Easy French recipes to accompany the book, Mad About Macarons. Includes a database of egg yolk recipes and many more gluten-free dishes or cakes and treats.

Chocolate and Chestnut Pudding for the Holiday Season

You can tell that chocolate has been quite prominent in our diets these last couple of weeks.  How could I talk about the 20th Salon du Chocolat in Paris without having some kind of a chocolate treat for you?  I also need to write up about the Paris Gourmet Chocolate Museum from the mid-term school holidays but right now, work on the new book is hotting up and I need to focus.  I’m off to pick up, Eleanor, the Editor at the airport and we have a busy few days ahead of us…

best quick holiday chocolate desserts presented with macarons

Blustery showers, soggy leaves and chilly fingers calls for warming chocolate, doesn’t it?  Let’s face it, dark chocolate is good for you, a mood enhancer and cooked together with egg yolks filled with iron, we need a good dose to stay healthy during the winter months.

And, with the simplest presentation in little cups, it’s the easiest of desserts to whip up at the last minute for the holiday season with friends and family.  It’s also perfect served with macarons.  Either made earlier and still in the fridge or from your freezer bank!

chocolate pudding egg yolk recipe with festive macarons

Chocolate and Chestnut Pudding

Recipe of Budino di Cioccolato adapted from Nigella Express Cookbook by Nigella Lawson.

350ml full-fat milk
50g caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour/cornstarch
35g cocoa powder
2 tbsps boiling water
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g candied chestnut purée (Clément Faugier)
60g dark chocolate (min 70% cocoa solids), finely chopped

1. Put the kettle on, and warm the milk/cream together in a saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave.

2. Put the sugar and cornflour into another saucepan and sieve in the cocoa powder.  Add the 2 tbsps of boiling water and whisk to a paste.

3. Whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time, followed by the warmed milk and cream, then the vanilla extract.

4. Scrape down the sides of the pan and put it on lowish heat, cooking and whisking for about 3-4 minutes until the mixture thickens to a mayonnaise-like consistency.

5. Take off the heat and whisk in the finely chopped chocolate and candied chestnut purée, before pouring into 4 small cups or glasses, each with a capacity of about 150ml.

6. Cover the tops of the cups or glasses with cling film, letting the cling-film rest on the chocolate surface, to stop a skin forming, and refrigerate once they are cooler.

Serve at room temperature, adding a blob of cream or top.  I topped it with a marron glacé, a sprinkling of freshly grated nutmeg and cinnamon and served with chocolate macarons.

easy chocolate pudding dessert recipe for the holiday season with macarons

Don’t forget there are many more egg yolk recipes on le blog for all you macaron-making lovers.

Store your egg whites in a jam jar with a closed lid and keep in the fridge for 4-5 days – then you’re ready to make Parisian macarons!

Pumpkin Spice Macarons & Roasted Red Kuri Squash Filling

Ouf! It’s so good to be back on le blog.  I’ve missed you.

These past few months have been quite challenging. Juggling the stress of house renovations, a new bricolage world of riveting French DIY vocabulary has blossomed and I’ve even dabbled in some interior design; the other day I realised it has left its mark when I found myself glancing at the paint and tile colours in a few Parisian pâtisseries. But that’s not why I’m here.

The most exciting project has been preparing the new book: writing, recipe testing and taking hundreds of photos … all around teatime (hint, hint). I can’t wait to share its progress with you very soon but as it’s now going through edits and design with Waverley Books, I finally have an excuse to take a tea break and make some pumpkin macarons – perfect for Autumn!

Pumpkin spice Parisian macarons

I’ve never really understood why the French don’t seem to be that much into pumpkin. Last week at the market in Saint Germain-en-Laye, I even had a lovely French seller – complete with chic body warmer, hair tied back with scarf – ask me (yes, I kept pinching myself it was unreal) how to cook mini pumpkins (Jack-be-littles) rather than show them off as decorative items for Autumn.

