Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Chestnuts at Dournazac and a pear & chocolate crumble

No making foie gras for me this weekend - there was just no time! On Friday evening we were invited to family friends who have a farm outside of Limoges for dinner! It was a typical rustic dinner served up by a woman who has never owned a cookbook or a weighing scales and boy was it delicious. This was not a meal for the faint hearted or those watching either their weight or cholestral! We started with her homemade pork pate on chunky slices of bread washed down with champagne of course! We then moved on to starters of avocado filled with tuna and hard boiled farm eggs with tomatoes from her garden before the piece de resistance - roast goose served with potatoes fried in goosefat with a bit of butter thrown in for good measure! Our host even killed the goose herself!

On Sunday morning we headed off bright and early to the chestnut festival at Dornazac which is about 30 mins drive south of Limoges. It was a typical small town affair with lots of stands selling not just chestnuts but among other things; local cheeses,enormous freshly baked breads, cider and apple juice (which was being made on site!), honey - including chestnut honey, walnuts and demi baguttes filled with black pudding made from chestnuts of course!

Our find of the day was local Cepes - we bought 2.5kilos at €12/kg which we served up later that evening in omlettes made with farm fresh eggs laid - a parting gift on Friday evening. We also bought some cider and some local goats cheeses.

Unfortunately we had missed the fact that a three gourmet meal was being served up at midday for €20 but as father in law had been left at home in charge of roasting the chicken it would have been rude not go home for lunch as planned.

It was with heavy bags we headed back to Paris on the train - loaded up with the best of vegetables from the parents in laws' garden, pears, gibiers and pate from the farm we had visited on Friday evening, home made jams, a large quantity of cepes and about a tonne of walnuts which we discovered right at the bottom of the rucksack which explained why it took two of us to hoist the rucksack on to the train!

The pears did not weather the train journey well - so I decided to transform them into dessert that evening. I love the pear and chocolate tarts you find in Parisien patisseries with their frangipane filling - and this crumble was the the closest thing that my cupboard could afford me!

For six people you will need:

9 ripe pears (but not too over ripe!)
200g of the best dark chocolate you can afford
juice of half a lemon
1 packet of vanilla sugar
110g butter
60g ground almonds and 100g plain flour
150g of brown sugar
pinch of salt

To make:
peel and core the pears - and cut into small cubes - try to retain juice
add lemon juice to prevent pears from discolouring
break the chocolate into small pieces
divide the pears between 6 ramekins or mini cocottes
pour over the retained juice (if any)
sprinkle the chocolate over the pears
sprinkle over the vanilla sugar

next make the crumble by mixing the butter, ground almonds, sugar and salt using your fingers until you have a crumble like consistency (try to be light with the finger work and make sure your butter is cold) then divide the crumble between the six ramekins

bake in a preheated oven (180°c) for 20 - 25 mins until golden on top. they can be served hot or lukewarm with a good vanilla ice cream on the side!

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