Tag Archives: fruit

Tarte fine à l’ Abricot corse et Au Miel du maquis


Palombaggia beach in Corsica

A crispy, crusty tart, scented with honey infused in the Corsican “maquis”: colorful above all else. I love anything orange; the colour of the sun, the stones and the heat itself. An earthy and grounded colour: “la terre est bleue comme une orange”, says the poet.
Ingredients list:
  • All butter puff pastry
  • 6 to 8 apricots
  • Semolina 2tbsp
  • Honey 4 tbsp
  • Pine nuts, a handful
Preheat the oven to 180.
Roll the pastry to a thin crust. Lay the pastry onto a flat oven tray and make a square shape, taking time to just roll the edge and seal them with a fork.
Shake the semolina all over the surface. This will absorb the excess juices – sometime you won’t need any, sometime more; depending on the fruit!
Cut up the apricots in quarters and place them skin down onto the pastry.
Drizzle your honey on top of the fruit and decorate with pine nuts.
Put in the oven for a good 45 minutes until crispy and make sure the heat is stronger at the bottom of the oven so the pastry dries and gives a dry puff crunch under the bite.
This very simple tart, like all very simple dishes,  deserves the very best ingredients : tasty, supple apricots and the best honey.  Something a bit wild and resinous like a mountain honey… A bit of holiday magic then gets conjured up in your plate.
A beach fringed with water so clear you could keep your eyes open to observe the fish was the setting of a delicious cousins picnic. No photo of the tart as it was eaten too fast but here are more pine scented and sea sprayed photos…

A precious sand-lily still in bloom after the bake-off…


Gooseberry cobbler and its wild Blackberry version

A cobbler is a rough tart with pastry folded over the edges and it is an ideal summer tart because it needs no tin or special pan, just a flat sheet of grease-proof paper. It is eaten warm with whipped cream, as soon as it comes out of the oven. You can use any seasonal berries to make the filling, or use a mix of them.

I came back to England with a terrible craving for gooseberries and blackberries. Their season is ridiculously short and it is now! So here is a quick and easy way to enjoy your pickings. I gathered my blackberries by the river yesterday with my eldest son, got stung by nettles and ate lots but I made these when we got back.

Gooseberry cobbler

Ingredients list

The video link above will lead you to a video (en Français) for the most delicious and idiot-proof pastry – it is on Marmiton.org.

Once you have made the pastry, leave it to rest a few hours in the fridge.

Prepare and wash the fruit.

Roll out the pastry into a loosely round shape directly onto your baking sheet or onto a Silpat sheet.

Brush with the egg yolk then sprinkle the semolina all over. This will absorb the juice without soaking the pastry which you want crunchy and crumbly.

Pile the fruit in the middle in a pyramid shape whilst sprinkling the sugar at various stages. Now fold the edges over, delicately with the flat end of a knife. Brush these with the rest of the yolk or some milk.

Put in a hot oven for 35 min or until the pastry turns brown.

Serve hot as soon as ready.

Blackberry version

Healthy bites for lunch box – raw and vegan!

  1. WE ARE WHAT WE EAT and that is why it is so important to only put the very best fuel into our bodies.
  2. Over two thirds of our plate (or our daily intake) should come exclusively from plant based food. Namely fruit, veg, carbohydrates and staple food like rice, grains, flours.
  3. We only need sugar in very small quantities and we should avoid added sugar in food such as sauces, bread, bought biscuits.

This is in three points the essence of the message I try to pass onto my children and family. They mostly take it in,  sometimes ignore it and rarely but otherwise expectedly rebel against it! So it was with glee on my part and relief on theirs that I recently was able to drill a slightly larger audience of fresh, open and eager minds!

Last wednesday, for the last session of the Healthy Cooking Club, I had a lot of fun designing a menu along those lines and as I was looking at including a sweet/pudding, I came across these fruit and nut balls. They are not only deliciously healthy but also very easy to make and gratifying for the children to roll . They can easily fit into a lunch box or can be used as snack on the go. They can be customised with an endless variety of dry fruit, nuts and even fresh fruits or seeds but here is the mix that I used for the photo:

Raw fruit balls

Ingredient list:

  • raisin, 1 cup
  • rolled oats, 1 cup
  • pecan nuts, 1/2 cup
  • ground almond, 1/2 cup
  • handful of pine nuts
  • dates, 1 cup
  • grated zest of one lime
  • Prune juice, 50 ml to bind
Process to a pulp, adding the juice along so that it helps binding the mix but do keep it touch dry. It must not get too sticky in your hands or rolling will not be such fun…
Now prepare three bowls : Fill one with raw unsweetened cacao, one with cinnamon and Allspice mixed with a little rice flour or cornflour and lastly one more with grated coconut.
Give latex gloves to the kids or oil your hands and take a marble size chunck of the mixture. Roll it lightly then dip into the covering you choose and roll into a ball. Remember your playdoh days! Modelling is so therapeutic it should be compulsory until A level… Dress on a pretty plate and enjoy – or reserve in clingfilm in the fridge.

