After a rather short and refreshingly hectic visit to my cousin’s in Toronto, including a day-trip to Niagara, we are back on the Island. Fun times always fly!
No trip goes without a visit to a local specialty grocery store. I buy what fare I cannot find at home in St. John’s. This time, I returned to T & T. The first time I ever visited this specialty Chinese grocery, I was awestruck and spoke of it to anyone and everyone. Live geoduck had haunted my dreams for ages.
It’s a fun place, however, with lots of surprisingly alarming things that are happily eaten by many. I didn’t buy very much from T & T this time, fearing the mighty Air Canada’s temper (and baggage limits). The best purchase on this trip was to be a bottle of ice wine from the Jackson-Triggs winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.
Late March is no time for leaves but the Niagara Peninsula is beautiful, even without foliage. The vision of vineyards filled with ornamental grape leaves and cascading bunches of white and purple grapes … it has to be unbearably good. The choice to sit and enjoy the sun on the restaurant patio accompanying great spirits and good food was sadly unavailable, owing to the season. The remaining option was wine tasting. Well, well! We have no complaints then!
While the little girl ran around the building under Daddy’s watchful eyes, my cousin and I took up the hard work of tasting a few great wines. After a few good samples of this and that (including a sparkling red wine – my first) we hit the ice wine reserves.
In short order I was sold on an annoyingly slim but attractive bottle of pale pink Cabernet Franc ice wine. I suspect ice wine casts spells. This particular liquid lovely calls for a pairing with dessert – preferably with tart apples and caramel. A Normandy Apple Flan without second thoughts!
The recipe for this flan is an old one, taken from a cookbook I have owned for over twenty years. The only tweaking I ever did was to improvise a burnt-caramel top. This flan is surprisingly light, even with somewhat heavy ingredients. I find it to be delightfully sweet and tart at the same time, perfectly balancing the deep sweetness of this dessert wine.
Ice wine, you have met your first match!
So, here’s to you my dear in Toronto! Miss you both and I promise to make you some when you come see us in Newfoundland!
Normandy Apple Flan
For the short crust pastry:
6oz plain flour
pinch of salt
4 oz unsalted butter
1 oz sugar
1 tbsp cold water
For the filling:
4 large firm dessert apples
4 tbsp caster sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tbsp cornflour
8 fl oz mixed double cream and milk (half and half)
few drops of vanilla
1 tbsp butter
For the caramel top: 2 tbsp caster sugar
The pie shell can be store bought pre-made, which is easier but if you have the time there’s nothing like a home-made one.
To make the short crust pastry sift the flour into a bowl rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the water gradually and mix to a firm dough. Turn out on to a floured surface and use to line a use to line a 25cm/10 in french fluted flan tin. Chill.
Peel, core and half the apples, then slice. Arrange in the pastry case and sprinkle with 1 tbsp sugar. bake for 20 minutes at 400F.Take out pastry and lower temperature to 350F.
Mix together the remaining sugar, egg yolks ans corn flour. Heat the cream and milk together and pour over the milk mixture, stirring all the time. Strain and add the vanilla essence, then pour carefully into the pastry case. Return the tart to the oven for 20 minutes until the custard is set. Half way through cooking dot the apples with butter.
For the caramel top, sprinkle the caster sugar on top of the flan and set under broil for 3 to 5 minutes, keeping an eye on the intensity of the caramel. Serve warm or cold.