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Kluger, Fabrique des Tartes

I love to meet and greet with likeminded people in the food sector, discover and learn from the places I go to. Honestly Paris never fails to impress, its vibrant food scene being a constant inspiration for me; I recently came across the very talented Catherine Kluger. A former lawyer turned tarte guru, Catherine decides to leave her legal job, in order to totally focus on the sweet & savoury art of French pies, initially thanks to the help of pâtisserie consultant Nicolas Bernardé. Whether quiche lorraine, carotte-citron confits or courgette-feta-crumble au parmesan, these tartes are a head turner, and her factory is a step into paradise. Why pies? "Because it's easy, useful and practical. Because they are part of French culinary heritage. Because, deep in our memory and our taste buds, lies the taste of a pie. Additionally, they can be easily adapted to urban nomadic life". Mrs. Kruger signed multiple deals over these past few years with French Marabout editions, publishing four books revealing the underside of her recipes, while keeping her store open and running and keep being a busy mom of three. What's more, she's been heading pop up restaurants, collaborating at hundreds of events, and she even managed to launch a Parisian food-truck. I call that the feminine French art of martyrdom.

This lady speaks to us through food, a language that we are all willing to learn. And the Tartes Kluger are, oh, so luscious. Flavour is deep, complex and utterly compelling. What's more their taste is an incredible barometer of the ingredients' authenticity. And the fact that it doesn't take any more than buying her latest book in order to reproduce some of these beauties, makes it a joy. I'm a huge fan of quiches, and I'm always on the lookout for new ways to interpret this traditional dish. For a picnic, a quick lunch, or a earthy party, these tartes are just the perfect fix. I love to have my cake and eat it too along with a warm, comforting soup. Catherine uses organic flours for the pie base and, I must admit, the overall taste does thanks for it.

For a few weeks more, until February 8th, as a result of a collaboration with natural store Sol Semilla, Katherine is snipping in her pies all kind of seeds @ her store at 15, rue Trousseau. The whole idea is to restore vitality and energy with a great powered menu. This, for me, is the magic ingredient here. We are in total healthy territory. Even if, it would be more accurate to say, superfoods heaven. And then there's the sweet version. Yes, I know we are still in the detox month for excellence, yet...every rule gets broken when things are brilliant. On with the dance.

Flan pâtissier*

For a flexible and elastic dough:

  • 250 gr. strong white bread wheat flour
  • 185 gr. very cold dairy unsalted butter
  • 25 cl. whole milk (warmed up)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla sugar

For the cream:

  • 225 ml of whole milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 45 gr. caster sugar
  • 15 gr. of cornstarch
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1/2 tsp Indian chai spices
  • 30 gr. dairy unsalted butter

Start with the dough: first of all, mix flour and salt, then add the vanilla sugar. Cut the butter into small pieces. With your fingertips, roll it delicately into the flour until it becomes nice and sandy. Keep your hands cool so not to heat up the butter: it should melt as little as possible. In a small bowl, mix the beaten egg and the milk with a fork. Dig a small well in the sandy mixture, pour the beaten egg in. With the flat of your hand, form a homogeneous dough by working the ingredients very cautiously.

Wrap the dough with plastic wrap forming a ball and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least one hour. After that, flatten the dough by tapping it with a rolling pin. Flour the work surface and roll out the dough until greater than the size of the mold disc. Gently pick the dough with a fork. Generously butter the mold and let the dough stick to its entire perimeter. As it is, let it rest for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven at 170°. Line the pastry with baking paper, ideally cut into circle. Place on some dry beans and precook the pie for 35 minutes at 170°. Then free the pie from its shell. Brush it with some egg wash and put it in the oven for three further minutes, in order to dry the gilding and thus make it solid before garnishing it.

Preheat the oven at 210°. Realize the custard: heat the milk, then pour a small amount of whipped eggs with sugar, spices and cornstarch. Pour this mixture into the hot milk and stir until the cream thickens. Pour the custard in the precooked pie shell. Bake it for 10 minutes at 210°, just the time for it to color nicely. Let cool completely before serving. It's better to make this dessert ideally the day before.

With love and flan,

Eleonora

* This recipe is taken from the book "La Fabrique des Tartes" by Catherine Kluger.