For a start, for sweet recipes, there isn’t any pumpkin purée in the shops, an ingredient that appears to be familiar with most of my blogger friends at this time of year.  When I looked up some macaron recipes, there wasn’t even any pumpkin in them – instead simply ‘pumpkin pie spice’, another ingredient that’s difficult to find here.  So there was only one thing for it: to make my own pumpkin purée and find a quick spicy alternative.

potimarron or red kuru squash spiced macarons

I set out to grab a giant quarter slice of pumpkin, as they’re normally sold here. With Hallowe’en gradually becoming more popular here with youngsters, giant Jack-o’-lanterns are also more available than before, ready to carve for this Friday’s spooky date.  This year, pumpkins seem to be overshadowed by the smaller potimarron, The Autumn foodie fashion item in the French supermarkets and at our local farmers’ markets just outside Paris.  They’re everywhere!

What’s Potimarron in English? Apparently it’s Red Kuri, Japanese Squash or Orange Hokkaido.  It’s darker than pumpkin without the ridges and has a more intense, even chestnut-like texture and flavour (as the French name implies: marron, meaning chestnut).  What I love about it is, unlike pumpkin, you can even eat the skin!

pumpkin spiced Japanese squash macarons

I remembered a post by David Lebovitz about how to roast potimarron or red kuri squash: he dribbled olive oil over the slices, added herbs and roasted in the oven for 20-30 minutes at 200°C.  I tried this method using potimarron in my favourite pumpkin, leek and ginger soup and it really is delicious.

Inspiration knocked for this macaron when David mentioned that the Red Kuri squash slices could also be roasted with brown sugar and cinnamon.  Yum! Instead I used pain d’épices or gingerbread spice, perhaps the French’s closest quick answer to pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger & all-spice powder).  And in case some of you have hands up in horror, wondering why there are no Hallowe’en decorations on these macarons – I’m ridiculously scared of spiders and anything in the least bit squirmish; perhaps I grew up with too many Scottish ghost stories!

roasted red kuri or Japanese squash

Roast me in the oven for nearly 30 mins, covered in brown sugar, pumpkin spice and top with foil

One word about using fruit purées for macaron fillings: it can make macarons become rather soggy.  One tip is to add ground almonds (almond flour) to soak up the juices which I’ve done here.  The good news with this recipe is that for impatient macaronivores, you can eat this macaron after only 6 hours in the fridge and finish them the next day.  Any longer and they will turn slightly soggy – but the taste is divine and full of healthy, spicy squash! I wouldn’t recommend keeping them any longer than 2 days or even freezing them as you would for all the macaron recipes in my book.  If you prefer to keep them longer like in the book, use equal quantities of purée, melted white chocolate and whipping cream.

Colouring the meringue for making pumpkin macaron shells

Instructions on how to make the macaron shells are given step-by-step in  Mad About Macarons!  Just add a dash of powdered colouring (I use a pinch of red and yellow) and a teaspoon of pumpkin spice or pain d’épices to the meringue.

pumpkin spice macaron filling with red kuri squash

Top me off with a macaron shell and I’m yours!

 

Roasted Red Kuri with Pumpkin Spice Macaron Filling

This recipe is ideal for serving later in the day.  Just chill in the fridge for 6 hours.  Best eaten within a couple of days.

The basic French recipe for macaron shells are well explained in Mad About Macarons! using 150g egg whites for about 40 macarons.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: max 35 minutes
Chilling time: min 1 hour

For roasting:

1/2 red kuri squash or Potimarron
2 tbsps brown sugar
3 tsps pumpkin spice or pain d’épices

Cream:

2g sheet of gelatine
2 egg yolks
50g brown sugar
50g whipping cream
100g roasted red kuri purée (half of one red kuri)
2 tsps pumpkin spice or pain d’épices
2 tbsps ground almonds (almond flour)
100g chilled mascarpone

1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan.  Cut the kuri squash in 2 and, using only half of it, scoop out the seeds.  Cut into slices and place on a non-stick baking sheet, sprinkling with the brown sugar and spice.  Cover with aluminium foil and roast in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of the slices.  When ready, set aside to cool then purée using a mixer or by hand with a masher.  Weigh out 100g of purée.

