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I mentioned in this post that I was looking forward to receiving my copy of La Tartine Gourmande in the mail.  After its arrival, I became quickly capitvated by the author’s colorful photography and lovingly-penned anecdotes.

Peltre’s book became an inspiration for my own side project.  I’m calling it The Tastings Project.  The concept is simple: to host a meal of multiple dishes of which I have never prepared previously.  What will this require? 1. To lay my self- consciousness aside in order to share my love for food with others, and 2. Diners whose friendship will not be questioned if the meal is less than satisfactory.

I decided to hold a brunch — a meal open to some interpretation.  My diners would be those close to me: my three housemates and a friend from high school who recently relocated to Philadelphia.  I do owe my roommates some form of gratitude — for offering comforting words after a bad day, to borrowing a car, to sharing their friends.  I was pleased to invite my high school friend, with whom I endured years of band camp and awkward marching uniforms, to my table.

Two dishes on this brunch menu were both from Peltre’s book.  The first was a ratatouille tartlet with poached egg.  I even experimented with the author’s gluten-free pastry dough.  How can ingredients like quinoa, brown rice, and buckwheat flours substitute the those in a traditional pate brisee?  Though gluten-free isn’t the most cost-effective route, it can be a good alternative for the health-conscious baker that wants to steer away from relying on enriched AP flour.  The nutty, grainy textures blended well with the cornerstone of any respectful pastry — farm-fresh butter.  I thought the resulting dough presented itself well in tartlet form.

Aromas of thyme and garlic complimented the ratatouille in the finished product.  (I didn’t even break any yolks in the poaching process!)

The second experimental dish was petite pots de creme.  Each diner had their own ramekin of vanilla-infused custard.  I’m not going to lie — this was a little labor intensive.

The homemade applesauce created a light base,

and the hot water bath baked the little cremes through and through.

After bustling around table settings, properly-set custards, and carefully-timed eggs, our party of five dined together with ease.  Bites of stewed vegetables mingled with spoonfuls of pillowy custard.  Choosing between sweet and savory is always the diner’s inner-conflict over a brunch menu, but today every palate’s battle was resolved.  Aromas of vanilla and hazelnut billowed from our piping cups of tea.  We chewed, laughed loudly, and listened to one another.  The chewing only stopped when every plate was bare and every ramekin’s porceline bottom shined back at us.

Afterwards, the diners dispersed throughout the living space — some occupied comfy couches while others propped their feet on previously occupied dining chairs.  Several rounds of “What year was that Disney film made?” was played as our meal settled.  I thought I had a thorough knowledge of the 90’s, I was proved sorely mistaken.  The afternoon progressed and our mid-day break had to end.  To-do lists lingered and studies were waiting for their proper attention.

-A

Jack Jack joined the post-brunch lounge.

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