the story of TOME and JOSTABERRY

I was tootling down a Normandy country highway, direction Mortagne-au-Perche, when I spotted an almost timid handwritten sign "fromage fermier - AB" (organic farmhouse cheese) along the side of the road. So I spun the wheel and rumbled up a gravely lane to an old farmhouse, barnyard cats lolling about in the drive — one particularly social. Someone peered out from a window and soon I was following a charming man into his cheese "factory." Few things excite me more than truly rustic artisan cheese — organic at that!

TOMME is what he was selling - rugged rounds of semi-soft and hard cow's milk cheese, normally produced in mountainous regions though here it was more like gentle slopping hills. He gave me a taste of a wonderfully aged tomme, deeply buttery and richly full. That was all I needed... I bought up most of the round. Then as I turned to leave, I spied a basketful of homemade jams (made with a pittance of the sugar content normally stirred into jams), the jelling he explained was accomplished by cooking the fruits thrice — bringing them to a boil, letting them cook for 15 minutes then cool completely before repeating the process twice more. Since tomme and good, dark jam go hand in hand, I scooped up a jar of confiture de Casseilles, or JOSTABERRY in English, a cross between blackcurrant and gooseberry.

La Ferme des OUY La Chevrolière 61340 NOCE France - tel: 02 33 73 43 85
(vente à la ferme et sur les marchés: MARGON vendredi après-midi, CHARTRES samedi matin)

 The two dance quite nicely together in the mouth...


While giving a cooking class to Jennifer a few months back, in April, who had won an afternoon with La Cucina di TerrESa through the Menu for Hope raffle, I promised to have her over some afternoon to make up a good rustic pie crust. Well the weeks shimmied by, eventually the heat descended on Paris... and my memory went the way of the wilting flowers...
Until the doorbell rang and there was Jennifer... Luckily I had been to the marketplace that morning and had bought some beautiful fresh black currents and an array of plums - red, yellow and green Reine Claude's.
I pulled out my bowls and flours and we got busy... 2 whirling fans pointed in our direction. I had a bit of Spelt flour, a good amount of Emmer flour, T65 flour (in France, white flour with a bit of the germ left in, a higher percentage of ash... and much tastier than all-purpose white), almonds in the refrigerator... So we made some fresh almond meal, then mixed it together with the flours, some butter, an egg, and ended up with a surprisingly light and crumbly, full-flavored crust... It's a winner as far as I'm concerned. Below is the result: a intense yet refreshing tart — particularly when served with a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream.


25 gr spelt flour
175 gr einkorn or emmer flour
50 gr unbleached white flour (or T65 in Europe)
25 gr almond meal
1 egg slightly beaten
100 gr cold unsalted butter
1 1/2 - 2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar
Generous pinch unrefined sea salt
23-cm (11-inch) pie dish, well buttered

600 gr plums, pits removed and cut in halves or quarters
300gr blackcurrants
125 gr unrefined cane sugar
20 – 25 fresh rosemary leaves
2 ½ tBsp unbleached white four
Pinch of lemon zest
Generous squeeze fresh lemon juice

— If making the almond meal, bring a small pan of water to a boil. Add the almonds and when the water returns to a boil count to 60. Drain and immediately begin removing the skins by squeezing one end of each almond between your fingers. Pat dry with a tea towel and grind into a fine meal (a coffee grinder works wonderfully).
— Sift the flours into a large bowl. Add the almond meal and salt. Make a well in the middle and add the egg and butter. Mix with your fingers until all the butter is incorporated. Normally with these flours you shouldn’t need to add water, but if the dough seems dry add 1 -2 teaspoons and mix gently with a fork from the outer edge inwards until the dough begins to come together.. Gather it up into a ball, wrap in waxed paper or cover with a tea towel or a glass bowl and set aside in a cool place for 1-2 hours.
— Combine the filling ingredients in a bowl.
— Preheat the oven to 200 ˚C (400 ˚F). Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead the dough with the heel of your hand 6 - 8 times. Place in the pie dish and flatten out and up the sides with the palm of your hand and fingertips. Be patient, it takes a bit of time. The pie crust should be rather thin. Cut off any excess and slightly push down or gently crimp the edges.
— Pour the filling into the pie dish. Bake in the oven on the middle rack for 35 – 40 minutes, or until the filling is generously bubbling and the crust is golden. Place on a rack to cool and set for at least 45 minutes.

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