September 28, 2021

APRICOT PIE - things to do with apricots part one and my own tarte tatin moment.

One of the things we love so much about France is the availability of fruit and veg that sometimes have a fairly short lived supply in the UK.  In the French markets and supermarkets during August there are often mountains of apricots for sale.  Usually loose, sometimes prepacked in punnets and often in large trays.  They are hard to resist.  Then when I get them home I have to think what to do with them.

With guests coming for dinner I decided to make an adaptation of one of my recent favourite desserts to a Mary Berry recipe.  Part way through I had a senior moment.

I used the recipe for an apple brioche pudding which I have made before.   It's one of those recipes that is very adaptable and always turns out well.  If you make it right it has a distinct "patisserie" look to it. 

The basic idea is that you line the dish with sliced brioche which forms a nice base for the tart.  Then you spread a frangipane mixture on top and arrange the fruit over it.  After baking you glaze it with an apricot jam glaze.

I realised something was not quite right as I shut the oven door.  Looking at the pie through the glass I muttered "you stupid woman"  in the fashion of René in Allo, Allo (a favourite expression in my kitchen these days) as it dawned on me what I had done wrong.  I clearly had not been concentrating as I carefully arranged the fruit on the brioche base and spread the frangipane mixture on top instead of the other way round!

Still, it looked good when I took it out of the oven so I shrugged, glazed it with the apricot jam as usual and scattered a few bits of crushed sugar on top for a bit of glamour.  As I brushed the warmed jam over the top I couldn't help thinking of the other famous culinary mistake of the Loire Valley, the Tarte Tatin.  The story goes.........well, you can read about it here.

It was still delicious!

The last four slices came in handy the next day when we were invited to an impromptu alfresco lunch at the house of some other friends - another of the things I love about our life in France.  (Impromptu alfresco lunches are an uncommon event in the UK!)  They had phoned to say the weather was perfect for lunch outdoors (which it frankly hadn't been for some time)  and they had made a quiche but hadn't got a dessert.  So I took the last of my pie. 

If you would like to make it, see my blog post here and simply put the frangipane mixture on top of the fruit, not underneath !!

Cuts into 8-10 generous slices.

September 18, 2021

YELLOW SOUP, with a vibe of cauliflower cheese (soup maker recipe)

We are now in our last few days of our three month stay in France.

We have had a wonderful time.  It's been hard work getting the house and garden back in order after such a long time away - ten months.  The weather has also been very mixed, in fact rather more English than French at times, cool and showery.  

A mists and mellow fruitfulness kind of morning on the day of my birthday party.
You can read about it here.

However, come September we had a return to warmer weather and the month turned into the very reason why it is my favourite time to be in France in the whole year.  Warm days, misty mornings and cool nights, just perfect.

As always, eating out was often unplanned.  That last minute invitation to lunch with friends or the temptation of the menu du jour on a shopping trip.  The result of which is a fridge full of uneaten food and need to be inventive when using it up instead of throwing it away.  

Enter stage left the £4 cauliflower*.  I kid you not!  Fruit and veg seem to be so much more expensive in France than in the UK now and sometimes I balk at the prices but when you're sick of carrots, who can resist a big, fresh cauli?  Hence it would have been criminal to throw any of it away and with half of it looking slightly less fresh in the fridge - time to bring out the soup maker!

I have got into the habit of writing down the ingredients I used each time I make soup so that I can make it exactly the same again if it turns out really well.  Which this one did - and it was bright yellow!

The Emmental cheese was ready grated and from one of those ubiquitous and much maligned bags found in every French supermarket.  We love it and like horses for courses it's perfect for certain things, one of them being this soup.  I stirred it in at the end of cooking and as it didn't melt completely there were flecks of the cheese in the soup - an added bonus, IMHO.

* By the way, one week later we bought another cauliflower of a similar size from the same supermarket for 1.89€ !!  (About £1.60, much more sensible!)


half a cauliflower
2 - 3 medium carrots
1 onion
1 large potato
1 vegetable stock pot
1 tblsp olive oil flavoured with rosemary
1 splash of Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
2 heaped tablespoons grated Emmental cheese


Prepare all the veg by washing / cleaning, peeling as appropriate and cutting into chunks.  Prepare enough to fill the machine to the lower line.

Add water to the upper line, then the oil and seasoning and cook on smooth.

