Some of mine from the week just gone:
- The novelty of staying in posh hotels for work - mini shampoos! cleaned rooms! new biscuits every day!
The last of which, I would like to share with you. I was planning to make cooked pears to eat with yoghurt for breakfast. I HEART cooked pears. It was a sunny lazy kind of morning however, and I found myself idling, vaguely thinking and reading the paper as I sliced. And they emerged from my fingers uniform and slim, not chunky for stewing. I was arranging them all neat in the bottom of the pan. Obviously my subconscious had been thinking about tarts. So, what else could I do but return to the little shop for butter and flour? Breakfast fell by the wayside, and I settled in to improvise a pear tart. I don't believe there are many better things to do with a saturday morning.
Now I wasn't actually going to mention the words, those alliterative beauties. But I can not kid myself that that was the platonic ideal - the mighty Tarte Tatin... But, you see, I have issues with tarte tatin. I tried it once and the caramel went wrong and it fell in a heap and the pastry was Awful, and I felt a little tricked and unamused.
So, I didn't put any pressure on. It's not a pear T---- T----, I told myself, it's merely a pear tart, upside down. Which really it is, because I couldn't be bothered with the caramel sauce.
And besides there are a million and one recipes for the TT. But in case you too are afeared of it, or you just quite fancy a plain Pear Upside Down Tart, then I thought I would share with you that this is: 1. very simple 2. fun to make (it's all that flipping out and watching the pastry float and brown above its fruity load) and 3. so tasty I polished the whole lot of in a day (NB - this is not recommended; try and make it when you are in the company of hungry people not avoiding white flour and sugar).
So, without further ado:
2oz caster sugar
about 4 or 5 smallish pears
another few slices of butter (maybe 1 or 2oz)
another few spoonfuls of sugar (probably 4 or 5 dessertspoons)
1. Peel, core and slice the pears, and arrange in a frying pan that is ovenproof (I didn't peel mine, but I should have)
2. Put over a low heat with some slivers of butter and a sprinkling of sugar. Put a lid on and heat until it's all starting to cook
3. Add a little more butter and sugar and cook for a little longer with the lid off until it's going all brown and caramelly
4. Rub the butter into the flour and sugar with fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs
5. Drip in a little cold water - a teaspoon at a time, cutting it in with a knife until the breadcrumbs turn into bigger lumbs you can push into a soft dough - you will not need more than 2 tablespoons of water, probably more like 1. Err on the side of caution
6. Roll out your dough to a little larger than the size of the pan
7. When the pears are soft and covered in a sugary sauce, put a few more slivers of butter and sprinklings of sugar on for good measure, and then cover with the dough, tucking in the edges round the pears as best you can
8. Put in a preheated oven at 200C for about 20-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown
9. Cross your fingers, cover the pan with a plate and flip the whole lot over - hopefully it'll fall out, all golden and triumphant
10. Serve warm with greek yoghurt, or cream, as you like...