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Seasonal Recipes: Summer

Côte de Boeuf

Côte de Boeuf is a favorite at The Cook’s Atelier all year long.  When we decide to make it, we turn to our good friend and butcher, Monsieur Vossot, for the perfect cut.  Côte de Boeuf in France is similar to a rib roast in the states and it is perfect for large family gatherings.  In the spring and summer months, it goes great with morel mushrooms or a crisp, fennel, fava bean or heirloom tomato salad.  In the autumn and winter months, we pair our Côte de Boeuf with a side of gratin dauphinois and seasonal roasted vegetables.  A great glass of Pinot Noir, such as one from Domaine Chevalier Ladoix 1er Cru "Le Clou d'Orge" 2012 (found in our Wine Shop) makes a lovely addition as well!



Côte de Boeuf

Serves 6

1 Côte de Boeuf, 4 to 5 pounds, at room temperature

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 garlic cloves, smashed, germ removed

Extra virgin olive oil

A few rosemary sprigs (optional)

A few thyme sprigs

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Drizzle a little olive oil over the meat.  Season both sides of the Côte de Boeuf generously with salt and pepper.  Preheat a cast iron pan large enough to hold the meat, on the stove.  Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan.  Once the pan is hot, sear the chop over medium-high heat, without moving, for 2 or 3 minutes until a nice crust appears.  Turn the meat and sear the other side in the same way.  Arrange the garlic and the thyme around the chop.  Place the pan in the preheated oven, and cook until the center of the meat registers at 125 degrees F, about 20 to 25 minutes.  Transfer to a carving board, and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes for medium-rare.

Slice the meat away from the bone, and cut against the grain into 1/2 inch slices.  Arrange on a plate or platter and service immediately.

Seasonal Recipes: Summer

Fresh Mixed Berry Tart

Our first summer berry tart at The Cook's Atelier features white and red raspberries and the last of the tiny strawberries for the season.  We source our berries from our garden at Clos de la Cozanne (aka Kendall and Laurent's house) or from one of our favorite biodynamic farms belonging to our friends, Cyril et Bérangère.  This tart is simple to prepare.  We use our favorite pastry cream and pâte sucrée and add a little dusting of confectioner's sugar just before service. Sweet!


Fresh Mixed Berry Tart

Makes one 9-inch tart or 6 tartelettes


1/2 recipe Pâte sucrée (find our recipe under "The Cook's Basics")


All-purpose flour, on work surface


1/2 cup heavy cream


1 teaspoon sugar


Pastry Cream (recipe follows)


4 cups mixed berries


confectioner's sugar for dusting


On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch round, about 1/4 inch thick.  With a pastry brush, sweep off excess flour, fit dough into a 9-inch round fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing into the edges and using your thumb to remove excess dough.  Chill tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line the tart shell with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang.  Fill with dried beans and bake until the edges are just beginning to turn golden.  Remove parchment paper and weights; continue baking until golden all over, 10 to 15 minutes.  Cool tart shell completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream and sugar in a bowl until soft peaks form.  Working in batches, gently fold whipped cream into pastry cream; set aside.

Spoon pastry cream mixture into cooled tart shell and spread evenly.  Top with the mixed berries; dust with confectioners sugar.  The tart is best served the day it is made.


Pastry Cream 

Makes about 1 3/4 cups




1 cup whole milk


1/2 vanilla bean, split


5 tablespoons sugar


3 large egg yolks


1 tablespoon cornstarch


1 tablespoon flour


1 tablespoon unsalted butter




Place milk, vanilla bean and 4 tablespoons sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat; cook until almost boiling. 

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks with remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar until thickened.  Sprinkle in the cornstarch and flour and continue beating until well combined.  Remove vanilla bean from milk.  While whisking constantly, slowly pour heated-milk mixture into egg yolk mixture.  Pour mixture through a fine sieve back into saucepan, and cook, whisking constantly, over medium-high heat, until it thickens, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl and whisk in butter until melted.  Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly on the surface of the pastry cream; refrigerate until completely cooled.

