Saturday, October 15, 2016

{Gluten-Free} Lemon-Honey Tart for Foodie Reads

As we enter the final quarter of the Foodie Reads 2016 Challenge, I picked up a copy of Juilet's Nurse by Lois Leveen.* There was a thread on Facebook about book recommendations and this one was on there; I can't remember which friend posted it. But I will read just about anything set in Verona.

Let me admit that this is not, at first glance, an obviously foodie read. But the narrator is a wet nurse. And, while reading it, I was brought back to many conversations I had about breastfeeding while I was nursing my two boys. And it comes to this: yes, breasts can be sexual. But they are also a food source.

I remember when I was nursing my youngest on a bench at the zoo in Oklahoma City. At least half a dozen zoo employees approached me in the fifteen minutes that I was sitting there and said, "Ma'am, there's a bathroom right over there. You can go nurse in there." I thanked them all, politely, and declined, thinking to myself: I don't eat in the bathroom. Why in the world would I want to feed my baby in there?!!?

"I'm fine here," I declared. What I didn't realize - being a transplanted Californian where women breastfeed wherever they wish - is that breastfeeding in public was actually illegal there. What?!? Yes, it's true. The law changed while I was living there, but, at that time, I was supposed to go into a bathroom to feed my baby.

On the Page
Leveen's novel is a reimagining of Shakespeare's tragedy - Romeo and Juliet - told through the eyes of Angelica who, in the play, is simply called 'Nurse.' Angelica is brought into the Cappeletti household as wet-nurse to the newborn Juliet; Angelica has just lost her own newborn daughter and we learn that all of her sons (six of them) were taken by the plague before that.

The novel follows Juliet from infancy to toddler to young woman. Leveen masterfully weaves Shakespeare's characters into a new tapestry. For instance, Romeo isn't so much gallant hero as he is petty teen who turns to Juliet after her cousin Rosaline is sent to the convent. Tybalt isn't so much mercurial villain as he is a loving and loyal cousin to Juliet and brother to Rosaline.

Of course, the original story is a tragedy so that cannot be changed. But as this novel begins when the play's characters are children, we see them grow up and we are privy to the background and forces that shaped them; we see them in a way that we do not in Shakespeare's play.

I think I've always been partial to reimagined characters as Ahab's Wife: Or, The Star-gazer: A Novel by Sena Jeter Naslund and Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys* are two of my favorites.

On the Plate
For not being a foodie read, there was actually quite a bit of food in the book. In one scene, Angelica and Juliet imagine different foods to comfort each other: "Rosemary and roasted veal make a harmony."

..."Minted lamb stew?" ..."Pork and ginger pie. Piacentine cheese in fennel sauce. Partridge and pine-seed ravioli. Plum and cardamom tart."

I will definitely be creating some version of those. Don't they sound divine?!?

But, for this, I was inspired into the kitchen by Angelica's husband Pietro who tends the hives on the Cappeletti property. And I chose to make a lemon-honey tart to represent the bittersweetness of life. 


  • 1-1/2 C gluten-free flour blend
  • 1/2 C hazelnut or almond flour
  • 1/2 C softened butter
  • 1/2 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1 T cold water
  • 2 pinches fleur de sel

  • 4 organic Meyer lemons
  • 1/2 C organic powdered sugar
  • 2 T honey (I used a local honey)
  • 8 T butter
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • dark chocolate

Juice the lemons. Combine the juice, powdered sugar, honey and butter. Bring to a boil. Meanwhile beat the yolks. Add 1/3 of the boiling liquid to the beaten yolks then add the mixture back into the boiling liquid. Continue beating over medium heat until it thickens. Be careful not to let the curd boil or it will scramble. Pour the curd into a bowl and press plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a film from forming. Chill completely.

Mix the flour, hazelnut flour, sugar and salt; rub in the butter with olive oil until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in 1 tablespoon of water with a fork until the mixture forms a ball. Roll out between two pieces of parchment paper. Press gently into a tart pan. Stick in the freezer while the oven heats. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350, or until a light golden brown. Let cool completely.

To Assemble
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler until smooth. Spread a layer of chocolate over the baked tart crust. Let set. Spoon the chilled filling over the chocolate layer.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.

Here's what everyone else read in October 2016: here.


  1. This looks fantastic Cam. The book sounds interesting as well. It is going on my very loooong TBR queue.