One of the best uses of this season's abundant strawberries is a tarte tatin. A layer of fresh strawberries is baked with a layer of buttery puff pastry. On serving you upend the pan so that the glistening strawberries sit on top and serve it with rich cream.
Mr NQN often calls me a mischief maker - ironic because he is constantly playing pranks on people. But it was on a recent trip to the country that we encouraged our single friend Belinda to enter the world of online dating by signing up to Tinder. Belinda has been separated for a while now and has resigned herself to either marrying Ryan Gosling or giving up dating altogether until her pre-teen girls grow old.
The selection on Tinder has not been how shall we say...encouraging. She often screen grabs and sends pics of dubious offerings to me because I am absolutely fascinated by what is happening out there in the singles pool. There was the man that looked menacingly at the camera while holding a knife, the guy with a massive sweat stain, a guy who used his wedding photo and the man dressed as a terrifying clown complete with bloody fangs and crazy eyes.
Whenever we meet up, I ask her for her phone and eagerly swipe through all of the options. Once I got in trouble for swiping right (aka saying "yes") for a man in a super hero costume but Your Honour I get confused and I'm unco-ordinated at the best of times. Since then, I only swipe right for the men that I would date myself while Mr NQN cheekily swipes right to the men dressed as fairies and other oddities.
What is one woman's trash might be another woman's treasure or so the saying goes. But when discussing it with a group of girlfriends I realised that all we seek is the male unicorn. That is, the man that is attractive but has no idea how good looking he actually is. Oh and also sweet, funny, kind and ambitious but not insanely so. And not likely to mail you a pic of their genitals in lieu of a hello! A friend even suggested a drinking game that goes a little like this: "Shots when they pose with a tiger or a snake. Shots when they ask to you send nudes/for sex. Skull when you see a d**k pic."
In lieu of a male unicorn (and you know I believe in them, but they are rare-ish but lovely to find), may I offer you a sweet treat? Unlike unicorns, this is a cinch. Strawberries are so bountiful nowadays and you can often find punnets for a pittance. What I really liked about this is that as far as tarte tatins go, it's really, really easy. You skip cooking the apples as strawberries cook easily and all you have to do is make a caramel, place the strawberries and then the pastry and bake! That's it! The buttery pastry and the sweet strawberries and cream go so well together that we wondered why we hadn't seen this combination more often. Also it is much easier than the elusive male unicorn!
So tell me Dear Reader, have you had any experiences on Tinder? And what is your male or female unicorn like? Have you made a tarte tatin before? The first time I made it, I was so intimidated until I realised how straight forward it was!
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Strawberry Tarte Tatin
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott/Not Quite Nigella
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
- 500g/1pound fresh strawberries, washed
- 100g/3.5ozs. vanilla sugar (or use caster/superfine sugar and add vanilla after you add the butter)
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons butter, cubed
- 2 sheets puff pastry
- Cream or ice cream to serve
Step 1 - Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Line a springform tin with baking parchment on the base (I use a BBQ liner so that it is reusable. Remove the calyx from the strawberries.
Step 2 - Place the sugar and water in a heavy bottomed saucepan and heat on medium to high heat. Do not stir but allow the sugar to melt and caramelise - you can tip the pan gently from side to side to help the caramel develop. When it is ready, pour it into the prepared tin. Top with the strawberries and cubes of butter (I used the larger ones around the circumference and the smaller ones in the centre) and then top with the pastry folding over any corners. If you have time, you can pop this into the fridge for 30 minutes.
Step 3 - Place this on another tray (just in case it leaks as the strawberries release a lot of liquid) and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until pastry is puffed and golden. There will be a lot of strawberry juice so allow most of it to drain off by unclipping the side collar of the tin. While still hot, tip the tarte tatin upside down onto the serving plate - a couple of strawberries might fall off (that always happens) and just place them back on top. Serve with vanilla cream or ice cream.