2.  For the cream, soak the gelatine in cold water for about 15 minutes.  In a bowl, hand-whisk the yolks and sugar until creamy.  Heat the cream in a saucepan until nearly boiling, then whisk into the yolk mixture then transfer back to the pan over a medium heat, whisking constantly until the sauce thickens (rather like a pastry cream).

3.  Take off the heat, add the gelatine (squeeze of excess water) to the warm cream, whisking until melted then add the purée, ground almonds and spice.  Set aside to cool then chill for about an hour.

4.  Hand-whisk in the mascarpone then transfer the cream to a piping bag with a 1cm plain tip.  Pipe onto half of the shells then assemble with the remaining macaron shell tops and chill in the fridge.

mad about pumpkin spice macarons potimarron red kuri squash

Are you planning to make spooky macarons for Hallowe’en this week?

Why not share your macaron inspirations with us?  Just email your photos as soon as you can to Jill@MadAboutMacarons(dot).com and I’ll post a special Hallowe’en Macaron Round-up, citing you on le blog.

Happy macaron-making!

Beetroot & Horseradish Risotto with Macarons

The other day I was walking on the sweet side in Paris with a lovely group of Americans.  It’s a chocolate and pastry tour and, as you can imagine, I tend to become particularly passionate when somebody asks about macarons.

One question has remained with me this week: “Do you like savoury macarons – and when would you eat them?” Well, I love them – especially if they have a wee kick to them.

Beet and horseradish or wasabi macaron

By adding some heated spice to the filling, the intriguing sweetness of the macaron shell puts out the fire.  Have you tried these beetroot (or beet) and horseradish macarons? (The recipe  is in the book). They’re great with bubbles or red wine as an apéritif but they also go so well with one of my favourite risotto recipes, ideal as a starter.  It’s also a wonderful talking point at the table: once friends thought I was serving a steak tartare - as an ex-vegetarian, I was just as surprised as they were!

Normally you’d expect the beetroot to give the risotto or macarons an earthy taste but the result is instead ever so delicately sweet.  Try these beetroot and chocolate fondants – it’s not unlike the carrot cake idea or chocolate and zucchini/courgette cakes, where the vegetable just acts as a fun and extra squidgy ingredient.  But here, in a gluten-free macaron, it’s a colourful change!

This light risotto blushes with the beetroot, taking on the most vibrant natural red colour.  The added touch of creamy horseradish just gives it that je ne sais quoi. It’s healthy, cheap to make, and ideal to serve at any time of year – and great fun for the holiday season.

***

Beetroot (or Beet) Risotto with Horseradish Cream

Serves 4 as a starter (or 2 as a main course)

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes (+ 45 minutes if using raw beetroots)

400g pre-cooked beetroot (or 2 small raw beetroots)
1 tbsp olive oil
knob of unsalted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
250g risotto rice (carnaroli)
150g ( or glass) white wine
800g vegetable or chicken stock
60g freshly grated parmesan
salt & pepper to taste
2 tbsps crème fraîche
2 tsps horseradish sauce

1.  Wearing rubber gloves to avoid staining your hands, peel and grate the beetroot. (If using raw beetroot, rub on coarse sea salt and wrap them up in aluminium foil and bake at 180°C for 45 minutes and leave to cool.)

2.  Fry the onion in the olive oil and butter over a medium heat until softened (do not brown) for about 5 minutes.  Add the chopped garlic and stir until softened for another couple of minutes.  Add the rice and stir until the grains are all coated and shiny.

3.  Add the wine until it has disappeared into the rice.  Gradually add the hot stock, a ladle at a time and stir continuously until each time the stock has soaked in.  Cook for 15-17 minutes.  After about 10 minutes, stir in the grated beetroot.

4.  When the rice is cooked, stir in the crème fraîche, parmesan and horseradish and take off the heat.  Add salt (fleur de sel) and pepper to taste.

Serve in small pasta bowls, decorate with fresh herbs and more parmesan shavings and a mini beetroot and horseradish macaron (recipe on page 103 of Mad About Macarons!)

