25 Oct 2012

My British take on French Tarte Tatin

Travelling is all about opening your mind and taste buds to other cultures and foods. Discovering new things, getting out of your comfort zone, that’s what makes a traveller happy.

Well, living abroad is a little like travelling, but every day of your life. You eat food you might have never heard of before, cab drivers call you “honey” even if they don’t know you, it can take you an hour to explain your bathroom floods problems to your landlord because you don’t know any of the plumber/bathroom specific vocabulary….
As an expat, you’d better be open to experiencing new things on a regular basis, or you’re in for lots of frustration and most likely a single ticket back home.

My name is Pauline, I’m French and I’m passionate about food. Three years ago, I came to live in London, I ate cheesecake for the first time and it changed my life.
My mouth full of the smooth sweet cream cheese filling, my mind somewhere over a rainbow, I decided I would start baking and, to fully embrace this new country of mine, I would learn how to make British cakes. 
Since then, I’ve filled my shelves with books on traditional British cakes and bake a new cake every week. Chewy cookies, Sticky toffee puddings, Flapjacks, Whoopie pies, Pavlovas,…all these wonders I had never seen or tasted before have become my playground.

I was thrilled when Paul (from the wonderful travelling blog The Bald Hiker) offered me to feature a French recipe on his blog. As my baking is all about mixing French and British cultures, I thought a French Tarte Tatin with a British twist would be a perfect pick.

French tarts usually have the pastry underneath the fruits, but the Tarte Tatin is cooked with the pastry on top of the fruits, like a British apple pie… Why is that? Intriguing mystery indeed!

French tatin tatin

Come closer, listen carefully, I am about to tell you a delicious story:
Once upon a time, the Tatin sisters who were cooking a traditional apple tart somewhere in France Profonde, burnt the pastry by over cooking the tart.
Going in for the kill, the two sisters decided to save the now caramelized apples from the burnt tart. They put them back in a dish, covered them with a new pastry layer, and cooked the whole thing again.
Once cooked, they turned the tart upside-down again to put the pastry back at the bottom and served their Tarte Tatin. That’s how The Tatin Sisters invented by mistake one of the most iconic French desserts.

Even if the Tarte Tatin’s pastry is cooked on the top of the tart as it is in a British apple pie, the end result is completely different. Tarte Tatin is about caramelized fruits, sweetness, over indulgence, comfort food pushed to the extreme.
Add to it two of the ingredients I’ve discovered in British baking and that are now amongst my favourites – ginger and sour cream – and you end up with a “mind-blowing dessert” (dixit my housemates who got to eat the Tatin below).
Even though Tarte Tatin is one of my favourite French desserts, it was the first time I baked one (I have been too busy baking British cakes for the past three years!).

Suddenly I am wondering: will it feel like an everyday adventure when, one day, I go back to live in France? This question will have to wait for an answer, because I’ve got lots of other recipes to try before I go anywhere! 

tarte tatin

Apple and Ginger Tarte Tatin

The ginger gives a subtle kick to the tart that goes wonderfully with the sweetness of the caramelized apples, deliciously balanced by the soureness of the sour cream. I’ve obviously also used tangy British cooking apples, which are perfect for this dessert.
And the super bonus of this tart is that it’s really easy and quick to make!


8 British cooking apples (I used Cox and Breaburn apples)
160g butter
160g golden caster sugar
2 balls of stem ginger in syrup very finely chopped + 3 tablespoons of the syrup
3 good pinches of ground ginger (approx. 2 tablespoons in total)
1 sweet short crust pastry

Make the tart:
  1. Preheat your oven at 180°C.
  2. Cover the bottom of a metallic pie dish (metal will help the fruits to caramelize) with 1/3 of the caster sugar, 1/3 of the butter cut into small pieces, 1 tablespoon of ginger syrup and a pinch of ground ginger
  3. Peel the apples, remove the cores, quarter them and firmly pack a layer, rounded side down, at the bottom of the dish
  4. Cover with another 1/3 of the sugar, 1/3 of the butter cut into small pieces, half of the chopped stem ginger, another tablespoon of ginger syrup and a good pinch of ground ginger
  5. Stack another layer of apples (try to fill all the gaps left by the first layer), and cover with the rest of the butter pieces, the sugar, the stem ginger, the ginger syrup and ground ginger
  6. Unroll your pastry to a thickness of approximately 3 millimetres and cover the apples with it. Push the edges in the dish (as you would tuck in the blankets on a bed) 
  7. Cook for 35-45 min until the pastry is nicely golden. Take out of the oven and leave to cool for 15min before turning upside-down onto a plate. Serve warm with a dollop of sour cream.

ginger apple tart

french tarte tatin

ginger apple tarte tatin

french tatin tart

french apple pie

tarte tatin

french caramelised apple pie

What's on the drinks menu Alex?
Our New Indulgence Expert Associtate Alex gives us his drinks tips for our tarte tatin.

