Thursday, June 7, 2012



We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, 
because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. 
- Walt Disney 

No one ever claimed that moving was easy. Many find it a trial, both physically and emotionally draining, painful and sad. We leave a cozy nest we have created to fit us just so; each piece of art or photograph removed from the wall leaves the ghost of a memory marked indelibly on the paint, tracing our passage through time. We discover long-forgotten toys hidden behind furniture, childhoods left long ago. We run our fingers down the doorframe, counting fine, faded pencil lines recording the growth of our sons, sons now grown. We glance out the window at a view that will no longer be ours in too short a time, drinking it in, savoring every mouthful. The sentimental among us feel our heart pulling towards what is being quit, feel the poignancy of change, the growing older, that passage of time that we can never recapture.

And then there are those of us who find moving exhilarating! A fresh start, a new beginning! We shed ourselves of the weight of years of collecting nonsense like an old skin, feeling that much lighter, a tiny bit freer with each object tossed or given away. We sit among our belongings and pick eeny-meeny-miny-mo which can stay and which must go! We tick off each thing we did not like about our current home, item by item, small, badly organized kitchen, the noisy upstairs neighbors, the distance from our favorite shops, the drafty windows and smile contentedly to ourselves. And months before we actually have to, before the moving date is even known for sure, we pull out paper bags and cartons and begin the sorting.

Life is like a bicycle. 
To keep your balance you must keep moving. 
- Albert Einstein 

Moving is an adventure, an escape, a second (or third, or fourth) chance, whatever you make of it. Moving is a valiant exploit worthy of a great explorer or conqueror, taking vision and courage, patience and fortitude. One must make that fearless decision about the purchase of a new place, sign your savings away with the flourish of the pen, pack up the old and unpack upon arrival. One must take on the phone company, the electric company, the water company; changing addresses and parking garages, forwarding magazine subscriptions, bracing oneself for a month without internet while the service screws up the switchover. But once the decision is made, we brave all of the rest for the joy and thrills of the move!

And this time around, on top of simply moving house we are downsizing. As one son packs his own things to move into his own apartment and the other son returns home and settles in, we have come to the decision to move from a grand 200 square meters to a mere 100. Lose a little weight, lose a lot of the earthly belongings! Three of us, and a very small dog, will squeeze into a tiny three-bedroom apartment, but an apartment that we fell in love with at first sight, as soon as we stepped over the threshold. The sunshine pours into this fifth-floor beauty making it feel airy and light, warm and cozy. The opportunity to create our own kitchen is thrilling, creating it from nothing, en empty space. The move will carry us back to our old neighborhood with center city at our feet. One glance out the window and from our towering vantage point now own a stunning view, Nantes spread out in front of us in all of her glory.

Home is people. Not a place. If you go back there after the people are gone, 
then all you can see is what is not there any more. 
- Robin Hobb, Fool’s Fate 

We move once every five years or so, just pick up and change our surroundings: new home, new city, new country if we are so lucky. And with each move comes a cleansing, purging ourselves of each unnecessary encumbrance. And I’ve already begun! Shopping bags filled with books to be sold – any that survived the last cut when we moved two years ago – stacks of fabric to be given to Mathilde and a list drawn up of furniture that must go, that will find no place in the new apartment. But first things first. I yank open the freezer drawers and am greeted by a puff of ice cold haze and too many packages for my own good. It is time to start using up these items that cannot be moved, will not survive the time between refrigerator shut down and brand spanking new kitchen. Bags of frozen fruit glare up at me waiting for the signal and thanks to Abby Dodge it is full speed ahead!

This month’s BakeTogether couldn’t have come at a better time: Abby proposes her Very Berry Mini Pies with Streusel Topping. I love this kind of treat, the perfect dessert and my frozen berries are clamoring to be included! Abby’s sweet pastry dough is tucked into the individual cups of a muffin tin, filled with a mixed berry filling and topped with a wonderful, cinnamon-kissed streusel topping and baked. And voilà the perfect dessert or snack! Abby encourages us to go our own way, take her own recipe as simply a starting point and change it up to our own taste and creativity. I rarely stray very far from Abby’s recipes as I think they are just perfect and just the way my family loves them. This time around, I simply placed a dollop of Sunchowder’s Emporia Black Forest Jam – a fabulous, decadent blend of blackberries, chocolate and Chambord liqueur – into the bottom of each pastry cup, topped it with my blend of frozen wild blueberries, frozen wild blackberries and frozen and fresh raspberries. I then added a few chocolate Palets Bretons, a dry crumbly cookie, to the streusel mixture.

