Can you be bothered to make a redcurrant tart? You’d better be, as the bushes in the garden are dripping with fruit, and it’s such a good opportunity to eat pudding for breakfast.
Start by picking the redcurrants. If the birds haven’t got to them first, if the bushes are in full sun, if all the stars have aligned and the squirrels have gone on holiday, all you’ll need is a bowl and patience.
The bushes came with you when you let the allotment go – the first thing you did in this house was put in a veg patch, and so you said to the Council you were moving on. Farewell, rented allotment, where you had happy (and frustrating) times, and grew every year a bumper harvest of strawberries. But you’d just put some fruit bushes in, and they’d cost a lot. You couldn’t really afford to leave them behind.
So Dad told you to dig some holes ready in the new garden for the currant bushes, which he thought would transplant just fine. They’re tough as old boots, Trude, but you must do right by them. He explained how to water the holes for days, beforehand. He detailed the pruning of the bushes, the careful digging them out, the wrapping of the root ball in damp sacks. You can still see your hands doing it.
You brought them home and heeled them in – in the wrong spot, as it turned out, and although they seemed to thrive, only two of them now bear any fruit.
But what fruit.
Strands of red berries, sour and sweet both. So many jewels there for the taking. Fill the bowl high.
Back in the kitchen, remove the stalks with a fork. The redcurrants will fly everywhere, you’ll stand on them, and the floor will be sticky for days.
Bash some biscuits with a rolling pin and mix with melted butter. Into a tin. That’s the base of the tart. Resist eating the whole lot now, from a teaspoon.
Separate an egg (your favourite job! So gloopy). Whisk the white. Beat the egg yolk with sugar. Fold in an entire pot of mascarpone, and some creme fraiche, drizzle in a few drops of lemon juice. Fold in the egg white. Tip the resulting, sweet, pale yellowy-white mixture onto the biscuit base.
Scatter on the redcurrants. Be generous (they’re so good for you!). Do you have garden raspberries too? All the better. Don’t wash them. They’ll go squidgy, and anyway, greenflies are welcome. Their feet make such a pretty pattern when they step in the cream.
Let it settle a little bit in the fridge.
This tart won’t last long, and that’s all to the good, as the fruit will turn before you know it. You must eat lots, and quickly.
Thus, a slice at breakfast is perfectly reasonable, and really quite sensible.
PS: My Dad never did things by halves. I miss him.
PPS: This recipe was originally Nigella Lawson’s, from this book.
PPPS: Being enamoured by Nigella Lawson was another thing my Dad didn’t do by halves. I am inclined to agree with his ardour.
PPPPS: To do list update: I went for my blood test and didn’t faint. She didn’t ask tricky questions, so I’m safe until next time. It rained hard, so I didn’t have to water the garden, but I forgot P’s sports kit was on the line at the same time. All my work went OK (I hope). The mouse is still under the dresser. The cats keep looking at me imploringly. I can’t move the dresser. They can’t reach the mouse. It is an intractable situation. Website: who needs a new website anyway. Felix? Who knows. No word from France.