Sometimes your life starts to run you instead of you running your life. I find myself rushing from one thing to the next, late for everything and ready for nothing. It’s sometimes impossible to take a step back when you are at home, in the middle of daily routine with your and other people’s expectations to live up to. Whether they are real or imaginary. We were in France last week, in Brittany, and for while we had a chance to step back from everyday life and relax. The weather wasn’t great every day but we were staying in a gîte, a self catering holiday home, run by our friends, Rob and Erika. They have seven gîtes on their property, Keranmeriet, and so many people come back year after year that we meet old friends when we go. There are 100 acres to run around on with a trout pond, a stream, a huge meadow and woods, a pool, bikes and games to play. For three days I couldn’t convince the kids to leave the property, not even with the promise of ice cream. They were having too much fun with Rob and Erika’s kids and friends they had last seen three years ago when we were there then, interspersed with sessions of lying on the sofa reading their books (or watching cricket and looking at Facebook…).
I met Erika in the UK when our eldest two were tiny babies. They moved out to France when Christian was two, nearly twelve years ago, and they now have three boys. They bought an old farm and converted the milking barn and dairy into holiday cottages and did all the renovations themselves. We have been coming here on and off ever since (it has been the subject of blog posts in the past) as we get a great holiday and catch up with friends at the same time. If you are looking for a holiday in Brittany I can’t recommend it enough.
Over the last few years they have also renovated the building that housed pigs and turned it into the most amazing family home for themselves so I asked if I could make one of Erika’s recipes in her new kitchen. Apricots in the UK are very expensive and usually very disappointing but I eat hundreds while I am in France. I also always try to buy a 5kg box to take home to make jam and this year I bought some greengages as well. This recipe is actually for a rhubarb tart but works brilliantly with the apricots, so if you don’t have apricots, try it with rhubarb. You don’t have to use shop bought flaky pastry if you don’t want to – either make shortcrust (and don’t use the sugar on the base), or if you are feeling adventurous make your own flaky pastry. I was on holiday so was happy to use the shop bought flaky pastry…
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of couscous
Apricots (around a dozen or so) or about 500g rhubarb
125g ground almonds
Set the oven to 180°C and line a tart tin with greaseproof paper.
Scatter two tablespoons of brown sugar over the base of the tart tin.
Roll out the flaky pastry and use it to line the tart tin.
Scatter two tablespoons of couscous over the base of the pastry.
Melt the butter.
Mix the butter, egg, ground almonds and sugar and cover the tart with it.
Bake for around 30-35 minutes, until well risen and browned.
We had ours in the sun on Rob and Erika’s boat – thank you to them for such a great week and here’s to next year – hoping to see Bob and Shona with Niamh and Robbie, and Janine and her boys then too!