At the end of July, Jon, Miren and I spent a few days visiting Nadia in her home in Vermont. Our friend Romina also joined us for some laid back New England summertime. We had no real agenda but to enjoy nature and let the children take part in farm chores.
I wanted some real summer days of berry picking, strolling, and sitting on a field of wildflowers and I knew we would get it in Vermont.
We arrived in Albany on an early afternoon. Jon and Miren could not hold their excitement – bursting with joy to see their Nadia. They sprinted all the way to baggage claim to jump into Nadia’s arms. And they jumped… and jumped and jumped.
It feels me with joy to see they trust her with every pore and she is family to them. There is no substitute for that feeling.
We spent that afternoon on the hill tending to the animals, walking through the tall grass and picking apples straight from the tree. A prelude to days to come.
Every morning, Nadia took Jon and Miren to let the chickens and ducks out, gather eggs, and get ready them ready for the day.
Nadia cooked breakfast for us with the eggs the children collected. “Can you make me another egg sandwich?” Jon asked Nadia. “There is something about Nadia’s eggs…” he said and he meant it.
Windows wide open – we took time to savor breakfast and breath fresh air.
Nadia harvested carrots, tomatoes, peas and beets from her garden that she turned into salads. “I want to pull carrots” repeated Miren as she followed Nadia around. She is a mirror image of me as a child when I loved helping my grandmother in her garden. Carrots were particularly delectable – sweet with a touch of pepper.
On our first day, we visited Hudson, New York. Strolled along main street stopping for lunch and espresso. Unique vintage shops drew us in. We had intended to visit the Saratoga farmers’ market that afternoon, but time escaped us.
Every afternoon Jon asked Romina for one of the madeleines she had brought some with her from her pastry shop in Salt Lake City. Definitely his favorite. We also had a serious macarons testing session with the macarons Romina brought back with her from Montreal. Coquelicot, apricot, yuzu… our little treats.
We drove through the Green Mountains into Brattleboro. I thought about my dad and how he enjoyed it when he visited last autumn. The rolling hills, the forests, the wild apple trees on the side of the road and the still damaged rivers from last year’s hurricane were as beautiful as ever.
There was a severe thunderstorm warning in the area that day. The ominous sky brought out the deep green and blue of the landscape.
We stopped for a quick bite in Brattleboro and then headed to Grafton Cheese Farm for some afternoon fun. There is a petting zoo that the children loved and a storefront where we learned a little bit more about the local cheese-makers.
On our drive, we stopped at a farm stand where I bought some black raspberries, brandy wine raspberries (new to me and so delicious) and red currants. I knew I had to make a tart with these – the berry and yogurt tart that we shared with Nikole.
We stopped at their berry-picking fields but they were closed for the day. The heat of the previous weeks had forced them to close the fields early to water them properly.
The stormy weather continued throughout the duration of our stay, but we welcomed it. A slower pace. Staring out at the beautiful fog is on the top of my favorite things to do.
We did not mind the rain at all.
We photographed the berry and yogurt tart story around Nadia’s property close to her berry bushes. Rain droplets still on the fruit and the dappled light of the clouds opening up. It was perfect.
“Why can’t we stay five more days” asked Jon with a frown on his face. I shared his feelings.
There was still too much for us to do – or even not do.
Summer berry and yogurt tart
Makes a 9-inch tart
2/3 cups (90 g) superfine brown rice flour (or regular brown rice flour but the superfine gives it a nicer and less grainy texture)
1/2 cup (60 g) millet flour
1/4 cup (30 g) cornstarch
1 tablespoon natural cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
8 tablespoons (110 g) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 to 7 tablespoons ice water
Combine the first five ingredients in the food processor and pulse to aerate. Add the diced butter and pulse ten times until the butter is the size of peas. Add the ice water and pulse until it comes together. It will not form a ball. Transfer the dough to your work surface and knead a couple of times. Wrap it in plastic wrap, flatten it, and form it into a disk. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Dust your preferably cold work surface with superfine brown rice flour. Roll the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Fill a 9-inch tart mold with the dough. Cut off excess and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Lightly dock the bottom of the tart dough with a fork. Cover it with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove beans and bake for another 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to 350F (180C).
Berry and yogurt filling
1/4 cup (50 g) natural cane sugar
1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 tablespoons almond flour
1/2 cup (125 ml) whole-milk yogurt (I love sheep’s milk yogurt)
1/2 cup (125 ml) whole milk
2 cups (280 g) summer berries (blueberries, currants, red and black raspberries, blackberries, strawberries… or even stone fruit)
Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a bowl and rub them between your fingers until very fragrant. Add the eggs and whisk. Add the almond flour and whisk until lump free. Whisk in the yogurt and milk until smooth.
Pour the mixture into the prebaked tart. Top with the berries.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the custard is set. Let the tart cool for 15 minutes before cutting.