The Market at Rue des Carmes and a Recipe
It’s definitely spring in the market – you might even say almost summer when you catch a whiff of the peaches. Here are some of the things I put in my basket:
Roses that actually smell like roses! They’re on my desk, which is just in the entry, and I can smell them as soon as I open the door. It’s odd that rose has become such a popular scent in food these days (there are oodles of rose-scented pastries in the patisseries here), but that real roses no longer have any fragrance. These are a joy.
I know these look like jumbo radishes, but they’re really small spring turnips. That they’re the color of my roses is just a happy coincidence. These are mild enough to eat raw, so I’m going to shred the smallest ones and use them as a salad with a light lemony vinaigrette. I’ll cut the larger ones and put them in a vegetable ragout, which will include these:
just-dug scallions (up front) and new garlic, which is so young that it’s moist. Both the flavor and the fragrance of the new garlic are extremely mild, making them easy to use raw.
And Gariguette strawberries, the season’s first berries. They’re grown in the Aquitaine region and when they show up in the Paris markets the delight is the same as if a rainbow had suddenly stretched from Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower! What you’re looking at is the amount you get from two boxes, minus the berries that I ate on the way home. My plan was to make a compote of these berries, rhubarb and maybe an apple, but I waited too long – the berries, totally irresitible, are gone! Fortunately, the rhubarb and apple will hold and there’s another market with more strawberries tomorrow.
If you’ve got great berries in your market now – and if you’ve got more will-power and slightly more patience than I’ve got – you could serve the strawberries in a simple, very classic, most delicious way: covered with vanilla creme anglaise. Just pile the trimmed berries (slice them if they’re jumbo) in pretty bowls or glasses – if they’re fragrant and flavorful, don’t sugar them; if you like fleur d’oranger, orange flower-water, you could sprinkle a little over each serving, it’s a great match with berries – then pour over the creme anglaise.
Lucky Parisians can buy fine ready-made creme anglaise; for the rest of us, here’s my recipe:
Vanilla CrÃ¨me Anglaise
(Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours)
Makes about 2 1/2 cups
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Fill a large bowl with ice cubes and set out a smaller bowl that can hold the finished cream.
Bring the milk and cream to a boil in a small saucepan.
Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks and sugar together until they’re very well blended and just slightly thickened. Still whisking, drizzle in about one quarter of the hot liquid – this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining liquid. Put the pan over medium heat and stir without stopping, until the custard thickens slightly and coats the back of the spoon; if you run your finger down the bowl of the spoon, the custard shouldn’t run into the track. (The custard should reach at least 170 degrees F, but no more than 180 degrees F, on an instant-read thermometer.) Immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour the custard into a 2-quart measuring cup or a clean heatproof bowl. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Refrigerate the cream until it is very cold, then cover it tightly. If possible, refrigerate the cream for 24 hours before using it – the extra chilling time will intensify the flavor and allow the cream to thicken a bit more.