Beet and horseradish risotto with red wine and a savoury macaron

Pair with a fruity red wine with a hint of spice such as a Médoc, Pinot Noir from Alsace, Côte-du-Rhône – or a chilled rosé from Provence.

Santé – to your good health!

 

Whisky Toffee Frozen Crème Brûlée with Macarons

It was a sign:  a Scottish saltire traced onto such dazzling blue Parisian skies this week by the routine planes rumbling over us, to and from Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Saltire flag forming clouds in sky

It was another reminder of this month’s historic Scottish referendum that has created such a powerful and passionate impact on a country that was already once independent.

I’ve never been into politics much but, hearing many lively debates and enthusiasm about the subject, it became increasingly frustrating that I couldn’t vote as a Scot living in France.  I could hear the same calls from my fellow Scots living in England, Wales or Ireland.  A familiar remark from friends and family, who were either for or against an independent Scotland was, “Well, my heart wanted to vote Yes to Scotland being an independent country; but my head told me it was better to stay together with the UK”. With such a close winning vote of 55% to stay in the UK, the Scots have perhaps been divided on the results but as we could think that the Yes voters are upset – or ‘gutted’ as I heard on BBC radio the day of the results – the debate continues.

“We’re not crying into our porridge yet.”declared my Uncle David, a proud Scot from the Shetland Islands. “We’re just delayed a bit”, he said, as thousands of Scottish flags were being waved in Glasgow and Edinburgh this weekend, showing their excitement at how quickly they’ve received so much enthusiastic support.

whisky caramel creme brûlée an egg yolk recipe for macaron makers

Did someone say whisky toffee is in that, Jimmy? 

Another Scottish sign came via Jamie Schler’s recent whisky recipes on her blog, Life’s A Feast: with a beautifully glazed Honey Whiskey Bundt Cake, and her celebratory Whisky Soufflé.  It occurred to me how little I cook or bake with Scottish Whisky.  Admittedly, the last time I added it was to coffee macarons (the recipe for Café MacWhisky is in the book, by the way).  These macarons make an excellent accompaniment to this whisky toffee frozen crème brûlée dessert, a recipe I’d ripped out from Mum’s pile of Sunday Times mazagines this summer when in Edinburgh, as it’s an ideal egg yolk recipe for all of you macaron lovers.

While the recipe below calls for American Bourbon whiskey, I’ve opted for Scottish Whisky.  Both are slightly different in flavour and they have different spellings: in Scotland and the rest of the world it’s always referred to as Whisky but in America and Ireland it can be Whisky or Whiskey, depending on the producer’s chosen spelling.

Chocolate and whisky macarons

On another note, there was yet another sign this week: I need to hide any macarons that are lying out for photos.  I quickly took this one with just three chocolate macarons that were left, salvaged before they were also pounced on from the pastry box in the fridge.  But when I went back to continue the photo with the crème brûlée, there were only two.  It’s a mystery that one.  The girls say it wasn’t them.  Perhaps it was a Scottish ghost?

whisky brûlée frozen custard recipe with chocolate macarons

The recipe asks for a ‘shot of bourbon’.  Being a bit lazy, I poured out a small enough shot glass of Ballentine’s Whisky (a blended Scotch, ideal for cooking/baking) and threw it into the pan.  It didn’t take long to realise visibly that my toffee caramel became rather liquid, so I added more sugar and boiled it up to thicken.  No harm was done, as I ended up with more toffee so dribbled even more on top of the ice cream before freezing.  But for the record, a shot is 25ml.

As I left them in the freezer overnight, caramelising the sugar with the blowtorch hardly melted the ice cream.  That way it was easy to return them to the freezer before serving later. To enjoy them at their best, remove from the freezer 5-10 minutes before serving.

Toffee whisky iced brûlée egg yolk recipe with chocolate macarons

Whisky Toffee Brûlée Frozen Custard

Recipe adapted from the UK’s Sunday Times Magazine.  I substituted 1 shot of Maker’s Mark Bourbon whiskey stipulated in the magazine with Balletine’s Scottish Whisky, but you can use your own favourite American bourbon. The recipe says it serves 4 but I filled 8 ramekins with it.

