Author, Karen Karbo will be releasing Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life this October.  She has asked people to write about their experiences living by Julia’s rules such as “obey your whims”, “cooking means never saying you’re sorry”, and “every woman should have a blowtorch”.  Rules, I hate “rules” except maybe when they are my own.  It’s a good thing that Julia’s rules and my own align pretty well.

Julia Cover (Large)

Rule #10 Every Woman Should Have A Blowtorch – Make every meal an occasion” sounds to me like “Live each day as if it were your last!”  Just plain overwrought.  People do preach it but does anyone practice?  Not me!  But to love your art as well as your audience does seem to make for pretty good living, day by pleasant day.

On Driftless Appetite, you never see the times when we eat plain oatmeal or fried egg sandwiches for dinner.  I wish I could go all out and make every meal an occasion but that would be really exhausting.  One thing I really like to do is to make something for the first time and invite friends over to try it.  Most of the time it works.  When it doesn’t, I hope they still love me anyway.  Cooking is an activity that is doubly satisfying because I get pleasure from creating the dish as well as pleasure when I see happy faces and hear requests for seconds.  Anyway, let us get on to the blowtorch.  I’ve got one!  Since pears are abundant and we are celebrating Julia, I decided to make a pear tart.  I tried to follow what Karen Karbo calls la cuisine Julia.  It is liberal Frenchy, with room for experimentation.  “La cuisine Julia is, above all, serious; it renounces shortcuts, sloppiness, or a lack of attention to details.  It must be performed with time and love, and a little imperfection.”


Frenchy Pear Tart


First you must make the pastry.

Pâte brisée


  • 1 and 1/4 c. flour
  • 8 T. cold butter
  • a couple pinches of salt
  • 3 T. water

Incorporate the first 3 ingredients together using the tips of your fingers.  You want to get pea-sized and rice-sized pieces of dough.  Add the water.  Place the dough on the counter and form into a round mass.  Knead two times with the heel of your hand.  Form it into a round shape and wrap in plastic or wax paper.  Refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight if you don’t want to make your tart yet.

When it is ready, roll out the dough into a round shape to fit the size of the pan you’ve got.  Trim the edges.  Refrigerate for another hour.  (*Use the extra dough to make sugar cookies and heat some water for tea.  You deserve a little treat at this stage.)




  • 4 T. butter
  • 1/4 c. sugar (or a little less depending on the sweetness of the fruit)
  • 1/2 c. roasted almonds
  • 5-6 large sized pears

Preheat the oven to 375 degree F.

Roast the almonds in the oven just until you can smell it and some of the skin is peeling away from the nuts.  Grind or chopped into little pieces.  Prick the bottom of the tart with a fork then place the almonds on top.  Peel and slice your pears making sure to keep them together and fanning it out once you are holding it right above the tart pan.  Do this until you’ve filled the pan.  Top it with the sugar and butter.  Bake for about an hour or so.


  • jam or jelly

The typical French tart glaze is apricot jelly.  I had some Concord grape jelly I made recently so I used that instead.  I was very pleased with the color and flavor combination.  Raspberry jam would also pair well.

  • 2 t. sugar

For an extra flair, scatter some sugar on top and fire it with a blowtorch.  This will give some lovely edges to the fruit slices and a little crunch with the caramelized sugar.  You’ll also get some yummy ooze from the luscious pears.  I should really use my blowtorch more often.

All right, have a great day, go buy the book, and bon appétit!


*Meet Karen Karbo in Wisconsin.

1.  Visit with the author at the Waunakee Public Library on Wednesday, October 16 at 7:00pm.

2. Attend a special dinner at the Melting Pot in Madison on Thursday, October 17 at 6pm.



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