Tag: peaches

Summer peach and vervain tart

My grandmother loved taking me on long garden walks in the beautiful countryside of Périgord. She always had a pair of old-fashioned garden scissors ready to cut off a few of her favorite herbs and flowers. She loved vervain, and religiously had a cup of infused leaves every night before going to sleep – ‘La petite tisane du soir’ she would say. She also mixed them to sliced summer peaches with a dash of sugar – she would leave the peaches to marinate in a covered bowl all day in the fridge. In Roman times, vervain was associated with the god Venus, as it had magical properties to revive lost love. This marvelous herb is such a divine match with summer peaches, so I was inspired to make a peach tart with a vervain infused custard, reminding me of sweet childhood days with my grandmother. The pastry dough is just as she used to do it, with ground almonds – extra delicious and crumbly. The combination of the citrus vervain taste with cream and peaches topped with a large cloud of fruit fool will make your summer brighter than ever.


For the pastry:

250 g/2 cups plain flour

150 g/ 2/3 cups butter (softened at room temperature)

30 g/ ¼ cup caster sugar

60 g icing/ ½ cup confectioner’s sugar

80 g/ ½ cup ground almonds

1 egg

1 pinch of salt

In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together until the mixture forms a homogenous dough. Shape into a ball, wrap in cling film and place in refrigerator for at least 2 hours. Take out 30 minutes before rolling out.

For the vervain-infused custard base:

400 ml/ 1 and a half cup milk

20 vervain leaves (fresh or dried – alternatively you can use 4 vervain teabags)

2 egg yolks

2 tbsp plain flour or cornstarch

50 g/ ¼ cup white sugar

In a saucepan, boil the milk and throw in the vervain leaves (or teabags). Take off the heat and let the vervain infuse for 10-15 minutes. In a bowl, mix the flour (or cornstarch), egg yolks and sugar together. Blend in the vervain-infused milk slowly and re-heat (on a low heat) until the mixture becomes thick and creamy. Should the mixture have lumps, you can pass it though a sieve. Set aside to cool.

For the tart:

3 large peaches, sliced (in half moon shapes)

For the fruit fool cream topping:

200 ml/1 cup whipping cream

1 plum, 1 peach, 1 nectarine (or any summer fruit you wish – they should be on the riper side)

50 g/ ¼ cup caster sugar

Chop fruits to small bits. Set aside. Whip cream until stiff, adding caster sugar halfway. Fold in the chopped fruits.

A few leaves of fresh vervain

Final stages:

On a floured parchment covered surface, roll out the dough to fit your tart pan. Butter the tart pan, line with the pastry dough, and cut out excess overhang dough approx. ¼ inch/ 1 cm off the rim. Fold in the excess dough to make a double thick rim. Pierce dough with a fork and place in the freezer for 30 minutes (this tip will prevent the dough

from shrinking when you bake it). When ready, line the inside with parchment, fill with dried beans (I use my son’s marbles), and blind bake for 15-20 minutes at 350 F/ 180° C.

Leave to rest for 10 minutes. Fill the tart base with the vervain infused custard, place the sliced peaches on top in a circular shape, pushing them in slightly, sprinkle with caster sugar and bake again for 15-20 minutes at 350 F/ 180° C. The peaches might get watery when you take out the tart from the oven – no worries, they will set nicely once the tart has cooled down. Leave to cool completely, serve with fruit fool on top of the tart, or on the side. Sprinkle with a few fresh vervain leaves.

Magrets de canard with peaches and potato cake

Today I cooked magrets de canard (duck breasts) served with peaches and a delicious potato cake. It took me 30 minutes to make, (perhaps 10 minutes more for the potato peeling and chopping). This is such a ‘gourmet’ lunch, with amazing flavors mixed together. When cooking duck breast, you must be slightly patient – it takes about 20-25 minutes altogether on a moderate heat, and it is very important to drain the duck fat every 5 minutes or the skin of the duck will burn. You want the skin to be perfectly crispy. Duck breasts have a lot of fat and melts fast. Good fat of course – duck fat is healthy for you! The parsley and garlic potato cake is inspired from good times at L’Ami Louis (32 Rue Vertbois, 75003 Paris), one of my favourite restaurants in Paris. L’Ami Louis is legendary for its gargantuan portions of amazing French food served with the finest old Parisian charm. I love going there, especially on Sunday nights, and have a feast. Amongst their superb menu, one dish stands out to my taste, and it’s the galette de pomme de terre (potato cake). This side dish is served with almost anything, topped with a huge amount of parsley and garlic. Pure pleasure.

Ingredients (for 2)

2 large duck breasts
2 peaches (peeled and sliced)
5 large potatoes
6 garlic cloves (sliced fine)
2 handfuls of chopped parsley
1 tbsp butter
Salt & Pepper

Pre-heat the oven on 180° celsius.

Just before you start cooking the duck, start frying on a medium heat the sliced potatoes with one tbsp butter for 8 minutes. Set aside.
In a large cool frying pan, place your 2 duck breasts skin touching the base. Switch on the heat to moderate and start frying. Every 5 minutes or so, when the duck fat melts, pour in a bowl, reserve the fat, and continue frying. Too much oil will make your duck skin burn.
Pour 8 tbps (or more if you wish and according to your taste) of the reserved duck fat onto the potatoes and continue frying till cooked and golden. You’d be surprised at how fast it cooks with duck fat. Flip potatoes constantly. Add salt. By 20-25 minutes they should be cooked. Put potatoes in a small cake mold and press gently with a potato masher or a large spoon so the potatoes take a good shape. You don’t want to mash the potatoes, just press them. Place in the oven for 5-8 minutes.
After 20-25 minutes of duck frying, flip over the breasts and cook maximum 5 minutes depending on how you like your ‘cuisson’ (2 mins if you like the breast rosé/pink). Meanwhile you can fry the garlic in a tsp of duck fat until golden and the sliced peach for 3 minutes. They can be fried in the same pan.
Take the potato cake out of the oven, remove from mold and place on a serving plate. Put the chopped parsley and fried garlic on top. Slice the duck breast (see photo), season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

At L'Ami Louis.