Sunday, April 25, 2010

To tarte or not to tarte? That is the question.

Greetings, fellow bloggers...the small community of followers who read and love me.

It has been a long while since I've blogged. And I am sad for that. I get such a charge out of reading myself. There is no particularly good reason for not having done this...

So, here I go...trying to make up for the whole...not blogging...thing.

The smell of cinnamon, brown sugar and toasting pecans wafts enticingly from our kitchen. Somewhere in my brain, the neurons responsible for control of my culinary neurons have exploded and taken over the rational parts of the rest of my brain.

Thus, the coffee cake, loaves and loaves of garlic and herb bread and two tartes aux chocolats practically flying from my oven

It started with the Easter tarte au chocolat. The first.

Tarte tracker count: 1

I was playing on the Internet...instead of doing, you know, useful things when I came across the late, great Julia Child's recipe for tarte au chocolat.

Whenever I am looking at recipes, I always, always, always think, "oh, that looks so easy. I can do that." Ha-ha. How easily we underestimate our culinary abilities when staring dreamily at those glossy cookbook photos, dreaming of silken, creamy chocolate.

And so begins my ongoing internal war.

What they don't tell you in these beautiful, drool-inciting books is that there was someone who actually did all of the prep work before this chef just nonchalantly tossed his creme brulee aux amandes caramelisees together. Which is why Rachael Ray is never ever covered in flour in her recipe book photos. Bitch.

Anyway. Back to the tarte au chocolat - for which I tempered my very first egg (eggs have a disposition? Really, they should just get on with it...realize that they are part of something more beautiful than themselves. Like angry make-up sex that leads to beautiful, perfect babies). Yay! I've found that the trick to tempering eggs is to sweet talk one's husband into doing it for you.

Thank goodness for Saint Husband.

I am confident enough to say that my tarte was the star of the show. Without a doubt. Best finish to an Easter dinner in the history of the universe. This of course is a shiny "after" picture of the real thing, which went something like this:

Me: Did you like it, honey?
Saint Husband: Yes, it was wonderful. So good.
Me: Are you sure, or are you just saying that?
Saint Husband: Yes, darling. I am sure. It was wonderful. Fantastic! I promise you.
Me: You promise it was're really not just saying that.
Saint Husband: I promise. It was very good. *Followed by forehead kiss. Which, by the way is a lot sexier than you'd think*. My love, it was wonderful.
Me: You're just saying that.

Fast forward one week. Birthday party for family friend. Family friend is a known chocolate fiend. Presto! Home made gift. And who doesn't like home made gifts with inherent potential for rapid onset diabetic coma?

Tarte count: 2.

At said birthday party, hosts of Easter dinner who claim that the tarte was so good they want another one

Tarte count: 3.

Saint Husband, keen on desserts, especially those made by his wife, wants a tarte of his own.

Tarte count: 4.

Star date: 2010 - the night before the party. Here's the scene:

The countertop is covered in flour and beaten eggs. I am panicked; downright frenzied at the thought of being unable to finish all of these tartes before I have to slag off to work and leave Saint Husband to clean up collateral damage.

Just for fun, insert a screaming, fire-like pain in my neck and shoulder with every pass of the rolling pin. I am determined to finish these tartes, and present them with just a flush of pride, and a graceful whisper of, "oh. It was nothing really. I love to cook. I really hope you like it."

But it was something. God Almighty in Heaven. It was bloody well something!

What it was? A separated shoulder, and swollen neck muscles. Doctor, staring at me increduously, says: "why would you make three pastry dough in one night?"

And I say, "would you like some tarte, doctor?"

If the proof is in the pudding, the answer is in the tarte.