Weekend with Empty Bottles and Snakes

They say there’s no use crying over spilt milk (wonder what the say about no milk…..all of these bottles should be full…alas…… I am so disappointed again...)  My milk source is still not able to sell milk… (said come back Saturday but that would be too late for this weekend) So… I break another promise … no raclette … will have to wait for another weekend.

I am still going to make cheese this weekend…  Mascarpone…A very SIMPLE recipe.. Mascarpone is my favorite desert cheese and I want to pair it with a recipe I learned while living in France in my early 20s.   (Tarte Tatin ).  I was visiting a friend in Blois (pronounced “BLAH”)… *see  my painting (yes I paint… kind of anyway… I lived near this bridge.. right next to the church… largest building… loved this town… smelt like chocolate)


My friend asked if I wanted some apple pie… I enthusiastically said yes… she than surprised me by saying… well let’s go make it.    (I didn’t make or cook things back then… )  I tried not to sigh and decided to go along with it… followed her into the kitchen (I was hungry).   I loved this pie (tarte)… and found that I loved making it.  I have been making it ever since.  It is so easy  and don’t have or need a recipe… I just reenact that afternoon.    I had never eaten tarte tatin with mascarpone until three years ago while in Paris at a great restaurant just off of the Champs Élysées called Le Sens Unique…. and they introduced me to what I can only describe as a magical combination… one you can create easily yourself… so TRY THIS WITH ME….

BEFORE I start the recipe…I want to “air some dirty laundry” for anyone reading this who wants to chime in with an opinion (hint your opinion is more valued if you agree with me)… I am kind of in the dog house again…(wife isn’t mad… just annoyed… you think she would just get use to me and give in… )   Here is the back story.  I grew up  in the country and as a kid did country things.   My kids have grown up in the city and I am trying to introduce them to the finer things of country living.   I innocently mentioned that I would often catch snakes…  Well my kids found a nest of snakes… finally dared to pick them up… and now all they want to do is look for snakes.   My wife is horrified and said (with a hint of a judgmental tone).   It is all your fault…   I told her kids play with snakes… that is a “nature” thing… not a “nurture” thing… so it can’t be my fault… I am right…n’est-ce pas?


Back to mascarpone and tarte…

I need to give credit to the site and people who helped me get started in cheese making. I found them on the internet while searching for how to make cheese… I found Bob and Ricki Carrol and their web site (cheesemaking.com).  These two have been doing this since 1978 and have all of the information, instructions, ingredients, and equipment for anyone interested in making cheese at home.   Please check them out..  They are so helpful, if you order from them, you can count on it always being shipped promptly and I have not had one problem in all the transactions I have had with them over the past three years…plus… the recipe is from their site…

Now… read on!!!    or… just hit like… and pretend you read the rest.. .(I understand… words words words)



Here goes! (FRIDAY NIGHT)

Step 1:  Add 1 pint of whole milk (best milk you can find… and not ultra pasteurized… if you can find non homogenized that is even better… best choice is fresh raw milk and creme..)  and 1 pint of heavy cream  and 1/8th of a teaspoon of calcium chloride.  (not needed if using raw milk)

Step 2: Warm milk to 86 degrees and then add a packet of creme fraiche culture (can buy it here) on top of the milk.  Let sit for 2 minutes… than stir in. (this is almost always how you add these dry powder cultures… they need to sit and rehydrate then stir bottom to top stirs… “up-down”… not round and round) This is the cultivating stage… you are a bacteria rancher and are crowding out the bad by introducing and nurturing the beneficial.

Step 3:  Cover and let sit for 12 hours(overnight) at room temperature…  (comfortable room temperature… if you are sweating… or are wearing a jacket in you home that is not the good temperature… think the range is 65 to 75 F) Keep it still… don’t jiggle it… or stick stuff in it… shake it etc…. it is going to coagulate and it needs its private time… (this almost as cool as letting it rot in your basement 6 months… you are going to serve lumpy milk… and people are going to actually say… delicious….kind of cool)

(SATURDAY MORNING… got to sleep in till 7:45… the only good thing about not having milk for raclette)

Step 4:  The milk cream mixture should have a soft curd.   This is not the same curd that you would have if you were making “raclette”… (look at the dent made by the spoon… I like to taste it now… and it is surprisingly delicious)  I put a colander in a bowel and line with a high quality cheese cloth.  Ladle the curds into the lined colander… (No I didn’t use the same spoon that I tasted from…jesh… it was small and so I got a bigger spoon)