 To make the tart:  If the pastry cream seems a little too sticky, we like to add a little freshly whipped cream to lighten it up a bit.  Using an offset spatula, spread the pastry cream in the tart shell.  Top with fresh berries.  Dust with confectioner's sugar and a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

Seasonal Recipes: Summer

Wild blackberry tart

We are enjoying the last days of summer here at The Cook's Atelier. The weather is crisp and autumn is in the air. What better way to celebrate a lovely summer than a wild blackberry tart! On a recent family walk, Luc and Manon hand-picked these beauties and we couldn't resist.

Wild Blackberry Tart

Makes one 9-inch tart


1/2 recipe Pâte Sucrée (under 'The Cook's Basics')
All-purpose flour, for work surface
1 teaspoon sugar
Pastry Cream (recipe follows)
4 cups wild blackberries


On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch round, about 1/4 inch thick. With a pastry brush, sweep off excess flour, fit dough into a 9-inch round fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing into the edges and using thumb to remove excess dough. Chill tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fill with dried beans and bake until the edges are just beginning to turn golden. Remove parchment paper and weights; continue baking until golden all over, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool tart shell completely on a wire rack.

Spoon pastry cream mixture into cooled tart shell and spread evenly. Top with blackberries.  Tart is best served the day it is made.


Pastry Cream
Makes about 1 3/4 cups

1 cup whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split
5 tablespoons sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Place milk, vanilla bean and 4 tablespoons sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat; cook until almost boiling.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks with remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar until thickened. Sprinkle in the cornstarch and flour and continue beating until well combined.
Remove vanilla bean from milk. While whisking constantly, slowly pour heated-milk mixture into egg yolk mixture. Pour mixture through a fine sieve back into saucepan, and cook, whisking constantly, over medium-high heat, until it thickens, about 2 minutes.

Transfer to a large bowl and whisk in butter until melted. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly on the surface of the pastry cream; refrigerate until completely cooled.

Seasonal Recipes: Summer

Stone Fruit Tart

Summer Stone Fruit Tart
Makes one 9-inch tart


1/2 recipe Pâte Sucrée (found under "The Cook's Basics")
All-purpose flour, for work surface
10 to 12 plums

For the filling
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
5 egg whites
8 ounces unsalted butter
1 vanilla bean


In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the hazelnuts and half the powder sugar. Process until it is in the consistency of a fine meal. Add the remaining flour and sugar and process to combine. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and add the egg whites and stir until combined. In a small saucepan over high heat, melt the butter. Using a small paring knife, scrape out the seeds and add the pod and the seeds to the butter. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the butter is dark and has a nutty aroma. Remove the vanilla bean pod. Slowly pour the browned butter into the nut mixture, whisking to incorporate.

To prepare the tart

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch round, about 1/4 inch thick. With a pastry brush, sweep off excess flour, fit dough into a 9-inch round fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing into the edges and using thumb to remove excess dough. Chill tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes.

Pour the filling into the tart shell. Then, starting from the outer edge, arrange the plums in concentric circles, covering the entire surface of the tart.

Bake the tart at 350 degrees F for about 30 to 35 minutes until set, the filling is firm,  and the crust is nicely browned.

Seasonal Recipes: Summer

White peach confiture

White Peach and Vanilla Bean Confiture

2 3/4 pounds white peaches, or 2 1/4 pounds net
3 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
Juice of 1 lemon

Poach the peaches 1 minute in a pan of boiling water. Refresh them in ice water. Peel them and half them. Remove the stones and cut each half into six sections. Split the vanilla bean in half and remove the seeds.

In a preserving pan, combine the peach sections, sugar, vanilla bean and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, stirring gently. Skim. Continue cooking on high heat until the jam reaches 221 degrees F. Check the set. 

Put the jam into jars immediately and seal.

