Thursday, February 23, 2012

Take 5 - Missions

Many years ago, during my first trip to California, I visited San Juan Capistrano (founded in 1776) located 70 miles North of San Diego and one of the 21 Missions between San Diego and San Francisco. I was so impressed with its beauty, calm and tranquility that I promised myself I would make a point to visit each one of the 20 other Missions, at one time or another. A tall order when you live in Montreal ! San Juan Capistrano is the one Mission where each year, on or about March 19th, (St. Joseph's Day)  the swallows return to stay until it is no longer warm enough for them and they leave again to winter south of there.  How they know to return at the same date is a mystery to everyone and many people gather at the Mission each year to witness their return. Fast forward many years later, 3 years ago actually, this time with David, we visited San Diego de Alcalá (founded in 1769). Another beautiful chapel with well maintained grounds and the ubiquitous gift shop. I don't approve of the gift shops in every Mission but let's face it, maintaining a place like that cannot be cheap and this is a way to generate funds. Also, David has a dear Aunt who is a nun and we make a point of getting her a little token from each visit to a Mission. Now since living here, we have visited two more: Santa Clara de Asís in Santa Clara (founded in 1777) and the first to bear the name of a woman. After many relocations due to fire, flood and earthquake, it finally settled at its present location also known as Santa Clara University. Finally, our fourth Mission visit was in Carmel on Christmas Day (more on Carmel in another post) where we walked the grounds and visited the chapel of San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo (founded in 1770) in the bright sunshine on a bitterly cold day. Unfortunately, being Christmas Day when we visited, the shop was closed so no gift for dear Auntie Micheline which only means we will have to return. For more information on the Missions go to The next three we plan on visiting will probably be San Francisco de Asis, located in San Francisco, San Jose. located in Fremont and Santa Cruz, located 72 miles South of San Francisco  in beautiful Santa Cruz. More on those in a later post.
For now, enjoy those photos taken at the aforementioned Missions:

Here is a wonderful recipe I found in a magazine and have adapted to my taste. The finished product looks so professional, your guests or family will not believe you actually made it yourself. A few pointers I have picked up through trial and error and after making this tart at least a dozen times. I don't suggest trying it with oranges, although quite tempting, because the orange taste does not come out as outstanding. A tart pan with removable bottom is a must if you want to achieve the professional look. And finally, tart weights. They are ceramic beans you put in the bottom of your uncooked crust, over parchment paper to ensure your crust does not puff upward. You can also use regular beans which you will discard when the crust is done. Your choice !

Classic lemon Tart

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 TB sugar
1 TB lemon zest
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter cut in pieces
1 egg yolk

2 eggs + 5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup 35% cream
2/3 cup lemon juice
1 TB Limoncello (optional)
Icing sugar for dusting

Position rack in bottom of oven and preheat to 350F
Combine flour+sugar+lemon zest in bowl of a food processor and mix. Add butter + yolk. Whir until crumbs clump together, about 1 minute. Transfer dough to centre of a 9" tart pan (with removable bottom). Press dough firmly from middle to edges. Line pastry with parchment paper and pie weights. Bake with tart pan on a baking sheet for about 25 minutes.

Whisk eggs + egg yolks + sugar in large bowl. Whisk in cream +lemon juice and limoncello (if using). When crust is done, remove beans and parchment. Pour filling through a sieve into crust. Return tart with baking sheet to oven and bake 30 minutes more until filling jiggles slightly when shaken. Cool on cooling rack. Refrigerate 1 hour and sift icing sugar over top.

Bon appétit !


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