May 23, 2023


I spotted this recipe in a copy of "Ocado life" magazine which my brother passed on.  He came to France for a two week holiday, bringing the magazine with him, thinking I might like it.  I did!

At the time of writing you can see the original recipe here.

Jerusalem artichokes are still available here in our part of France.  I don't know if that's normal or not as until my recent adventures with Palestine soup (see here) I have never really taken much notice of them.  A friend who lives here in France gave us some roots from her artichoke plants which we have planted and are doing really well so I look forward to harvesting our own artichokes later in the year.

The only snag with the original recipe is that it uses blue cheese, of which Nick is not a fan, although I am.  

I'm particularly fond of the blue sheep's cheese paste that you can get here and always buy myself a pot of it.  It has a strong flavour and is delicious spread thinly on crackers or "crostini" - those dry mini toasts that come in packets and are very handy for nibbles served with apéros.  Add a blob of soft cheese and a piece of walnut on top of the blue spread and they are yummy!

I digress........  We were having dinner guests and I was not sure about their cheese preferences either so I decided to make the tart in two halves.  One half blue cheese and the other goat's cheese.  I was planning to serve small slices of the tart with salad as a starter.

The recipe included 15g hazelnuts which I didn't have so I used a handful of walnuts instead.  (It's interesting that the Palestine soup recipe also included hazelnuts so maybe it's a traditional pairing, like chicken and tarragon, or beef and mustard.)  The walnuts gave the filling a nice crunch and added to the very earthy, rustic flavour and appearance of it.  

The method also said to drape the pastry over the edge of the tart tin and leave untrimmed until after baking.  I have had mixed success with this in the past, trimming the baked tart sometimes resulting in the loss of chunks of the edge and making it look rather untidy.  The alternative is to trim before baking which often results in the tart case shrinking.  It's a toss up as to which is best IMHO but on this occasion trimming later rather than sooner resulted in a perfect finish.  Take your pick!

It was a success, although somewhat more faffy than I would normally go for, hence the two stars rating.  The preference was 50/50 for the blue or goat side of the tart and there was plenty left to enjoy the next day.  We had ours with some rocket dressed with home made French dressing.  Delicious!


a pack of ready made, ready rolled shortcrust pastry (or make your own)

approx 350g Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed

2 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped

1-2 tblsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

1 onion, peeled and sliced

approx 200g chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

a small handful of shelled walnuts, roughly chopped

75g of blue cheese (or goat's cheese, or a mixture, or any cheese you like)

3 eggs

150 ml double cream

150 ml semi skimmed milk


Preheat the oven to 200° C / 180° fan / gas mk 6.  Grease a 20cm loose bottomed tart tin.

Chop the scrubbed artichokes and put them into a roasting tin, add the thyme leaves and drizzle with the olive oil.  Roast for 30 minutes, turning once.

Add the onions, garlic and walnuts, mix together and roast for a further 20 minutes, turning once.

Line the tart tin with the pastry, allowing the excess to drape over the sides.  Place the tin on a baking sheet (I find this makes getting the tin into and out of the oven easier).  Prick the base, line with baking paper, fill with baking beans and bake for 20 minutes.  You can do this while the veg are still roasting but watch your timings!

Take the pastry case from the oven, remove the beans and paper and bake for a further 5 minutes to result in a nice, crisp and golden base.

Meanwhile, make the custard filling by putting the eggs, cream and milk into a jug and whisk together.  Season with salt and pepper.

Tip the roasted veg into the baked tart case, crumble the blue cheese on top (or arrange the slices if using goat's cheese) pour over the liquid filling and return to the oven for 20 minutes or until set.  Don't over bake as a slight wobble in the middle is just right.

Allow to cool slightly before trimming the pastry edge.  Serve warm.

Makes 4-6 servings a main course, 6-8 as a starter.