Seasonal Recipes: Summer

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

Here at The Cook's Atelier, we love unfussy food with a focus on the quality of the ingredients.  This heirloom tomato Gazpacho is lovely as a first course or perfect for the main course on a hot summer day.  Spend a morning at your local farmers' market and gather the ingredients for this classic summer soup and capture summer in a bowl.

Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho

Serves 6


2 1/2 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes

3 cucumbers

1 small jalapeño, seeded and cut in half

6 cilantro sprigs

2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup diced red, yellow and orange sweet pepper

3 tablespoons diced shallots

small cherry tomatoes, cut in half


Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for 30 seconds.  Cool the tomatoes in a bowl of ice water a few minutes, and then use your fingers to slip off their skins.  Remove the cores, and chop the tomatoes coarsely, saving all the juice.  Reserve the ice water.

Seed and dice 1/4 cup worth of unpeeled cucumber, as nicely as you can for the garnish.   Set aside.  Peel and coarsely chop the remaining cucumbers.

You will need to make the soup in batches.  Place tomatoes, coarsely chopped cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro sprigs, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil in a blender with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and some pepper.  Purée until the soup is completely smooth.  If the soup is too thick, add a little of the reserved ice water.  Strain the soup and taste for seasoning.  Repeat with the rest of the soup ingredients.  Chill the soup in the refrigerator; it should be served very cold.

Toss the diced pepper, diced shallots, and diced cucumber together in a small bowl.  Pour the gazpacho into six chilled soup bowls, and scatter the pepper mixture over the soup. Season the cherry tomatoes with salt and pepper.  Finish each soup with a drizzle of really nice olive oil.  

To serve family-style, place the soup in a chilled tureen or pretty pitcher and garnish with the tomato halves and cilantro; pass the diced vegetables on the side.

Seasonal Recipes: Summer

White peach tartlettes

Rustic White Peach Tartlettes
Serves 6 to 8

1 recipe Pâte Sucrée (from "The Cook's Basics")

for the peaches
4 cups water
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 medium peaches

Bring 4 cups water, sugar and lemon juice to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add peaches and reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the peaches are tender, about 10 minutes. Cool the peaches in the syrup.

for the almond filling
2/3 cups ground almonds
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
6 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg

In a medium bowl, mix the ground almonds, sugar and butter until smooth. Add the egg and mix until incorporated. Cover and chill at least 3 hours.

to prepare the tart
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Position a rack in the center of the oven.

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, and sprinkle with a little bit of flour, Roll it into a 1/4-inch-thick circle, flouring as needed. Gently press the dough into the tartlette pan, being careful not to stretch the dough as this will cause it the shrink when baking. To remove the excess dough, work your way around the edge pinching off the excess dough with your fingers. Chill the dough in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking.

Prick the bottom with a fork and line the shell with parchment paper. Fill the lined tart with dried beans or pie weights and bake for 15 minutes. Take the tart out of the oven and carefully remove the parchment paper and dried beans. Return the tart to the oven, and bake until golden brown turning as needed to ensure even color. Set aside on a rack to cool.

Spread almond filling evenly in crust. Peel the peaches and cut each in half lengthwise and removing the pit. Cut each half crosswise into thin slices. Gently press each peach in half to fan the slices but keep the slices tightly overlapped and arrange on the tart.

Bake tart until golden and a tester inserted into the center of the filling comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool tart in pan. To serve, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Seasonal Recipes: Summer

Apricot Confiture

During the summer months at The Cook's Atelier, we get busy slicing, dicing and preserving the tastes of summer.  On the top of our list this time of year is our favorite apricot confiture.  Recipe below.


Jam-making equipment

Jam pan
Although you can prepare fruit in an ordinary large saucepan, a special jam pan will make the process easier.  Our favorite jam pans are copper and can be found on our online shop, The French Larder at The Cook's Atelier.  Jam pans are wider at the top than the bottom, which makes the evaporation process much quicker than a normal saucepan.  The key to making great jam is to cook the fruit quickly so the fruit retains its bright color.

