Somebody responded to this photo of an orange tree on Facebook by saying, “Thanks Jill but I don’t have to be Parisian to enjoy oranges”. Of course she was right. But she didn’t get the point.
For a start, I’m not Parisian – although I do have a French-Parisian diary. It’s useful to note that Mother’s Day in France is on Sunday 29 May but each year I’m taken by surprise and suddenly remember what my diary doesn’t tell me: in the UK, Mother’s Day comes on 6 March. So now we know I’m dead for forgetting my Mum’s day on time for Sunday, let’s walk around Paris together and talk about oranges.
At this chilly time of year, orange trees feature in many Parisian florists, decorating their entrances to brighten the path. I always dream when I pass them, wishing I was living in Versailles with an Orangerie to look after them in style. We don’t live far from Versailles, but I’m sure if I took an orange bush home, they would just wilt and die on me so I prefer to window shop.
Just around the corner from this little florist off Rue du Bac, is a rather highbrow gourmet patisserie, Hugo & Victor on Boulevard Raspail. The decor is stunning: dramatic black walls highlight their exquisite pastries which all centre around a seasonal theme. Oranges being the sweet seasonal jewels of the day, I know Mum would be so impressed watching the chic assistant pack this glistening blood orange tart into a simple black interior pastry box. The black box emphasises that this is pure pastry art, decorated with supreme segments and cubes of marshmallow.
Back home, tasting the tart’s sumptuousness with different layers from compote to cream to its shiny glaze, I wanted to rustle up something with orange too – but a LOT simpler. The signs were all there: our local market (Mum loves coming here each time she visits) was piled high with clementines and untreated oranges, begging to be grated, juiced and segmented for some kind of citrusy dessert.
While a creamy orange curd is just perfect as a topping on crêpes, I couldn’t help opening up Teatime in Paris and playing around with a few recipes.
Dessert Ideas from Teatime in Paris
The idea behind Teatime in Paris is to mix and match some of the recipes and I give ideas for variations throughout the book. One of my favourites in the Tart Chapter is a Lemon and Passion Fruit Meringue Tartlet. As the orange doesn’t have the same tart zingy taste as lemon, there was no need to add the sweet meringue and so the tartlet was even quicker.
It’s also just as simple to change the citrus juice – as I weigh the juice in the book rather than give it in volume (I give the exact amount needed for the juice which is far more exact). So I added just one passion fruit and made up the rest in orange juice to create an orange and passion tart. It’s certainly not as arty and professional looking as the tart in Hugo & Victor here but I can tell you the acidity of the passion with the orange was divine.
I show you how to make crumble choux puffs in Teatime, with discs of craquelin or crumble before baking. This time, I added a pinch of orange powdered food colouring as I creamed the butter for the crumble and this was the result: Orange Crumble Choux puffs.
Filled with the passion fruit and orange tart filling, these crumble puffs are given the macaron hat look with a few macaron shells stored in the freezer bank.
There are perhaps no orange primroses at the Eiffel Tower, but these white and yellow primroses have been cheering us up with their bright colours while we’re now dashing in between les giboulées de mars (rain storms of March). Our UK “April showers” are in March in France: again, our French vs UK diaries are reversed! Yesterday in between sunshine, we even had snow and today a hailstorm! Which reminds me: my Mum always looks beautiful in scarves.
There’s something warming and exotic when you add a touch of orange blossom to cooking or baking. I guess it’s too late to send Mum these Chocolate, Honey and Orange Blossom macarons from Teatime in Paris.
So if you’re in the UK and live near your Mum, spoil her like mad this Sunday. I know my Mum would love these lusciously rich and buttery chocolate chip Financiers from the first chapter of Teatime in Paris. I simply added the grated rind of an orange to them for some extra zing with a cup of tea.
I know you don’t need to be in Paris to enjoy oranges or daffodils at this time of year, but here’s wishing all of you wonderful Mums the most lovely Mothering Sunday this weekend in the UK – and with a copy of Teatime in Paris, why not bring a touch of Parisian spring to your kitchen? And to my own, dearest SuperMum, I look forward to spoiling you on your next trip. Hurry and spring back to Paris soon!