frangipane and a golden-crowned bird

This morning we left the house when the sunrise still lingered on the horizon and frost lay thick on the ground. Fueled by frangipane tarts and coffee, we met J's aunt with our binoculars for a birthday birding walk around Swan Lake. In the chilly morning air we first saw robins, then delicate blurs in the forest that were hummingbirds, all shifting iridescence in the early light. Then ducks, many ducks bobbing around in their charming way - mostly mallards but also scaups, a ring-necked duck and a few coots. Some red-winged blackbirds trilled in the surrounding hawthorns and cottonwoods and two herons quietly lurked at the water's edge. Back in the forest among sunlit Douglas-fir, a flock of beautiful golden-crowned kinglets flitted about, too small and quick (for me) to photograph but the best of all to see. The rest of the morning and afternoon were filled with all kinds of short errands and adventures. We learned not to look for an open sushi place for a 3 pm lunch in Victoria. I found exactly the simple, pretty wedding dress I had in mind but it's $2,200... which is approximately our entire wedding budget. When the sun set in a wash of yellow sky and magenta and cobalt-streaked cloud, we were buying hay in Oak Bay. I then learned I don't like bone-in chicken stew at Baan Thai, a very sad discovery.

Because it's bedtime and it was a busy day this won't be a proper foodie post about frangipane. Good thing there's the internet to fill in the gaps for me.

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Here is what I used:


1 recipe pate sucree (I brought home scrap from work- will post a recipe soon though)

8 oz (1 cup) butter

8 oz almonds (I used whole, raw, organic and unpasteurized)

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

zest of an orange

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 tsp vanilla extract

canned (jarred) tart cherries (but you could use sliced poached pears, frozen raspberries, cranberries or blueberries etc...)

chocolate chunks

Whir almonds in food processor until conrmeal-like in texture. Cream butter and sugar, add eggs one at a time. Mix in zest and extracts. Stir in almond meal. Chill for an hour or so.

Roll out the pate sucree and put it in tart rings or whatever you have that will work. Fill it 1/3 to 1/2 full with frangipane. Decorate the top with fruit (and chocolate, if desired- I forgot the chocolate until mid-bake and then tucked little chunks in). Bake in a 350Β° convection oven (or similar) until the sides of the pastry are brown and the frangipane feels somewhat firm. (I have never timed it at work or at home but will try to get a sense of how long it takes next time. Basically you don't want the frang. to be raw in the middle, but it will depend on how big of tarts you are making.)