Apple & rhubarb tartlet
Preparation and cooking time: 1hr 15min
Among the farms and fields of eastern Normandy, chef Jordan Fouchet makes the most of the best local produce for his delicate apple and rhubarb tartlet served at the chic Manoir de Surville, a favourite escape for Parisians. And when the ingredients aren’t available, seasonality provides a perfect solution. In the land around the pristine village of Surville, south of Rouen in eastern Normandy, the wheat fields roll with the seasons. In spring, the crop is just burgeoning green sprouts, but by late summer the fields have become a sea of gold, rippling in the breeze. The harvested wheat is then ground to become flour and goes on to be used in a wonderful array of breads, cakes and tarts across France.
In the heart of the village, the seasons also come into play for a simple fruit tart created by Jordan, which is served at the Manoir de Surville. At the stylish B&B, set in a beautifully restored farmhouse, Jordan picks the best produce to create his dessert. “It’s better to work with local products. They’re fresh, seasonal and that’s important,” he says. This being Normandy, the obvious fruit to include are its famous apples, which he couples with rhubarb, sourced from a farmer just 15 minutes from the Manoir. But in the height of summer, when the rhubarb harvest is slowed to allow the plant to gain energy stores for the winter, there is less available. So what to do when you can’t find your chosen ingredient? Jordan’s answer is simple: adapt the recipe. “The compote can be any fruit. In summer, you can use strawberries, cherries, peaches. As long as the compote is reduced down [and not too watery], it will work well in the tart.” You can then simply caramelise slices of another fruit to put on the top. For added freshness, his cuisine draws on garden herbs, particularly verveine (lemon verbena), a herb that the French adore, thanks to its citrus aroma. As he places the tiny green leaf on the top of the perfectly poised apple globes, Jordan declares: “Voilà! It’s ready to taste!”
For the pastry
- 250g (83/4oz) plain flour, plus extra for rolling the pastry
- 100g (31/2oz) icing sugar
- 30g (1oz) ground hazelnuts (or ground almonds)
- Pinch of salt
- 100g (31/2oz) butter
- 1 egg yolk
For the compote
- 2 sticks of rhubarb
- Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
- 20g (3/4oz) butter
- 100g (31/2oz) caster sugar
- Water, optional
- 2 Jonagold apples (or firm-fleshed apples)
- Verbena leaves, to serve
- Vanilla ice cream, to serve
For the pastry
In a bowl (or food processor), mix the flour, icing sugar, ground hazelnuts and salt. Then add the butter.
Add the egg yolk and combine.
Form the mixture into a ball, wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
For the compote
Wash the rhubarb and cut it into small cubes.
In a saucepan, add the rhubarb, vanilla seeds, the butter and half of the sugar and cook for 30 minutes. Add a small amount of water if it starts to boil dry. Put in a bowl and bring to room temperature before setting aside in the fridge until ready to serve.
Peel and core the apples, and then use a melon baller to create small globes.
Pour the remainder of the sugar into a frying pan and add the apple globes. Fry for six to eight minutes until the apples are caramelised.
The apple globes are quite tricky to create (it takes practice!), half-circles do just as well or cut them into cubes. You can also make one large tart, rather than four small ones.
IMAGE © LONELY PLANET/ RIVER THOMPSON
First printed in our sister publication France Today
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