Fish & Shellfish
Puddings & Desserts
My ‘Everest’ strawberry plants have gone mad this year and I’m picking a big bowlful every evening at the moment, so anyone who comes to eat here for the next few weeks will definitely be getting strawberries in one form or another! I’m not complaining though as they’re gorgeous, huge, sweet strawberries - see photo below.
These little tarts filled with crème patissière are lovely. I’ve been experimenting with different ‘crème pat’ recipes to get round the need for whisking over bowls of ice, which is the usual advice when you make it, and this one, adapted from Julia Child’s wonderful book ‘Mastering The Art Of French Cooking’ is perfect (and tastes fab). It freezes really well, so it’s worth making the quantity below although you’ll only need half of it for 8 tartlets. Alternatively you could just use whipped double cream for the filling (maybe with some amaretto or elderflower liqueur stirred in…)
The recipe serves 8 but you might notice there are only seven tartlets in the photo… I put them on the garden table to photograph them, went back to the kitchen for a nano-second to get the mint garnish - and as I came back out a jackdaw was flying off into the woods with one in his beak!
Make the pastry by whizzing the flour, sugar, butter and a tsp of salt in a food processor until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and enough cold water, a tbsp at a time, until it starts to come together as a dough and then tip out onto a work surface and bring together lightly with your hands. Chill for 15 mins then roll out and use a pastry cutter to cut out 8 individual cases. Put them in deep tartlet tins and chill again for 10 mins (the chilling helps stop the pastry shrinking).
Bake them blind (see The Fig Tarts recipe from a previous post for how to do this) but instead of using greaseproof paper to line each tartlet case (which would be very fiddly), pop a little paper muffin case into each of them, before adding the baking beans or lentils. Bake for 10 mins, remove the muffin cases and bake again for 8 mins until golden. Leave to cool
Meanwhile, to make the crème pat, beat the egg yolks with the sugar using an electric whisk until the mixture becomes pale yellow and leaves a ribbon trial when you draw the beaters through it. Then beat in the flour. Bring the milk to just to the boil and, drop by drop, beat that in too (it's important to do this VERY slowly). Pour the mixture into a wide-bottomed saucepan and heat to medium hot, beating constantly with a handheld wire whisk. It will go lumpy at first, but keep whisking and it will become smooth again. Cook, whisking all the time, for 3 minutes (this gets rid of the raw taste of the flour). Be careful it doesn't burn on the base of the pan. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, then leave to cool (lay a circle of greaseproof paper on the top so a skin doesn't form.).
Fill the pastry cases with a tablespoon of crème pat, top with strawberry slices, brush with melted jam to glaze and garnish each with a mint sprig.
You will have 5 egg whites left over, so use them to make a meringue case to keep in the freezer for another time - I'll post a recipe soon.