Sugar Plum Parcels and The Fairy Glenn

IMG_2190

 

This post has been a long time coming. It was in fact planned to run consecutively after my last, but the thunderbolt that is ‘Brexit’ hit us and sent me into a free fall, that to be honest I have not yet recovered from and won’t be discussing it on hear at the moment as it is just too raw, so please respect this and don’t try to draw me into comments or arguments.
Also other recent events in Europe left me feeling that things needed to be said, but again, to disturbed too actually say anything.
My views, if anyone is interested, have been expressed perfectly by ‘Osyth’ on her wonderful blog ‘Half Baked in Paradise’, which is well worth checking out even if you are not interested in my views………..

Back to this post which provides a little bit of magic and much needed escapism from the world and its problems into ‘fairyland’.
The Fairy Glenn or Fairy Village, can be found (if you look very carefully) In the lovely’ Vale Park’ in ‘New Brighton’ (for more on this delightful family resort a beach pebbles throw from Liverpool) then look at my previous post, ‘New Brighton and Caramelised Mango’.

‘Fairy houses’ have been constructed from driftwood washed up on the excellent beach and stones and pebbles, and children have been encouraged to make their own using dolls and trinkets and ‘treasures’. Some of the results are a little bizarre, must most are magical and I have just posted photographs of a small selection to give you an idea.

WP_20160605_020

Who lives in a house like this

Or these

Plums, particularly sugar plums, were made famous by a fairy in Tchaikovsky’s ballet ‘The Nutcracker Suite’ and this has a particular resonance with my childhood as I spent most of my early years pouring over pictures of ballerinas and trying to mimic their poses in front of the huge mirror in the fire place in my bedroom, dreaming of one day floating like a fairy across the stage in an ethereal bell shaped ballet dress, a dream which was destined never to realised as I was physically and temperamentally  more suited to hammering it out in my red tap shoes………

Plums are now just coming into season – though still a bit hard and sharp for eating raw in my opinion, so I have opted cook them in a deceivingly simple dessert.
So put a little magic in to meal times and try my ‘Sugar Plum Fairy Parcels’………………………..

 

Ingredients

1 medium / large ‘firm’ plum (prune) of any colour or variety per person

 
Ready-made puff (pate feuilletee) pastry cut into squares large enough to wrap each plum

30g powdered almonds (poudre d’amandes)

3 dessertspoons of castor sugar (3 cuillere a soupe de sucre en poudre)
(I used Madagascan vanilla sugar for extra flavour and these quantities were plenty for 6 parcels)

A knob of butter per plum

Beaten egg yolk to glaze the pastry

Method

Mix the powdered almonds and sugar

Scoop out the stone from the plum and fill the cavity with the almond / sugar mixture

Top with a knob of butter

IMG_2186

Place in the centre of a pastry square and fold up the edges, squeezing together with the tips of your fingers

Brush with the beaten egg yolk and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for around 25 minutes until the pastry is golden and the plum juice bubbling

Sprinkle with a fairy dusting of sugar while still hot

Serve cold or warm (not hot) with a little crème fraiche

IMG_2193

 

 

Accidental Apple Pie!

 

WP_20151214_003 (2)

Many of you have noticed my absence over the past few weeks, this is due to the fact that, I, like most others at this time of the year, have been very busy (and still am!)
Not in the least to say that I am preparing an extended trip to the UK, so quite a lot of organising to be done!
That said, I was sad to say ‘au revoir’ today to some of my favourite and best students, a group of lovely ladies who have made going to work a pleasure.

We decided to finish half an hour early (and stay half an hour late) and each bring a dish to share a light lunch together – I opted to make a quiche, but being short on time I did what I almost never do, and bought ready made pastry…….I hear you gasp in horror………
My ignorance in buying ready made pastry shone through and I bought ‘Paté  brisée’ which is, I discovered on opening the packet, a sweet variety used for fruit tarts and definitely not quiche! A mistake that I did not discover until after the shops had closed.