Jars
You will need mason jars in suitable sizes.  We particularly love the sweet miniature versions of Weck confiture jars (also found on our online shop, The French Larder).  The jars and lids (but not the screw on bands or clips) must be sterilized before use - either in the dishwasher or submerged in a large saucepan full of water brought to a simmer.  Leave the jars and lids in the hot water until you are ready to fill them.

Water canner
You can use a large stock pot that will accommodate several mason jars.  It should have a lid and a rack for the jars to rest on.

Other equipment
A wide-mouth funnel is helpful for pouring preserves into the jars.  You will also need tongs, to remove the hot jars from the water canner.  Depending on the number of jars, it is also helpful to have dishtowels at the ready to slip between the jars while in the canner to prevent them from banging together while they process.

Processing
Remove the sterilized jar from the hot water and fill it with the preserves, leaving 1/4 to 1/2 inch space at the top.  Remove any air bubbles with a spatula.  Place a lid on top, and screw on the band (not too tightly).  Repeat with the other jams, and place them in the stock pot.  Fill the stock pot with water to cover the jars by at least 1 inch.  Cover the canner with the lid, bring the water to a full boil, and leave for 15 minutes.

Remove the jars from the water using the tongs, and place them on a folded towel.  Leave them for at least 12 hours and the test the seal by removing the band and attempting to lift the lid.  If you cannot lift the lid with your fingers, the seal is secure. Replace the bands, label the jars, and store them in a cool, dark, dry place.

Note: The canning jars in the states have a bubble in the center of the lid. When the jars are sealed properly, it will indent.


Small Batch Apricot Confiture

1 kg apricots, just ripe
700 g granulated sugar
1/4 cup of water
1 lemon, juiced

Place a few small saucers in the freezer to use to check the setting point.

Cut the apricots in half and remove the pits.  Reserve four or five pits, and discard the rest.  Cut the apricots into 1-inch pieces.  Wrap the pits in a kitchen towel, and hit them with a hammer to break the hard outer shell, but keeping the soft inner seed, which resembles an almond, in tack.

Note: In France, the apricot pits are used in confections and confiture for flavoring. Remove them from the jam before ladling them into the jars as they are poisonous if eaten.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot or jam pan, combine the apricots, sugar, soft inner seeds and water.  Stir to combine.

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Cook, stirring occasionally with a long wooden spoon and skimming foam as necessary, until reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice.  Test the jam when the juice has thickened and the bubbles are large.  The setting point has been reached when a drop placed on a chilled saucer forms a skin that is visible when lightly pushed.  Remove from the heat and ladle into dry, warm jars and process as normal. 

Seasonal Recipes: Summer

Nectarine + Blueberry Tart

To us, summer means fresh fruit tarts.  We love this tart for its buttery, flaky crust which is the perfect vehicle for the pastry cream base.  You can make this tart using any seasonal fruit, but we especially like the combination of nectarines and blueberries.  Pure summer.  We source our summer berries from one of our favorite bio-dynamic farms in Burgundy from our friends Bérengère and Cyril.


Nectarine and blueberry tart


Makes one 9-inch tart


1/2 recipe Pâte Sucrée (see under "The Cook's Basics")


All-purpose flour, for work surface


1/2 cup heavy cream


1 teaspoon sugar


Pastry Cream (recipe follows)


4 peaches, sliced


1/2 cup blueberries


confectioners' sugar for dusting


For the pastry cream


1 cup milk


1 vanilla bean, split


3 large egg yolks


1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 tablespoon flour

In a small saucepan over medium heat, scald milk, vanilla bean and 4 tablespoons of sugar by bringing the mixture just to under a boil.  

In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks and remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add flour and cornstarch and continue whisking until smooth.

Slowly pour the hot-milk mixture into the egg mixture.  Whisk until complete smooth and free of lumps.  Return the mixture to the saucepan, and place over medium heat.  Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly, and cook for another 2 minutes.

Remove the pastry cream to a bowl.  Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until ready to use.