For a real teatime treat, you could make yourself this amazing drink I discovered at TOMBO, japanese bistrot in South kensington: A frothy Macha latte with soya.
Recipe to come next!

Simnel cake- An Easter baking lesson

A Simnel cake is a traditional fruit cake baked without raising agent and decorated with marzipan, that is served for Easter around England. I had never had one- let alone baked one- but the prospect sounded good enough to try.

Ingredients list:

  • 175g butter
  • 175g caster sugar
  •   3 eggs
  • 225g plain flour
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 100g dates (chopped)
  • 425g mixed dried fruit (with or without peel)
  •  finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 450g marzipan

What to do:

Grease and line a 7″/18cm round cake tin. Cream butter and sugar until pale, beat in the eggs. Add the flour, cinnamon and lemon zest and fold in. Add the fruits and fold in, until the ingredients are well combined. Spoon half of the mixture into the cake tin.

Roll out half of the marzipan into a circle just smaller than the diameter of the cake tin (about 6.5″/17cm). Put this marzipan on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the rest of the mixture on top, and level the surface.

Bake at 150C for about 2.5 hours, until brown and firm to the touch. Cool in the tin and then turn out. Roll out the rest of the marzipan a cut out another circle, just bigger than the diameter of the cake. Spread a little warmed apricot jam over the top of the cake and stick the circle of marzipan on top.

My cake for Easter 2015

My cake for Easter 2015

Using the marzipan trimmings, make 11 small balls. Stick these on around the edge of the marzipan, using a dab of warmed apricot jam as ‘glue’.  Just before serving add chocolate eggs and Easter chicks on the top of the cake!

We made a Simnel cake during a session of the Healthy Cooking Club last week and it was decorated and instantly devoured by the crew! Here they are – with me in the chef hat!

Mini Christmas cakes for well-wishing

On Christmas morning at 11am, A. and I went to Westminster Abbey for the magical “Crib service” in the royal cathedral- because prayers and Carols are as essential to my Christmas as mince-pies and foie gras ! 
Halfway through the nave, a life-size nativity scene awaited us, on a bed of straw, next to two beautifully lit trees… and lots of small children joined in the nicest and best loved carols. It was a very moving, secluded and intimate service – but you are also in for a treat if you have booked seats for the 4pm candlelit Christmas service of today.
There were only a few people with us, all gathered around the Crib and with the 30 metres of the nave above us, figuring the infinite sky beyond the barn. We talked of shepherds coming to worship the babe and of their gifts of lamb. I thought of giving when you have nothing to give and of the generosity of strangers that is at the core of Christmas lore. Back home, I wrapped presents with renewed energy ! Giving love… Wrapping love.
Tis’ the season of presents and goodwill and cakes make lovely little gifts. I found this recipe on the net, by Rachel Allen and changed only a little- I am notoriously bad at following recipes…
Last minute Christmas cakes: They don’t keep for long either!
Ingredients list:
  • sultanas 225 g
  •  currants 225 g
  • mixed candied peel 110 g , chopped
  • Dates 75 g , stoned and chopped
  • crystallised  ginger 25 g , finely chopped
  • Butter 250 g , softened
  • light brown sugar 250 g
  • Eggs 5
  • Orange zest1 tsp , finely grated
  • Ground almonds 50 g
  • plain flour 275 g
  • All spice 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon 1 tsp ground
  • Nutmeg 1 tsp, freshly grated
  • Rum or brandy, 125ml

Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.

Add the eggs one by one, alternating with spoonfuls of sieved flour.

Add the fruit and ground almonds; continue adding the spices and zest and mix well. Flavour with rum or brandy.

Put in a warm oven at 170º for 1 hour  for a big one or just 30min for the mini versions. Much better if you are short of time than the 3 or 4 hours that Christmas baking usually entails!

Eat the next day with a cup of tea or if you want to make little new year’s gifts of them, feel free to cover with a sheet of marzipan and a duvet of icing  and then decorate according to your fantasy. Wrapped up with a simple ribbon, they make delicious home-grown presents. We hosted some Christmas drinks last week and I gave one with a card to each of my leaving guest. If you are feeling like sharing more, they can go in a hamper with some jam!

Merry Christmas Joyeux Noel Feliz Navidad