Armed with only one apple, I hastily set about making ‘something out of nothing’ which is quite often the case with my cooking.
But ‘All’s well that ends well ‘ and the result was quite delicious (though the pastry not up to my usual standard – see Frangipan Tarte aux Poires et Chocolat’ for how to make the perfect pastry………for how to make the perfect pastry….

Ingredients
Filling only

1 large sweet apple (you can use more, but 1 is all that I had)

1 Tablespoon of jam (I used ‘abricots rouges’ but regular apricot is fine)

2 Table spoons of castor sugar

1 Tablespoon of vanilla sugar

2 medium free range eggs

1/2 pt / 250mls milk

A good sprinkle of nutmeg

Method

Line a tart dish with the pastry and ‘blind bake’ for 7 minutes

Core and finely slice the apple, sprinkle with lemon juice to stop discolouration and set aside

Beat the eggs and sugar together then add the milk

Remove the pastry from the oven and spread the jam evenly over the base

Arrange the apple slices on top of the jam and sprinkle with the vanilla sugar, return to the oven and bake for a further 3 minutes

Remove from the oven and pour over the ‘custard’ mixture and sprinkle the nutmeg over the top

Bake for a further 25 minutes, or until the custard is just set

I think that this tart is best eaten when it has been allowed to cool little  or even cold.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

As we will not be here over the Christmas period, it was not worth decorating a real tree, so we have just got a little fibre optic one on a small table by the window – but it is quite pretty.
Also as this may be my last post for a while, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year. See you in 2016

Lindy

 

Sefton Park Palm House and Morrocan Chicken pie

aWP_20151111_004 (2)

I really did not know where to start with this post, as recent events have overshadowed the frivolity of writing a blog. But then I thought of all of you who had messaged me to see if I was safe, and said to myself, no, it is not frivolous, here we are creating a community of like-minded, tolerant, supportive and genuine people from all walks so of life from all over the world, from many different religious and cultural backgrounds, each with their own story to tell, and each telling it in their own unique way. Through writing, sharing poetry and philosophy, photography, gardening, cookery, loving nature and celebrating life.

I have travelled to wonderful palaces with ‘The Green Eye’, explored Italian villages with ’Ishita’, experienced the oppression of living in an Arab state with ‘Lynz’, listened to a Rabbi with a dog’s ears with ‘Rachel’, eaten amazing breakfasts with ‘Mila’ and been cooking in the kitchen with ‘Karina’ making her wonderful salads.
I have listened to bells with ‘Osysth’ and learnt all about Annie Sloane paint from ‘Zoe’.
Whilst ‘Michelle’ has taught me what I can eat from the garden and brought a wonderful sense of balance, and Marisa has given me my ‘Christmas Baking Challenge!
Plus many others of you who have enriched my life in your own unique and special way.

I was tempted to post some lovely positive images of Paris, but my originally intended ‘next’ post was the last from my recent trip to Liverpool, so I am going to stick with that, as to deviate further would be allowing terrorists to continue to have influence.

So here goes……. Sefton Park is a beautiful 375 acre ‘landscaped garden’ in south Liverpool on the site of the ‘Royal Toxteth Deer Park’ dating from 1591.
In 1867, 375 acres of this area was designated to the creation of a park, with £250,000 for its development being donated by the then Lord Sefton, hence the name.

Liverpool Nov 2010 031 (2)

Sefton Park Palm House

Sefton Park ‘Palm House’, which opened in 1896 is a grade II listed three tier domed conservatory.
The Palm House is integral to my childhood and I visited here almost every Sunday, no matter the season or weather, on our after lunch family walks with family.

 

Liverpool Nov 2010 021 (2)

Me sitting on my favourite chair when I was a little girl (my feet still do not reach the ground!)

