Thus far, in talking about our time in Rouen, I have been indulging the “traveler” side of my dual blogging nature. That is, I have been mostly talking about the cultural richness we experienced there – the churches, museums, quaint Medieval streets (and architecture), etc. Well, for those of you who might be wanting to hear more about the food, this post is for you. For now I am going to tell you about Rouen’s fabulous food (and flea) market, the Marche Saint-Marc, and one of the dishes I made with ingredients I found there, a white sausage, potato and leek tart.
On arriving for our first day in Rouen, I was extra delighted to discover that this market, which I knew all about from planning excursions on the Internet, was very close to our apartment (or to use the French term, “gite”). The market is open four days a week – Tuesday, Friday and Saturday 6a-6p, and Sunday 6a-1:30p. We went there on a Tuesday, a Friday and Sunday, and found lots to love each time. The photos below are from all of our trips to the market.
One word on the strawberries – wow, the strawberries in Normandy are incredible, and to be available locally all the way into July! Just a delight. We ate them as part of our breakfast so many days.
Now you may recall that when we ate lunch at the Cafe Metropole on a Friday, I saw a lunch special, a white sausage, potato and leek tart, that I instantly wanted to make myself. Now it just so happened that the first time we went to the market, I had bought some white sausages.
I need to say a few words about white sausages for my dairy free audience. Therese introduced me to Weisswurst, the German/Austrian white sausages. In fact, we often buy packaged Bratwurst from Boar’s Head that look white, and are very close to the Weisswurst that Therese remembers from when she was stationed with her first husband, a serviceman, in Germany in the 1980s. The Boar’s Head recipe, and I believe Weisswurst in general, is dairy free.
In France, they sell a product called Boudin Blanc, which of course translates to “white sausage” but it is a somewhat different product from the German sausage. What I didn’t know when we were in France and found out later, is that the French Boudin Blanc is usually made with cream. I don’t know if the sausages I bought contained cream, but if they did, it must have been a very small amount, because I had no reaction whatsoever from eating the tart made with the French sausages. In any case, if you wanted to copy this tart I will describe below, I would suggest hunting down the Boar’s Head Bratwurst – it is a very fine product, and will make a very nice tart, I am sure.
For the recipe, I combined a bunch of things I found on the Internet – recipes that I am unable to find now, unfortunately. But I’m sure if you find a recipe that you like for a quiche with ham and potatoes or that sort of thing, and substitute with sausage, you will probably do well. For my dough, I followed Emeril Lagasse’s apple tart recipe (which I made later in our trip).
The only dairy free shortening I could find in Rouen was St Hubert Soja Margarine, which was available at the Monoprix. It worked pretty well (I used it for everything, including this tart dough), but I had to make some adjustments. Like many margarines, this one gets very soft almost immediately after you take it out of the fridge – even in Rouen, where the July daily temperatures often got no higher than 65 degrees Fahrenheit, that was the case. So to keep it cold and solid, I chopped it into tablespoon sized pieces which I laid out on a plate and put into the freezer for 15 minutes before using. At the same time, I put a bowl of ice water in the freezer (for 5-7 minutes), to make sure the water would be cold enough to make a good dough.
The only thing I remember cooking ahead of time was the sausage – ironically, since they come pre-cooked. But I thought that slicing and sauteeing them would make them a bit more solid (the sausage is very soft). I did pre-bake the tart dough, but only for 10 minutes or so.
I used the convection oven setting on the electric oven in our gite, and that worked very well. I made the miscalculation of only preparing like an eleven inch crust for a tart pan that was about 14 inches wide. So I spread the dough as far as I could, and then stuffed potato slices around the outside of the tart, so that they became almost like part of the crust, which worked very well.
This tart was one of the culinary highlights of our time in France, and certainly one of the most fun things I did during our vacation. And with such a large tart, we got several meals out of it, re-warming individual slices in the microwave (not too long, just long enough to take the chill off the tart).
And it didn’t hurt that we had some great entertainment that first night, watching the French national football team knock the stuffings out of somebody in the European football championship!