Lesson 75: Fruit Tarts & Wine Essentials Day 4

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Wow what a day yesterday was! I wasn't feeling good yesterday morning and was up at 3 in the morning with stomach pains. I didn't know how I was going to make it through class and then wine class later on. While I was on the train to NY, I challenged myself to work hard in class to hopefully distract myself from the pain I was in and then make the decision after class whether I should skip wine class or keep on going.

I am sure glad I didn't miss yesterday's pastry class because Chef Chad told us if you don't know how to make pastry cream, then you're a punk! I definitely don't want to be a punk!!!!! So, I got to work right away mis en place'ing a medium batch of pastry cream that I made with Allison H. This pastry cream reminded me of the custard my mom makes for my grandpa's special Italian cake. She always saves a bowl of it for me to eat plain. It took all of my power to not grab a spoon and dig in! We spread the cream on a sheet pan and covered it with plastic wrap so it could cool before we use it later for our fruit tarts.

After Chef demonstrated how to roll out the doughs for our tarts, we all worked individually to make 3 mini fruit tarts and one regular tart. I rolled out the pate brisee (from yesterday) and pressed it into the mini tart shells. We blind baked these mini tarts (without any filling) before filling them. When it was time to fill the tarts, we first brushed the bottoms with reduced apricot jelly, then added in some pastry cream (that we brightened up with some raspberry liquor and fresh whipped cream). We assembled some fresh fruit on top and dotted the fruit with more apricot jelly for shine.

I couldn't help myself from digging into one on my train ride home :)

While the mini tarts were blind baking, we got to work on our larger tart. We had a lot more flexibility with these tarts, since we had a variety of frangipanes and poached fruits to choose from. We started out by rolling out pate sucree (from yesterday) and fitting it into the larger tart pan. I decided to use the pistachio frangipane that Allison and I made yesterday. The pistachio flavor is not overpowering in this filling and I thought the color would look really nice in the tart. I also used the caramel poached pears that I made on Wednesday and some poached figs that another group made.

When my tart came out of the oven, I glazed the top with more apricot jelly and added some toasted crushed almonds and powdered sugar around the edge (to frame the tart):

Isn't it pretty???

It was fun to see everyone's tarts because they were all so different! Here is Aaron's tart.. looks like he used red wine poached pears and maybe a walnut frangipane?

Even the mini fruit tarts were assembled in all different ways. Here are Asli's beautiful tarts:

After class I made the decision to stick it through the rest of the day and stay for wine class. I was feeling a lot better and I didn't want to have to make up another wine class (I still have to make up day 2 bc of the snow storm!)

Today's wines were from warm weather climate areas (Spain, France, Australia). It was interesting to try these wines because I am so used to Italian or California wines. We started out by sipping on a dry sherry. I was surprised that I didn't mind the extra dry finish on this wine, but it was very different from the sherry that we ended with. But, before I get to that, let me tell you about the wines!

First up, we tried 4 white wines. I didn't LOVE any of them, but they weren't bad. The first one reminded me of a nice wine to sip on a hot summer night. It was very light and refreshing:
Rias Baixas, Albarino, Legado del Conde 2008. This bottle retails at $18 a bottle.

My favorites of the white was the Rioja, Vina Tondonia Blanco Reserva, R. Lopez de Heredia 1990. This was an aged wine that tasted a bit more oaky than the others. It had a rich, ripe apple flavor. This bottle retails at $40.

Next, we tried a rose that I thought was very refreshing. It had a light strawberry flavor. This bottle is from South France: Les Baux de Provence, Rose, Mas de La Dame 2008. Retailing at $15.

We tried four reds after the rose. One of them was from Australia! Sipping it brought back memories of my 4 months studying abroad in Perth. It had a very deep fruity flavor (blackberries and dark plums). Barossa Valley, Shiraz. 'Entity', J. Duval Wines 2006. This bottle retails at $40.

My favorite wine of the night was the Ribera del Duero, Pesquera 2006, which retails at $50 (it was the most expensive of the night.. why do I always like the most expensive wines???!)
This wine also had a very intense fruity flavor. It was one of the heavier wines of the night.

We ended the night with another sherry..this time a very sweet sherry! Everybody in the class looked at the color of this wine and thought "ugh" because it was brown and, well, ugly. However, as soon as I smelled it I knew it would be dessert in a glass. I smelled caramel, coffee, and a rich, dark syrup. It was the perfect ending to the spread of wines.

Well, I made it through the day despite the rocky start and I'm so glad I did! Thankfully, I am feeling A LOT better today, especially after a good night's sleep. Have a wonderful weekend!! Coming up on Monday: Puff Pastry!!


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