And nibbling on an individual Very Berry Tartlet while packing up books makes the job that much more enjoyable.

Recipe from Abby Dodge (with my own changes)

Makes 10-11 mini tarts

For the dough
1 1/3 cups (6 ounces) all purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 6 slices, well chilled
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon very cold water
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the streusel topping
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (5/8 ounce) quick cooking oats
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of table salt
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) sliced almonds, lightly toasted
2 or 3 crumbly chocolate cookies, type Palet Breton, optional

For the filling
1/3 cup (1 3/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
Pinch of table salt
2 cups (10 ounces) fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried *
1 cup (5 ounces) fresh raspberries, rinsed and dried *
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

* Or 3 cups of a mix of your favourite berries, fresh or frozen (thawed if frozen); I used 1 cup each blueberries, blackberries and raspberries

For Abby’s food processor technique, see her instructions.

Prepare the dough:

Put the flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss together. Add the butter and, using only your fingertips, rub the butter and the flour together until the texture of damp sand and there are no more large chunks of butter. Drizzle the water and lemon juice evenly over the flour mixture. Using a fork, vigorously stir the liquid into the flour/butter mixture until all the crumbs are damp and the moist crumbs begin to clump together into a dough.

Dump the moist crumbs onto a large piece of plastic wrap and gather into a pile. With the heel of your hand, push and gently smear the dough away from you until the crumbs come together. (For photos, see here), this completely blends in the butter. Shape into a 5-inch disc and wrap tightly in the plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours, or up to 2 days.

Prepare the streusel:

Put the flour, oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl and stir until well blended. Add the butter and, using a fork (or your fingers), mix and mash until the ingredients are well blended and form small crumbs. Stir in the almonds. Transfer the streusel mixture to a small robot blender with the cookies and give it a few spins until the cookies are crushed and blended into the streusel; this will also break up the last of the clumps of butter. Pop in the fridge while you make the filling and assemble the tarts.

Line the tart pans:

Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Lightly grease ten regular-sized (2 3/4- 3 inch diameter) muffin cups (I filled 11).

Remove the dough from the refrigerator, unwrap and discard the plastic wrap. Place on a lightly floured work surface. If the dough is too firm to roll out easily, simply allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes until pliable although too soft and it risks sticking to the work surface and rolling pin.

Keeping the work surface floured as well as the surface of the dough, roll out the dough to about 1/8- inch thickness, turning, lifting and repositioning the dough and lightly flouring throughout the rolling. Using a 3 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 8 or 9 rounds. Gather up the scraps, reroll to a 1/8-inch thickness, and cut another round or two for a total of 10/11 rounds of dough.

Working with one round at a time, use your fingers to gently press the dough into a prepared muffin cup, making sure there are no air bubbles in the bottom and the dough is pressed firmly and evenly up the side to within 1/8 inch of the top of the cup. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds. If your kitchen is hot, slide the muffin tins into the fridge while you make the filling.

Prepare the filling and bake the tarts:

Put the sugar, flour, and salt in a medium bowl and, using a table fork, mix until well blended. Add 1 cup of the berries and, using the table fork, crush the berries while stirring them into the sugar-flour mixture. Add the remaining berries and the vanilla and toss to coat evenly. Evenly spoon the filling into the lined muffin cups (they will be completely full). Scatter the streusel evenly over the filling – don’t be shy.

Bake until the crusts and streusel are golden brown and the filling is bubbling, 27 to 30 minutes. Move the muffin tin to a wire rack. Using a paring knife, run the blade between the crust and the pan to loosen the tarts from any sticky berry juices and let cool for 10 minutes. Using a thin, metal spatula or the paring knife, carefully remove the tarts from the muffin cups and set them on a wire rack. If you find that the pastry crust is too soft to easily move, simply let the tartlets cool completely in the muffin tins before removing them from the cups.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Fabulous with whipped cream or ice cream and more, fresh berries.


astrid said...