Being both delicious and very sweet with its caramelised fruits, tarte tatin is one of the favourite French desserts. Therefore, the wine has to match it perfectly.
I recommend five options:
  • a Gewurztraminer from Alsace,
  • a sweet Vouvray to be sweeter (loire valley),
  • a pink champagne,
  • a muscat from Spain
  • a cider
If you can read French and want more tips from Alex on how to pick a perfect wine to accompany your desserts, visit his website here

24 Oct 2012

The Giant Savoury Scone for the Boys

We like them small, big, fat, skinny, sweet. savoury...the boys? Scones, of course!

Scones are other cheesecakes : I LOVE them, it's as simple as that. 
And in my Conquest to share the food I love, I've discovered this new favourite of mine.

So without further a do: 

Potato, cheese and rosemary loaf
The Giant Savoury Scone for The Boys 

Of course, a scone with potatoes in it...you're not going to tell me that this doesn't stand a chance in the race to your Man's favourite ever pastry?
Actually, at my lastest dinner party, it was as successful amongst girls as boys!

This loaf is very much like a giant scone. It doesn't require knidding, it is soft, filling but lighter than a classic savoury cake, and moister than a bread.
The flavours of cheese and rosemary just makes it taste like hoidays (beach holidays? or Ski holidays? Whatever makes you happy my Dear!)

Delicious with a soup or with a salad, it makes a perfect starter or light main veggie course. 

Prescription : on a week night, coming back home from work. 10 min preparation, 25 cooking time (just enough time to watch an episode of Friends). Done.
Do we really need anything more than that?  


2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves , thinly sliced
350g self-raising flour , plus more for dusting
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
85g cold butter , cut into cubes
150g pot natural full-fat yogurt
4 tbsp full-fat milk
250g cooked new potatoes , sliced
1 tsp chopped rosemary , plus extra small sprigs
50g Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), grated
85g Gruyère , half diced, half grated

Make the loaf:

1.Heat the oil in a medium pan, then gently fry the garlic for 10 mins until softened but not coloured. Set aside. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7.

2.Put the flour, salt and baking powder into a food processor, then whizz in the butter until it disappears. Tip into a large bowl, then make a well in the middle. Warm the yogurt and milk together in a microwave for 1 min or in a pan; it should be hot and may well go a bit lumpy-looking. Tip into the bowl and quickly work into the flour mix using a cutlery knife. As soon as it's all in, stop.

3.Turn the dough onto a floured surface, bring it together with floured hands, then press out to a large rectangle. Scatter over the potatoes, chopped rosemary, garlic, some of its oil and most of the cheese. Knead a few times, shape into a round, then lift onto a floured baking sheet.

4.Score the top, scatter with the rest of the cheese, poke in a few rosemary sprigs, then drizzle with the remaining oil. Bake for 25 mins until risen, golden and sizzling around the edges. Best eaten just warm.

Tip: you can make it without potatoes or replace them with pretty much any kind of cooked, cold and dry leftover vegetables.

What's on the Drinks Menu Alex?
Potato - cheese, an association that is always a winner. Rosemary is the key flavour here. 
I would recommend four options: 
  • a white Burgundy (Macon-Villages or Rully), 
  • a chardonnay from Australia, 
  • a cabernet-sauvignon from Bordeaux (Médoc and Haut-Medoc) or from Loire Valley (Saumur-Champigny), 
  • a merlot from Argentina 

9 Oct 2012

Oh la la... mon petit pois

"Guess the ingredients"
A new concept of dinner, where your guests have to guess the ingredients of the dishes you've cooked for them.
It wasn't on purpose, but that is how our last dinner party turned out, and it was really good fun. 

How does it work? Get out there, try new combinations and let them guess.
It's really good fun as it's actually not always as easy at it seems to guess the ingredients of a dish!
So if you want to give it a try, here are some ideas:

  • Avocado and chocolate vegan cake (recipe here)
  • Popcorn from Joe & Seph's . Each flavour is more wicked than the other one; from the savoury goat cheese and black pepper popcorn to the Gingerbread popcorn, the fun is guaranteed!
  • and of course, my wasapie soup!

