Prune and walnut frangipane tart

Prunes and walnuts are classic ingredients from the Southwest of France and this tart uses both to great effect in a rich and sumptuous dessert, which I made on Christmas Eve to have on Christmas Day. Continue reading

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Quiche Lorraine

The very first thing that must be said about a proper quiche Lorraine is that it does not contain cheese. If it has cheese in it, it is still a quiche, but not one from Lorraine. Continue reading

Tarte aux poireaux

Or, in English, leek tart.

This is one of those classic French open tarts, that we often call a quiche in the UK nowadays, but in France these are generally called tartes.

It is a simple thing to make.

Line a buttered pastry ring with a removeable base with short pastry, prick the bottom with a fork and blind bake until the pastry has firmed up and taken some colour.

It is worth it if you don’t trim the pastry before the initial blind bake, because of shrinkage. Once the pastry case has cooked down, you can trim the edges with a sharp knife.

Make the filling as follows;

Beat two eggs and two egg yolks into a bowl with half cream or crème fraiche and half milk, salt and pepper. I tend to judge the quantities by eye, because it is tricky to know exactly how much you will need.

Sauté three finely sliced leeks in butter with a little oil until they are softened but not browned. You want to avoid them taking on too much colour, because this makes them go bitter.

Spread the leeks evenly over the base of the pastry and sprinkle with a good handful of grated Emmenthal or similar cheese; Gruyère or Comté would be equally good.

Then carefully pour in the eggy custard mixture until it fills the case to the edges.

Bake on the middle shelf of an oven at 170C until the custard is set and golden on top.

When it is cool, it should be easy to remove from the pastry ring.

Frangipane tart

This is a kind of Bakewell tart, but isn’t exactly the same.

Frangipane is made from ground almonds as follows;

225g ground almonds
150g golden caster sugar
200g softened unsalted butter
100g plain flour
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Whole almonds

You will need a 10 inch pie dish that is about an inch and a half deep, one with a removable base is useful. Grease it with some butter.

Cream the butter, almonds and sugar together, then add in the eggs one at a time and beat until smooth. Add in the vanilla extract and the flour.

Make a shortcrust pastry shell and spread some jam on the bottom and then fill the shell with the frangipane and decorate the top with whole almonds.

Bake at 180C/Gas Mark 6 for 15 minutes and then lower the heat to 160C/Gas Mark 5 and continue baking for 35-40 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Serve with cream, ice cream or custard.

I think you can see from the picture that I should have left the tart in the oven for a bit longer, because the inside is very soft and squidgy. For a more finished and professional look, the filling needs to be more set and cake-like in texture. However, it tastes fine like this and I think that it comes down to personal taste really.

Chicken pie and mash

This was made with the leftover chicken from Sunday night, with some sliced mushrooms, lightly sautéed in butter and mixed with some plain flour, which I made into a white sauce with the addition of some milk.

The pastry was a standard shortcrust, made with a mixture of lard and butter, not the easiest to roll out, but nice and crumbly when cooked. The top of the pie was egg washed.

Plain mash and some French tinned macédoine de légumes completed what was a nice midweek evening meal for a cold night.