Every year, in the field at the back of the cottage, I plant something meaningful. A mighty oak now 8 foot tall, found as an acorn in a wood near Gort, co. Galway in 1995; another one a little bit smaller, given years ago by my Dad, from my Grand Parents’ house in Brittany. I want the wildlife to be happy, as this is not really for me, a mere contribution, a legacy maybe? Maybe… I have Hazel, Chestnut and Walnut trees in there, Aronia and Sea Buckthorn for the crazy berries and a couple of years ago, I planted some goose berries and blackcurrants… At last, a decent crop!
September, especially this September 2014, has been great for Damson plums… Well for foraging fruits and berries in general. I like the wildlife to enjoy them too, so I just got enough to make a flan tart with them, quite easy, super tasty.
- 12 to 15 Damson plums cut in halves
- 300g of good short crust pastry (or your own, 250g Flour, 125g butter, 1 egg, a bit of cold water…)
- 15cl of milk
- 15cl of double cream
- 1 vanilla pod
- 3 eggs
- 50g of sugar
If you make your own, mix the flour and cold butter in a food processor, with the egg and a bit of cold water, work it a bit until homogenised but not too long whatever you do… Cool for a bit. Take a tart dish, rub some butter inside and on the edges, do the same with a dusting of flour. Roll and lay the pastry and lay it inside the dish. Cool in the fridge. Remove the stone from the plums by cutting them in halves. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together. Add the milk and cream. Cut the vanilla pod lengthways and remove the seeds. In the mix they go, whisk a little more.
Pre-heat the oven and place a sheet of grease proof paper inside the tart, with some ceramic baking beans on top. Blind bake for 5 minutes. Remove the beans and paper, place the halved plums around the dish, pour the mix over and bake for 20-25 minutes… Brush the tart with plum jam, crust and flan by simply heating the jam up with a bit of water… Et Voilá.
Classic Breton Crêpes
Autumn is trying to come back, pointing its nose through my window. Time for the ultimate comfort food, perfect with the blackberries I gathered at the back of the house … If I have any left, as I can’t stop eating them, I might gently stew a few and pour over my Breton Pan Cakes!
- 250 g of Organic white flour
- 50g of melted butter
- 1 pint of milk (500 ml) or ½ Litre
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tbsp. of honey (or sugar)
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 scraped vanilla pod (or a splash of vanilla essence)
- 1 tsp. of baking soda
I guess, like Brown Bread in Ireland, everybody have their own recipes, I have several hidden in books and note books, in safes, under the mattress… I like this one; I think it is as good as any.
In a bowl, place the flour, salt and baking soda and give it a brief whisk; it will help breaking the clumps, I don’t believe in sieving… (Us Bretons are like that, rebels and contrary to the max). In another bowl, whisk the eggs until homogenized. In a pan, gently melt the butter and the honey together. Back to the flour bowl, pour the eggs in the middle and start stirring gently; Little by little, add the butter and honey mixture, then start pouring your pint of milk. Gentle now! You should start getting a ribbon like texture, almost there… Cut a vanilla pod in half and scrape the seeds inside the mix. Give it another gentle stir and cover, in the fridge it goes for 45 min to 1 hour. It needs a rest. If you don’t have a vanilla pod or vanilla extract, pour in a bit of dark rum, my Mum used to put a dash in her Breton dessert… Very good too!
Ok, you’ll need a cloth, butter and a hot pan… Off we go! One ladle at a time, once it doesn’t stick anymore, flip the crêpe to the other side for a few seconds to a minute, in a plate, butter the pan again, and repeat the operation until you are out of Crêpe batter…
Enjoy with more honey, homemade jam, chocolate, stewed apples, etc., etc…