I was recently sent the most delightful book to review. It appealed to several of my loves . . . Illustration, Travel, History and Cookery. I think I fell in love with it as soon as it fell through my letter box. Entitled "Bladkbirds Baked In a Pie, Memories of Rozinante" and written by Eugene Barter and illustrated by Mary Jose.
Eugene Barter was the Senior Secretary of Prime Minister Edward Heath who, at the age of 60, retired to a house in the foothills of the Pyrenees along with her sister and brother-in-law and opened an Auberge, which is a type of restaurant.
This book is a sturdy delightful mix of food for the eyes, the soul and the stomach. I found the little stories and anecdotes perfectly charming and wonderful to read. As someone who has always dreamed of doing the same thing . . . I was quite mesmerized by this aspect of the book.
The first part of the book is filled with delightful tales of drunken neighbours, burglaries of provincial houses, quirky guests and a life well lived. Sharing with the reader the journey from stranger to accepted French status, Eugene's mesmerizing tale flows through years of encounters and experiences, ranging from the initial purchase of the house which became her livelihood. Eugene takes us through the trip of a lifetime and shares with us the lessons which she learnt along the way. Peppered throughout are these fabulous little pen and ink drawings done by Mary Jose, who also did the cover art. All in all I found it to be a fascinating read.
The second part of the book is, of course . . . recipes! In this section you will find tasty selections for everything from Dressings and Sauces to delicious sounding soups, starters, omelettes, pies, fish dishes, salads, game, local dishes, etc. It is just a beautiful selection. I was spoilt for choice when it came to choosing a recipe to illustrate to you the quality of recipes you can expect in this book.
I finally settled on the recipe for the Bakewell Tart, for several reasons. It is a pretty basic recipe and from my experience if you can't get the basic recipes right, there is no hope for you getting the more complicated ones right and let me tell you, this recipe is a winner. It's very simple, using simple wholesome ingredients . . . but the results are fabulous. Delicious and anything but simple. In short, it worked beautifully.
Another reason I chose this recipe to showcase the book is that I have never baked a Bakewell Tart for you on here! I've talked about it a lot . . . and done some really tasty versions of things using the Bakewell Theme . . . ie. steamed puddings, scones, Whoopie Pies, etc. I thought it was about time I actually showed you a Bakewell Tart!
And I can tell you first hand, it's a fabulous tart. A real winner. Just like this delightful book.
The book also contains cookery conversion tables for pan and dish measurements, oven temperatures and liquid and dry measures, which are very handy to have.
Makes one 8-inch tart
A delicious British traditional tart. Puff pastry, spread with raspberry jam and topped with an almond frangipane topping.
212g packet of Puff Pastry
2 whole free range eggs
2 free range egg yolks
100g of butter, melted (7 TBS)
100g of caster sugar (8 1/2 TBS)
50g ground almonds (generous half cup)
2 TBS raspberry jam
flaked almonds to decorate
Icing Sugar to dust
Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F. gas mark 6. Butter an 8 inch pie tin or flan ring.
Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface into a round large enough to line the tin or flan ring. Beat together the eggs, egg yolks, melted butter, sugar and almonds. Spread the bottom of the the pastry case with jam. Pour the almond mixture over top. Sprinkle some flaked almonds over the surface.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling is firm to the touch. Allow to cool before cutting into wedges to serve. Dust with icing sugar before serving. (optional)
If you are looking for a cookbook filled with gorgeous food photography, then this is not your book. There is no food photography included. If you are looking for a delightful read, quirky illustrations and some really fabulous recipes then this is the book for you.
Many thanks to Sunpenny Publishing for sending me this wonderful book to review.
Blackbirds Baked in a Pie, Memories of Rosinante
by Eugene Barter
Illustrated by Mary Jose