Tag Archives: dessert

When life gives you lemons… Make Tarte au Citron

It would seem that we can’t stop making pastry at the moment, so here’s another tasty treat to brighten up your week and help bring some lovely lemony sunshine!

There’s a million and one tarte au citron recipes around but I feel it’s important to remember the origins of this lovely recipe and searched round for a recipe that I hoped would be the real deal and came across this lovely Raymond Blanc recipe from his wonderful website – if a foodie Frenchman can’t get a tarte au citron recipe right then there’s simply no winning! I particularly like this recipe because of the inclusion of egg yolk in the pastry which makes it gorgeously rich and crumbly and helps to seal it from the very liquidy filling when its first poured into the case.

INGREDIENTS

SWEET PASTRY
120g unsalted butter, diced (at room temperature)
75g sifted icing sugar
250g plain flour
3 egg yolks
2 tbsps water

LEMON FILLING
5 medium free range eggs
150g caster sugar
85ml lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
2 tbsps finely grated lemon zest
150ml double cream

Mix the butter and icing sugar in a large bowl to a cream and beat in just 2 of the egg yolks (watch out for this – I chucked all 3 in and had to perform a rescue mission on one that hadn’t broken yet!). Add the flour and rub it into the mix to achieve a dry crumby texture. Once it reaches this point, very gently gather it together, gently forming it into a disc. Wrap this in clingfilm and set aside in the fridge for 30 minutes whilst making the lemon filling. When putting the pastry to rest in the clingfilm, I always place the disc between two very large pieces of clingfilm (big enough to cover the size of the tart tin you are using) as this means that to roll it out you can keep it between the clingfilm, eliminating the need for flour and ensure the pastry doesn’t dry out or become overworked.

To make the lemon filling, mix together the eggs, sugar, lemon juice and zest together for a few seconds, add the cream and then whisk for a further few minutes. Then set this aside in the fridge. Wait until the 30 minutes resting time for the pastry is up and roll it out (between the clingfilm sheets!) until its pretty thin (but with no holes!). Peel off one half of the clingfilm and use the clingfilm covered pastry to gently lower the pastry onto a 24cm (91/2 inch) loose bottomed tart tin, being careful not to stretch it and gently push the pastry into the edges of the tin. I don’t own a loose bottomed tart tin, in fact my bottom was firmly in place(!), so I devised a cunning solution to remove my tart from the tin once it had cooked by folding greaseproof paper into two long strips and placing these in a cross in the tin with a bit showing at each end, as you can sort of see below:

This worked remarkably well (with a little help from Jack as four hands were best for this job!). The picture also shows the slight translucency of the pastry which is a useful sign that it’s not too thick! Prick the base of the pastry with a fork and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to help prevent it from shrinking too much when cooking. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees c/gas mark 3.

Once the pastry has rested for 30 minutes, line the case with foil and fill with baking beans. I don’t own baking beans, as much as I’d like to, so I used dried chickpeas which did the job wonderfully… As pointed out by Cat in her recent Pecan Pie post, once these have been used its best to make sure that they are kept labelled as baking beans as they’ll be rubbish to cook with!! Bake the case for 10 minutes then remove from the oven and remove the beans. Then put the case back in the oven for a further 20 minutes sans beans.

Towards the end of the 20 minutes baking time, pour the lemon filling into a saucepan and warm it very gently – this is an important step to reduce the time the tart needs in the oven (an avoid burnt pastry!). Be very careful not to let it scramble. After the 20 minutes of further baking time is up, take the case out of the oven and brush the inside of the case with the remaining beaten egg yolk, returning to the oven for 1 minute – I was skeptical about this because it doesn’t look so appetising at this point but it creates a great seal on the pastry so that when the liquidy lemony filling is poured in, the case stays good and crisp! Now turn the oven down to 140c.

Once the mixture is warm, pour into the pastry case. This is best done in the oven and done very gently as the mix should be quite liquidy. Bake this for 25 minutes only – it should be barely set when you take it out as it continues to set more during cooling. Then comes the hard part – leave it for an hour (yes a whole hour!!) before eating. I’m possibly a bit hypocritical saying this as we just couldn’t wait and had our first pieces about 20 minutes after it came out the oven but it was too soft and was perfect after a night in the fridge! Once this painful waiting period is over, dust all over with icing sugar and dive right in!

