Clearing out the kitchen this week, before I put everything back in the new cupboards, I found some antique yeast, a vintage packet of baking powder and many other long expired historic foodstuffs.
There were baking trays which had developed their own culture and civilisations and substances that NASA may well be interested in. I’m sure the black treacle stuck to the top of the shelf is really from a Tudor roof and certainly would have been something the children could have used in a science experiment.
Now we are approaching the end of the year and December has its icy tentacles wrapped around my neck like a frozen octopus disguised as a scarf, we need to start getting into the spirit of things. The children are tired, as they always are by the end of term — if their toast is a little too dark there are howling tears — and I’m ready to wear a festive jumper and eat mince pies for supper.
But before we go full steam(ed pudding) ahead into Christmas, and while a little of me is still mentally in Paris, I’ve made these Tartes Bordaloues. They are named after the bakery named after the Parisian street named after the Jesuit preacher where they were invented. It’s a simple poached pear and frangipane in a short and sweet, buttery, crisp pastry. Easy to make and impressive looking, it’s as if they’ve come straight from the patisserie. And with a strong, black coffee they make a perfect elevenses. Forget the partridge in the pear tree, just go for the tart rich in pear, see.
For the pate sucrée
200g plain flour
40g icing sugar
1 egg, beaten
For the frangipane
115g ground almonds
115g icing sugar
115g melted butter
1tsp vanilla paste
For the pears
4 small and firm rocha pears or similar. Soft ones will collapse to mush
1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise
800ml water (enough to cover the pears)
Poach the pears in the vanilla, water and sugar until al dente then leave to cool.
Make the pastry by mixing the flour and icing sugar together then stir in the ground almonds.
Add the butter and mix well. Add the beaten egg and bring together to a dough. Lay in between two sheets of baking paper and roll flat. Put in the freezer for 15 minutes or in the fridge for half an hour.
Make the frangipane by beating all the ingredients together until you have a paste, then put into a piping bag. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 180c.
Remove the pears from the syrup and slice.
Line 4 small tart tins with the pastry. (With removable bases)
Pipe in the frangipane then layer the pears into each.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden.
Leave to cool to room temperature and serve.
Glengarry Glen Ross. Christian Slater at the Playhouse Theatre. Excellent, and sweary
Braquo on Netflix, gritty Parisian cops from about six years ago.
Maya’s Christmas carol concert at school. So, so sweet. She was very excited, saying it was “the BEST day ever.”
Johnny Hallyday. French radio playing nothing but his songs. Sounded the same as usual to be honest.
Flatbreads with and Sicilian oregano and harissa slow-roast lamb leg . Piled with houmous, guacamole, olives and chilli oil. Sort of Moroccan tacos.
Lahore Karahi fenugreek chicken as we sat surrounded by our house still in boxes.
I made a sausage, pea and tomato risotto for the children which they hoovered up. As did I while I was dishing it up.
Bratwurst hotter than the sun at Herman ze German on the way to the theatre. Thank God I made it through the whole play.
Fred Vargas’ Quand Sort la recluse. Still enjoying this French thriller.
Viz Christmas issue. Obviously a little levity is good for the soul.