Grass is being mowed as I write this. Could there be a better sound? Well, yes, but this sound signals the beginning of summer! The sun is out after a week of rain and the trees are growing flower buds. Aaahh the beauty of summer.
I'm really excited for summer this year because I'll be moving closer to the city and will get to experience a more lively area than I am currently in. Also, summer + friends + picnics in the park = awesomeness. Despite the fact that I am currently in a state of "oh my god I have to figure out what I want to do with my life", seeing the sun shining always makes everything seem less tragic (not that my life is tragic in any way).
I'm pretty excited to go to farmer's markets and will soon be planting a vegetable garden with my mum. Mmm fresh veggies and fruit. When I was younger, we used to have many trees in our backyard; a sour cherry tree, two apple trees and a really tall tree that was my "sitting under the shade and reading tree". We also have vine leaves that my mum uses to make dolma. My neighbours and I were very close so I used to go into their yard and pick at their raspberry bush and grab a couple of pears from their pear trees.
Unfortunately, those days are somewhat over. The cherry and tall trees died after the ice storm broke them into pieces (I actually cried) and the apple trees eventually died after all the birds and bugs ate through them. The raspberry bush was cut down (but we recently planted a new one) and the pear trees don't produce as much. But as cheesy as it sounds, with every end comes a new beginning. So it just makes room for new plants and trees!
I wish I could say the pears from this tart came from the garden but I have to admit that the supermarket provided them for me. Still quite delicious and they go perfectly well with the almond cream. I've been wanting to make a tarte Bourdaloue for some time and finally got the chance around Easter. So make yourself a cup of tea with a slice of tart and grab a nice book to read (possibly under a big tree) to soak up the sun.
Yields one 8 or 9" tart
For almond cream:
75 g butter, soft
75 g sugar
75 g ground almonds
40 g all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 tsp almond extract
For poached pears:
2-3 medium-sized pears (I used Bartlett)
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups water
(you can also add half a split vanilla bean, a cinnamon stick, anise stars, ginger, lemon, etc)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Make this recipe for pate sucree and roll out about half to line an 8 or 9" tart ring. Refrigerate until ready to bake.
For almond cream: In a small bowl mix the ground almonds and flour. In a mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the almond mixer and beat on low speed until well combined, about 1 minute. Add the eggs and almond extract one at a time slowly to emulsify. Beat until well blended and fluffy.
For the poached pears: Peel, core and cut pears in half. In a small sauce pan, bring the water, sugar and any addition to a boil, add the pears and reduce heat to a simmer. Let simmer about 20-30 minutes until you can easily poke through with a knife.
Spread almond cream evenly in prepared tart shell. Arrange the pear slices to your heart's desire (I arranged the pears in a cross but admittedly they weren't spread out evenly for cutting so perhaps cutting each pear in quarters and arranging eight rows is better). Bake about 30-40 minutes until top in lightly brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool until ready to serve. Perfect with afternoon tea!