Jim is very mischievous, which keeps him young. If the weather is below par on holiday, we head off to the seaside to do some beach crabbing, fishing or collecting shells, rather than sunbathing.
On one visit to the beach, Jim took out a crab from his bucket quietly placed it on Lara’s knee, whilst she was crouching down to catch a fish with her net. As she turned her torso to carefully place the fish into her bucket, she noticed the crab. She leapt up. With her net and bucket flung into the air, she ran squealing for half a mile down the beach! Immediately, everyone turned to Jim, who was quietly giggling to himself, with Ann rolling her eyes in exasperation.
Whether we are in England or France, I always make Tarte Tatin with Crème Anglaise, which is a cheeky way of saying apple pie and custard….
For the Tarte Tatin
1.4kg (3lb) dessert apples, peeled, cored and cut into quarters * 170g (6oz) caster sugar * 225g (8oz) unsalted butter, chilled and diced * 225g (8oz) plain flour * pinch of salt * 1 egg yolk * 2 tsp water
Put 85g (3oz) of butter and the sugar into a deep frying pan with an ovenproof handle. Heat until the butter and sugar have melted together. Arrange the apples tightly, one by one, in the frying pan, making sure there are no gaps. You will be serving the tart the other way up so have them neat on the underside. Cook over a low heat for 35-40 minutes, or until the apples are soft, the caramel lightly browned and any excess liquid has evaporated. Baste the apples with a pastry brush every so often, so that the top is caramelised as well.
Meanwhile, make the pastry: Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, add 140g (5oz) butter and rub in to resemble breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and water, mixing with your hands until it forms a dough. Form a ball, wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes, until the apples are cooked.
Pre-heat the oven to 190oC/375oF/Gas 5. Roll out the pastry, on a lightly floured surface into a circle slightly larger than your frying pan, about 5mm/¼ inch thick. Lay the pastry over the apple and press down around the edge to enclose it completely. Trim the edge of the pastry. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is cooked and golden. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 minutes before turning out. If any apples stick to the pan, just push it back into its hole! Serve with crème anglaise.
For the Crème Anglaise
500ml (1 pint) whole milk * 1 vanilla pod * 3 egg yolks * 3 tbsp caster sugar
Put the milk in a saucepan. Split the vanilla pod in two, scrape out the seeds into the milk and throw in the husks too. (If you don’t want a speckled effect in your crème anglaise, keep the pod whole). Bring to the boil. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy. Strain the milk over the egg mixture, whisking continuously. Pour the custard back into the saucepan and cook, stirring until it reaches a thicker consistency. Do not let it boil or the custard will split. Serve with the tarte tatin.
I have collated all my favourite recipes into one book FOOD FOR ALL OCCASIONS.
There are more recipes in the section THE FRENCH COLLECTION, a selection of authentic French recipes.
Perfect after: click on image