haha silly me

Forgot the recipe for the tart! See last post for a link to Joy the Baker, whose fabulous pie dough recipe I like (AND it uses buttermilk!)

I actually halved the whole thing because the only pie tin my family has is weirdly shallow, and added lemon juice for extra lemony-ness.


  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 large eggs yolks
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • freshly grated nutmeg to taste


Roll out the dough 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface and fit it into a 9-inch (1 quart) glass pie plate. Crimp the edge decoratively and chill the shell for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a bowl whisk together the butter, the sugar, the buttermilk, the egg yolks, the flour, the vanilla, the zest, the salt, and the nutmeg and pour the filling into the shell. Bake the pie in the lower third of the oven for 20 minutes, reduce the temperature to 325°F., and bake the pie for 20 to 25 minutes more, or until the filling is set and golden. Let the pie cool on a rack and serve it at room temperature or chilled.

Recipe credit of gourmet magazine

…and the buttermilk tart

Here I go, following through on the lofty promises I made last post.

My host mother Geraldine said that she loved lemon tarts, and I had some buttermilk leftover from the Strawberry Cake (see previous posts,) so I decided to fuse the two and go for a southern classic: buttermilk pie.

Obviously as I was in France it would be a tart, not a pie.  Because pies do not exist there.

I made the dough, following http://joythebaker.com/‘s awesome foolproof recipe which also, conveniently, contains buttermilk! If you are scared of pie/tart dough, I understand. It’s scary.  Maybe even scarier than the ghost tour I took in Edinburgh…ah who am I kidding, that was really freaking scary.

The secret is to keep all the ingredients (butter, flour, (butter)milk, ice water) cold, and to chill the dough for a few hours before use. And using plenty of flour to keep the dough from sticking when you’re rolling it out. Easy peasy pie! (or tart. haha)

As my host family didn’t have a rolling pin, because that would be too easy, I used a Centrum vitamin bottle to flatten the dough.  My host sister Chloe helped out by decorating the flour.

Roll it out, and…

Ta dah!!! Nice pretty pie dough.

No need to butter the pie pan, there’s PLENTY of butter in the dough.  Prick the bottom with a fork and crimp the edges to make it pretty pretty.

Bake in a 350 degree over for about 15 minutes, til things start getting nice and browned. Then take out and let cool. This is called “blind baking,” aka baking the crust before  you put the filling in.

Here we are getting ready to go in the oven

And here it is finished! Wait to take it out until the top gets all carmelized and brown and bubbly. Mmmmm

Look who was in the kitchen with me!!

Here’s the feast my host mother lovingly prepared my last night in Aix!  Niko sushi.  A teenage boy on a moto delivered it, and I had to answer the door  as he was yet another one of Chloe’s ex boyfriends. Classic.

For the first time, EVERY crumb was eaten.

In Which I Sum Up My Whole Semester…and make a lemon buttermilk tart

Tuesday I said au revoir to my lovely home in Aix en Provence.

“Tuesday?” you ask.  “But today’s Monday! What have you been doing all this time???”

Well, thank you for your concern, I’ve been doing a bit of the old post study-abroad travelling aka mooching off friend’s extra beds.  Thanks Alexis, Ayela, and Sally! More to come on this later.

So back to Aix. This blog is mostly about cooking, so I have kind of avoided putting up pictures of my home/friends/etc, but as I just left and am feeling a bit nostalgic here is an overview (in photos, of course) of my last semester.

Ma Maison!  This path looks really nice now, but could be very perilous at night. Trust me.

Cherries!!! Look how they’ve grown.

To the below that’s lavender.

Yes there was a lavender field in my backyard.

And beyond that…

This was my neighbor’s backyard, so I was technically trespassing.  But worth it, right?

My little provencal window and my little provencal room.  I’m in the middle of packing, but who am I kidding, that’s still the cleanest it’s been all semester (much to my host mother’s chagrin…)

Here’s what greeted me when I came home every day!

That face just warms the cockles of my heart.