Serves 8
Preparation Time: 10 minutes

FOR THE CREME FROZEN CUSTARD

2 vanilla pods (or 4 tsp of vanilla extract)
300ml whole milk
300ml double cream
100g caster sugar
6 egg yolks

FOR THE SALTED WHISKY TOFFEE

80ml double cream
20g butter
1 shot of whisky (25ml)
Pinch sea salt

TO BRÛLEE

20g caster sugar
A mini blowtorch

recipe for whisky toffee with frozen creme brûlée

1. Deseed the vanilla pods.  Pour milk and cream into a pan, add the pods and vanilla seeds.  Heat until it almost boils. Turn off the heat and allow the vanilla cream to infuse for 30 mins.

2. Boil the toffee ingredients in another pan, then gently simmer.  Stir for 3 minutes, then chill in the fridge.

3. Hand-whisk the caster sugar into the egg yolks.  Add to the pan with the vanilla cream.  Place on a low heat; stir for 7 minutes until it becomes a light custard.  Cool, then chill for an hour.

4. Take the custard out of the fridge. Remove the vanilla pods from the vanilla cream.  Pour the custard and cream into an ice-cream maker until it has the consistency of soft ice cream.  Turn off the machine and ripple in the toffee, using a spoon.  Scrape the frozen custard into serving glasses.  Freeze for 2.5 hours.

5. Sprinkle caster sugar over the top of the desserts with a teaspoon.  Heat the sugar with a mini-blowtorch until it forms a caramel.  Serve immediately or refreeze until ready to serve.

Egg yolk recipes frozen creme brûlée

Unlike a classic crème brûlée, where you crack into the caramel directly into the cream, this frozen version makes the hardened caramel even more exciting.  Try it: it’s like skating your spoon and cracking into the ice.

For plenty more egg yolk recipes, check out the bonus recipe page that accompanies the book.

Pistachio-Strawberry Panna Cotta with Macaron Kisses

Continuing to follow the sun this summer, we stopped for breath in the French Alps.  Walking in the clean, mountain air was the best answer to liberate us from any of the year’s accumulating cobwebs.  Next time I’ll take a bike (although I need to practice on flat ground first) but in the meantime we did plenty of cyclist watching, hypnotically driving behind previous marks on the road left by red-spotted or yellow-tunic supporters during past Tour de France mountain races.

French Alps le Col du Galibier

As we were perched in Montgenèvre, Italy was just next door.  Italian temptation rang like the tinkling of neighbouring church bells at noon and so we popped over for a sweet few hours.  We headed East on the stunning Turin road for the Roman town of Susa in Piedmont, a peaceful sleepy town definitely worth visiting.

Italian countryside around Susa near French Alps

This ‘pasticceria‘ pastry shop was our first sweet welcome, although it was closed for a long lunch (and obviously siesta) when we arrived.   You could tell from the window that their macarons were selling as much as their traditional baci di dama (lit: ladies’ kisses) biscuits.

Italian pastry shop window with macarons

Susa’s streets gravitate towards the Porta Savoia gate, where the town centre’s piazza is marked by the 11th Century San Giusto Cathedral. The gate is also considered by the locals as quite modern, as it was rebuilt during the Middle Ages!

Roman Porta Savoia gate in Susa Italy

It’s hard to believe that these monuments are still standing since their Roman predecessors.  Below left is the Augustan Arch, dating back to 8 BC.  On the right, the remains of the Roman aqueduct, slightly younger, clocking in at 375 AD.

Roman gates in Susa, Italy

It’s mind-blowing just thinking of the number of gladiators who would have been behind these bars, awaiting their turn to run out into the Roman Ampitheatre to a roar of excited spectators, hungry for action.

Roman amphitheatre in Susa, Italy

After testing the perfect acoustics of the Ampitheatre pretending to be an opera singer, it was time to make a sharp exit since I was embarrassing hubby and the girls (Valérie, a good friend in Provence, has a sign in her WC saying “If you’re not embarrassing your kids you’re not living life to the full”.)  Running after them, it didn’t take long to discover they were already choosing ice cream flavours from the piazza’s La Bottega del Gelate.