Step 5:  Curds need some more alone time… (don’t eat it now… patience you can have it tonight… imagine if you had to wait 6 months or a year… to try?)  I let them drain not by time but until I get the texture I like.   Since this is going on a pie I want it to be a little thicker… so I will wait longer… (have to hide it from my wife… she will eat it plain with a spoon).  The first time I made this I let this sit out at room temperature.  It became very “tangy”.  I now place it in the fridge and it seems to keep its sweetness… (you can also play with this to get the right mix of “tangy” and sweet)

Darn I published this accidently… (this happened early… but it is complete now)

Let’s start the TARTE while we are waiting for the mascarpone..

Until I met my wife I always “cheated” on the crust… and bought a Pate brisee…


Now I cheat and have her make the crust… I am going to include her recipe ( handed down from generation to generation… an old Alsatian recipe)

La pâte


  • Butter (She weighed a cube and that came to 113 grams)
  • Flour (2 times the weight of the butter … so 226 grams of flower… flour… often confuse the spelling)
  • Pinch of salt
  • packet of sucre vanille (Her mother doesn’t use this… I guess you could use vanilla extract… add with water????)
  • enough water to make it a dough ball (Looked like about 1/4 of a cup)


  • Mix dry (salt, flour, vanilla) and add butter cut into small cubes
  • With fingers (she said very important three times… ) crumble butter into flour mixture until “sablé” or “sandy”… see middle right picture
  • slowly add water until it forms a good dough… not too sticky.. not too much water… (she said she added a touch too much water in the picture bottom right)
  • Let rest for at least 30 minutes in a cool place

See much easier to buy… but not half as good….


(these instructions are going to sound too simple… but I already warned it would be simple…  Guy tips… just because it almost never fails… can’t take too many short cuts… i.e.   apples should be peeled and cored…. hard to eat if they are not… I tried…. it looked pretty… though)

Step 1:  Get pie pan and butter that has been soften at room temperature (not melted) and spread on bottom of the pan (1 cm thick or less.. look at picture…)

Step 2: Add sugar on top of butter (same thickness)

Step 3:  Peel, core, and cut in thin slices the apple… then arrange apple slices on sugar.  (Look at pictures…) I cut and cored them as I remembered from that day (you may have a better way) and place them in the pie tin with the round part of the apple down… this will make it pretty…  (I was not trusted to place apple slices back then… not sure why… since it is not difficult… might have been because I kept eating them…)

(some hints…  I alternate directions… again a “pretty thing”…  use to spiral the apples… but that is a pain.. and while nicer looking… it really doesn’t matter… you are going to cut it and when cut… it looks better strait…  when I am done arranging the apples… I sprinkle a little more sugar and cut up and add little pieces of butter… not too much… It won’t hurt the pie… just when we flip it over… lots of butter will fly…  For Americans… don’t be tempted to add other spices… you will ruin it… it has such a great flavor simply done this way…. that means no cinnamon….)

Step 4: Roll out pie dough (from above recipe and cover pie… I tuck in the edges… again see picture bottom right… this helps the flipping at the end).  Place in Oven at 350 F or 175 C for about 30 to 45 minutes… (until it looks done…  it will most likely be closer to  45 minutes)


Step 5:  Take out of the oven… I let cool just a little but not more than 5 minutes.  I make sure that the crust is not attached to the side of the pie pan…. I place my serving plate over the top of the pie pan…. (thought I had a picture of this but didn’t actually take it… but I think you get the idea).   Now you have to flip it over… (Crust on bottom… apples on top).   This might be interesting and you may flip butter and apple juice all over.   I recommend doing it fast and if you are not sure outside.   Maybe more experienced bakers have better ways… I think it is kind of fun… (I just don’t do it while my wife is watching or go outside)



I decided I cannot wait anymore… (it is fairly thick but I might have waited a tiny bit more).   Take the mascarpone out of the  cheese cloth and taste it.  I  (being American) like to add a tiny bit of powdered sugar especially if it is being used as a topping for pie.   (don’t turn it into cream cheese frosting… although it makes for an excellent one).   You can see the whey… in the picture.  Some people use this I typically just (don’t judge) pour it down the drain.


Here is the final product together served for me… (I should have cut one for my wife…  I will do that soon as I finish this piece)… Hey try this out and let me know what you think…  It might become one of your go to desserts!



12 thoughts on “Weekend with Empty Bottles and Snakes

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