Aside from learning more about Les Sourciers and their hydroponic operation during my trip to the Gers this past July, the journey was filled with really good food. To top it off, I finally timed being in the region when the sunflowers were at their peak! The drive through the hills towards their greenhouses surrounded us with field upon field of the golden beauties.
As I mentioned in this post, I traveled south to meet Audra from The Female Farmer Project who was taking 3 weeks or so with her husband and two teenage children to travel and document women in agriculture in France, England, the Netherlands and Iceland (check out this great story of the Icelandic goat!). Audra and I connected over social media thanks to an article she’d written about her project for Modern Farmer. She needed farmers in France and I had farmers in France and Audra’s visit was a great reason to finally connect with Marion & Nico of Les Sourciers. Recently, Audra’s project has been gaining a lot of notoriety in the US and most recently she was invited to share her work at TedX Manhattan. I can’t wait to see what happens next and encourage you to check out her stories of the tireless women working hard in agriculture.
After arriving later in the evening and heading to bed early, we arose the next morning ready to check out the local market in the town of Condom. Like most village markets, being the summer months, this one was busy with the morning hustle of vendors and shoppers and those relaxing at café terraces enjoying the sunshine and a café creme. It was obvious that the market, circling a church in the town center, is truly a meeting point for the community and while I head to the Batignolles market almost weekly in Paris, there is something truly unique about a local, community market where people who know each other gather to purchase the food that will nourish them throughout the week. The market was in the prime of summer with the stars being fresh peaches, yellow plums and juicy, pineapple tomatoes. I had just found out I was pregnant the week before and luckily my morning sickness had yet to settle in, which meant I still had a taste for the lunches we made of the variety of yellow fruits. Literally the nausea hit on the TGV ride home two days later and I didn’t taste a summer vegetable until the end of September.
It was during this morning trip that we also picked up a croustade aux pommes, a specialty of the area, for dessert. The crust was flaky and fragile to touch with small pieces of apples and armagnac mixed with sweet brown sugar. It was the ideal light but satisfying dessert after our outdoor lunch of summer produce, baguette and fresh cheeses.
While I wasn’t able to stomach testing out my own croustade aux pommes until much after prime apple season ended, I did finally attempt the dessert. The only issue was that I did not want to buy processed filo dough from the grocery store but did have frozen semi-whole wheat puff pastry in the freezer. Some recipes I researched even called for puff pastry so I decided instead of waiting to find acceptable filo dough (that is one recipe that will never appear here), I knew it was my puff pastry or nothing. And considering I’ve never made an apple tarte before ever that I had to dive in. Mine definitely did not turn out perfect and looks a lot different from what a croustade aux pommes should look like. I would say, give it a go with filo dough to achieve the truly flaky texture and layers. But if you by chance have puff pastry in your freezer as well, when it came down to the fork, the taste is still there and mouths will be happy.
Croustade aux pommes, makes 1x18cm / 7 in tarte/pie
adapted from celineplaisir.com
Puff pastry (to cover baking pie/tart pan) then 5-6 thin pieces to cover tarte
20g/1.5 tablespoons butter
1 shot of Armagnac or Cognac
100g / 1/2 cup of brown sugar
120g / 9 tablespoons melted butter
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F
2. Peel the apples and cut into small cubes
3. In a pan on medium-heat, melt 20 grams of butter
4. Add the apples and stir continuously as the begin to cook and lightly brown
5. Butter the baking dish (if it is not non-stick) and add the filo dough or puff pastry. Remove excess off the edges
6. Continue stirring the apples. When they are starting to brown, add the liqueur and mix for 2-3 minutes
7. Add the brown sugar to the apples and continue to mix and caramelize for another 10 minutes or so
8. In a separate sauce pan, melt 120 grams of butter
9. Using a brush, brush the melted butter onto the dough in the baking dish
10. When apples are ready, pour into baking dish
11. Add additional pieces of filo dough or very thin puff pastry to cover apples
12. Brush each piece with melted butter
13. Bake in oven for 25 minutes