Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Tart with the Strawberries

"How did you lose your way going to Monmouth?"

Hubby looked at me with utter amazement at my latest prematurely senior moment. Monmouth is just 12 miles from where we live and a much travelled road. We sometimes use Waitrose in Monmouth as a disasterously expensive way to save cashflow when needs must, by using the small bit of flexibility on their very flexible storecard.

My mind had been on other things. I started driving through the tunnel at the other end of the dual carriageway, held my breath and put one hand up to hold up the tunnel, as you you do*, when I realised that there is no tunnel on the way to Monmouth.

Eight miles later was finally able to come off the dual carriageway, somewhere in the middle of Wales. Returned to Monmouth. Another eight miles. Then did as much of my shopping as I had time for - which was much less time than when I had started out of course - before returning to school, another twelve miles to pick up Tinkerbell Mushroom and Gymnast.
I had driven forty miles to do a weekly shop.
"So, anyway I 'm working tomorrow, and I've run out of time to make a cake, so please can you get two cakes for the Gymnast's birthday?" Ever mindful of the pennies (which is fortunate that one of us is, given that there are never any available at the beginning of the month, once huge mortgage for huge house for huge family has swallowed all finances in one gulp) Hubby questions the need for two. "One for her birthday, and one for her party."

The party has to take place on the Monday, as on the Sunday, her birthday, Gymnast, true to her name. has to perform in a gym competition. This means that I will be out for most of Saturday at work, and most of Sunday, at said competition, leaving no time available for making cakes. The gym that Gymnast attends is not renowned for good timings. If a competition is due to end at 3, that usually means 3 the following morning. The lady who runs it has only been doing it for 30 years so she needs a little more practice before she can get it right. Meanwhile, on competition days it's wise to keep the day clear of all other activities if by any chance you happen to have any other life.

So .............Hubby bought two cakes. One chocolate and one vanilla.

Very nice.

And then...........

We got home at 4 in the afternoon, after the gym competition.

So, we had the first cake and sang happy birthday.

Saddled with shock at not being stuffed into a hot gym for another twelve hours and having time for the guilt monster to trip in, I suddenly realised that really what I really really wanted to do was to make a cake for Gymnast after all. And, because it was a big guilt trip, it had to be a truly elaborate cake. Something really special.

And....we had some strawberries. So, what better on 1st July than to have a Tarte aux Fraises?
No recipes anywhere, even Delia couldn't oblige.

So onto the internet.

Found one.

In French.

Not quite trusting my knowledge of the language sufficiently to read it completely correctly, I used Google translate, which came up with the following method:

Tart with the strawberries
For the paste: put the flour, salt and butter in small pieces in a bowl. Exhaust end of the fingers. In another container, beat sugar and egg until the mixture bleaches. Mix the two preparations. Knead and make a ball. Let put back it 30 min with the refrigerator in a plastic film before using it. To preheat the furnace with 220°C (thermostat 7, 430°F). For the cream pâtissière: make boil milk. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with sugar. Incorporate the flour, then ebullient milk without ceasing whipping to avoid the formation of grumeaux. Give the preparation in the pan and bring to boiling, then let quiver 3 minutes with soft fire without ceasing stirring up. Add the vanilla extract. Pour in a bowl or a bowl and cover. Reserve for the refrigerator. Lower the paste to sink a tart mould 25 cm in diameter. Give 20 minutes to the expenses before making cook 10 minutes. Lower the furnace with 190°C (thermostat 5) and leave 15 more minutes. Let warm and unmould. Pour the cream cold pâtissière on the paste. Lay out the strawberries cut in 2 overcoats. Powder with sugar freezes and are useful immediately.

And.........despite the lack of furnace available, and having to use icing sugar instead of blocks of frozen sugar, and using my food processor instead of exhausting my fingers, it worked quite well really.

I put it on the table after dinner, feeling slightly smug at my brilliance of having made a magnificent Tarte aux Fraises.
At that moment, Hubby looked over to the Gordon Ramsay calendar which has sat on the wall since arriving free in the Sunday Times at Christmas.

Did you know that the July recipe is for a french tart?" He said.

And there it is indeed. Not a fishnet in sight, but a tart recipe nonetheless, written in perfect English.

*Family tradition when driving through any tunnel. Stops it falling down on you.


Janie said...

Me thinks you could possibly save a lot of money on petrol !!

Sally Lomax said...


Sally Lomax said...

Is anyone else having editing difficulties with Blogger at the moment?

It's refusing to allow me a space in certain places for some reason. Am now giving up and it will ahve to be as it is. Will try to correct it later!

headless chicken said...

Another great post Sally!
Gave me a few chuckles especially the trip to Waitrose. No wonder you looked a little flustered at school chucking-out time!!!:)

john.g. said...

Women drivers/navigators!!


Eliza said...

mmmm sounds yum, any leftovers?