When I was a child going into the Palm House, was like entering another world that seemed to me enormous, mysterious and a little bit scary.
I can still remember the warm damp air enveloping me as I went inside, and the musty, earthy smell of soil and plants and the green moss that clung to the marble statues.

Giant Tropical plants and recently cleaned statues!

The Palm House is in fact surrounded by statues of the ‘great and the Good’ including ‘Andre Le Notre’ who designed the gardens at Versailles.
Somewhere in a battered cardboard chocolate box with purple and yellow crocuses on the lid, are photographs of me mimicking the poses of these statues’.

André La Notre and Christopher Columbus

I will return in spring or summer and do a more in depth post on the park itself, as I think that it is worth it.

Usually I have some clever way of linking the culture to the cooking, but this time, my dubious talent has deserted me and my only defence is that this recipe is SO good that I just wanted to share it immediately with you all, the fragrance of the spices and the contrast between the tender chicken and light crisp filo pastry topping is sublime.
This dish can be eaten equally as a light lunch with salad, for dinner with the addition of some steamed baby potatoes, or a smaller portion as an entrée.
It is also excellent to serve as part of a buffet, and this will be going on our table at some stage over the Christmas period
It looks like a lot of ingredients, but they are mainly spices and this dish is really very simple.

Ingredients
Serves 2-3 as a main course, 4 as an entrée

2 free range skinless chicken breasts cut into ‘stir fry’ size portions 4 sheets of filo pastry

A good handful (une poignée) of raisons (raisons secs)

A good handful of flaked almonds (amande enfillé )

A good handful of fresh, or small handful of dried coriander leaves

1 medium Shallotte grated or very finely chopped

1 clove garlic crushed (une gousse d’ail ecrasé)

1 tablespoon (2 cuillers a soupe) of olive oil

1-2 tablespoons of melted butter (du beurre fondu)

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1 teaspoon (1 cuillers a café) of:- Ground cinnamon (canelle en poudre), ground ginger (gingembre), paprika (piment)

½ a teaspoon of:- Turmeric, cumin, freshly ground black pepper

Freshly ground sea salt to taste

Method

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion over a low heat for 3-4 minutes

Add the garlic and all the spices and cook for a further minute

Add the chicken and coat in the spices

Add 200ml of hot water and the raisons and season generously with the salt, bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for around 30 minutes, until the chicken is tender.

Remove the chicken and set aside keeping warm

Stir in the lemon juice and reduce the liquid as the mixture should be moist, but not ‘soupy’

Add the almonds and coriander and return the chicken

Cut two sheets of pastry to line the bottom of a baking dish and cover with a damp tea towel

Brush the bottom of the dish with the melted butter and top with one of the filo circles

Brush this with more butter and top with the remaining circle

Transfer the filling into the dish

Cut a further two sheets of pastry to cover the top, brush one with butter and ‘scrunch’ it onto the top

Scrunch the second sheet onto the top and finish by brushing this with the remaining butter

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees/gas mark 4 for 30-40 minutes until the top is crisp and golden

The smell while this dish is baking is beyond words – you will just have to make it and savour it for yourselves…….

P.S. in summer I add a little fresh mint to this dish also – happy cooking
Lindyx

 

 

 

BLACKBERRY SEASON AND TARTE AUX MURES

SAM_1073

 

It’s that time of year again – a time that I loved when I was a little girl and off I would go with my cousin, Margaret to ‘Uncle Jack’s allotment’ (see my ‘Radish Starter’) to pick blackberries from his abundant bushes. We would bring half home in plastic bags, the other half went direct into our stomachs – and yes, we did have belly ache! Our fingers, tongues and T-shirts would be purple/black with the juice and our arms and legs covered in scratches where we had pushed ourselves deep into a bush to retrieve a particularly juicy berry that was just out of reach.

Once home our grandmother would make them into a pie, and I can still taste the sweet, soft pastry topped with sugar and the dark, sharp fruit inside.