Pie, Rocket and Wasabi soup
aka My Wasapie Soup

Ingredients (for 6 people):

2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1kg frozen pies
2 x 90g bags rocket
3 heaped tbsp ricotta
2 heaped tbsp wasabi paste (from the asian shelf of your usual supermarkets)
2 vegetable stock cubes
salt and pepper, to taste
Creme fraiche, to serve

Make the soup: 

1/ In a large sauce pan, gently fry the garlic cloves until golden.

2/ Add the pies and cook for 3 min, mixing regularly.

3/ Add the vegetable stock cubes, the rocket and add water (pre-boiled in a kettle if possible) until the vegetables are just covered. Mix, cover, and simmer for 15 min on middle heat.

4/ Mix / blend the soup. Add water depending of the desired consistency. 

5/ Add the ricotta, and wasabi paste. Adjust seasoning to your taste with salt and pepper.

6/ Serve the soup in bowls with a dollop of creme fraiche and few leaves of ricotta to decorate.

What's on the drinks menu Alex?

Perhaps one of the most difficult pairings I've had to come up with recently.
We must keep up with the light peas, the spicy wasabi and peppery rocket. But I am not going to run away.
I would recommend four options:
  • a Pinot noir from New Zealand,
  • a Gamay from France (Beaujolais),
  • a Shiraz rosé from South Africa,
  • or sparkling water which is also very suitable for starter.

2 Oct 2012

Caramel and banana blondies

Big news, I'm going on holidays to Argentina!
I'm going to meet my friend Kdou who is travelling around the world for a year.

In our plans: Buenos Aires, the wildlife (whales, penguins, seals on the Puerta Madryn island, and a bit of Patagonia (glaciers, natural parks, …)
I've cleaned the lens of my camera, Chocolat my Travelling Bear (FB: Chocolat L'ourson) has jumped into the side pocket of my backpack….we are ready to go!

I can't wait to eat big steaks, dulce de leche and all these amazing foods that I don't know yet and will definitely bring back and share with you!

In the meantime, I won't take the risk of you having a hypoglycemic shock while I am away, so I've prepared a few recipes, that I will publish from the other side of the world. So you won't miss any opportunity to bake some good British food :-)

Now, I'm getting my tummy ready for Argentina with some traditional British dessert: Caramel blondies!
banana caramel blondies

Banoffee (caramel and banana) blondies

Blondies are "white brownies"
Usually made with white chocolate, blondies are as indulgent as brownies. Here, featuring two "safe bet" ingredients – caramel and banana – we can't possibly go wrong. This cake might be really easy to make and might not look very impressive, but just like brownies, it is a crowd pleaser! (Kids in particular will love it)


250g golden caster sugar
100g butter
100g caramel , from a jar or tin (Nestlé Carnation Caramel works well) plus 2 tbsp for the top
100g white chocolate
2 eggs
200g self-raising flour
2 ripe bananas , sliced

Make the blondies:

1. Heat the oven 180C/fan 170C/gas 4.
2. Melt the sugar, butter, caramel and chocolate together until smooth. Cool a little, then add the eggs and fold in the flour and banana.
3. Pour into a lined 20cm square tin (I used a round one), or a silicone cake mould and add a few blobs of caramel to the top, bake for 45-50 minutes or until risen and set.
4. Cut in squares and serve as you would do with brownies (I cut mine in slices because my mould was round, but it taste the same!)


banana caramel cake

carnation caramel cake

caramel blondies

carnation caramel blondies

Recipes from http://www.bbcgoodfood.com

We were innocently enjoying our cakes in Regent's park when suddenly we got robbed by a squirrel who stole a strawberry from our picnic. How happy I was, I could take picture of the robber enjoying his prize!

Last but not least, some other big news on Pauline à la crème anglaise!

It's nice to cook all this food, but what's for drinking with it?
From now one, our Thirsty Expert Alex, from the great French blog Mets Vins www.mets-vins.fr, will give us his drinks recommendations. 

Don't panic pregnant ladies, kids and friends on detox: Alex is not forgetting you and will also recommend non alcoholic drinks (look at this week's drinks, perfect to match our kid-friendly cake!)


What's on the drinks menu Alex?
"The banana blondies feature the magic trio: banana, white chocolate and caramel, which make these blondies terribly good and sweet. That's why I'd recommend enjoying them with a refreshing drink, preferably unsweetened.
I would recommend :
  • a banana milk shake,
  • banana or mango banana Caribbean milk,
  • or vanilla soy milk.
All served chilled of course!"

Thank you Alex :-)