It is a cold misty morning while I type these lines and the sun is just about to pierce through the soft veil hovering over the river. Beautiful gold leaves embellish the rich green of the hazel tree in front of my window and the vines have turned into flaming red hues. It’s autumn. The days are filled with canning and making preserves, preparing little gatherings with friends on weekends and plans for the new house. The new house! I will dedicate an entire post to it soon, with pictures and all but just briefly, the new house, it’s a new adventure we’re embarking on, renovating a 19th century miniature mansion in the next village, minuscule really, a painter used to live in it, then an author, and after that a pianist and finally a landscape gardener. What a history. There’s boxes filled with old photographs and writing sitting in the attic waiting for discovery. Old fashioned costumes in big armoires. Mementoes and a crate full of seeds, obviously legacy by its last inhabitant.
There’s housekeeping to be done, yes, housekeeping, because housekeeping is the exact thing I believe as true lover of historic houses one does when one takes to reviving an old house to become a home. I am not owning this house, I am its keeper rather, along all the other keepers before me, until the next keeper comes along. Hopefully I will succeed as fabulously as my predecessors have.
While I rummaging through the drawer of the author’s writing desk I found a worn black notebook with faded gilt edges. A handwritten title, elegant and old fashioned, the pianist’s hand quite obviously. Recipes for Beauty and Cuisine, it says, adorned with little spidery drawings in ink and I started leafing through the book, awed, as quite obviously I had stumbled over a real treasure. Cailles sur Canapé. Vol au vent au maigre! Plomb au Chocolat, and the entire menu plan for a convivial dinner in spring some many many Aprils ago. Oh how mouthwatering, how lucky the invites, and I pictured them so vividly sitting in the minuscule dining room that now is a disgraceful mess, clinking their glasses, the oh’s and ah’s and the early summer breeze through the open window. Now naturally, such a splendid meal must not be lost in time, hence another workshop is born: Jeanne’s Dîner. We’ll go to the farmer’s market, dive into old fashioned French cuisine, taste wines, cook treats, go to the brocante, and finally set the stage for Jeanne’s dinner. Jeanne’s Dîner will take place end of June 2022, registration is open!
In August, I’ll host our famous eatery workshop, baptised La Grande Boustifaille, which essentially is about food and wine and eating and drinking. For people with a generous attitude and according stomach. Come October, when the distilling season begins, with the Moonshining workshop, another classic. Each workshop has its mini-pendant, one day sessions for those who’d like to have a sneak peek into the Poissonchat way.
And a post by me would not be a post by me without a little recipe, which is why I have written up a simple apple-tart-how-to here, so perfect for these glorious autumn days.
What you’ll need
- Very good puff pastry, I source mine from the local bakery
- 1 table spoon of flour
- 2-3 table spoons of sugar for the rim
- 75g of ground almonds
- 250g of chestnut spread
- 1 farmer’s egg
- 75g crème fraiche
- 75g brown sugar
- 4-5 apples
How to make it
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C with the fan on.
Sprinkle your work top with flour and spread out the pastry about 5mm thin, it should barely fit a flat pie mould. Sprinkle the rim of the pastry with white sugar and spread out the pastry again, pressing the sugar well in, to about 3mm thin, so that it will overlap the mould by about 1cm. Transfer to the mould, the sugary side up. With a fork, punch holes into its bottom, this will keep it from making bubbles and rising while cooking.
Then spread out the chestnut spread on the pastry and evenly sprinkle the almonds over it. In a bowl, whisk the egg until the mass is almost white and add the creme fraiche. Transfer to the mould. Cut the apples into thin slices and press them a little into the pastry filling, working round from the rim to the centre. Sprinkle with brown sugar and bake for 40 minutes in the oven.
Let cool in the mould and serve on a nice plate.
How to eat it
Apple tart just tastes splendid with a dollop of whipped cream, to round it all up you may or may not add a sip of calvados to the cream. Enjoy!