Sadly this has not been a good year for the blackberries, as there has been very little rain and too much sun, so they are generally small and shrivelled. We did, however managed to salvage some, just enough to make one tart (French equivalent of ‘pie’), and fill some pots with jam; but nowhere near as many as last year. (There will be a ‘jam’ post in a couple of weeks)

SAM_1070 (2)

My meagre Blackberry ‘harvest’ this year

BLACKBERRY TART Ingredients

1lb/500g blackberries (or as many as you can find!)

Sweet pastry (paté sucre)

7oz/200g plain flour*

3 ½ oz/ 100g slightly salted butter

1 Tablespoon (2 cuillers a soupe) Icing sugar (sucre glace)

2 free range egg yolks (jaune d’oeuf)

*See my post on ‘Lindy’s Mama Mia Pizza’ for a table on International flour grades)

Crème Patisserie

2 oz/ 50g unsalted butter

1 oz/25g plain flour*

2 oz/50g castor sugar (sucre en poudre)

2 free range eggs (de poules elevees en plein air)

5 fl oz/150ml milk

Seeds from 1 vanilla pod (grains de vanille)

Method Sweet Pastry (paté sucre)*

Sift (tamiser) the flour and icing sugar together in to a bowl

Cut the butter into small cubes and quickly rub into the flour mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs

Add the egg yolks and ‘cut’ into the mixture with a knife before gathering it together with you hands to form a ball (if the mixture is too dry, add a small amount of ice cold water, a little as a time)

Knead (petrir) until smooth and flatten into a disk, wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 1-2 hours

*See the end of this post for how to make the perfect pastry

Crème Patisserie

Gently melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat

Add the flour and sugar stirring constantly with a wooden spoon

Add the eggs and beat until smooth

Add the milk and continue to stir constantly

As the sauce begins to thicken remove from the heat and stir with a hand whisk

Stir in the vanilla, cover with cling film and leave to cool

Putting it all together

Remove the pastry from the fridge for a couple of minutes

Roll out the pastry on a board sprinkled with a little flour until it is large enough to fit a 9”/23cm tart tin and cover the sides.

Line the tart tin with the pastry, trim off any excess and place in the freezer for 10 minutes, while the oven in preheating (with a baking tray inside) at 190 degree/gas mark 5

Remove the pastry from the freezer and lightly prick the base with a fork (do not puncture) Line the pastry with baking foil or greaseproof paper and weigh down with baking beans (I use dried kidney beans)

Bake for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 3-4 minutes, until the pastry is a light biscuit colour. Then leave to cool completely.

Spread the crème patisserie evenly over the cooled pastry case and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes

Decorate with the Blackberries and serve chilled

(This recipe works equally well with raspberries, strawberries or redcurrants)

A perfect marriage of sweet crisp pastry, soft vanilla crème patisserie and tangy berries….Definately my type of tart!

How to make perfect Pastry Ingredients

200g/7oz plain flour (Aldi was my favorite in the UK, but Francine ‘farine de ble pour tous usages’ works well)

80g TREX (100g margarine – TREX has a higher water content so 20% less is needed)

1 egg yolk (jaune)

2 dessertspoons (cuilleres de soupe) of ice cold water

A pinch of salt

The four main factors for making a good pastry are:-

The speed of making it – pastry does not like to be over handled

The temperature – the cooler the room, your hands, the surface, and the water the better.

The amount of moisture – the drier the pastry, the more light and crumbly (short) it is – even if it is more difficult to work with and may need patching up, it is worth it for the end result. The wetter, the more you will break your teeth! The time spent ‘resting the pastry before cooking.

