Monday, February 9, 2009

Queen of Tarts

My all time favorite dessert -- and that's really saying something -- is the Lemon Tart from Patois, a now defunct restaurant in Brooklyn where I just so happen to have gotten engaged. Their lemon tart is revelatory: a graham cracker crust with a very lemony but just the right amount of sweet filling, and a dollop of creme fraiche on top. (Full discloser: I only know what creme fraiche is from watching "Top Chef.")

I always made sure to save room for this Queen of Desserts (there are no kings in the land of sweets, afterall). In fact, just after ordering drinks at our last visit, I asked with anxious eyes if it was still on the menu. It was, to my great relief and excitement, and about an hour later it arrived at our table. I dug in, allowing the husband only a bite here or there. He knows better than to come between me and my tart at this point, and has even convinced himself that he doesn't like it all that much anyway. Self-preserving delusion, so I don't argue it. : )

Inbetween bites I could always be heard exclaiming how delicious and perfect this sweet masterpiece was, and after about every fourth bite I'd declare that I neeeeded to learn how to make it.

Well folks, yesterday was the big day. After extensive scouring of cookbooks and internets to find a recipe that would mimic Patois's version of the lemon tart, I settled on Ina Garten's version. You may know her as the Barefoot Contessa of Food Network fame. I recently acquired her Back to Basics cookbook, and having realized how obsessed she is with squeezing fresh lemon on almost everything she makes before serving, I figured she could be trusted to make tart filling that was pucker-worthy. 

For the crust I used a generic graham cracker crust recipe, but it was a bit of an adventure. I'd never made it before (in my experience, when you carry on the familial flaky pie crust torch for a third generation, you tend not to branch out), and I'd definitely never made it in a tart tin whose bottom slides around by about a centimeter. Add to that the fact that Bed Bath & Beyond only had 11-inch tart tins (who has ever heard of such a thing!?), forcing me to ad-lib the proportions of the recipe. Plus my hand-me-down Cuisinart was dead. Let's just say the crust caused me a bit of hand-cramping consternation.

But, low and behold, my tart turned out great. The crust was not as well done as Patois, and maybe they have a little bit more pucker on me, and I skipped the creme fraiche due to my lactose problem...  But here are the photos, you can judge for yourself. Hubby said mine was better, but then he knows that flattery gets him everywhere!

From Patois, which has better mood lighting...

From my kitchen... Which, by the way, never smelled better while making this tart. Zesting four lemons will change your olfactory life forever!


Renu said...

if you bring me a piece, i will come pick it up. serious. looks scrumptious.

ld said...

i think you could take patois anyday!