Dom's plan is for us to unearth a back-of-the-cupboard gem. But the combination of my new kitchen and this week's primary school harvest thanksgiving collection (Hurrah! Palm off all our old cans of random tat to the local elderly so that they can stuff them, cursing, to the back of their larders.) means that my cupboard is unusually bare of geriatric dried goods and crusty out-of-date jars.
So instead I closed my eyes and ran my finger over my "spice rack": more accurately described as a narrow shelf filled with a decade's worth of Bonne Maman jam jars. Their contents are varied (birthdays candles, baking beans, toothpicks, star anise, cupcake sprinkles - you name it) and, when I've failed to write on the lid, frequently a mystery.
My finger landed on half a jar of something crumbly and beige. Hmmmm. Too soft for sugar, too irregular for flour. Faintly foosty-smelling, but too mild to be a spice, and tastes of nothing. Ground almonds was my best guess. And if that were the case I knew immediately what I was going to do with them, having cut something perfect out of the paper a few weeks ago.
The preamble to the recipe read: "...we're now in the midst of a rather agreeable seasonal crossfire – the waning of summer and the waxing of autumn. This is a time of rich culinary potential, as the tapering off of some fine sunshine crops overlaps with the nascence of many others that come to fruition in the shortening days." Gah, to be able to write like that. I think it's just super lovely. Though, having not experienced Autumn since 2009, my susceptibility to romance is high and my resistance is low.
HFW* was talking there about the lovely few days when the berries overlap with the apples, and I've been waiting for that magical moment in my own garden. Yesterday it arrived, and I got seven James Grieve apples and about 200g of juicy raspberries from my little plot.
And so, while a contented little baby with a full tummy snoozed on his Daddy's chest, and on the radio someone played Tchaikovsky on a Stradavarius from the Usher Hall, I spent a Friday night making pastry. Because the state of the bathroom floor can wait, and the four piles of unwashed laundry will still be there in the morning, and (even though my scales say there's 10kg to lose) the calories simply don't count if you've grown all the fruit yourself... right?
By the way, I still have no idea if they were ground almonds or not, but the tart tastes lovely.
|...and after, the apple and raspberry crumble tart|
*Now, as an aside, you might be forgiven for thinking that I am being paid by Mr H Fearnley-Whittingstall, because I seem to make so many of his recipes. I only wish that I were. (I want to be his friend. Big time.) Despite living on a small island, he's lucky we genuinely couldn't live further apart without getting wet, or I might become a