Method

Wash your hands and rinse in cold water

Sieve the flour with the salt into a large, preferable pottery mixing bowl

Chop in the TREX (or equivalent) with a cold knife, then quickly work it into breadcrumbs using the tips of your fingers only and lifting the mixture from the bowl as the work it, to get as much air in the mixture as possible

Cut the egg yolk into the mixture again using a cold knife

Add the water (direct from the fridge – the colder the better, iced water is best) and mix all together with a cold knife

Quickly draw the mixture into a ball, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to ‘rest’ for at least 30 minutes (alternatively put in the freezer if not ready to use immediately)

Remove from fridge a couple of minutes before rolling out to fit a 12” (30xm) flan/quiche dish

Put back in fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes or until ready to use

Always allow hot fillings to completely cool before putting into uncooked tart or quiche pastry, as otherwise it will make the pastry ‘soggy’ instead of ‘crisp’

I CAN COOK A RAINBOW, ‘TARTE AUX MIRABELLES’ AND NANCY, FRANCE

IMGP2833 (2)

One of the things that I love about this time of year, is the arrival of an array of different coloured fruits and vegetables in the markets and supermarkets. From red, orange, yellow, green’ and ‘black’ tomatoes (actually more a deep purple red, but called ‘black’), to green, orange and yellow courgettes. And orange, yellow, white and violet carrots (See ‘Cocotte de veau avec carottes violettes et gingembre’) to purple and orange cauliflowers!

IMGP2797 (2)

Selection of colourful, seasonal fruit and veg

I resisted the temptation of buying the purple cauliflower, as I was not sure that I would fancy eating something this ‘exotic’ but I was tempted by the orange one.

IMGP2805 (2)

The lovely orange caulie flower, that made a delicious caulie flower cheese (to follow)

There is also an abundance of other wonderful richly coloured fruits, such as bright crimson plumbs and deep purple ‘quetsches’ and gorgeous orange and yellow ‘Mirabelles’ blushed with rose.

MIrabelles are small oval ‘plums’ that in France only grow in the Lorraine region in the extreme east, notably around the towns of Nancy and Metz. My head office is at Nancy, so I get to visit here from time to time. At the heart of this lovely town is the a beautiful ‘Place Stanislas’ (fondly known as ‘Stan’), named after Stanislaw I a former king of Poland, who was the father in law of the French King Louis XV, and it is surrounded by some very impressive buildings, including the stately ‘Hotel de Ville’, the ‘Musee de Beaux Arts, the Opera-Theatre’, and even a mini ‘Arc de Triomphe’ (Arche Heré).

PENTACON DIGITAL CAMERA

Arche Heré , Place ‘Stan’

Place Stan is a great meeting place and is also has several cafés where you can sit and people watch and during the summer evenings watch the magical spectacle of coloured lights being projected onto the all the grand buildings illuminating the square.

PENTACON DIGITAL CAMERA

Statue of ‘Stanislow’ and the Hotel de Ville Nancy

PENTACON DIGITAL CAMERA

Another impressive gate at ‘Place Stanislas’ Nancy

Back to the Mirabelles – the larger, sweeter fruit that is grown near Nancy is best eaten fresh, while the smaller, harder, fruit grown near Metz makes excellent tarts, jam and even brandy!

This time I have made a tart ………

Ingredients
Shortcrust pastry (If you prefer sweet pastry (paté sucré), see my post for ‘Tarte aux Mures’)

200g/7oz plain flour (Aldi was my favorite in the UK, but Francine ‘farine de ble pour tous usages’ works well)

80g TREX (100g margarine – TREX has a higher water content so 20% less is needed)

1 egg yolk (jaune)

2 dessertspoons (cuilleres de soupe) of ice cold water

A pinch of salt

Method

Chop in the TREX (or equivalent) with a cold knife into the flour, then quickly work it into breadcrumbs using the tips of your fingers only and lifting the mixture from the bowl as you work it, to get as much air in the mixture as possible

Cut the egg yolk into the mixture again using a cold knife

Add the water (direct from the fridge) and mix all together with a cold knife

Quickly draw the mixture into a ball, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to ‘rest’ for at least 30 minutes (alternatively put in the freezer if not ready to use immediately)

Remove from fridge a couple of minutes before rolling out to fit a 12” (30xm) flan/quiche dish