Pop up your life

I love pop-ups. In fact, as some of you know, I provide my food services (amongst other things) with off the beaten track bespoke pop-up events. This term alone clicks with boosting creativity, raising inspiration, twisting on cared improvisation. This ephemeral concept allows brands to be in uncategorized spaces in order to run free into new customers and opportunities. All in a limited timeframe. It's like having those 15-minutes-only in front of the audience and proving them about the feasibility of one's project. And that I find thrilling. On the forefront of this exciting experience called The Space is the very lovely Julia Tinkerbell Van Hagen who has conceived this amazing reunion idea of fashion talents in a dedicated space over 5 years ago. Since then, she's been hosting pop-up stores in any corner of the (utterly civilised and tremendously glamorous, bien sur) world you can think of, you name it.

thespace

With her in Paris these next few days, in association with Parisian PR wonderwoman Sonia Diop, an array of truly talented artisans of the fine fashion making. Their care in the details and the provenience of the textiles makes me think about its correspondance with products sustainability (the Slow Food chain) and the importance of tradition.

There are  Van Palma and We Are Leone with their handmade crêpe de soie kimonos and hats. Luz Collections is a bio and glamorous South American swimsuits line, whereas Pallome design delightful bags in jeans and cotton while Torula goes for the city accessible luxury version. Very Parisian indeed but mischievously Italian are the handmade hats signed by milliner Veronica Marucci.

Among the edible gifts, a few extraordinarily tasty gingerbreads to take home to your loved one. I got back home with a bag filled with goodies and with my purse not too hurt. Thumbs up to accessible luxury!

The Space Pop Up, December 11th-13th 117, rue Saint Honoré Paris (75001) from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. MÉTRO : Palais Royal- Musée du Louvre SITE : thespace.fr

With love and gingerbreads,

Eleonora

To each one their own madeleine

Marcel Proust, the autobiographical narrator of the most renowned multiple (oh, those tomes!) piece of French 20th century literature "In Search of Lost Time" has it, my grandmother has it, my favourite beekeeper has it, the laundry woman working and singing below my apartment has it and I have it too. It's the Madeleine, that is, that involuntary memory that arises once we are faced with the most eloquent elements reminding us of long times gone; suddenly, all our senses awaken and we are taken back in time to a moment so intense that we would have not suspected of it existing in the back of our mind, had we tried to remember it rationally. Proust's narrator laments that such memories are inevitably partial, and do not bear the essence of the past. Back in Italy these days for some pop-up projects, I can't help but being somehow drawn by these lines which I'm re-reading these days in my new Parisian life. My childhood days in Puglia gave me strenght, an unbearable feisty attitude, a love for the wild sea and loads of crunchy and creamy pasticciotti. I don't want them to be just partial memories but entire new memories to grasp for you, so here it is, the whole traditional recipe spread out for you. I love to devour 2 of them with my morning cappuccino. Pasticciotti with custard and black cherries

  • 330 gr. super fine OO flour
  • 150 gr. of dairy butter
  • 5 free range egg yolks
  • 1 free range egg
  • 1/2 vanilla pod
  • 2.5 dl. of fresh organic whole milk
  • 160 gr. of caster sugar
  • 120 gr. black cherries in light syrup
  • 50 gr. icing sugar

Prepare the dough. Arrange 300 gr. of flour in a large bowl, distribute the cold butter over cut into small pieces and work quickly the two ingredients with your fingertips in order to form a crumbled mixture. Merge then 100 gr. of sugar, 2 egg yolks and the whole egg. Mix together, form a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap and let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven at 180°. Make the custard. Engrave half of the vanilla pod, lengthwise, put it in a saucepan, pour over the milk and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, assemble the remaining egg yolks with the caster sugar, using a whisk. Add the remaining flour, a little at a time, alternating it with a ladle of milk. Stir with a wooden spoon and complete by pouring the remaining hot milk. Cook the cream over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is quite dense. Butter and flour the moulds.

Arrange the ball of dough between 2 sheets of baking paper, flatten it with your hands and then, using a rolling pin, work it to obtain a layer about 3 mm. thick. Line half of the dough at the bottom of the molds and then fill them each with the cold custard. Lie in the center one or more cherries in syrup and cover the molds with the remaining dough, making sure to well seal the edges. Sting the surface with the prongs of a fork and bake in preheated oven at 180° for 20 minutes. Let your pasticciotti cool and cover them with icing sugar before serving.

With love and pasticciotti,

Eleonora