Our mini-trip to France last week to attend a wedding in Burgundy would not have been complete without visiting le Marché on Sunday morning. Even before we left we had talked about buying a poulet rôti (rotisserie-grilled chicken) for the famous piquenique voiture the French roadside picnic that must begin at 12:00 o’clock midday exactly no matter where you are, any roadside will do.
But in my heart and fuzzy mind, having celebrated a wonderful Bal Musette (a popular dance to traditional French accordion music held outside or in a tent) in honor of our dear friends Elke and François’ wedding on the shore of the mighty Saone river, I knew I wanted more than just chicken at the market and I was excited to see what was in season.
Apricots, summer cheeses, green beans, nectarines, peaches, and sweet cherries. All displayed in endless stalls wrapped around the St. Vincent church, tons of cars and trucks parked everywhere and loads and loads of people. A typical French market Sunday. It is an amazing experience to visit a market in France. Here, the otherwise very polite and cordial French-folk will use elbows, shopping baskets and nasty looks to get their turn at the stall without a nasty word but with great determination. The produce is local, not always pretty since the beautiful fruit is exported and the luscious, ripe and untreated sometimes blemished fruits and vegetables are offered in abundance at very low prices to the local people.
After 45 minutes of plumping, tasting, touching and choosing, we were loaded down with 2 roasted chickens, 1 kilo of beans, 2 fresh goat cheeses, a chunk of summer Cantal, an even bigger chunk of Beaufort, 2 kilos of ugly but delicious apricots, a kilo of amazing cherries, ox-heart tomatoes, 2 bushels of pungent radishes still covered in local soil, and 1 jar of Acacia honey. We set off for home. Oh and yes we had already bought more good wine than we could fit in the trunk of our car.
Having polished off a wonderful piquenique voiture and completed the trip, we arrived home to unload our treasures. Some into the cellar, others into the fridge and the apricots directly into the pot since they were somewhat overly soft after the trip and their wonderful fruity smell dictated an immediate remedy. A compote of apricots was the solution, made from simply washing the fruit, cutting it into rough pieces and tossing it into the pot with 2 cups of preserving sugar (has a bit of gelatin in it), the pits – very important for flavor – 2 tablespoons of the honey and a pinch of anis seeds, lavender, black pepper and chili. This compote is delicious on its own or as a base for sorbet, pie filling, to mix with yoghurt or add more gelatin to make jam. I stored it in a container in the fridge for further use: my pie.
Having had no time all week to make the pie and needing to also do something with the fresh goat cheese, I decided to make one crust and two pies. I chose a neutral crunchy quiche crust, slightly salty and where you can taste the olive oil, that would not distract from the pie content but rather enhance it. The vegetable pie was even better eaten cold and the apricot pie can be served, hot, cold or warm with or without vanilla ice-cream and is great with espresso or coffee.
Olive Oil Pie Crust for 2 pies
Courtesy of GU Quiche, edition from 1998
- 500 grams of flour (white, whole wheat or mixed)
- 3 TBSPS of your favorite olive oil
- ¼ liter of lukewarm water
- ½ tsp salt
Putting it all together:
- Measure the flour and make a mound on your counter or baking board. Make a hole in the middle and add the olive oil, knead flour slightly to mix the oil so it won’t “run off”. Make a new mound with a hole in the middle and add half of the water. Continue to knead the dough adding more water or flour as needed to make a smooth dough. Knead until supple, divide into 2 balls and cover with a damp kitchen towel until ready to use. The resting definitely makes it smoother and improves its flavor.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F / 190 degrees C
- When the fillings are just about ready, blind-bake the pies for 10 minutes having rolled them out to lightly overlap the quiche or large pie plates which have been oiled, lined with tinfoil or parchment paper and weighted down with beans, or in my case rice.
- Remove the pie shells from the oven and let cool as is for 5 minutes, then remove the paper and beans/rice. The crusts are ready to use.
- The pies should bake 40 minutes, with heat from above for the last 10 minutes.
Goat Cheese Pesto Pie with Eggplant and Tomato
Ingredients for the Goat Cheese Pesto:
- 250 grams cheese goat cheese
- 2 handfuls of fresh herbs such as: basil, dill, thyme, sage, cilantro, mint, etc. or whatever herbs grow in your garden or on your windowsill – washed and stems removed where necessary
- 1 TBSP capers
- 2 TBSPs olive oil
- 2 TBSPs walnuts or pecans or pine nuts
- 4 grinds of fresh pepper
- 1-2 TBSPs of honey, depends on your taste
- 1 pinch of ground chili peppers
- 1 TBSP of your favorite vinegar
- Zest from ½ an untreated, washed lemon
Further pie-filling ingredients:
- 3 med-large, washed tomatoes, thinly sliced
- 2 medium oriental eggplants (they are thinner and less bitter)
- 100 grams of grated Comte, Beaufort, Gruyere or similar strong hard cheese
Putting it all together:
- Toss the pesto ingredients into a food processor and whirl until well blended, scraping the sides in between.
- Transfer to a container and put in the fridge until needed – makes a brilliant dip if you have leftovers.
- Slice the eggplants into thin round slices of a similar size to the tomato slices. Place them on a clean, paper-towel covered tray and salt them well on all sides and let sit about 15 minutes turning once. Pat them dry and grille them on both sides briefly just until slightly brown and fragrant – return to the tray having discarded the paper towel. You can also brown the slices without oil in a non-stick frying pan or griddle.
- Take your blind-baked pie crust and fill it with a good layer of the goat cheese pesto. Now alternate tomato and eggplant slices in a fan going round the pie to cover the pesto with a good layer of vegetables.
- Grind pepper over the vegetables and cover with the grated cheese.
- Bake in the oven for 40 minutes at 375 F / 190 C or wait for the apricot pie and bake them together.
Now for the sweet:
Apricot Compote Pie with Cinnamon Crumble
- 2 cups of apricot compote – see description above
- 2 TBSPs sugar
- 1 cup of cinnamon crumble made from flour, butter sugar and cinnamon mixed until crumbly – I generally freeze leftover raw crumble to use when needed – that is where this one came from
Putting it all together:
- Take your blind-baked pie shell and sprinkle it with the 2 TBSPs of sugar.
- Add the compote and sprinkle it with the crumble.
- The pie(s) should bake 40 minutes with heat from above the last 10 minutes.
Et voila! 1 crust = 2 pies.