I love these little treats and most of all I love all things streusel!
so ya moving? hope you'll find all joy and happiness in your new home !!!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Moving is both exhalirating and draining! May your new home be filled with love nad happiness.

Lovely tartlets! So irresistible.



lisa is cooking said...

We don't move very often, but I do enjoy clearing out a room to rearrange it. That opportunity to de-clutter is the best. I've been trying to de-clutter my freezer and pantry lately, but it's an uphill battle. These little tartlets are a beautiful use of berries from the freezer!

shruti said...

wishing you lots of fun & happiness in your new home :)

Su-yin said...

That plate! And that fork! And the tart.... *lust*

Sunchowder said...

Congrats on the pending move! So excited to see this post too :) And you used my jams--so LOVELY!!! Photos gorgeous, this recipe is a must try for me!

tasteofbeirut said...

Exciting! I think the moving is what keeps us interesting and interested... Looking forward to hearing about this new place soon and how you are all making it cozy. Love these tartlets, lots of crunch and lots of berry goodness, yum!

Lubna Karim said...

I think i have been not aware of the new makeover of u r it...wishing you lots of best wishes on u r new these tarts....beery chocolaty yum....

Spencer said...

Looks absolutely divine! I could so eat some of that right now. I am sure the combination of flavours would be amazing.

WiseMóna said...

Oh...I find moving exhilarating and exhausting Jamie. I am glad to have done my 'moving' for now and quite happy to only seek out my overnight bag occasionally when needed. Now cleaning out a room and getting ride of clutter - I do it monthly! Best way to keep it all at a bay with all these kids around us. That fork is gorgeous ... a lovely find and the recipe looks delicious Jamie. Enjoy the move!

Jill Colonna said...

Jamie, I so enjoyed reading your thoughts on moving, downsizing, clearing out in more ways than one. We're not moving but working on expanding the house and it isn't easy. It's incredible how much stuff we accumulate, isn't it? This weekend, mucking out the garage. Oh what fun but as your lovely quotes say, it's important to move on and take stock. Ooh, this is long but wished you were moving next door. So much to chat about and I could enjoy your tartlets together!

Cristina said...

I was moved, touched and enjoyed your writing, feeling both the sadness of how time moves too quickly and the hopefulness of a new move...a new adventure.

I love these little portion control tarts and your modifications. These are on my list of to-dos. :)

Magic of Spice said...

Wishing you a delightful new chapter in your new home! These tarts are a delight!

Sally - My Custard Pie said...

I've been in my house for 12 years - my children grew up here. I dread a move - the enormity of the task - but also envy you as you start a new chapter. PS Lovely recipe too.

Thelittleloaf said...

Jamie these look absolutely divine! I've made berry tarts and chocolate tarts & streusel topping for cakes, but I've never combined all three. Now I'm wondering why not because it looks & sounds like the best dessert ever :-)

Colleen said...'re moving. I am SO out of the loop.....Indaba is ruling my life right now. Two weeks to go! I wish you a gentle smooth move and much joy, love and happiness in your new home. It is good to downsize and start a new chapter. We did it almost 3 years ago. Delicious little pies, I could do with one right now. Stress levels are high...Love you Jamie xxx

Mairi @ Toast said...

Just beautiful & know what you mean about the freezer....mine is bursting! Hope the move all goes well & that you have many happy memories in your new apartment!

Barbara said...

Gorgeous little treats Jaimie. Your new apartment sounds wonderful.

wendy@chezchloe said...

Feels good to touch everything you own. To re-evalutate, let go, to renew appreciation for the pieces that make the cut. I think that happens with your belongings and in a way your emotions. We shift, we grow, we open ourselves to a new chapter. Best wishes in your transition. Have patience :-)
Your tarts look like a full range of pleasure. I'm happy to see another baking get together and would enjoy participating. We'll see how our summer shift to the usa goes. x

Deeba PAB said...