Put back in fridge to rest for at least 30 minutes or until ready to use

Always allow hot fillings to completely cool before putting into uncooked tart or quiche pastry, as otherwise it will make the pastry ‘soggy’ instead of ‘crisp’

Ingredients
Filling

1lb/500g of mirabelles

½ pt /200ml of single cream (crème fraiche liquide)

2 eggs

2 sachets/15g of vanilla sugar

A good pinch of nutmeg (muscade)

1 tablespoon/ 2 cuillers a soupe of plum jam (confiiture de prune) – I used my own home made plum and Mirabelle jam

Method

Lightly beat the eggs with the sugar and stir in the cream and the nutmeg

Line the bottom of the tarte with jam (if it is slightly warm it will spread easier)

Cut the mirabelles in half and arrange in circles around the tart

Pour over the custard mixture and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees/gas mark 4 for 35-40 minutes, until the custard is set and the pastry golden.

Delicous warm or cold with a little crème fraiche

if you cannot find mirabelles, this tarte works well with plums or gooseberries.

IMGP2798 (3)

You cannot beat eating seasonally!

TARTE AUX PECHES ET AUX PIGNONS

SAM_1724 (3)

I used up a few flaked almonds on the top and added a little freshly grated nutmeg to spice it up

I noticed that I have not posted a ‘sweet’ recipe for a long time.
This is one of my out and out favourite desserts, and this is saying something as I really don’t have a very sweet tooth. This recipe, once again, comes from the lovely Provencal cookbook that I found in ‘St Paul de Vence’ (for more information and photos of this gorgeous village, see my post for ‘Chicken Provencale and Saint Paul de Vence’)

It is SO simply and delicious both hot and cold either on its own or with a little crème fraiche on the side.

A real taste of the sunshine………

Ingredients

Shortcrust pastry (see the bottom of this post for how to make the perfect pastry)

3 ripe peaches (peches murs)

A good handful of pine nuts (une bonne poignée de pignons de pin)

A good handful of raisins (une bonne poigée de raisins secs)

100 g of powdered almonds (amandes concassées)

200g crème fraiche

100 g sugar

60 g butter

2 eggs lightly beaten

Method

Line a lightly buttered flan dish with the pastry

Cut the peaches in half then slice each half into 4 and sauté in the butter until beginning to caramelise, remove from pan and leave to cool slightly.

Whisk (fouet) the sugar with the eggs with a hand whisk until light and fluffy

Add the crème fraiche

Stir in the powdered almands, pine nuts and raisins

Line the pastry with the slightly cooled peach slices

Pour over the mixture and bake for 30-35 minutes at 180 degrees (gas mark 4)

This dish can also be made later in the year, when the peach season has ended using apples in the same way. I have also made it earlier in the year using plums and leaving out the raisins.

The smell when this is baking is divine………..hmmmm

DSCN3520 (2)

Just in case you forgot how lovely it is, or missed the post ‘Poulet a la Provencale and Saint Paul de Vence’ featuring this delightful village, here is a reminder.

How to make perfect Pastry (also see my ‘Frangipan Tarte aux Poires et Chocolate’, ‘Mireille’s Favourite Treacle Tart’ and ‘Tarte au Citron a l’Anglaise’ pictured below)

The three main factors for making a good pastry are:-

The speed of making it – pastry does not like to be over handled

The temperature – the cooler the room, your hands, the surface, and the water the better.

The amount of moisture – the drier the pastry, the more light and crumbly (short) it is – even if it is more difficult to work with and may need patching up, it is worth it for the end result. The wetter, the more you will break your teeth!

