La Vie Rustic – Georgeanne Brennan

La Vie Rustic: Cooking and Living in the French Style by Georgeanne Brennan shares recipes driven by the seasons with beautiful photographs and a touch of the outdoors. This inspiring cookbook weaves together Georgeanne’s personal experience, stories, and tips on how to create a sustainable life. Celebrating the relationship between the land and the table, and among food, family, and friends – no matter where you reside is reflected in the dishes and stories the author shares.

The prolific Brennan has written a library of titles. Last Fall her memoir (with recipes) My Culinary Journey: Food & Fêtes of Provence with Recipes hit the shelves and it a beautiful read. Of all her titles, La Vie Rustic may be my favorite book to date. I say to date because one never knows when Georgeanne will spring another stunner of a title on us. 

Frozen Meringues & Fresh Apricots, Winter Beignets with Sauce Verte, Pumpkin Galettes with Fried Sage and Fresh Bay Leaves Skewered with Eggplant & Peppers are a few examples of the dishes waiting for you. The chapters are organized as follows: The Potager: Year-Round Vegetables; The Orchard: Fruits & Nuts; The Barnyard: Cows, Goats, Sheep, Pigs, Chickens, Ducks & Rabbits; The Forest & Field: Wild Things; The Water: Fish & Shellfish; and the Appendix covers a Simple Potager with Fruit Trees for a Small Space.  As you can see from the chapter titles – La Vie Rustic is a journey through the seasons and France.

Georgeanne has a number of events planned – check to see if she is in your area. Special thanks to the author and Weldon Owen for sharing the cover recipe with our members. Be sure to head over to our contest page to get in your entry for a chance to win a copy of this beautiful book.

I was served a version of this tomato tart at a tiny French bistro. A couple ran the off-the-beaten-track spot; she did the cooking while he tended the bar, and both of them pitched in to serve us. This tomato tart was one of the first-course options on the prix-fixe menu that evening, followed by a second course of braised lamb with flageolet beans, and for dessert, a choice of flan, apple tart, or ice cream. I’ve been back many times and have yet to be disappointed. Although the instructions are for a rectangular tart pan, a 9-inch (23-cm) round fluted tart pan can be substituted. 

Extra-virgin oil for drizzling 
½ tsp sea salt 
½ tsp freshly ground pepper 
½ tsp herbes de Provence 
8-10 Roma or San Marzano tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise 
12 large cloves garlic, unpeeled 
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (about ½ lb/250 g), thawed 
2 tsp crème fraȋche 
1 tsp Dijon mustard 
Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C). Place racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven.  
Drizzle just enough oil on a rimmed baking sheet to thinly coat the bottom. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence over the oil. Place the tomatoes, cut side down, on the baking sheet, rubbing them around to absorb the oil and seasoning.  
Place the garlic cloves on a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with some oil, and turn to coat evenly. Seal the foil into a packet and place it in a small baking dish. 
Place the baking sheet with the tomatoes on the upper rack of the oven and the garlic on the lower rack. Roast the tomatoes until their skins slip off easily, about 15 minutes. Remove the baking sheet with the tomatoes from the oven and set aside to cool. Raise the oven temperature to 350°F (180°C) and continue to roast the garlic until soft and easily pierced with the tip of a knife, about 25 minutes longer. Set aside to cool. 
When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skins, leaving the tomatoes on the baking sheet. When the garlic cloves are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skins, leaving the cloves whole. The tomatoes and the garlic can be prepared a day ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before using. 
Raise the oven temperature to 400°F (200°C). 
On a floured work surface, roll the puff pastry into a rectangle about 10 by 13 inches (25 by 33 cm). Drape it over an 8-by-11½-inch (20-by-29-cm) rectangular fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and gently press the pastry into the pan, letting the edges hang over the sides. Using your fingers, tuck the excess dough under to make a folded rim that rises slightly above the sides of the tart pan.  
Line the pastry with aluminum foil and add pie weights or dried beans. Bake on the middle rack of the oven until the exposed edges begin to turn golden, about 10 minutes. Remove the weights and foil. Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork and continue to bake until the crust turns a pale bisque, about 3 minutes longer. If it puffs up, prick the puff with a fork to deflate it. Let the crust cool slightly. 
Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F (190°C). 
In a bowl, combine the crème fraîche and mustard. Using a spatula, spread the mustard mixture evenly over the bottom of the tart shell. 
Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, across the surface of the tart shell. Tuck the garlic cloves among the tomatoes. With a pastry brush, brush the tops of the tomatoes with juices from the baking sheet. Bake until the edges of the crust are puffed and deep gold and the bottom is cooked through, 15-20 minutes. 
Remove from the oven. Let stand for 15 minutes. Slip a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen any clinging bits of pastry. Gently push on the bottom of the pan, nudging the sides loose. Slide the tart onto a serving plate, cut into pieces, and serve warm.
The above recipe is excerpted from La Vie Rustic: Cooking & Living in the French Style (Weldon Owen, March 2017) by Georgeanne Brennan.

