|First sign of spring on a nearby tree!
One roll of all-butter puff pastry
Brown soft demerara sugar 150g
Vanilla extract 1Tbsp
Fully matured pears 5 to 6
Cinnamon 1 Tbsp
Star anis 2 stars finely grounded
Pre-heat the oven to 180°.
Melt the sugar with a little water into a round le Creuset type pan – it must go into the oven AND over the stove. Add half the butter and let it bubble over low heat until it turns a nice deep amber. Turn all along.
Remove from the heat and add the sliced pears – they should fit snugly and fill all the space because they will reduce quite a lot!
Sprinkle with the spices and the vanilla extract. These bring a lovely spiciness to this dish so be generous. Dot with the remaining butter and arrange the round of pastry over them. Tucking the sides in so there is no empty space. Then bake for 45 min.
When ready, pour out carefully the excess juice – there will be a lot!- and catch it into a pan so it can then be returned to the flame to reduce a little bit. Reserve until ready to serve.
Place a plate on top of the tart and flip the dish over so the pears are now facing up!
Serve warm with the reduced toffee sauce and a dollop of yogurt or cream…
This is a really delicious take on the classic tarte Tatin and very suited to the wonderful varieties of pears we are starting to get at this time of year. Enjoy while it lasts!
This was inspired by a recipe card picked up in a supermarket lately. Never let a good idea pass by!
This is for me the ultimate nursery food: a comforting dish, oozing butter and cream with the hidden treasure of a soft, nourishing yolk in the middle!
Choose duck eggs for a change, they are lovely at the moment. This couple of ducks were shot in the Wetland Centre in Barnes: A great place for ducks and birds of all feathers but get your eggs from elsewhere.
Tonight I am using Elizabeth David recipe found in “French country cooking”, first published in 1951. The result was as delicious as I recalled… The traditional recipe includes ham so I added that in for memories sake. For a bigger egg (and more yolk to dip the bread in!), I used large duck eggs. I fantasise one day of using one single goose egg to make one big “oeuf cocotte” in a large soufflé dish, for example. But usually, some Le creuset terracotta ramequins are better suited though and give each guest a lovely individual dish to delve into… Elizabeth David talks of “little fireproof china dishes”, but you can be creative and use any small pot so long as it goes into the oven.
Ingredients list: Quantities for one
1 duck egg per person
1 spoonful of butter
1 spoonful of cream
1 thick slice of cooked ham
Cut a rough circle of ham and put it at the bottom of the dish. Heat the oven to fairly hot and put a blob of butter on top of the ham. Leave the dish in the oven until the butter has melted. Then crack an egg in each dish and cover with a good spoonful of cream. Leave to cook for 5 to 8 min. or until the white is set and the yolk still runny. Do not overcook or the dish is ruined! Simple but crucial.
Serve hot with a pinch of chopped tarragon and some cracked pepper. Some buttered olive bread from Chez Paul tonight made a welcome contribution to help us enjoy the hidden treasure inside the cream. I used to like my oeuf cocotte with plain soldiers but this is a matter of taste. This is regressive, comforting food if there was any – so no rules but family tradition must prevail!