23 August 2009

Once Upon a Tart


Once Upon a Tart is a restaurant and cookbook and lovely art object all at once. Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau met while working for a French hotel group. They knew from the start they wanted to work together outside their corporate life. Frank’s original idea was a line of condom key-chains. I know I speak for many people saying I’m glad that idea didn’t fly.

They decided to make tarts. After feeding them to friends and family, they gave some samples to other people and they got one order – for 40 tarts. Jerome was leaving the next day for a vacation. Undaunted, they make 40 tarts. After working in a space with a tiny refrigerator and one oven. One particular Thanksgiving week, while making their first delivering in their first used car, a woman ran a red light and Jerome wrecked the car and 100 tarts.

It wasn’t long before a café was in the works. Soho has never been the same. When Once Upon a Tart became a cookbook, it became one of the most beautiful cookbooks published in years. It is printed on thick, glossy paper. It jacket is a brown Kraft paper, like much of their packaging. The boards feature a glossy table of apples and the jacket has a cut-out, revealing the apple. I hate books with cut-outs. The jacket ALWAYS gets torn. While it is beautiful, there is always a danger of damaging the cover.

And speaking of beautiful… try this tart.

Baked Lemon Tart

3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup lemon juice (juice of 4 lemons)
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 par-baked 9 inch Flaky Tart Crust

1. Position your oven racks so there is one in the center, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Whisk the eggs and yolks together in a medium-sized bowl. Add the sugar with one hand while continuing to whisk with the other. Still whisking, pour in the lemon zest and juice, then the cream. Pour this lemon custard into you par-baked tart shell. It should come to 1/8 inch from the top edge of the tart. You may have a little leftover custard, which you can bake in small ramekins – a little treat for yourself.
3. Place the tart on the center rack of the oven, taking care not to spill the custard, and bake the tart for 25 –30 minutes, or until filling is firm to the touch and doesn’t jiggle when you shake the pan.
4. Remove the tart from the oven, and set it on a wire rack to cool slightly.
5. To remove the tart from the pan, the pan, rest it on a big can, Make sure the tart is steady and balanced. Slide the outside ring of the pan down off the tart. Move the tart to your work surface, and slide the tart off the pan bottom onto a rimless serving dish or cutting board. Serve at room temperature or chilled.


They suggest using you leftover egg whites for one of their meringues. You can freeze egg white easily and they are quite good. Just remember to note how many whites you have in the container.

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