"I used to fear (my children's) deaths - the car! the dog! the sea! the germ! - until I realised it need never be a problem: on the trolley, on the way to the mortuary, I would put my hands into their ribs and take their hearts and swallow them, and give birth to them again, so that they would never, never end" - Caitlin Moran
But it is school holidays now and I am not so sure.
None of my kids go to school yet, but somehow they sense they can ramp things up a notch. Joining in the holiday spirit I guess. I'd love to write a post about how we picked wild strawberries from the garden and cooked and laughed together. But after making the pastry in peace, things fell apart.
I wanted to get a photo of the tart but with the light fading fast, two wild cats (wild as in I don't know where they came from) persistently trying to eat it and three kids with too many unmet needs - real and imaginary - at my feet, it was all becoming quite a stressful business. The idyllic, springtime photo shoot was a farce. Less Mimi Thorisson, more Miss Hannigan.
As soon as the sun set, I downed the two glasses of rose on the table next to the tart. Then I had another one and then I was too drunk to cook dinner so we just ate the tart.
Whoever said food made with love tastes better is wrong. Despite the stress and the screaming, that tart was unbelievable, the pastry was crisp and crumbly and I look forward to making it again in happier times.
Recipe at the bottom.
Strawberry Tart with Pecan Pastry adapted from a Nigel Slater recipe
For the pastry
150g plain flour, 100g cold butter cubed, 50g ground pecans (just blitz in processor), 50g golden caster sugar, 1 large egg yolk and if you have any, some lemon thyme leaves
Rub the flour and butter together in a cold mixing bowl with your fingers and thumbs until it looks like sand. Stir in the ground pecans, sugar and the egg yolk. Squeeze together gently to form a soft ball of dough.
Shape the dough into a fat sausage and cut thin slices from it. Use the slices to line a 25cm greased tart tin, pushing the pieces together with your fingers. Press some lemon thyme leaves, removed from their stems, into the pastry. Prick the pastry with a fork all over and rest in the fridge for half an hour.
Bake for about 15 minutes at 180C until it is pale biscuit coloured. Let cool in the tin for a bit and then carefully take the pastry out of the tin to cool on a rack.
For the filling
Whip 300mls double cream but stop whipping before it become stiff. Stir in 200mls natural yoghurt, 2 tablespoons icing sugar and vanilla - either the seeds from a pod or a couple of drops of vanilla extract.
Spoon this over the cooled tart base. Rinse, dry and hull the strawberries then place them in the cream with their points up. Dust with icing sugar and eat.
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