My sister-in-law gave us this cookbook about French country cooking for Christmas. We already have many of the recipes in other books but this is a lovely book with mouthwatering recipes and gorgeous photos that make you yearn to get on the next ferry to France.
I was feeling decidedly under the weather this weekend with a dose of the usual lurgy so was struggling to think of what to do for pudding when my dad came round for his dinner as usual on Sunday evening. Somehow I couldn’t build up any enthusiasm for another fruit crumble.
Nick was cooking pot roast brisket of beef for mains, using a recipe from the book, so he flipped through the pages and found a recipe for me to do ~ “look, there’s a recipe using pears here. We’ve got some pears.”
Now I’m not sure that this precisely follows Dom’s rules for his January Random Recipe Challenge, but it will do for me and frankly, I feel too grotty to worry about it at the moment !!
Luckily we had most of the necessary ingredients in the house ~ well kind of. You should make your own sweet pastry for the tart but I used one of those packs of ready-made, ready-rolled pastry that we had bought in France in December and not used so we brought it home with us. I certainly didn’t feel up to making my own pastry.
(Having homes in two countries means that quite a lot of commodities cross the channel with us. Before we go to France we take any unused perishables and useful things like teabags and jars of spices. At then end of each holiday we pack any unused food into our coolbag and bring it back home. Some things cross the channel in both directions more than once, such as an opened jar of jam or marmalade. It certainly means less wasted food and makes for an interesting kitchen cupboard on both sides. I wonder if other second-homers do the same.)
I also happened to have a flan dish the right size. Strictly speaking I should have used a loose-bottomed tart tin so you can turn the finished tart out and admire it’s crisp and gorgeous crust but I don’t have one of those. Mine is a Pyrex flan dish and when I bought one for my little French kitchen was quite expensive from a French supermarket - it always surprises me how expensive cooking equipment is in France. The one we have here came from a local charity shop for £2.
We did have some unsalted butter in the fridge but it was not at room temperature and I couldn’t face trying to do anything about that so I used some spreadable butter instead. It seemed to work perfectly well.
The tart is simplicity itself to make. You simply blind bake the pastry shell, make an easy almond cake mixture and pour it in, arrange some peeled, sliced pears on top and bake.
The recipe in the book gives instructions on how to soften your pears if they are not quite ripe – luckily mine were. It also occurred to me that tinned pears would probably work quite well, too.
It was absolutely delicious. Even though the pastry case was a little too well baked before I added the filling because I forgot it was in the oven. Still, although it was slightly crozzled around the edges, it was still yummy and at least nobody could accuse me of having a soggy bottom. (Well not pastry-wise, anyway!!)
PEAR AND ALMOND TART (my version)
Sweet or plain shortcrust pastry made with 200g flour, or shop-bought pastry.
100g unsalted butter at room temperature
100g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
2 tablespoons plain flour
3-4 ripe pears
Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 190°fan/gas mk 6.
Use your home-made or ready-made pastry to line a greased 27cm loose-bottomed tart tin or flan case. Line the case with baking parchment and fill with baking beans. Blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and return to the oven for 10 more minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly before adding the filling.
Reduce the oven to 190°C/170°fan/gas mk 5.
Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat in. Fold in the almonds and flour. Spread the mixture into your flan tin.
Peel and core the pears. Cut each pear into 8-12 slices, depending on their size, and arrange neatly on top of the almond mixture.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until puffed and golden.
Serve warm, with cream, ice cream or crème fraîche sweetened with a little caster sugar.