And then I yell “Askyyyyyyyy” and he runs up to me and rubs his smelly drooly face all over my clean clothes and I just love it.  And then my host mom would say “Asky ta copine est ici! ” which basically means Asky your friend is here. I think they questioned my mental capacity a bit due to my obsession with their dog but who cares! I love him anyway.

Here’s the bus stop where I waited every day for the 20,

aka the least consistent, worst bus from hell ever to show itself in the south of France.

It was either early or late, or didn’t show up at all, and they loved pretending they didn’t see me with my arm up and forcing me to run after them waving my hands like a complete basket case.

And here’s where I arrived every day in Aix, listenin’ to my ipod to look cool and trying to ignore the disapproving looks aimed at my bare legs.

Look at these picturesque sights!

Lolz. Look at this pug dog sitting on its masters lap at a semi-chic cafe.

We weren’t sure if it had just come from a labotomy or if this was a natural state of a pug face.

Here’s a quick overview of a few more aix favorites.

We have O’Shannon, one of theseveralIrish pubs, and then the lovely apartment where my parents stayed when they visited! Isn’t it magical? (rhetorical question)

And here are some of Aix’s most adorable old men.  That one on the left is shelling fava beans in the street!  And that other one was just being cute and old.  I don’t know why old people are better in Europe.  They just are.

So I know I promised you a lemon buttermilk tart, and believe you me it’s coming, but there’s a train tomorrow at 7 am to London that is not going to catch itself!

So tune in next time for lemon buttermilk tart, asky pictures, an overview of my travels, and more witticisms.

Perhaps the best picture to sum up my year in France.

Stuff Growing! I want to go to there.

I have a weird, borderline unhealthy obsession with eating things that are growing on trees.  I say borderline unhealthy because it can lead to me

a) Being arrested by the police or chased off someone’s property with a shotgun or

b) Falling from a tree that some weird part of my mind insists I have to climb to get the best, highest fruit.  I may or may not have just gotten back from scaling cherry trees in my backyard in a dress and flipflops.  No broken bones yet! (knock on wood)

Here are the cherries!

They are much redder higher up.


Doesn’t it look like a poem in this context!

Almost a haiku…

Also, a picture of my backyard to place you in context.

So many little daisies! I know they’re weeds but I love them anyway

Aksy likes them too!

 Springtime in Provence is pretty darn hard to beat.  Here is a quick montage of a strawberry cake I made to celebrate my  adorable language partner Sophie’s PACS with her boyfriend Thomas!  Who is also adorable.

In the beginning, there were strawberries.

Fun fact: you should always pick your strawberries based on how strong their smell is, not based on how they look!

Step 1: Cut

Step 2: Make a cake and put the strawberries in it.

Step 3: Bake and take to a party themed Time Travel with frenchies and enjoy the chaos that ensues.

Think I may have skipped over things a bit? Here’s the recipe, from http://smittenkitchen.com.  Only thing I changed is subbing buttermilk for regular milk, because buttermilk ( or lait fermente in France) is delicious.  Weirdly, they also drink it alongside crepes in Bretagne.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate
1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour (can swap 3/4 cup or 94 grams all-purpose flour with 3/4 cup or 75 grams of barley flour, see Note)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (200 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup (118 ml) milk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 pound (450 grams) strawberries, hulled and halved–>most other berries would be good too!  Next time I’m trying blackberries.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 10-inch pie pan or 9-inch deep-dish pie pan (what I used)beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer (though I had to overlap a few to get them all in). Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Gooey strawberries on the tester are a given.) Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into wedges. Serve with lightly whipped cream.

Do ahead: Cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, loosely covered, but good luck with that.

Vacation Part Dos: Stuff of Sustenance

So here comes the gourmande parts of our travels, and there were many.

One thing you should know about Portugal is they really enjoy pastries.  In fact they practically rival the french, which is saying quite a lot.

