I'm sure some of you have one of Patricia Wells' cookbooks. She's a multi-talented woman....chef, journalist, author, teacher....an American who has lived in Paris since 1980. She's also on Gourmet's list of 50 Women Game-Changers in food. (Mary from One Perfect Bite is hosting a group of blogging friends who are working their way down the list. You may not agree with some of Gourmet's choices, but it's a marvelous way to be introduced to chefs you may not be familiar with and try their recipes.)
Off and on throughout the year, Patricia Wells conducts week-long cooking classes both in her cooking studio in Paris and at her farmhouse in Provence. And in April, Ms. Wells came out with a new cookbook, Salad as a Meal. It sounds fabulous, full of delicious, healthy recipes and I've put it on my wish list. (Did you know she had a weight epiphany at a spa which consequently led to her losing 30 pounds? Read about it HERE.)
I had some champagne grapes left in the fridge so I searched online for a recipe and that's how I discovered The Winemaker's Grape Cake. It seems to have made the blog rounds, but I'd never made it and most of the recipes I found were based on a Patricia Wells recipe. I think you'll like it....in one mouthful you get the sweet tang of the grapes with some lovely citrus undertones. Can you see how moist it is in the photo? We loved it and found it perfect for a light treat in the summer.......with a glass of wine of course!
Patricia Wells' Winemaker's Grape Cake
From Patricia Wells, At Home in Provence
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
A pinch of sea salt
Grated zest of 1 lemon
Grated zest of 1 orange
10 ounces small, fresh purple grapes (I used champagne grapes)
Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350°F
Generously butter and flour the springform pan, tapping out any excess flour. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the eggs and sugar until thick and lemon-colored, about 3 minutes. Add the butter, oil, milk, and vanilla extract, and mix until blended.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add the lemon zest and orange zest, and toss to coat the zest with flour. Spoon the mixture into the bowl of batter and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix once more. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquids.
Stir about 3/4 of the grapes into the batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth out the top with a spatula.
Place the pan in the center of the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then sprinkle the top of the cake with remaining grapes. Bake until the top is a deep golden brown and the cake feels quite firm when pressed with a fingertip, about 40 minutes more, for a total baking time of 55 minutes. Remove to rack to cool. After 10 minutes, run a knife along the sides of the pan. Release and remove the side of the springform pan, leaving the cake on the pan base. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar just before serving. Serve at room temperature, cut into thin wedges.
Fresh figs in the market reminded me to pull this tart recipe out of my file. I've had it for a while and I really loved the sound of the rosemary cornmeal crust. And I was right, it's easy to make and tastes marvelous. Of course, you could use the lemon mascarpone cream any number of ways...just spoon it over any fresh fruit and it would be lovely, but combined with the rosemary crust, the flavors just sing. If you're not a fig fan, any fruit will do.
You could use a large rectangular tart pan or a 10 inch round one, but I do love individual servings. You can make the crust and mascarpone a day ahead, then assemble the tart and hold it at room temperature for an hour or so. The currant jelly glaze is the perfect finishing touch, but I've used red raspberry and apricot as a glaze in other tarts....works fine.
Fresh Fig Tart with Rosemary Cornmeal Crust and Lemon Mascarpone Cream
From Gourmet magazine, July 2003
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal (not stone-ground)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
1/3 cup sour cream
1 cup mascarpone cheese (8 oz)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons red-currant jelly
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 lb fresh figs
Use round or rectangular pans with removable bottoms.
Use round or rectangular pans with removable bottoms.
Pulse together flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter and rosemary and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Drizzle evenly with 4 tablespoons ice water and pulse until just incorporated. (It took 5 tablespoons for me)
Gently squeeze a small handful: If it doesn't hold together, add more water, 1/2 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition and continuing to test.
Press dough evenly onto bottom and up sides of tart pan with floured fingers. Chill crust until firm, about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Bake crust in middle of oven until center and edges are golden, 25 to 30 minutes, then cool in pan on a rack.
Whisk together sour cream, mascarpone, sugar, zest, and salt in a bowl.
Heat jelly and honey in a small saucepan until jelly is melted; allow to cool slightly.
Remove sides of tart pans and spread mascarpone cream in shells. Cut figs (or whatever fruit you're using) into 1/4-inch-thick slices and arrange over cream. Brush figs with honey glaze.