hard work she put into Mastering, along with learning about the ever-changing landscape of food from the 60's through the 90's.
Julia lived through so many food milestones; the birth of "machine-made" food, vegetarian curiosity, chain restaurants, upcoming Michelin star restaurants re-vamping the way the culinary world looked at food. Today I was listening to a chapter about the latter. I found it interesting that Julia did not immediately accept this revolution of food. There were chefs who were putting out innovative, tasteful, inquisitive cuisine, and getting a lot of backlash for changing the old ways. Julia was one of the voices in the food community supporting traditional techniques and questioning this new perspective but eventually warmed up to it after being convinced by so many talented chefs and their new cuisines.
I think that having a good base knowledge of skill and history is important, but change is necessary as the food climate evolves. So in order to move food forward, we need to understand what has come before us; a basic understanding of food knowledge. And with the grounds to build from, we are able to apply those "rules" at our leisure. That's how you get tarts and cakes with surprise fillings and toppings. That's how people, including myself, will take recipes that we grew up with, or that are from our grandparents's old recipe cards and swap out certain ingredients with others that better fit our taste buds.
Balance is key. Before you can jump off the deep end and invent a new recipe, you need to have the knowledge or the experience to back it up.
Almond Peach Tart
Makes 1 8" tart
1 1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, chilled, sliced in 1/4" cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cup almond meal
3 peaches, sliced into 1/8" pieces
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup blanched almonds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease tart pan with butter
1. In a food processor, add the flour, powdered sugar, and salt. Add the cubed butter and process on high or pulse until the the butter and flour mix and become granular.
2. Add the egg and vanilla, and pulse again until the mixture combines and turns into a dough.
3. Take 2 pieces of wax paper, put the ball of dough between the 2 and pat it down in a thick disk. Roll out while still soft in a circle that is roughly 2" larger in diameter than your tart pan. (To give you enough room to make the sides). Chill in fridge while you make the filling and topping.
4. For the filling, put the softened butter, and sugar into a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, (or use a hand mixer and a large bowl), mix on medium until light and fluffy. (Usually about 2-3 minutes).
5. Add the egg, vanilla and almond extracts, mix again until combined. Add the almond meal and salt, mix one last time until fully combined.
6. For the topping, put the sliced peaches into a bowl with the brown sugar and honey and mix until all of the peaches are covered. Let them sit while you bake the tart.
7. Remove the tart crust from the fridge and remove wax paper from 1 side of the crust. Lay the sheet of crust over top of the pan and crimp the crust to the buttered tart pan while simultaneously pealing off the wax paper (this helps to avoid breaking the dough). Make sure the crust sides are even in thickness and in height (it will shrink about a quarter of an inch), and bake for 10-12 minutes. I don't add pie weights when I pre-bake crust but feel free to do so!
8. Once the crust is pre-baked, cool for 10-20 minutes and then using a small spatula, smooth the almond paste over the crust generously. Then take the peaches and layer them as seen above, one slightly over another, or just throw them in!
9. You'll notice excess liquid from the peaches on the top of the tart - I usually take a paper towel and pat it slightly to avoid a slower bake and getting the tart too soggy.
10. Sprinkle the blanched almonds on top and bake this again for roughly 40-45 minutes (or when you tap the outside of your oven and see the filling doesn't move - that's when you know it's set!)
11. Cool for an hour before removing from the pan, and serve warm or refrigerate and serve chilled!