Flowerpot said...

well the cake looks wonderful - good for you. I certainly wouldn't have bothered, but then my cake wouldn't have looked like that...

Asha said...

YUM!! Good to see the French Tart in your blog!!;D
Love the Strawberries,great chioce!

Sally Lomax said...

Hi HC - Yes - Was flustered!
John G - yes - I think that that's what hubby thinks too.
Eliza - No - sorry. All gone!
Flowerpot - I like making cakes - often as a distraction therapy as well as birthdays!
Asha - tHank you!

Ignorminious said...

Remind me to trun down any invitations to dinner at your house. For all I know I might get served furnaced, exhausted fingers in a frozen paste ;)

Pamela said...

I laughed at the "no tunnel on the way."

more laughter at the translation fiasco.

Then, you kicked it into high gear with the recipe on the calendar.

great story.

Sally Lomax said...

Hi Ig - Yes the the fingers were a bit chewy.

Pamela - Thank you!!

pierre l said...

Boy, you do lead a busy life. I am good at wrong turnings too - I think it's some sort of auto-pilot (does not mean that I am not observing traffic, of course - it just means that the car is used to going to certain places and leads me along).
Thank you for another excellent post!

Alice Band said...

Ebullient milk? Sounds like we could all do with a bit of that! 10 out of 10 for effort Sally - I am currently running back and for to the kitchen keeping an eye out on my flapjacks - Infant school fete tomorrow. I am in charge of raffle prizes - that was a killer, flapjacks, dart throwing game and organising a celeb to open it. Bingo! Somewhere in my address book I have Jill Murphy's (of Five MInutes Peace and The Worst Witch fame) number and address. I wrote to her and she agreed to open the fete. Yippedeedooda.

Akelamalu said...

then let quiver 3 minutes with soft fire ....

The mind boggles!

Very brave of you to attempt that recipe, I'd have stuck with the bought one and tarted it up!

I can understand the getting lost - I would have no difficulty at all getting lost as I have no sense of direction!

Debs said...

I love your story!

My family holds up our hands when going under an over pass, or tunnel for the same reason.

Sally Lomax said...

Pierre - Yes, I can relate to the autopilot thing.
Alice - I'm impressed by you getting Jill Murphy to open your fete! I love her books. Can relate to all of them!
Ak - Well........ I like making cakes really.
Debs - Gald we are not the only ones who hold up the tunnels and underpasses. It's probably our combined efforts that keep that up!

enidd said...

a lovely story, sally. it'd funny how we ignore calendars, isn't it. or at least, enidd does. she hopes the tarte aux fraises was très yummy.

Sally Lomax said...

Hi Enidd - Yes 'twas tres yummy indeed!

Sam said...

you should be a food blogger!

Keith said...

Sam said "you should be a food blogger!". Now that's going just a bit to far.... like mid Wales?

Next thing you'll be starting a "How to navigate Blog"! Now that should make very intersting reading.

Sally Lomax said...

Sam - That's very kind of you, but I think that I possibly have a long way to go yet!!

Keith - Navigating Blogger even!!

Karmyn R said...

Oh the IRONY!!!

exhausted fingers - hee hee. (but would the "in-English" version have tasted as good as the "awkward-French-translated" version?)

Beccy said...

That was one hell of a guilt cake. I need to make one of those due to too much time spent watching Wimbledon!

Lisa said...

Great story, Sally, I always have a bit of anticipation when I see a new post on your blog.
That's too funny with the translation! Good to know about Google, though, I've lamely tried to revive my schoolday French too much.
I've seached for a recipe online, and then found the copy later on so many times I can't even count any more!

meredic said...

Bloody hell! You must have been halfway to Usk!

swamp witch said...

Happy Belated Birthday...little Gymnast.

(Looks like bloggerbooger is up to its old tricks again.)

Jayne said...

LOL @ the recipe story. Excellent!

pierre l said...

I have just been looking at the auto-translated recipe. I like the way that it's been done word by word, with the occasional unknown word left as is.
Are there any news on your central heating furnace that you are able to share with us? I have just read on another blog that Manchester is freezing (or was on Saturday, perhaps with slight exageration), so the Forest of Dean can't be that warm.

Sally Lomax said...

At the request of some loyal readers I have changed the settings on my blog to allow a speedier loading time. Less posts on the main page! Never occurred to me that it would be slower to have everything on the same page.....

Now sorted!

pierre l said...

This is excellent Sally. I had got used to the slow loading (which crept up little by little, almost unnoticed). This is much better - thanks.

ChrisB said...

Sally it was nice to come home to a nice little chuckle and you can come and bake a guilt cake for me any day- strawberries are just right for Wimbledon and we do have something to celebrate with a British winner!

slimmeroftheyea said...

I found a brazilian website where they had reviewed Brasyl and did a google translation with hilarious consequences!