To prepare the tart


On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch round, about 1/4 inch thick.  With a pastry brush, sweep off excess flour, fit dough into the fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing into the edges and using thumb to remove excess dough.  Chill tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang.  Fill with dried beans and bake until the edges are just beginning to turn golden.  Remove parchment paper and weights; continue baking until golden all over, 10 to 15 minutes.  Cool tart shell completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream and sugar in a bowl until soft peaks form.  Working in batches, gently fold whipped cream into pastry cream; set aside.

Spoon pastry cream mixture into cooled tart shell and spread evenly.  Top with nectarines and blueberries.  Tart is best served the day it is made.

Seasonal Recipes: Summer

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Here's a favorite summer salad at The Cook's Atelier.  The heirloom tomatoes are beginning to arrive at the market and we can't help but fill our baskets to the brim with all the beautiful varieties from one of our favorite farms owned by our friend, Céline and her dad, Yannick.  Their tomatoes are absolutely our favorites and they come in every shape, size, and color imaginable.  The recipe is great as an amuse-bouche to begin a summer evening meal or it is also lovely served family-style on a big ironstone platter.  For this salad, we particularly love to use a variety of garden basil which might include cinnamon, lemon, as well as the tiny little basil leaves that we source from Madame Loichet’s garden.


Heirloom Tomato Salad with Roquefort and Garden Basil


Serves 4


1 small clove of garlic


1 tablespoon red wine vinegar


1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


3 pounds heirloom tomatoes, assorted sizes, shapes, and colors


1 teaspoon fleur de sel

1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots


a handful of garden basil leaves

a handful of chives, chopped


1/2 pound Roquefort cheese



sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and a heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt to a paste.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in the vinegars.  Add the olive oil and taste for seasoning.  Don’t whisk, as we prefer to dress the salad with a “broken vinaigrette”.  

Cut the tomatoes into thick slices, about 1/4-inch.  Season each slice with fleur de sel and some freshly ground black pepper.  Place the slices overlapping on a salad plate and scatter the sliced shallots, basil and chives over the top of the salad.  Crumble the Roquefort cheese over the tomatoes.  Spoon the broken vinaigrette over the salad.  Serve immediately.

Seasonal Recipes: Summer

Strawberry Tart

We are in full swing here at The Cook's Atelier and the market is busting at the seams with the delights of the season. Here's a recipe for an all-time favorite, a rustic strawberry tart. This is the perfect summer tart recipe and you can adapt it according to what looks good at the market. Sublime! We also love making these into individual tartlettes. By chance, if you have a little homemade strawberry confiture in your pantry, it would be a nice additional layer just under the pastry cream.


Gariguette Strawberry tart
Makes one 9-inch tart (or 8 individual tartelettes)

1/2 recipe Pâte Sucrée (see "The Cook's Basics" section)
All-purpose flour, for work surface
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon sugar

Pastry Cream (recipe follows)
2 cups strawberries
confectioner’s sugar for dusting

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch round, about 1/4 inch thick. With a pastry brush, sweep off excess flour, fit dough into a 9-inch round fluted tart pan with a removable bottom (or you can uses 8 tartelette pans for individual servings), pressing into the edges and using thumb to remove excess dough. Chill tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prick bottom of dough all over with a fork. Line with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fill with dried beans and bake until the edges are just beginning to turn golden. Remove parchment paper and weights; continue baking until golden all over, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool tart shell completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream and sugar in a bowl until soft peaks form. Working in batches, gently fold whipped cream into pastry cream; set aside.

Spoon pastry cream mixture into cooled tart shell and spread evenly. Top with strawberries; dust with confectioner’s sugar. Tart is best served the day it is made.

