Fruit Tarts

Once you've mastered the Pâte sucrée recipe there are numerous things that you can use it for. One of the nicest is a fruit tart. Whether made with one type of fruit or many, plain pastry cream or flavoured, they're simple, easy to make, look impressive, and most importantly, taste good.

Once the pastry cases have been baked, the only real cooking left to do is to make a pastry cream, or to use its posh french name, crème pâtissière. Either way, it's a type of custard!

Fruit Tart

Recipes for it vary, but contain milk, egg and some form of flour. Most recipes just use egg yolk which leaves the egg whites to use up; as you'll already have some from making the pastry, this recipe is good as it uses the whole egg. It's from the book Take Twelve Cooks and is a recipe by by Michael Nadell.

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Soft Bread Rolls

With summer, hopefully, just around the corner - that is, if we've not had all we're going to get already - I thought I'd have a go at making a 'burger type' soft roll, minus the sesame seed 'cos I've ran out!

Bead rolls

Time has moved on since I first made these rolls in June 2008. The recipe's changed slightly. Rather than confuse things with a new article, I've amended the recipe below.

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Pâte sucrée (sweet shortcrust pastry) & Afternoon Tea

Diamond Wedding Tea

Mum and Dad have recently celebrated their Diamond (60th) Wedding Anniversary. As well as sending them to a local restaurant for a meal, we decided to have an 'afternoon tea'.

For me, afternoon tea is lots of small patisserie and cake items; oh, and some 'token' sandwiches beforehand. I'm not one for scones and cream as part of 'afternoon tea'; they're for other occasions when they can be enjoyed on their own. Now, we're not 'The Savoy', or even 'The Great British Bake Off', so I choose just a small selection of simple things: individual lemon meringue pies, fruit tarts, and meringues, along with cup cakes made by my daughter Hannah. The meringue uses up the egg whites left after the yolks have been used for the pastry and lemon meringue filling. Savouries were cucumber, egg, ham and cheese sandwiches, some even had the crusts cut off!

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North Staffordshire or Derbyshire Oatcakes

It's quite amazing how certain foods are so local, that even though you live in the County bordering those where they're made, you've managed to get to 56 years old without ever having them.

The Derbyshire or North Staffordshire oatcake is such a one; it wasn't until about 6 weeks ago, on a visit to Hartington, that I had tasted my first oatcake. I've hardly stopped eating them ever since!

North Staffordshire or Derbyshire Oatcakes

Unlike the biscuit that shares its name, the oatcake is soft. I'll leave the debate as to whether they're originally a Staffordshire or Derbyshire speciality to others, but certainly, Stoke on Trent is now its spiritual home. 'National Oatcake Day' is celebrated in the area on 8th August, and the local football club's fanzine is even named after them.

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I'm wastin' away!

It comes to the best of us you know. Even though you've led the life of a professional athlete (well you ran for a bus once in 1973) - you realise that not only do your clothes not fit, but you've outgrown the stock at all but the specialist suppliers of FB (fat b******) sized clothes. You can put it off no longer - you've got to diet!

Having deluded myself for ages that I was just a little over 16 stones, it came as a shock to find the scales showing 19¼! I was actually over the maximum weight for the wheelchair they supplied! That said, I'm not any more; I'd lost 7 pounds when I weighed myself at the Spinal Unit and continue to lose a couple of pounds a week. I understand this to be a sensible amount.

I've been eating quite a few flatbreads/wraps as suggested by The Hairy Bikers in their diet programmes. They're good as they hold a large amount of (low calorie salad) filling for the calories they contain; they're better than normal sliced bread anyway. I also bought some crispbreads - blimey they're a price! I thought I'd better have a play around myself and these are the results of my first trial of my rye and plain flour crispbreads:

Rye and Plain flour crispbread

I've also made Rye and Wholemeal ones and 100% Rye flour ones. They need a bit more work on the recipe, but I'm quite pleased with them so far.

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