Our kitchen is small but it’s always been the centre of our home. I did my homework on the table by the wall in the years before my dad built a desk in my room, and quite often in the years after since said desk was usually covered in clutter. We eat all our meals there and I sit with my laptop every morning, listening to my porridge bubbling on the hob and the coffee dripping into the pot.
We have spent many hours leaning against the counters discussing everything from politics and history to films to school and university. Some of our conversations have been serious debates and others a ludicrous compiling of sentences gasped out between shrieks of laughter. There have also been discussions of food, questions about what to make for dinner or my parents gleefully sorting through the latest produce from the allotment and telling me about how well everything is growing.
I remember sitting in my dad’s chair when I was two, watching him making a cake for my party. I have no memory of how it tasted but I know it was a long rectangle, covered with white icing and chopped strawberries surrounded by pineapple formed the letter I. Years later I laughed when my mother said how strange it felt to eat cake while the remains of a gluten and lactose free chocolate cake, ordered from a German konditormeister, sat in the centre of a circle of my friends.
More recently it has become a place of learning, joy and occasional tears. We all stood around laughing when my first fairy cakes came out barely risen and then sank to be about half an inch high. I cried when I dropped two trays, burning my arm in the process, and squashed almost all of the cupcakes I had made for my French class. I learned that it was best to research things like meringues before trying them when I ended up with small heaps of over cooked sweet…something after setting the temperature too high. A week or so later I was almost bouncing when I tasted a meringue layer cake that I had baked properly, too happy to care that it looked awful due to both meringue layers all but shattering in the process of removing them from the pans. I have also learned that I am not afraid to experiment. I love trying new combinations of flavours or new kinds of cake and eagerly awaiting the results.
At the weekend my mother realised a bag of pears and a box of currants were both in danger of going bad, so put them all in a pan and stewed them into a sharp mixture in a wonderful shade somewhere between red and purple. The next day I saw a recipe for a chocolate tart crust and while wondering what to put in for a filling my eyes fell on the pot of stewed fruit. Then I remembered a tin of coconut milk sitting in the cupboard and immediately knew what I wanted to try. I asked my dad to buy gelatine while he was out and that evening set about making a chocolate tart crust. I had to wait until after dinner to start on the coconut and rice milk custard so it was fairly dark. I was standing stirring the custard so it wouldn’t curdle, the only light coming from my laptop as I watched the BBC’s new Sherlock Holmes, when my dad came through asking if I wanted to watch a program. My reply of “No thanks, I’d rather stir custard,” made him pause and cry “That’s what you should have called your blog!” A moment later laughter filled the room and another happy memory settled over the silvery surface of the stove.
Since my blog already has a name I felt the least I could do was enshrine the phrase and the memory in a post along with a tart that is just as wonderfully bizarre as my family.
Currant and Coconut Custard Tart
Chocolate Crust: adapted from woodenspoon.ca/2010/06/chocolate-strawberry-tarts/
115g butter/soya spread
100g gluten free plain flour
30g Dutch-processed cocoa powder
15g corn flour
Preheat 175˚C/375˚C and grease an 8” flan tin.
Cream the butter and sugar then add the flour, cocoa, corn flour and salt and mix until well combined.
Spoon into the tin and chill until very cold (it’s easier to spread once cold) before using your hands to spread the dough evenly over the bottom and up the sides.
Bake for 20 minutes or until dry to touch. Leave to cool in tin.
150ml coconut milk
150ml rice milk
4 egg yolks
2tbsp corn flour
1 vanilla bean
500ml stewed pears, redcurrants and blackcurrants
1 packet gelatine crystals
Cut along the length of the vanilla bean and add to a pan with the coconut and rice milk. Bring to boil then remove from heat.
Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and corn flour then whisk into the milk mixture.
Heat gently, stirring until it thickens. Be careful not to let it boil or it will curdle. Pour into a bowl and add half the gelatine crystals stirring to help them dissolve. Keep stirring until it cools a little and pour into the crust. Leave to set in the fridge.
Once the custard has set dissolve the rest of the gelatine crystals in a little hot water then mix in the stewed fruit. Pour into the pie and leave to set in the fridge.
My crust cracked so I left it in the tin until the moment I wanted to cut it. Even if it doesn’t crack I would recommend leaving it in the tin since you’ll be taking it in and out of the fridge.