5 June 2011

{Ergo est aestas}


Tomorrow is the Dragon Boat Festival – a Chinese/Taiwanese festival in honour of the poet Qu Yuan. Growing up, my mum would take my siblings and I to the harbour in Hsinchu, where we lived, and we'd watch men paddling away in the traditional Dragon Boat Race. To me, this was the very symbol of the beginning of summer. The festival marked the start of vacation, end of school and days spent swimming and traveling. Although school won't be over by tomorrow (still two weeks to go!), I do feel that summer has arrived. And summer, for me, is all about traveling and soaking up new languages, cultures and eating new food.


My dream list of places to visit is as long as the distance from Earth to infinity. Cuba has always been on the top of my list, which also includes seductive locations like Russia, Japan, Italy, Austria, Morocco, New Zealand and the entire Central and South American continent. Slowly, but surely, though, destinations get bumped off the list. My lifelong dream of visiting Israel, for example, was fulfilled this past April, although I'm already planning a trip back next year. Then there are the countries I just keep on returning to: Germany, England and, in particular, France – one of my favourite countries in the world. I love the language, the culture, the cities and the people. Despite their quirks.The three aforementioned countries are incidentally where I'm going to spend over half of my summer this year. From Brest to Hamburg, London to Paris, I'll soak up culture, language and, naturally, food. I see a lot of crêpe de blé noir and Ladurée macarons gluttony in my foreseeable future. 



But summer is not only about foreign travels. It's about enjoying the wonders around you – as cliché as it sounds. I'm fortunate to live in a place surrounded by splendid sceneries; beautiful beaches, flamboyant forests, luscious lakes and, well, you get the point. My favourite lake, Frøylandsvatnet, is the largest of them all, surrounded by patches of forest, small farms and green pastures. The pathway around the lake is filled with people walking,cycling, and during the long winter months, skiing. Animals: cows, chickens, ducks and geese, peacefully wander between the lake and the pastures, obliviant to the many people surrounding them. Truly, walking along the pathway and observing the many animals: the young and their mothers, signals summer as much as anything.




Suffice to say I still make food as much as I can, although the foods I make now are more filled with juicy berries and fruits. Despite waxing lyrical about fruits and berries, both in this blog and elsewhere, recently I've been more into milk and egg custard desserts. Earlier this week I found a store that sold condensed milk (a rarity in Norway), which I had been looking for for years, only to find a second store yesterday. Irony, I suppose. Anyway, the condensed milk was quickly used to make a Spanish flan which fell into three pieces the second I turned it over. And since it was extremely sweet as well, I doubt I will make it again. Lest you think this has diminished my eagerness to create creamy desserts, rest assured, it has been enhanced. So when I looked at my calender, and realised what day it was tomorrow, I rushed to the kitchen and immediately began making one of my favourite childhood desserts: Egg Tartelettes.


Taiwanese Egg Tartelettes are creamy little blighters; their taste resembling the South African Melktert to an extent, although with less milk. Don't let the pictures dismay you – I'm just an awful tartelette maker. No matter how much I try, my tartelettes never turn out good-looking. Still, these egg tartelettes are exquisite. Honestly. My parents quickly gobbled them up, absentmindedly disregarding the tartelettes' lack of pizzazz. But seriously, these are yummy.


{Taiwanese Egg Tartelettes}

*Ingredients*
Egg custard filling

430ml milk
6 large eggs
275g sugar
1 pinch of salt

Tart crust
220g flour
2-3 tbsp powdered sugar
150g butter, softened and cubed
1 egg
½ tsp salt

1.Pour all custard ingredients into a large pot and set over the lowest heat (temperature should not exceed 50°C). Using a whisk, stir the egg custard in one direction (avoid making air bubbles) until the sugar has dissolved.Sieve the custard through a strainer to get rid of any unwanted parts of the egg. Let cool and set aside.Skim off any foam or solid particles once the custard has cooled. The mixture should be silky yellow.



2.Tart crust: Sift the flour and powdered sugar into a mixing bowl. Add the butter, egg and salt. Use a hand mixer and mix on the lowest speed (beware of flour cloud) or just mix by hand. Once the dough comes together, on a floured surface, roll it out into a log and cut into 20 pieces. Roll the dough into a ball and slightly flatten it on your palm.



3.Place the dough into your muffin well (or tart mold) and use your thumb to press and shape the walls.



4.Egg tart: Pour the custard into the tart shells (80% full). Bake at 180ºC for20 minutes. To tell if they're done, shake your muffin pan and the egg custard should be firm and jiggly like jello. Cool for 30 minutes and gently lift them out with a butter knife.


5 comment (s):

Nico said...

I have to admit that they don't look very nice. But, still, many good things don't look good ^^
I think I'm gonna try to make those during my summer vacation. thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Oi! Frista til å prøve å laga dei sjølv. Men når du 'strain'e dei...bruke du då berre ein sånn metalsiv (sånn du bruke til mjøl)? Når det gjelde å få tart-deigen fin, er det ofte lurt å kjevle ut litt større rundingar, løfta den inn i forma og skjera av ekstra deig. Det er det amerikanerane gjer med paideig. -HF :)

Madame Grenouille said...

Ja, berre ein vanleg metalsiv (slik som du bruke til mjøl), men det er lurt å bruka den minste du har. Sivet fjernar eggeklumpar og anna tull du ikkje vil ha opp i dei :) God ide ;) Eg kan prøva det neste gong.

M said...

i have to say they do look good..only if you exchange the egg with... f. ex vanilla :)

Madame Grenouille said...

Baby M :-) I'll put some vanilla custard for you instead. But they taste like vanilla

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