Hannah

Mini Jam Tarts (leftover pastry)

This recipe (barely a recipe) used left over scraps of pastry from a pecan pie that Jack and I made a few days ago – that recipe soon to follow. Instead of throwing away the excess pastry left over from lining a fluted flan tin I suggested making some mini tartlets and I’m very glad we did!

A perfect aperitif before the real pie is ready.

  • Use your left over pastry (we had sweet shortcrust but regular shortcrust would work well too) and combine back into a ball and roll out.
  • Cut circles (using a circle cutter a bit bigger than the size of holes you have in your pastry dimple tin) from the pastry, brush the tin with some melted butter and pop the  pastry circles in. Top with a small square of grease proof paper/tinfoil and then add in a few baking beans.
  • Blind bake for about 10 minutes with the beans (around 180C I think the oven was) then remove the beans and paper or foil and return to the oven for another 5 or until golden enough.
  • Put in your chosen filling. We used a strawberry jam and also a strawberry and vodka jam, along with a little blob of creme fraiche.
  • Chuck back in the oven and forget about them for a while (that’s what we did! Very approximate and botch recipe really).
  • Eat up! WARNING even when out of the oven for 10 minutes the jam will still be exceedingly hot and you will burn your tongue, even when you think you have waited long enough. Apologies. It’ll still be scrummy and you’ll wonder why you bothered going to all the effort of making an actual pie or whatever else your pastry was leftover from.

Catriona

Dreams of Summer Food

Whilst winter food is so wonderfully comforting and can be fresh and salady (what with the winter salads I keep eating), there’s still nothing like good food eaten outdoors in wonderful weather, something which I find hard to replicate in the winter months. This summer we had an amazing holiday for food – staying on the lovely island off the West coast of France called the Ile de Re, we basically just ate beautiful food for a week in beautiful surroundings, some of which I think is very much deserving of a post, so what follows is a review of these beautiful food experiences – hopefully it will inspire you as it has done me!

A particular food highlight of the holiday for me was a rather decadent lunchtime trip to fish restaurant Le Skipper in Saint Martin (right on the harbour front). For starters I had a rather tasty creamy scallop dish, which was followed by a beautifully citrus-y octopus tagine (pictured below)…

Octopus tagine at Le Skipper

 While the savoury courses were very good, it was after these that I was really sold when the most exciting plateful was set before me – a ‘cafe gourmand’ (below), which hit the spot unbelievably (I have real trouble choosing desserts and a bit of everything couldn’t be more ideal!). With the fresh chocolate macaroon, creme anglais, mini trifle (which was boozy), bite sized piece of chocolate torte, the absolutely stunning caramel cake thing (I’m struggling to remember the name of it) and a hot espresso with a wonderful crema this was a dessert to remember!

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As there were a few couples holidaying together, one evening we decided to split the cooking between us and each create an element of one meal – naturally we ended up with the most colossal feast! Here (below) we have griddle chorizo, falafel burger, flat-bread, grilled aubergine, humus, tabbouleh, green salad and tzatziki (all home made). Needless to say, after this ridiculous feast no one could move for the rest of the evening and some serious swimming in the sea was required the following day!

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A standard meal by the coast, but one that cannot be missed, especially by the coast in the France is  moules, cooked in white wine and garlic…

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… These were stunning, with crusty French bread and the moule-infused white wine source you can’t go wrong! There were also prawns cooked in a very large amount of garlic and a little chilli but alas, no picture exists (they’re probably far too messy to have gone near my camera whilst eating them).

An interesting discovery for me was the fish ‘Ling’ which we came across in the bustling fish market of Le Bois Plage en Re. This we cooked on the barbeque, wrapped in a foil parcel full of lemon, dill and garlic.

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And which turned out wonderfully alongside some fantastic meguez sausages…

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So I’ve spent the evening drinking G & T and surveying my summer food snaps… It’s certainly inspired me to make plans for the summer and in the mean time to make some gorgeous summery food as a winter pick-me-up!!

Watch out for a follow up post on learning to prepare oysters!

Hannah