Pastry Cream
Makes about 1 3/4 cups

1 cup whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split
5 tablespoons sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Place milk, vanilla bean and 4 tablespoons sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat; cook until almost boiling.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks with remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar until thickened. Sprinkle in the cornstarch and flour and continue beating until well combined.
Remove vanilla bean from milk. While whisking constantly, slowly pour heated-milk mixture into egg yolk mixture. Pour mixture through a fine sieve back into saucepan, and cook, whisking constantly, over medium-high heat, until it thickens, about 2 minutes.
Transfer to a large bowl and whisk in butter until melted. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly on the surface of the pastry cream; refrigerate until completely cooled.


Seasonal Recipes: Summer

Mme Milbert's cassis liqueur

One of my very favorite things about my time working at La Varenne was the potager.  One of my favorite things about the potager was Monsieur Milbert.  Monsieur Milbert was somewhat of a cranky old Frenchman who oversaw the potager.  I remember the first day I arrived at La Varenne and I felt as though I had fallen through the rabbit hole, right smack into a French fairytale.

Last summer, at our garden at Clos de la Cozanne (aka Kendall and Laurent's house), we ended up with buckets full of currants. I called a chef-friend in Paris, who was a long-time resident at the chateau, to see if he had a copy of Madame Milbert's recipe for homemade cassis.  After days of picking and separating little jewel-like berries from their stems, we made confiture and began the process of making our very first homemade cassis.  After the currants were stemmed, we put them in French preserving jars and covered them with vodka to seep for the next few months in anticipation for bottling our cassis to enjoy during the holidays.


Madame Milbert's Cassis Liqueur
1 kg black currants
1 bottle 750 ml good quality vodka
400 grams sugar, or to taste

Remove the black currants from their stems by pulling them gently through the tines of a fork. Wash and drain the currants in a colander and put them in a 2 quart preserving jar. Pour over the vodka, adding more if needed to cover the currants completely.  Cover tightly and leave in a cool place for at least 4 and up to 6 months.  From time to time, open the jar and crush the currants with wooden spoon or potato masher.

After 4 to 6 months, put the currants and vodka in a saucepan and mash thoroughly again using the back of a ladle or a potato masher.  Heat gently without boiling, stirring often, until the currants soften and their juice is loosened, 10 to 15 minutes.  Work the mixture through a food mill to extract all the juice.

Return the juice to the pan.  Add the sugar and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved, 10 to 15 minutes.  Take care not to let the juice boil or it may flame. Remove the liqueur from the heat and taste it, adding more sugar if needed.  It should be rich and slightly tart or sweet, depending on your taste.  Let it cool, then bottle and seal tightly.  Store for at least 3 months so the flavor mellows.

Seasonal Recipes: Summer

Raspberry tart

It has been a whirlwind in the kitchen at The Cook's Atelier, but we thought we'd share a favorite recipe for a perfect raspberry tart or tartelettes. It's even more special using homegrown raspberries from the garden at Clos de la Cozanne (aka Kendall and Laurent's house). We look forward to making this tart every year when the raspberries appear.

Today is a special day as we planted a pear tree in the garden in honor of petite Luc. He is a dream come true and I am so happy for Mama and Papa. Seriously, he is the cutest little man I have ever seen! In between the Mamy kisses (that's French for Grandma), we have been cooking up a storm here at The Cook's Atelier and meeting lots of new friends who are passionate about cooking and eating real food. Thank goodness he has a good appetite!

note: We especially love this photo of Luc taken during his first raspberry season. He stills loves them and now we are lucky if we have enough left for the tart as he happily eats them by the handful on the way back to the house directly from the basket.


Raspberry Tart

Makes one 9-inch tart or 6 tartelettes


1/2 recipe Pâte sucrée (find our recipe under "The Cook's Basics")
All-purpose flour, for work surface
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon sugar
Pastry Cream (recipe follows)
4 cups raspberries
confectioner’s sugar for dusting


On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch round, about 1/4 inch thick. With a pastry brush, sweep off excess flour, fit dough into a 9-inch round fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, pressing into the edges and using thumb to remove excess dough. Chill tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Line the tart shell with parchment paper, leaving a 1-inch overhang. Fill with dried beans and bake until the edges are just beginning to turn golden. Remove parchment paper and weights; continue baking until golden all over, 10 to 15 minutes. Cool tart shell completely on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, whip the heavy cream and sugar in a bowl until soft peaks form. Working in batches, gently fold whipped cream into pastry cream; set aside.

