Yesterday night I had the strangest of dreams. In that dream, the husband was pregnant and I was the one taking care of him. Naturally, he was the one who was being fussed about, and I had to hold him, comfort him, come up with something tasty whenever he was hungry at the middle of the night, listen to a lot of whining about how his legs hurt, how his back ached and how he got horrible nightmares every night. And even in my dream, I resented it. How very strongly I wanted to be the one who was the centre of attention and heck, I wanted the baby in my belly. I wanted it with me right from the conception. Simple.
It was a long dream, and it dwelled on the cons of that reverse situation. But I will stop the descriptions here as I am sure you get the drift. I don’t want to go through the anguish of it all over again.
Then when I woke up, and realised that it was just a dream, my husband’s arm was protectively placed over me even when we were sleeping, I heaved a sigh of relief and further cozied up to him.
Which made me realise the amazing way in which nature has created men and women. Distinctly. I say that at the sound of being sexist, but that’s the truth. We, as women are made to want certain things, create and nurture in a particular way that is so uniquely ours. True, there has been a transformative trend where the roles of men and women are getting more aligned. Where you hear a Yahoo CEO getting back to work two weeks after giving birth and conversely Facebook offering 12 weeks of paternity leave to the fathers. But that’s an exception and not the rule.
Even as kids I remember, we girls would make a baby of anything. The water-bottle, the umbrella, a rolled up newspaper, all of it was nothing but a baby that we could sway in our tiny little arms. And dress up our plastic baby dolls, swaddle them and hold them. I am sure as kids we were not being lectured that eventually you will be the ones having a baby and practice learning how to hold a baby. Heck no. But that was a natural instinct. May be, as Freud has said, we were emulating our mothers. Or may be, we are just wired that way. At least a majority of us.
I remember a particular incident when I badly wanted an ‘imported’ baby doll, which had a pacifier in its mouth and would sweetly coo “Momma” when the pacifier was taken out. I had seen it at a friend’s house and described it to my Dad. After realising that I wanted it badly, he got it for me and hid it in a shelf with the pacifier detached. As soon as I stepped into the room I knew from the cooing that it was my doll and I vigorously hugged my dad. When I look back, that day was one of the happiest childhood days of my life. And all for a baby doll! (I had that doll for atleast 10 years, and protected it with my life).
I say and recollect all of this, when the converse of my dream is true. (Thankfully) I am the one who is pregnant and my husband and everybody in the family is fussing over me. True I had severe nausea in the first trimester and now although I have some of my energy back, it constantly feels as if I have run a marathon and now recovering. Simplest girly pleasures of life like putting on a nail-paint is prohibited, and I am not even talking about that glass of wine or an occasional Long Island Ice tea. Taking a two hour flight and going for a food bloggers meet felt like a rigorous regime and I would fall asleep in exactly 30 seconds after lying on the bed.
But it feels like a miracle. I am growing a baby from scratch. I am making a heart, a brain, a nervous system, hands, legs, lungs, and oh, you name it, I can make it! It is liberating as much as restraining, comforting as much distressing. I cant wait to hold my real Momma-cooing baby doll in my arms. Yes I know it will eventually grow up and be an annoying toddler, a terrifying teenager and eventually an independent I-know-it-all adult. But for now, I am happy to think of it as a little baby.
And while those blood oranges are still in the market, I had to make these orange tartlettes which have a beautiful orange flavor and color, without even slightest use of anything synthetic. It’s just the oranges. Don’t believe me? Go make it yourself.
We had done these Tartelettes A L’orange once in school in Le Cordon Bleu, and like everything which works perfectly in the cold Paris weather, and does not in the humid, hot Mumbai weather, these tarts also had to be modified. I will put up the original measurement in the notes for those in cold weather.
Tartelettes A L’orange / Orange Tartlets
It makes 2 5-inch tarts and one 8-inch tart . Alternately, it can be used to make three 6-inch tarts.
Sweet Tartlet dough-
- 75 gms butter, cold
- 175 gms flour
- 75 gms powdered sugar
- 30 gm eggs, lightly whisked (3/4th of an egg)
- 30 gm ground almonds
What to do :
- Cut the butter into small pieces and take it into a bowl. Add the flour and mix it with your hands, crushing the pieces of butter in the flour.
- Add the almond powder and sugar. Mix with your fingers.
- Make a well in the centre and add the whisked egg. Mix it with your index finger.
- Then take the mixture on a countertop and knead it. Press the mixture with heel of your palm and push it forward. Repeat till all it comes together to form a smooth dough.
- Refrigerate the dough for atleast an hour so that it becomes easier to roll.
- Generously butter the tart moulds or any springform pan with softened but not melted butter.
- Pre-heat the oven to 140C.
- Prepare a baking pan and line it with parchment paper. Place the buttered tart moulds on the pan.
- Roll the dough disk into a round while generously flouring the countertop.
- Place the tart mould over the dough and cut it 2-3 cms away from the tart ring.
- Pick up the cut dough disk with your rolling pin and place it on the tart mould, floured side up.
- Press the dough into the ring so that the sides touch the mould and get pasted. Cut out the excess on top. Repeat the same with the remaining dough and tart moulds.
- Bake at 140C for 15-20 minutes till the top becomes golden brown. The sides will release itself since the mould is buttered.
- Let it cool completely before un-moulding.
For the orange filling –
What you will need :
- Juice and peel (zest) of two oranges
- 4 egg yolks
- 4 eggs
- 300 gm sugar – divided into 200 gm + 100 gm
- 21 gms custard powder or cornflour
- 140 gm butter at room temperature
What to do :
- Get all the ingredients measured first before starting, as every next step needs to be done quickly.
- Take a saucepan. Add butter and orange juice and zest. Add 200 gm sugar. Put it over heat and let it come to a rolling boil.
- Meanwhile, in another bowl, take the egg yolks and add the remaining sugar. Whisk well. Add the custard powder and whisk again.
- Add the whole eggs to the egg yolk mixture and whisk till it all comes together.
- Then once the mixture in the saucepan is boiling, take it off the heat. Add half of this to the egg mixture and stir well. Then add back this whole egg mixture to the saucepan. And put it on heat.
- Whisk while it is on heat for a couple of minutes (2-3), the mixture will start to thicken. Be very careful that it is not sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. If that happens take it off the heat, stir well and put it back on.
- Once sufficiently thickened, take it out in a bowl, let it cool and then refrigerate till cold.
- Take the cooled pre-baked tart disks and fill it with the cold orange filling.
- Put some zest over the top.
- Let it cool and set in the refrigerator before serving.
- The original recipe calls for 150 gm of flour. So if in a cold dry climate, use 150 gm or 175 as mentioned above.
- Juice of two oranges is roughly 3/4 cup. But slightly more or less can be added.