Somehow, however, I feel I can live life to the full without selfies.  The girls were trying to explain how to take them properly but I was more interested in ice cream.  Julie didn’t give up: “Well at least make a silly face, Mum.”  I tried.

I also tried to go posh, Pierre Hermé style, and pick a chocolate and passion fruit combination. The passion fruit was rather synthetic but the chocolate was good (although I wanted Baci – chocolate ice cream with hazelnut like Perigina’s ‘kiss’ chocolates).  Our overall winner was voted as pistachio as there must have been real Italian pistachios in there.

Jill Colonna tasting ice creams from La Bottega del Gelate in Susa, Italy

As we checked out the local grocery stores for pistachios, we found the best deal and quality at the local Carrefour supermarket, full of interesting Italian produce.  Quickly cleaning out their stock of Sicilian pistachios, I couldn’t wait to try them back home: liberally added to weekend brioche, dark chocolate cake, or pistachio and chocolate-pistachio macarons.  It’s not just the flavour but the pistachio colour (see this post about it) has to look realistic, don’t you think?

mixing batter to make pistachio macarons

It didn’t take long before I made a few panna cottas for a Sunday afternoon lunch last weekend.  Rose and griotte cherry panna cottas were on the menu but above all, these simple pistachio-strawberry creamy desserts.

mini panna cottas with different flavours

Needless to add that panna cottas go deliciously well with macarons!  I completely forgot about this packaging bought in a baking supply shop in Rouen.  It’s handy to transport your macarons since the little tower centrepiece has a cover that you can easily clip around them.  Rouen – there’s another place I should tell you about later.

pistachio and chocolate macaron tower display

Perhaps I could call the chocolate-hazelnut macarons (one of the 38 macaron recipes in the book BTW) Baci macaron?  Bite into one and it’s a chocolate kiss.  Oh-la-la. Enough of that nutty talk.  Time to get on with the recipe!

pistachio and strawberry panna cotta and macarons

Recipe: Pistachio Panna Cotta with Strawberry Coulis

Makes enough for 8 mini verrines / shot-glasses

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
Chilling Time: 2.5 hours minimum

3 sheets gelatine (@2g each)
400ml crème fleurette or whipping cream (30% butterfat)
100ml whole/full fat milk
4 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp pistachio paste *
3-4 drops pistachio extract (or almond extract)

Strawberry Coulis:
1 gelatine leaf (@ 2g)
300g fresh strawberries
50g caster sugar

* If you don’t have pistachio paste, make up your own: whizz 100g unsalted pistachios in a grinder.  Mix together with 25g ground almonds, 50g sugar, 2 drops of pistachio extract and a tablespoon of water.

1. Soak the 3 gelatine leaves in cold water for 10 minutes.

2. Heat the cream, milk, sugar and pistachio paste in a saucepan.  Once heated through, squeeze the gelatine of excess water and stir it into the warm cream until melted.  Add the pistachio extract then pour into serving glasses.

3. Cool for 15 minutes then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

4. Just before the creams are set, prepare the coulis.  Soak the gelatine in cold water for 10 minutes.  Whizz together the strawberries and sugar in a blender or food processor.  Microwave 3 tbsp on high for 30 seconds, and melt in the gelatine (squeezed of excess water). Set aside to cool and when the creams are set, pour on the coulis and continue to chill in the fridge for at least another 30 minutes.

pistachio strawberry easy panna cotta recipe

Funny.  As I’m writing, I can sniff the waft of pizza floating upstairs.  Lucie has discovered how to make pizza all by herself.  It has been so good that she’s starting to make it quite often – and she’s even excited at cleaning up – well, nearly. Now let’s put on a bit of Italian opera to celebrate.

 

The Boat House Edinburgh: Lemon & Thyme Tart

As the Commonwealth Games kick off in Scotland, I’m taking you on a whirlwind trip there, just like I did last week.  Back to my roots and wonderful family.