Spoon pastry cream mixture into cooled tart shell and spread evenly. Top with raspberries; dust with confectioner’s sugar. The tart is best served the day it is made.


Pastry Cream

Makes about 1 3/4 cups

1 cup whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split
5 tablespoons sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Place milk, vanilla bean and 4 tablespoons sugar in a medium saucepan over high heat; cook until almost boiling.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks with remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar until thickened. Sprinkle in the cornstarch and flour and continue beating until well combined.
Remove vanilla bean from milk. While whisking constantly, slowly pour heated-milk mixture into egg yolk mixture. Pour mixture through a fine sieve back into saucepan, and cook, whisking constantly, over medium-high heat, until it thickens, about 2 minutes.
Transfer to a large bowl and whisk in butter until melted. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing directly on the surface of the pastry cream; refrigerate until completely cooled.

To make the tart:

If the pastry cream seems a little too sticky, we like to add a little freshly whipped cream to lighten it up a bit. Using an offset spatula, spread the pastry cream in the tart shell. Top with fresh raspberries. Dust with confectioner's sugar and a dollop of freshly whipped cream.


Seasonal Recipes: Summer

Charentais Melon Salad

It's that time of year when the market is filled with the sweet perfume of the Charentais melon.  A simple salad, using the finest ingredients, makes for the perfect cook's lunch on a hot summer day or a beautiful first course salad for that very special luncheon!


Charentais Melon Salad with San Daniele and Garden Basil
Serves 6

3 ripe melons
6 thin slices prosciutto di San Daniele
18 very pretty basil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the vinaigrette
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.

In a small bowl, add the balsamic vinegar and olive oil.  Stir together to form a broken vinaigrette.

Cut the melon in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and slice the melon into 1-inch-thick wedges.  Set aside.

Arrange the melon on the salad plate.  Drape a slice of prosciutto over and around them, leaving some of the melon peeking through.  Drizzle with olive oil balsamic vinaigrette.  Scatter the basil leaves on top, and grind a little black pepper over the salad.

Seasonal Recipes: Summer

Pickled cornichons

During the summer months at The Cook's Atelier, we cook, entertain, and enjoy teaching our cooking classes. You will find us fermenting heirloom tomato seeds for next year's garden, canning, pickling and enjoying the never-ending task of making jam. The markets are in full swing and are bursting at the seams with the flavors of summer and it is difficult to control the urge to purchase one of everything. On our list for the market are ingredients for duck rillettes; one of the classics of French charcuterie, sweet tiny Gariguette strawberries for this week's jam, and a crate of organic peaches to make pickled peaches for my upcoming cooking class on charcuterie.

At the summer market, we are always on the lookout for Madame Petit's table. Madame Petit is one of our favorite market vendors at the Saturday market in Beaune and the best place for fresh eggs. Each week she brings a basket filled with eggs from the hens she keeps in her yard. You have to arrive early though, so you don't miss out, as they are usually gone by 9 am. In addition to her fresh eggs, she always has a few little baskets filled with things from her garden. You never know quite what to expect. Depending on the season, you might find blackberries, haricot verts, walnuts or a fresh rabbit from Monsieur Petit's morning hunt. One of our favorites are her tiny cornichons (for making little French pickles). She is always quick to spot our enthusiasm and saves some for us. She even scribbled down her recipe for pickled cornichons for us the first time we purchased them. .

Summer is ideal with its light dinners alfresco and chilled rosé. We make sure to carve out time to preserve these favors of summer by stocking our larder so we can be sure to savor summer during the cold winter months. Cornichons make the list every year.


