Whoa. Do I have a lot to tell you. Firstly, you will notice a few new links posted to the right, (that's over ===> there), with some of my favorite internet reads. You will notice (and no doubt read) Carol, over at French Laundry at Home has her hands full (ick.) and I would be less of a blog community member not to mention her sacrifice for our genre. Judy Rodgers, the author of the Zuni Cookbook (who claims she can taste whether a pig's head has been used in the making of a stock or not) has a bit in her book about a pigs head being stolen from the restaurant's stock pot late one night. I thought it was an unparalleled moment of home-cooking book writing.
Up until we arrived at Carol's pigs head moment in the sun, that is, complete with photos. Ah, the glamour of the work! Anyway, take a drive by over there and cheer her on for me, okay?
Secondly, I was fresh off a momentous high caused by my huge, glowing pile of white peaches.
They were beautiful and ever so fragrant. I took a million pictures of them then decided I would like a peach tart. Here is another picture of my peaches. Get the picture?
But after that there was a desperate low, caused by the Peach Tart Experiment '08 that ensued and all the internal strife and ugliness which has followed since. I have been wearing my "I'm a Wreck" cute shirred cap sleeve baby tee-shirt around the house ever since. This helps me to work it out. Thank you, Urban Outfitters.
I want you to understand, it was not without some reference on the subject that I decided pastry cream, or some version thereof, could indeed be made with cottage cheese (Anthony Bourdain already detests home cooks, doesn't he? So I will no longer be deterred by the goal that I might one day impress him on the pages before you. But, Mr. Bourdain, I did make the demi glace and it is that you should cling to now.).
I had the peaches, and I needed a tart. I wanted the Peach and Marscapone Tart in Cooking at Home on Rue Tatin by Susan Loomis Hermann but I had no marscapone and the baby was sleeping. Even if she had not been, I did not feel like going to the store, I am always over there, it is like a museum for me and I need to cut back on my time and receipts there. Ms. Hermann made mention of processing cottage cheese (which I did have, yippee!) into a soft potion to replace Fromage Blanc (a pain-in-my-tail ingredient if ever there was one). She did not so much say you could buzz the cottage cheese and then replace the marscapone with whipped heavy cream. I got that idea from a montage of other reference sources I consulted in the 3 minute planning stage involved in this project. I also did not deign to make her Pate Sablee because it used 4 egg yolks and I have no use for the whites at the moment, freezing them is culinary bunk, and I hate wastage (I was in manufacturing once, you know). Instead, I used another sweet pastry dough recipe from who-knows-where that was a disaster all on it's own merits, even without my harebrained pastry-cream ideas.
You know very well by now how much I love Ms. Hermann's book, how I am not paid to give positive mention, and how well her guidance has worked for me in the past: (Syrian Chicken, anyone?)Magnificently. If I am on any path as she defined it, I have noticed that all goes swimmingly. Divergence from her book became a fool's errand this morning, which stretched into afternoon and eventually became, without any warning, now. So you see, the tart meltdown has absorbed nothing less than a day of my life. And that fact alone will mark Peach Tart in my memory from here on.
It went like this: The pastry dough came together in the processor just fine. It was not too sticky, pretty perfect in feel for what I know of pastry dough, which is some. I balled it up and tossed it in the fridge to concentrate on my cottage cheese pastry cream theory:
Exhibit A: Cottage cheese, extracts, freshly ground nutmeg before pulsing.
The truth is, I knew then it was too liquid in form to be safe for a pastry dough shell that cracked at rolling,
at blind baking, and at cooling, all in different places. See?
But I have to try a thing from start to finish to understand why it does not work and how to improve it. So, I finished it. Knowing full well what would come of it. The situation was not helped by the extreme juicy wateriness of the peaches in question, which I noted when I peeled them in the traditional manner, not in boiling water, because I did not want to make a juicy thing more juicy.
Then I spread my liquidy cottage cheese and heavy cream pastry cream into the shell. That was in the moments before I changed into my t-shirt and prepared for my fate.
Is this any surprise to you, Sparky?
Oh, but wait, I can fix it!:
Make a note, Pals, this is soooooo not over. Here is the part where I eat my Peach Tart Cottage Cheese soup with faux pastry-dough croutons in spite of itself. This might be why people go to pastry school, I'm not sure. Goodnight, Mr. Bourdain, wherever you are.