20 August 2014

A Zucchini and Sausage Tart

Preface: This is a post I put together last week, before I injured my finger and got the splint...

Here's another idea for zucchini season: une tarte aux courgettes avec saucisson et oignons. All the ingredients go in pre-cooked (or at least blanched) so it doesn't have to stay in the oven very long. You can make it ahead of time and then put it in the oven half an hour or less before you're ready to serve it.

The first step is to sauté some onions slowly in a frying pan on top of the stove. They need to cook for 30 to 45 minutes at low temperature. To help them along, add half a cup of white wine or water after the onions have browned slightly. I also added a tablespoonful of honey and a couple of bay leaves to the pan for flavor.

The second step is to blind-bake the pie shell. Put the pan with the pastry in it into a medium oven for 20 minutes or so, or until the pastry is lightly browned.

While all that is going on, slice a zucchini squash thinly and blanch the slices in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes to soften them. Scoop them out of the boiling water into a big bowl to cold water to stop the cooking, and then transfer to a colander to drain.

Finally, cut a pre-cooked sausage into thin slices. Here in France, I bought a saucisson à l'ail or garlic sausage that is sold cuit, or completely cooked. It is made by a company in Fleury-les-Aubrais, just outside the city of Orléans. The label says the sausage is 97% pork, with the garlic for flavor and some egg white as a bindin agent. It's very firm and it's easy to slice thinly with a sharp knife.

Now everything is cooked, at least partially. To put the tart together, spread the cooked onions on the bottom of the tart shell. Arrange the sausage slices on top of the onion, and the zucchini slices on top of the sausage. One other ingredient is some grated cheese on top — parmesan or comté or cheddar — whatever you like. Bake the tart for about 20 minutes or until it is hot all the way through and the cheese on top has melted and browned.

19 August 2014

The splint, or “finger sandal”

Here is the thing I have to wear on the ring finger of my right hand for the next 6 to 8 weeks — yes, six to eight weeks! I can't really type, so I might not be writing much before the first of October. Enjoy the silence.

The splint or brace — une attelle [ah-TEHL] in French — looks a little like a sandal for my finger, seen from the side. I'm glad I don't have to wear a pair of them, one on each hand. Then I really would be out of commission.

18 August 2014

Good tomato news from the garden

Dry (but cool) weather has finally moved in, replacing the constant rains we had through July and, expecially, through the first half of August, here in Saint-Aignan. Fears that our tomato crop had been ruined were unfounded, however. Here are a few photos I took out in the garden yesterday morning.

I think the trimming of lower leaves on each tomato plant that Walt did when we first noticed some blight on the tomatoes was effective. Cutting off the leaves close to the tomatoes helps the fruit dry off more quickly after rain or a heavy dew, and slows down the growth of mildew and other champignons by improving air flow.

Not only are the majority of tomatoes out there healthy-looking, but quite a few of them are starting to ripen. If the weather remains dry for a few more weeks, and warms up a little, we will have a big crop, as you can see. Remember, there are 36 tomato plants out there.

I don't know if the brown coloring on the tops of the tomatoes above  is an indication of blight or just the way this variety of tomato ripens. I hope it's the latter. Again, if the tomatoes stay fairly dry and get some sunshine on them, a little bit of the blight won't matter too much.

These are some so-called tomates longues that Walt grew from seed and planted this year. We're looking forward to trying them, and it appears that the two in the center of the photo above will be ripe in just a few more days.

P.S. My finger condition has a name. It's called "mallet finger" (« le doigt en maillet ») and it does need treatment right away. I have to go get a finger splint and wear it for six weeks! That's my task for today. Thanks to reader Marilyn for sending me an e-mail with the above links in it.