Pickled Cornichons
Inspired by Madame Petit
Makes 2 quarts

2 pounds cornichons
1 cup coarse sea salt
several springs of fresh thyme and tarragon
6 garlic cloves, peeled
bay leaf, one per jar
whole peppercorns, a pinch per jar
2 quarts distilled white vinegar, preferably organic
1/2-inch slice of lemon, preferably organic, one per jar

Wash the cornichons in several changes of cold water while rubbing them to remove the dirt from the garden and the prickly part of their skin. Place them in a large colander and sprinkle them liberally with the course sea salt. Toss to distribute the salt evenly and let them stand in the colander, in the sink or over a bowl, for two hours to drain. The salt will help remove the moisture from the cornichons and allow them to soak up the brine.

Dry the cornichons with a clean, dry kitchen towel, leaving some of the salt. Transfer to clean jars. Arrange the cornichons, thyme, tarragon, garlic, bay leaf and whole peppercorns in each jar. Heat the vinegar and pour it over the cornichons making sure to cover them completely. Let cool completely, uncovered. Place a lemon on top of each jar and give it a shake or two. Refrigerate at least 10 days. You can give them a taste within the first few days, but keep in mind they will be quite tart at first but mellow as they absorb the brine. The cornichons will stay fresh for up to a month. Keep refrigerated.

Serve these lemon-scented, tart little pickles with homemade sausages and cheese or as an accompaniment to a slice of country-style pâté.

Seasonal Recipes: Summer

Rustic Apricot Tart

Apricots are one of our favorite spring fruits.  We try to enjoy this lovely stone fruit as much as possible while they are in season and they are at their peak in June.  In addition to eating them on their own, they make a very nice dessert baked as a rustic tart, served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and drizzled with a little local honey from the market.

The recipe for this tart is so simple and really relies on the quality of the ingredients because there is little to disguise any flaws.  When choosing apricots at the market look for those that are fragrant and have a little red blush on their skin.  Apricots won't continue to ripen after they are picked, so avoid those with a greenish tint.  In addition to apricots for this tart, you could also use French prune plums.  They are small, oblong purple-skinned plums that come to the market in late August and September.

With this recipe, it is important to remember to preheat your oven and have the pastry rolled out, fitted in the tart pan, and chilling in the freezer before the fruit is cut up and combined with the sugar so you can assemble the tart quickly.  If the fruit sits, it gives up a lot of juice, which can keep the pastry from baking properly.


Rustic Apricot Tart

Serves 6 to 8


for the crust

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, preferably organic
large pinch of sea salt
7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt and blend with a fork.  Add the butter.  Using your fingers, incorporate the butter until you have a coarse meal and no pieces of butter are bigger than a large pea.  Gradually add the ice water just until moist clumps form.  If you pick up a handful of the dough and squeeze it, it should hold together.  Be careful not to overwork the dough.  Bring the dough together with your hands to form a ball, and press it into a disk.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface, and sprinkle with a little bit of flour.  Roll it into a 1/4-inch-thick circle, flouring as needed.  Starting at one side, roll and wrap the dough around the rolling pin to pick it up.  Unroll the dough over the 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.  Gently press the dough into the pan, being careful not to stretch it as this will cause it to shrink when baking.  To remove the excess dough, work your way around the edge pinching off the excess dough with your fingers.  Put the tart shell into the freezer while you prepare the fruit.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

for the filling

About 1 pound small, fragrant, firm-ripe apricots
heaping 1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
2 pinches of sea salt

Cut the apricots in half, remove the pits and then cut each half in half again.  Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and use a paring knife to scrape out the seeds.  Put the apricots in a large bowl, and toss them gently with the sugar, vanilla and salt.

to assemble

Remove the tart shell from the freezer and quickly arrange the fruit inside, cut side up, in concentric circles.  Scrape any remaining sugar mixture left in the bowl over the fruit.

Transfer the tart tin to a baking sheet and bake it in the bottom third of the preheated oven until the pastry is golden and the fruit is cooked through, 50 to 60 minutes.

Place the tart on a rack to cool.  Serve at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream, crème fraîche or whipped cream.

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