Example one.  Apologies for the this-was-clearly-shot-through-a-window look, but I didn’t want to actually go inside the store and try to communicate with the salespeople, who were often quite insistent that you buy something.  Don’t know how they knew I was an American tourist and not a Portuguese native, however…

Mmm, that’s better.  Yes I actually bought something here, what can I say, I have very little self control.  These are only two examples of the hoards of pastelerias that literally dotted every street we stepped foot on.

Pushing everything from bastardized eclairs and millefeuilles to the traditional custard tart pastel de nata, these shops were everywhere.  I’m not complaining, but I will say having to choose which stop to shop at (tongue twister) became very difficult.

If I had to choose, though, I might say these blocks of caramel took the cake (ha.  pastry joke).  I don’t know why you would ever need such a large slab of caramel, but I hope that someday I do.

Porto also had the largest turnip I’ve ever seen.  Note the hand in the photo for comparison.  Steroids are suspected.

For some reason, much to my travel companion’s annoyances, being in Spanish (and Portuguese) speaking countries made me crave Mexican food.  After they got tired of me talking about it every 12 minutes or so, we decided to make tacos (sort of) for our beloved Portuguese hosts, Sara and Joao (with a squiggle accent on the a).

Here is Joao, aka my ideal older brother, enjoying our delicious meal, though he complained the whole time about the one tiny pepper I put into it.  Surprisingly, Portugal is not Mexico.  They don’t like spicy food and thought guacamole was the weirdest thing ever.

This trip kind of jaded me about french food, which I had always assumed was the end-all-be-all of cuisine.  How french of me.  Epiphany had whilst eating this croissant at a coffeeshop in Madrid, which kicked the a*# of every croissant I’ve had in France. Whaaa??

I know. But things get weirder.  Spanish BAGUETTES!

And they were good. 

Here are some back-to-back donut shots.  The spanish looove their donuts.  Can’t say I blame them.



Also, the markets in Spain are kiiiinda out of this world.  Look to the below montage for illustration.

Queso Fresco and fresh Coconut slices with cold water to keep them fresh.

If you look close enough, you can see one of the little escargots trying to make a run for it.  Too bad his species is notorious for its speed, or lack thereof.

So I guess this international adventure kind of shook me up a little bit.  Maybe French food isn’t the ultimate best food in the world?

Nah.  There’s really nothing better than a fresh french brioche with salted butter from normandy and confiture au fraises.

Live to die another day.

Vacation Part Uno: Dog Pics

You knew this was going to happen!

Here are dogs I thought were cute/fuzzy/happened to cross my path whilst I was frisking (word?) around Portugal and Spain this vacation.

Don’t worry, food posts are coming too, think of this as a teaser.  Or, more accurately, an appetizer. Ha ha ha.

Let’s go chronologically.  Which means Porto first!  Oh, Porto.  You are so beautiful and have such great dogs.  And food!

This one was just hangin out near a restaurant on the beach.  I felt bad for it and was going to buy it some food but then people pointed out I was being ridiculous.  Also it had a collar.   Sorry I have a large heart.

Onto Madrid, which was a big city and accordingly had less interesting dogs.  I dont know why that works, I think its because people can only have small dogs in apartments and in my opinion the bigger and droolier the dog the better.  There were a few gems though.  Look at this dog it’s waiting for its person who works in the shop!  Dawwwwwwwww. Man’s best friend.


Given its not the best angle, but people sometimes get weird when they see you taking pictures of their dogs.  I guess they just dont understand that their canine friends are going to be celebrities on my well-known blog.

Though I’ve had bad experiences with dalmations in the past (cut to summer 2010 caring for a blind, deaf, 12 year old dalmation that liked to hide in the dirt) no one can ever forget Pongo from 101 Dalmations.  Classic.

This next dog needs no explaining. Basically the cutest dogger ever, found in Seville.  Got him candid using a zoom lens.  You’re welcome.

We’ll finish up this post with a…drumroll…BERNESE! kinda.


He’s a liiiittle bit weird looking for a berner (probably some swissie in his veins) but hey, any bernese is good bernese. Am I right?


Keep an eye out for Part Dos of my Vacation blog post: everything edible.