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  • lgroom  on  April 20, 2017

    I hope to get to France this fall (La Rochelle area) or sometime in the next year as my college roommate has a home there. I haven't eaten a lot of
    French food but do love these rustic tart meals.

  • pandapotamus  on  April 20, 2017

    My favorite french dish is cassoulet!

  • monique.potel  on  April 21, 2017

    that tomato tart is so enticing

  • AmyS  on  April 21, 2017

    I would like to eat that tomato tart right now!

  • cheftina888  on  April 21, 2017

    Spring vegetables with lamb riblets

  • ellabee  on  April 21, 2017

    I really wonder why the title of this book is not La Vie Rustique. 'Rustic' seems intentionally illiterate, like newspeak; it also evokes Prisunic, one of France's least rustic/rustique institutions.

  • RSW  on  April 22, 2017

    I don't think I have a favorite French dish.

  • agoodreid  on  April 22, 2017

    This tart might be lovely to try during the abundant home grown tomato season. It seems easy enough. Although baking is not my strong point.

  • edyenicole  on  April 22, 2017

    I don't have a favorite French dish, sorry.

  • sgump  on  April 22, 2017

    Cassoulet. Who doesn't love cassoulet?

  • GiselleMarie  on  April 23, 2017

    I would like to make Fennel and Chicken Braised with Lemon, but boy, that tomato tart on the cover of the book looks positively heavenly!

  • fiarose  on  April 23, 2017

    i love all tarts, savory and sweet, i'm a sucker for that delicious french pastry crust–but a good escargot dish is always right up my alley as well!

  • kelliwinter  on  April 24, 2017

    coq au vin !!!

  • AnnaZed  on  April 24, 2017

    My favorite French dish is a true Cassoulet, very hard to find and hard to make.

  • Siegal  on  April 29, 2017

    My fav French dish is pate

  • imaluckyducky  on  April 29, 2017

    coq au vin is always a favorite

  • JenJoLa  on  May 1, 2017

    I'd have to say chocolate mousse is my favorite French dish.

  • WideAngleMind  on  May 4, 2017

    I'd love to try the Spinach a la Creme!

  • Teruska  on  May 5, 2017

    My favorite is the Duck Three Ways I had while in Paris. Wow!

  • priyamaine  on  May 6, 2017

    My favorite french dish is definitely a tarte tatin.

  • meggan  on  May 8, 2017

    Coq au vin.

  • laureljean  on  May 9, 2017

    I favor cookbooks that are centered around seasons. In addition, I love the very rustic and hearty sound of some of the recipes mentioned.

  • Lem9579  on  May 10, 2017

    Books like this make me want to move to France.

  • Lem9579  on  May 10, 2017

    Lavender, pepper goat cheese. I've used lavender only a few times in recipes but love it. I love everything about lavender.

  • veronicafrance  on  May 10, 2017

    As a French person, the title of this book makes me wince. It's La Vie Rustique, not Rustic! The recipes sound lovely though, and that tomato tart is making my mouth water!

  • LynnMc  on  May 12, 2017

    The tomato tart hands down my fav

  • t.t  on  May 13, 2017

    do croissants count?

  • Uhmandanicole  on  May 13, 2017

    My favorite French dish is anything with foie gras on it!

  • Ordinaryblogger  on  May 15, 2017

    I love any kind of tart, but especially fruit tarts.

  • tarae1204  on  May 15, 2017

    Maigret de canard – duck breast – with fruit.

  • artmarcia  on  May 19, 2017

    The tomato tart makes my mouth water! So far my favorite French dish is coq au vin!

  • Mrs.Soule  on  May 25, 2017

    Crepes with cherry jam are my favorite.

  • rivergait  on  March 15, 2018

    Let's start with the tomato tart. You had me at "…bake until the crust turns a pale bisque".

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