Whats not to love sistah? Abbys brilliance and your special touch...DIVINE! Good luck in your new home.

Lisa said...

How did I miss this when it was put up? Jamie - not only do these mini pies with streusel look incredible - your photos are gorgeous - the macro shot with the oozing black forest jam (LOVE!) and plump raspberries is killing me! I'm laughing as I think of my throw-up oats compared to these decadent stunners of a dessert! Jackpot! Regarding moving, I haaaaaate packing up and moving, but I think it's awesome that you do it every 5 years - a fresh start..a new life! Is there lots of natural light in your new place?

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Best of luck with the move Jamie! And even more exciting since you showed me where you will be moving too! :D

Nuts about food said...

Stunning photographs and so true what you wrote about moving. Lovely post.

Junglefrog said...

I am the kind of person who likes to move, but Tom is the kind of person who hates to move, so we've been living here now for already 13 years... If it was up to me we would have moved a while ago but instead we just keep redecorating and doing stuff in the house which feels a bit like starting fresh. plus it also means I do clear out old junk... We have a large house for just the two of us so that means we collect an insane amount of junk really if you think about it. Now I actually do have some berries in the freezer and would love to make these gorgeous chocolate tarts, but it'll have to wait a while! Good luck with the cleaning out Jamie!

Lael Hazan @educatedpalate said...

There is a male Hazan gene that seems to say "anytime you've finished renovating your home, it is time to move". I think I've finally found the fix. The house we live in now has so much work to be done that we will never leave.

I love the idea of these tartlets. Lovely

Kate | Food Babbles said...

These little tarts are just gorgeous! I want to pluck one right off the page and have a nibble. I love Sunchowder's Emporia jams so that addition already had me hooked but your streusel topping also sounds like such a divine addition with the chocolate. I must make these. Lovely post! And hope your new home is filled with love and happiness!

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I have been, at times, the wistful, reluctant mover and the excited, new-adventure mover. These days I am also into de-accessioning, passing along possessions to others who need or want them more than I do, and living a life with fewer things and more experiences. Of course, no one says you can't have fun emptying the freezer....

nina said...

I love these tiny treats....looks fabulous. Love the fork on the first pic. May your new home bring you lots n lots of happiness and joy:)

Ruth said...

This post has been bookmarked in my reader for a few days. I knew I would want to read every word. I'm not sure just at the moment - 5 weeks from a move to another country - whether I am a reluctant mover or an embracer of the new. I think, though, that there are benefits to both, in being able to savour the memories and also embrace the future stories yet to be written.

I hope we are both happy as larks in our new places. Thanks for making me think a little harder about it. Thinking things through a little harder is never the wrong thing to do! xx

Minnie said...

We just moved - our 3rd in almost in last 6 years.This post speaks to me. For me, move is not exhilarating, and I don't look forward to it, but I deal with it as practically and as positively as I can.

Beautifully written! Congratulations and may your new home be filled with continued success, joy, happiness and love.

Sanjeeta kk said...

Those mini tarts look cute and the fork very classy. Hope your new home is cozy and full of life.

Winnie said...

These tartlets are fabulous (and so is that fork)! Happy moving...I am a little jealous of the downsizing part ;)

Terra said...

Oh how fun, they would be fun to make in the muffin tins! There is something about streusel stop that makes me happy! Beautiful, Hugs, Terra

mlaiuppa said...

Every five years? You are a braver man than I, Gunga Din.

I've been in my house for almost 25 years now and I shudder to even think of moving. The gardens still aren't done, there are still improvements to be made; it is a work in progress.

I plan to retire here.

I plan to die here.

They will remove me from my house feet first and stone cold.

But your new apartment sounds lovely. I hope you enjoy it for more than five years.

mlaiuppa said...

Every five years? You are a braver man than I, Gunga Din.

I've been in my house for almost 25 years now and I shudder to even think of moving. The gardens still aren't done, there are still improvements to be made; it is a work in progress.

I plan to retire here.

I plan to die here.

They will remove me from my house feet first and stone cold.

But your new apartment sounds lovely. I hope you enjoy it for more than five years.


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