Saturday, 3 September 2011
I love watching old black and white films. Apart from the generally gorgeous aesthetic, I love the dialogue. The wit, the timing, the facial expressions. Two words come to me when thinking about these films: bold and elegant.
I feel the same way about black and white photographs. There's something about them that draws me in.
I think I will be doing more black and white food photography. I like how graphic is is and how it really suits simple styling. It's classic.
The bright orange of this tart seemed almost garish. I wanted to decorate the tart with edible nasturtium flowers but the luminous red kept blowing out. The whole set up was too vivid. Sensory overload.
I'm not in any way denouncing colour - I love vibrancy. Some things just don't work in black and white. Despite that, I like taking a step back and desaturating. I find it refreshing somehow.
The two words I mentioned above are dear to my heart. Bold and elegant are two words I want to live by.
I like life to be elegant, to have a certain refinement and beauty. I'm not ashamed to say I like beautiful things - art, words, colours, fabrics, food, smiles. Elegance is also being kind and generous. Trying to not gossip or judge. Respecting others but also - most importantly - yourself.
To be shy is easy for me. To go about life being bold about my dreams, being bold about who I am - that is difficult. Yet, when I do push myself to be bold, it is always totally worth it. It's going and getting what you want.
Yet I don't think being bold is arrogant or pushy. To me it is understand yourself and be true to that person. To be sure of who you are without pushing it into another person's face. To have courage to be strong in your beliefs, your morals, your ideas. To be comfortable in your own skin and your own choices.
Bold and elegant. That's my life motto as I go into this new stage of my life. I may not succeed at all times. But that's who I want to be.
After watching the pastry episode of The Great British Bake Off, I had massive tart au citron cravings. I don't think Mary and Paul would approve of this one - at pretty much every stage I made a silly mistake. The first time I made the pastry I forgot the icing sugar. I found the next time that an hour wasn't sufficient to chill the pastry. I chilled the leftover scraps again and made a mini tart and it was much better behaved - my edges would have been much neater on the main tart if it had been properly cold. I then managed to slightly overcook my filling. I did manage to avoid the infamous soggy bottom though...
I hadn't expected to adore this tart quite as much as I do. I keep sneaking slithers from the fridge. The amount of sugar is just right - you get a properly sharp hit of lemon but your mouth doesn't ache afterwards.
Finally I am incredibly honoured to have been included in Fiona Beckett's 'Latest Food & Wine Blog Finds' post. Fiona is a very successful UK food writer who has written for pretty much every magazine and newspaper here as well as authoring 22 books. She gave a very inspirational talk at Food Blogger Connect and I'm overwhelmed that she called my blog "beautiful" and "well-written".
Tarte au Citron
(Adapted from Marco Pierre White's recipe, as printed in The Times)
For the pastry:
225g plain flour
pinch of salt
150g unsalted butter, cold
75g icing sugar
For the filling:
4 large unwaxed lemons
1 egg yolk
150g caster sugar
200ml double cream
Cut the butter up into small cubes and place back in the fridge. Sift the flour and salt into a big bowl. Weigh the icing sugar out into a small bowl. Separate one of the eggs and put the white to one side. Beat the other egg and egg yolk together in another small bowl and place in the fridge.
Take the butter out and rub it into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Sift the icing sugar over the crumbs and stir in with a blunt knife. Add the beaten eggs and knife through the mixture. Flour the work surface and tip out. Bring together with your hands and knead very briefly. Press into a circular disc about 3 cm thick. Wrap with cling film and refrigerate for 1-2 hours, or until firm.
Butter a tart tin (22cm diameter and 2.5cm tall) then dust with flour. Tap to remove any excess. Dust the surface again with flour. Roll out into a circle of 28cm diameter. Fold over the rolling pin and transfer to the tin. Press into the edges, leaving a 1 cm overhang. Patch up any mistakes with extra bits of pastry (and keep any extra bits in case cracks appear during blind baking). Scrunch up a piece of greaseproof paper and line the tin. Fill with baking beans or dried beans - like red kidney beans. Place into the fridge for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Place the chilled tart tin into the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Mix the egg white with 1 tbsp water. Take the tart out of the oven and remove the beans and paper. Plug any holes with leftover scraps of pastry. Brush the inside with the egg white. Place back in the oven for 5 minutes or until the pastry looks fully cooked and golden. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
Lower the oven to 150C/300F. Zest the lemons - you should have about 1 tbsp zest. Chop the zest finely so you don't get stringy bits in the filling. Juice the lemons - you should have about 175ml juice. Whisk the eggs and egg yolk together in a bowl with the sugar until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Whip the cream until it holds soft peaks and then stir into the egg mixture. Stir in the rind and juice.
Place the tart case into the oven, then pour the filling into the case (this helps stop sloshing as you put it into the oven). Start checking at 40 minutes - the tart should be set but still wobbly in the middle. It could take up to 60 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to chill in the case on a wire rack. Once cold, remove from the tart tin and dust with icing sugar. Cut with a sharp knife which has been run under hot water to get a clean edge.