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Baking with Blandine

French cookbook collector shares her secrets for the perfect tart

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July 19th, 2016
Blandine Sevier bakes an apple tart in her kitchen at Wind Crest, the Erickson Living community in Highlands Ranch, Colo.

Blandine Sevier bakes an apple tart in her kitchen at Wind Crest, the Erickson Living community in Highlands Ranch, Colo.

Blandine Sevier and her husband George greet me at the door, and the buttery aroma of unbaked dough mixed with the acidic, sweet scent of freshly sliced apples fills my nostrils. 

“Bonjour,” I say. 

“Bonjour! Comment ça va?” Blandine replies. 

“Ça va bien, merci,” I reply with the last of my French. 

They lead me through the foyer to the large, open kitchen, where Blandine has set out one bowl of prepared pie dough and one of sliced apples. We’re making an apple tart. 

“I’ve never cooked a pie in my life,” says the native Frenchwoman who taught French at the University of Colorado at Denver for 27 years. She has, however, made just about every type of tart under the sun. 

“Apricot tart, Italian plums—that’s my favorite,” she says. “Blueberries I like, and rhubarb. In France, we have some little plums that are red and yellow called Mirabelle, but it takes forever to pit them because they are so tiny. Tarts are about the only thing I bake because George bakes the rest,” she says, rolling out the dough on her cool granite countertop. 

Then, placing the tart pan over the dough, she traces a circle and gently lays the dough into the pan using her rolling pin. She layers Granny Smith apple slices in concentric circles, starting with the outside edge and moving inward. She presses off the overhanging dough to form a clean edge, and into the oven it goes. 

As we chat in the living room, the aroma of baked dough and apples fills the apartment. It smells like home.

Cooking couple

If there was a saying, “A couple who cooks together stays together,” George and Blandine Sevier would fit it to a T. 

While most people relish the ability to give up cooking and baking when they move to Wind Crest, George and Blandine take advantage of the large, full kitchen in their Washington-style, two-bedroom, two-bath apartment home.

“Very often we work together in the kitchen, and we’re so glad we have that nice kitchen,” says Blandine, who adds that it’s larger at Wind Crest than in their previous ranch-style house. “Our kitchen is nice and big. I was able to bring all of my pots and pans.”

Though she’s from one of the world’s culinary capitals, Blandine didn’t learn cooking and baking from her parents. “I got interested in it after I got married because I had to,” she says.

Now, she enjoys cooking international cuisine, especially French, Italian, and Japanese. 

On Saturday evenings, instead of dining at one of Wind Crest’s many restaurants, she and George eat in. “We go shopping on Friday afternoon, so we buy something that we don’t usually get at the restaurants,” Blandine says.

Many times, she’ll attend church on campus at 6 p.m. while George cooks dinner. “I come back, and dinner is ready,” she says.

George has cooked lamb with thyme and tomatoes, gnocchi, and even a chocolate macadamia nut torte for dessert. 

And he always makes a salad for Blandine—and not because it’s her favorite. “I don’t like salad, so when he makes one, it gives me an incentive to eat it,” she chuckles. 

In addition to Saturday dinners, they also take breakfast and lunch in their apartment home, where they enjoy 180-degree views of the Rocky Mountain foothills and peaks beyond. 

To account for eating more meals at home, George and Blandine changed from the monthly meal plan to the 20-meal plan, which gives them each 20 meals a month in any of Wind Crest’s several restaurants or for use in the marketplace. It’s a flexible option that fits their lifestyle. 

“There are people here who say they moved here and never use their kitchen. We enjoy using ours. It’s fun to work in the kitchen together,” says Blandine.

Best value

Aside from a well-appointed kitchen and stunning views, the Seviers also gained one of the best values on campus. 

Because they are previously owned, homes in Wind Crest’s first neighborhood (where the Seviers live) are less expensive than the newly constructed homes in the second neighborhood. Residents have access to all the same amenities and activities. And every home is renovated before a new person or couple moves in. 

George and Blandine’s apartment home received new light fixtures, carpet, and granite countertops of their choice. The couple also opted to install plantation shutters, which not only provide shade while permitting a view, but are also timeless and on trend.  

The Seviers were also able to have extensive storage and shelving built into their cabinets and closets. Blandine can safely store her porcelain plate and oriental doll collections, cookbook collection, and other knickknacks. And their clothes are always in order.

In fact, despite being collectors of many things, George and Blandine are able to keep a neat and orderly home thanks to the space and layout. “Our house in Southeast Denver was quite dark, and now our place is so light and airy, and it feels very open and spacious,” says Blandine.

Reflecting on their decision to move sooner rather than wait for one of the new apartment homes in Wind Crest’s second neighborhood, Blandine says, “Now we are glad that we moved here. Everything works, and it’s the way we like it.” 

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