Back to loaves of raisin bread, toasted with melted butter in the mornings.  Back to oak smoked salmon and mackerel and a great choice of New World wines.  There comes a time when French is great but we all need a change now and again, don’t we?

St Andrew's Square Edinburgh and Changing rooms at White Stuff, George Street

Scottish changes! Hot weather and er, interesting changing rooms…

I always see changes when I return to Edinburgh.  This time the weather was hot and sunny – the opposite to Paris (although we’re now making up for it!).  Even the changing rooms hidden behind wardrobe doors had changed again at White Stuff in George Street – I opted for the Irn Bru rather than the toilette scene, thank you.  The trams were finally running in the City and so that was definitely worth the trip: with free Wi-Fi, I don’t think anyone looked outside the windows, though!

Forth Road Bridge and Building of New Bridge Queensferry Scotland

Huge change was at the River Forth: the pillars were well set in for the building of the new Forth Bridge connecting Queesferry to the Kingdom of Fife.

Postcard of South Queensferry village near Edinburgh

Certain things had not changed that much: like South Queensferry.  I love this little village where the original film of the 59 Steps was filmed.  With stunning views of the Forth Railway Bridge next to the Victorian postbox and quaint crow-step gabled houses, the Seal’s Craig restaurant from my childhood was still there.  No it wasn’t!  The sign remained but it had turned into a pizzeria.  Gosh, all those happy memories of Claude, the waiter, and the chatting Minor bird at the bottom of the stairs.

Forth Railway Bridge view from the Boat House Restaurant

View from the Boat House Restaurant of the Forth Railway Bridge

But new happy memories were made, as Mum steered me towards the Boat House Restaurant.  I have found a new, wonderful address!  Precious moments, indeed. With stunning views directly opposite the Forth Railway Bridge, the other gastronomic views were on my entrée-starter-appetiser of Cullen Skink (that’s smoked haddock and potato soup) followed by a main dish of red mullet – exquisite and great value for money, including the wines (with good options by the glass).

My one upset was that I didn’t manage dessert!  On my way out, the lovely waitresses handed me a magazine featuring their Chef, Paul Steward.  And in it is his recipe for this lemon and thyme tart.  He adds caramelised pears to the recipe but, as it’s not yet pear season in France, I’m serving it plain with summer berries.

 Lemon Thyme Tart Recipe

Lemon and Thyme Tart Recipe

Recipe from Chef Paul Steward, The Boat House Restaurant and Bistro, South Queensferry, Edinburgh

For the short crust pastry:

400g plain flour
200g salted butter, cubed
1 vanilla pod
1 egg
25ml milk
75ml cold water

For the curd:

4 unwaxed lemons (zest & juice) - I used the zest of only 2 lemons
200g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter
3 large eggs
2 egg yolks
4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves stripped off

 Pastry

Put the flour in a large bowl and add the cold cubes of butter.  Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until you have a mixture that resembles coarse breadcrumbs with no large lumps of butter remaining.  Combine the vanilla, egg, milk and water.  Add just enough of the mixture to the flour and butter to bind the dough together.  Wrap the dough in cling film and chill for 20 minutes.

Roll out the dough until it’s just thinner than a pound coin, then place in a buttered tart case and blind bake using grease proof paper and baking beans for 18 minutes at 180°C.  Remove the paper and beans and bake for a further 5 minutes or until the pastry is finished cooking.

Lemon and thyme curd

Place the juice and zest (my lemons were strong so I only used the zest of 2 lemons which was more than enough) of the lemons in a large bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Add the butter and sugar.  When the butter has melted, add the eggs and gently stir until the curd is thick and coats the back of a spoon (this took me over 10 minutes).  Add the fresh thyme and pour into the pastry case.

Lemon Thyme Tart egg yolk Recipe

I’m serving this well chilled tonight, as the weather in Paris is around 33°C!   Refreshing indeed, with a glass of something chilled.

What would you have with it?

Fireworks in Paris for Bastille Night Celebrations

Enjoy the Commonwealth Games in Scotland!

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