May 14, 2023


I'd been hankering after making these for a while.  There’s no logical reason for this other than that I spotted the recipe in my favourite copy of the Be-Ro book and realised I hadn’t made them since I was at school.  My mum used to make them occasionally and they were a real treat.
In planning our Coronation tea party (in France) I thought something old fashioned would be a nice addition to the festive fare.

In the book they are iced with a blob of water icing and decorated with a sliver of glacé cherry but I completely forgot about this step until I had run out of time!  Also, the next time I make them I would use more than a scant teaspoon of filling for each one.  They are obviously not as likely to boil over as a jam tart.

I used two new patty tins, recently purchased from a posh cookware shop in Bakewell.  This was rather a rash purchase but I liked that they felt solid and that the holes had rounded not flat bottoms.  I still have my mum’s old mince pie tins where the holes are fluted and patterned with round bottoms but they are very tatty now and require a lot of greasing.  I abandoned using them years ago in favour of some cheap non stick ones.  

I have to say that the new tins were a dream to use, the tarts slipping out effortlessly.  A worthwhile investment that should last for years.  Or, as my mum would say, "should see me out"!

The tarts were a doddle to make (especially as I used ready made, ready rolled pastry) and delicious.  The flavour took me back instantly to my school days in the 1950s when there might be one or two left in the cake tin from Mum's weekend baking.  A sneaky little bun when I got home from school to put me on until tea time.

Interestingly, the recipe is no longer in the latest edition of the Be-Ro book.  Maybe they are deemed to be a little too old fashioned for modern tastes but all those guests that had never seen them before loved them.  They are quite unique.  


A pack of ready made pastry or make your own using 175g (6oz) flour

25g butter

100g currants

100g demerara sugar

1 egg

A few drops of vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 200°C/180° fan/gas mk 6.  Grease the holes of two patty tins.

Cut the pastry into circles using a 3” cutter and line the tins.  You should get about 18 tarts from the pastry by re-rolling.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan.  Remove from the heat and mix in the other ingredients.  Put a generous teaspoonful into each pastry case.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is lightly golden and crisp.

When cold, decorate each tart with a blob of water icing and a sliver of glacé cherry if you like.

Makes about 18 tarts.

May 2, 2023


Over the last six months I have only made two cakes.  This is the second and I made it for the meeting of a walking group we have joined in France.  After each weekly walk most walkers retire to the bar for refreshments, some bringing a cake to share. Traybakes are ideal for large groups.

This is a Mary Berry recipe and although it tasted good I was disappointed that all of the fruit sank into a layer at the bottom.  

The recipe is an easy all-in-one mixture with two tablespoons of milk.  I thought as I was turning the mixture into the tin that it was a bit runny which is probably why the fruit sank.  I would use less milk and make it stiffer next time.

The recipe also requires you to sprinkle demerara sugar over the cake part way through cooking.  Opening the oven door before the cake was set is what produced the uneven top I think so next time I would drizzle some orange flavoured icing over the finished cake instead.

Still, it went down well with the crowd.  It was soft and light and I would make it again.  A crowd pleaser, easy to make and easy to eat.


For the cake

225g butter, softened, or baking spread

225g caster sugar

275g self raising flour

2 level teaspoons baking powder

4 large eggs

2 tablespoons milk*

275g sultanas

grated rind of 2 oranges

For the topping

demerara sugar, to sprinkle* (about 2 tablespoons)


Preheat the oven to 180C / 160 fan / gas mk 4.

Grease or butter a large oblong roasting tin or traybake tin measuring roughly 30 x 23cm  (12" x 9").  Line the bottom of the tin with greaseproof paper or baking parchment.

Measure all the cake ingredients into a large bowl and beat until well blended.  A food mixer or hand held electric whisk will make quick work of this but a wooden spoon will do just as well.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top.

Bake for 25 minutes then remove from the oven, sprinkle the demerara sugar over the top.  Return to the oven and bake for a further 10-15 minutes until done.

Cool in the tin.

Remove carefully from the tin and cut into 20-24 squares.

*See the text for my notes on the milk and demerara sugar.