Stir in the cheese as soon as the soup is cooked.

Makes four generous portions.

September 3, 2021

GREEN SOUP (soup maker recipe)


On one of my first shopping expeditions after arriving in France I spotted a soup maker at a bargain price in a shop called Zodio.  It was 32€ so around £28.  I was so chuffed with it that I used it straight away and then offered to get another one for my friend.  The second one I got was reduced even further in price to 26€, so around £23 and even more of a bargain!  No wonder that even in the middle of July there were only three left on the shelf!

It's more or less the same as my Morphy Richards model which I have in my UK kitchen, but without the time display on the control panel.  It did however come with a handy jug!

The weather has been fairly English since we arrived in France, often quite cool, so the soup maker has come into its own several times.  It's also a handy way to use up the inevitable random selection of unused veg.  

One of the things I like about both my soup makers is that the end result is often a bit of a surprise and on this occasion the soup turned out to be a vibrant green colour.  I have no idea why as there were no peas or green veg in it at all!  It was, as usual, delicious!


4 medium carrots

1 onion

1 small leek

1 chunk celeriac

5 mushrooms

2 medium potatoes

one third of an orange pepper

1 veg stock pot

1 tblsp garlic flavoured oil

1 splash Worcestershire sauce

salt and pepper


Wash, peel and prepare the veg and cut into medium chunks.  Use enough to fill the machine to the lower line.  

Add the other ingredients and enough water to fill to the upper line and set to smooth.

I hadn't any bread in the house so served mine with garlic flavoured croutons.

Makes 4 good portions.

September 1, 2021

THE Be-Ro BOOK and their dates of publication.

The 40th and 38th editions.

I have a small collection of old Be-Ro books including the one I bought for myself in the 1970's and a couple of very early editions of my mum's and grandma's.  I updated my collection by buying the 40th edition a few years ago in a supermarket where they were sold with the flour.  Copies of the current edition (41st) can be purchased directly from Be-Ro via their website.  To do that click here.

I naively thought at one time that it might be fun to collect every one ever published but have noticed that they can now fetch a hefty price on Ebay.  Consequently I don't think my collection will grow much more, unless I stumble across one or two in a charity shop somewhere.  That's now less likely as charities are more wise to the value of things than they used to be owing to their volunteers being more internet savvy!

The 21st and 26th editions.

Be-Ro books were first published in 1923, a century ago, and are an interesting insight into social history.  Looking at the earlier editions they were clearly written for the stay-at-home wife and her daughters, right up to those published in the 1970's.  Since then they have become less housewifely.  Over the decades well loved recipes have gradually been changed and new ones added to meet modern tastes and appetites as well as fashions in food.

The older editions can be difficult to date as they don't show the date of publication in them.  Many of the early ones don't have an index either.  As the Be-Ro book was originally published as a helpful booklet to go with the bags of flour that's not surprising.  

Recently I decided to try to find out when one of my mum's favourite recipes, the one for rich coconut tartlets, first appeared in a Be-Ro book - the only recipe book she ever used.  I wrote about the tartlets here and then set about finding how far back they first appeared in a Be-Ro book.

I have a copy of the 17th edition where they don't appear and the 21st edition where they do (I don't have any of the editions in between) but typically neither copy has the date of publication.  So I wrote to Be-Ro to ask them.  To my absolute amazement I had a quick reply from Be-Ro with a full list!  So, it was as simple as that, all I had to do was ask!  

It seems my mum's favourite recipe first appeared somewhere between 1954 and 1958, which does make sense.  Being married in 1950 it seems logical that she would have first made them some time between those dates.

The 17th and 32nd editions.

Here is the list of publication dates as given to me by Be-Ro:

1st 1923
2nd 1924
3rd 1925
4th 1926
5th 1926
6th 1928
7th 1929
8th 1930
9th 1931
10th 1932
11th 1933
12th 1947
13th 1948
14th 1949
15th 1951
16th 1953
17th 1954
18th 1955
19th 1956
20th 1957
21st 1958
22nd 1959
23rd  1960
24th  1961
25th 1962
26th 1963
27th TBC
28th TBC
29th TBC
30th TBC
31st 1967
32nd 1967
33rd 1972
34th 1975
35th 1978
36th 1980
37th 1982
38th 1988
39th 1992
40th 1999
41st & Current Edition 2009