Tarts and pastries

Cream tea with a difference.

cooking apples, greengages, plums and blackberries

Early September and an abundance of wild blackberries in the hedgerows and garden fruits dropping from the plum, greengage and apple trees.

 

In an idle moment last week thumbing through my Instagram feed  BBC Good Food’s post, a gorgeous picture of Viennese whirls, caught my attention. These soft buttery biscuits just happen to be my favourite. Not because I particularly love biscuits, in fact I am quite happy to pass them by, but because I have memories of making a very similar mix from a recipe in Katie Stewarts classic cook 1960’s cookbook, ‘Cooking Better All The Time’. I still have my mum’s copy – the one that as a little girl I would spend happy, mouth-watering hours gazing at the beautiful pictures, and often making some of the more simple recipes. The Viennese shortcakes page still bears the sticky marks of little fingers. The recipe was easy for young arms because the high butter content makes for a soft dough that is easy to stir. The suggested piping of the mix could be avoided by simply dolloping it into the cupcake papers in spoonful’s. But the best bit as far as I was concerned ,was scooping out a teaspoon full of the creamy sweet dough so that each cake had an indentation deep enough to hold a teaspoonful of strawberry jam. It wasn’t the jam that was the best bit – it was because as far as I was, and still am concerned, raw cake mix is the best of the best of cooks perks! Continue reading

Artichoke Pithivier

Artichoke, olive and preserved lemon ragout

Artichoke halves cooked gently in a tasty wine and cream reduction with olives and preserved lemons.

Traditionally a Pithivier is a French celebration cake for Twelfth Night.  An elaborately decorated  buttery  puff pastry encases a rich almond frangipani. Served warm with glacé fruits and sweet wine it is my idea of heaven. I have a number of recipes including one for a chocolate almond crème filling which I will share  with you in time for Christmas.

More recently the idea of encasing savoury and vegetable fillings has been  adopted  by restaurant chefs and it is quite commonplace to find such dishes as oxtail or game Pithivier on a menu. Some chefs add delicious insult to injury by encasing creamy gratin dauphinoise in rich butter puff paste!   Continue reading

English Strawberries and Cream three ways

English Strawberries

English Strawberries and cream three ways

Strawberries, the symbol of summer, of sunshine and a carefree spirit.  The quintessential English summer conjures images of elegant ladies in cool attire while men ‘pink’ in blazers; of champagne and laughter,  riverside picnics, and race going . And the mere idea of a bowl of fresh strawberries and cream is enough to evoke an auditory response, ‘bop, bop…..out!..’, of the ball being lobbed over the nets at Wimbledon. 

Strawberries these days are with us virtually all year, flown in from around the world. Some are fragrant and delicious but others disappoint. They need sun to fulfil their promise and personally I am happy to wait until June 1st before buying my first strawberries of the year. Continue reading