200g/7oz plain flour (Aldi was my favourite in the UK, but Francine ‘farine de ble pour tous usages’ works well)

80g TREX (100g margarine – TREX has a higher water content so 20% less is needed)

1 egg yolk (jaune)

2 dessertspoons (cuilleres de soupe) of ice cold water

Wash your hands and rinse in cold water

Sieve the flour into a large, preferable pottery mixing bowl

Chop in the TREX (or equivelent) with a cold knife, then quickly work it into breadcrumbs using the tips of your fingers only and lifting the mixture from the bowl as the work it, to get as much air in the mixture as possible

Cut the egg yolk into the mixture again using a cold knife

Add the water (direct from the fridge) and mix all together with a cold knife

Quickly draw the mixture into a ball, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to ‘rest’ for at least 30 minutes.

Remove from the fridge for 5 minutes before rolling out to fit a 12” (30xm) flan/quiche dish

Put back in fridge until ready to use – Maybe to make one (or all) of these…

tart

Frangipan tarte aux poires et chocolat

tarte au citron

Tarte au Citron a l’Anglaise

IMG_0458

MIreille’s Favorite Treacle Tart

Tarte Tatin

 Tarte Tatin

 

Spring is in the air and the Willow trees by the river Marne have all donned their green cloaks and are dipping their graceful branches in the water.

I love this time of year when everything is renewed and the long hot summer is waiting around the corner, but I could not end my winter selection without including certain dishes, and although the delicious ‘Tarte Tatin’ can be eaten all year round, I prefer to eat it warm and comforting.

Having never been a fan of traditional apple pie, this French ‘upside-down’ version wins hands down in my opinion, and it is surprisingly easy and cheap to make.

The marriage of the crisp light pastry and the gooey caramelised apple is one made in heaven……..

So why not indulge in a little taste of heaven this weekend ………

 

Ingredients

200g of pate sucrée (sweet pastry) use recipe below but add 1 tablespoon of castor sugar (2 cuillers de soupe de sucre en poudre) to the flour before mixing.

6 cooking apples peeled and cored and sliced into 6

50g butter

50g castor sugar (sucre en poudre)
Method

Make the pastry and leave to chill, taking it from the fridge 10 minutes before rolling out.

Melt the butter and sugar together in an 8” (20cm) ovenproof frying pan

When the mixture is golden brown add the apples tossing them in the syrup until they are well coated and cook them for a few minutes until they begin to caramelise

Roll out the pastry until it is a little larger than the pan, then carefully place over the apples, tucking in the edges so that it fits neatly (take care not to burn yourself on the syrup!)

Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees/gas mark 6 for around 40 minutes or until the crust is golden

Leave to cool for 5 minutes then place a serving plate on top of the pastry and invert the tart so that the caramelised apples are on the top

The aroma when this is cooking is literally mouth watering……………

I serve this with a little dollop of crème fraiche on the side, but if you want to be a bit more British – then a good quality vanilla ice-cream works a treat (in my opinion custard/crème Anglaise is too sweet to serve with this particular tart)

 

How to make perfect Pastry

200g/7oz plain flour (Aldi was my favourite in the UK, but Francine ‘farine de ble pour tous usages’ works well)

80g TREX (100g margarine – TREX has a higher water content so 20% less is needed)

1 egg yolk (jaune)

2 dessertspoons (cuilleres de soupe) of ice cold water

 

The three main factors for making a good pastry are :-

The speed of making it – pastry does not like to be over handled

The temperature – the cooler the room, your hands, the surface, and the water the better.

The amount of moisture – the drier the pastry, the more light and crumbly (short) it is – even if it is more difficult to work with and may need patching up, it is worth it for the end result. The wetter, the more you will break your teeth!

 

Wash your hands and rinse in cold water

Sieve the flour into a large, preferable pottery mixing bowl

Chop in the TREX (or equivalent) with a cold knife, then quickly work it into breadcrumbs using the tips of your fingers only and lifting the mixture from the bowl as the work it, to get as much air in the mixture as possible

Cut the egg yolk into the mixture again using a cold knife

Add the water (direct from the fridge) and mix all together with a cold knife

Quickly draw the mixture into a ball, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge to ‘rest’ for at least 30 minutes.