This month’s Classic French challenge is a French fruit tart. Now, in all the times I have visited France I don’t think I have ever been tempted to buy one of those glossy, sweet tarts that seem to adorn every French patisserie window that you pass. I think it is the thought of cold custard that has always put me off. So when Jen of Blue Kitchen Bakes set the challenge I decided to made these delicious strawberry tarts. They were quite easy to make and would make a delicious dessert that would go well with most menus. They were not overly sweet and were very light.
Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla pod lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add them, along with the pod, to the milk in a saucepan. Bring almost to the boil, being careful not to let it burn.
Remove the milk from the heat, strain and set to one side to cool slightly.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light in colour.
Add in the flour and cornflour and mix well.
Slowly pour the warm milk onto the egg mixture, whisking all the time.
Return the mixture back to the pan and bring back to the boil and simmer for one minute, whisking continuously until slightly thicker and smooth.
Remove from the heat and cover with wax paper pressed directly against the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin forming.
Refrigerate until chilled.
To assemble the tarts – fill the pastry cases about ¾ full with pastry cream and decorate the top with whole, fresh strawberries or sliced as I have done.
To glaze the tarts – Heat the strawberry jam until just melted and brush lightly over the strawberries.
When making custard I always use a balloon whisk to stir the mixture whilst it is in the pan. This prevents any lumps forming but remember to not use your best non stick pans if you do this. I don't know how many pans I have ruined this way!
If you think the custard has turned a bit lumpy then pour through a sieve and your problem is solved.
If you want to prepare the tarts well in advance it is probably best to seal the pastry cases before you add the pastry cream. Brush the baked cases lightly with some egg white and then pop back in the oven for 1 minute to seal. This should prevent a soggy bottom.
In the build up to Father’s Day I asked my hubby if he had any preference as to how he would like to spend it. “How about you do the barbecue this week” was the reply. “Uh, ok if that’s really what you want” was my less than enthusiastic response “but what if it rains?” “Ok, then I would like a big juicy steak with mushroom sauce and roasted butternut.” Now that is more like it but I still wanted something a bit more extravagant. “How about a dessert?” I tried. “Nah, no thanks” and that was that. No fun for me in the kitchen on Father’s Day. Well, that is until I saw the theme for The Sunday Baking Club which is Summer Sunshine Week.
Now I don’t think I’ve seen the sun all week but summer to me is fresh strawberries and lashings of cream. I had bought this chocolate transfer sheet from Squires Kitchen a while ago and was desperate to try it out so what more of an excuse does a girl need.
Into the kitchen I went and whipped up a four layer sponge cake but later decided that would just be completely over the top so only used three of the layers.
I then blended some of the less than perfect strawberries together with some icing sugar and a dash of lemon juice to make a lovely, tangy strawberry sauce.
I then whipped up some fresh cream and chopped up some fresh strawberries. I layered all this together and then moved on to the fun part.
I melted some dark chocolate and spread this over the transfer sheet and placed it in the fridge for 10 minutes or so until it set.
I then removed it from the fridge and peeled the transfer sheet off and revealed the most beautiful piece of chocolate with strawberries on it.
I broke this up into shards and placed them round my cake.
I added some whole strawberries on the top and drizzled with some more strawberry sauce and hey presto – a cake full of British Summer goodness.
So for all the special Dads out there but especially for my Dad and my hubby
HAPPY FATHERS DAY
I used the sponge mixture from here but only because I like a dense sponge. Any good Victoria sponge recipe will do.
I’ve spoken before about my love for hot, spicy food and this lamb kofta curry is one of my favourite midweek curries.
The kofta mixture is very versatile – make small meatballs, shallow fry them in oil and serve with chutney or a yoghurt dip as an appetiser, mould them on to skewers and char-grill and serve as a starter or cook them in this curry sauce for a more substantial meal.
I always make this quantity and then freeze any surplus meatballs and sauce separately, ready for a quick homemade meal when I don’t feel like going to too much trouble.
When served with the curry sauce, they are quite spicy but it is easy enough to tone down the chilli if you prefer.
Chocolate and mint is this month’s theme for the We Should Cocoa challenge which is run by Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog and Chele over at Chocolate Teapot and which is being hosted this month by Victoria of A Kick at the Pantry Door. Now I am not a huge fan of mint and rarely cook with fresh mint but hand me a bar of mint chocolate or a box of After Eight mints and I am a happy bunny. I decided to try and add a mint layer to my usual chocolate brownie recipe but to be honest I wasn’t convinced that I would like them, thinking the flavour would be just too strong. How wrong I was – the mint layer is very addictive, subtle and smells so fresh and is lovely together with the rich, fudgy brownie layer and the crisp, dark chocolate layer on top. They are rich and could probably be cut into smaller pieces giving you 18 portions instead of the 9 which I cut but that is up to you.
The one thing to remember when baking brownies is to take them out of the oven when they are still slightly ‘sticky’ in the middle and they are always better the next day.
I was recently sent a little goodie bag of soft, fluffy gourmet marshmallows from an online company called Fluffy Puff Puffs. I’ve only ever had the standard pink and white marshmallows which you find in the supermarket and more recently I attempted to make my own which you can see here.
The company have a good selection of flavours and are continually adding new ones. I was sent Lime Punch, Love Currant, Sugar & Spice and Raspberry. My favourite was definitely the Sugar & Spice which reminded me of eating Snickerdoodles as a child. They are coated in sugar which gives them a nice crunch in contrast to the soft, fluffy mallow. My least favourite was the Lime Punch and I think it had more to do with the colour than the flavour. It is very, very green which to me was just a bit off putting. The Raspberry and the Love Currant were both nicely flavoured. There are no preservatives so the shelf life is quite short – which just means you have to eat them all up quickly. I did look up to see what they use for food colouring and they use the PME food colouring range which is between 85 – 100% natural. PME do however use E133 (Brilliant Blue) in some of the colours which I know can be a problem for some people.
These little puffs of sweetness would make a lovely and unusual gift for someone with a sweet tooth. If you fancy trying Salted Caramel marshmallows (why, why didn’t I get this one??), or marshmallows drizzled with chocolate then pop over to their website to see all the lovely flavours available.
I was sent a free sample and was not paid for this post. All opinions are my own.