Border Lines

From London to Berwick: Culture shock? Oh, yes!

A mother & daughter moment with pastel de nata

So the 15-year-old has just been to Portugal. She came home longing for those gorgeous, sticky custard pastries whose sweetness is so cleverly balanced by an ethereal hint of lemon and cinnamon. She remembered that I had a recipe tucked away somewhere and asked me to dig it out. Turns out it was an old BBC Good Food recipe (this is a slightly different recipe to the one we tried).

I remember so keenly cooking with my Mum. Mostly it involved me licking the spoon after cake-making, making pastry animals with off-cuts, and stirring grated cheese into cheese sauce and saying, ‘I’m bored’. Mum always maintained that I showed no interest in cooking whatsoever and that trying to teach me was pointless. Despite this, I do remember Mum showing me how to make a roux (so useful!). I suspect that my love of cooking comes largely from hanging around and watching her cook (and eating the results!) and, even if in her eyes I was disdainful of it all, her skills seem to have rubbed off: I’m a pretty good cook!

So I was chuffed that the 15-year-old wanted to cook with me. In fact she’s been showing an increasing interest in experimenting – cooking us scrambled eggs for lunch, trying out different ways with pancakes etc. But Portuguese egg custard tarts would certainly be pushing her skills.

I was in charge of weighing and setting out equipment. The 15-year-old occupied herself with being a bit tetchy (she’d been working late as a pot-washer in a local hotel the previous night!) and making the cinnamon-lemon syrup and the custard. This was slightly fraught but much beating and a quick sieve solved everything (isn’t that exactly the way to learn how ingredients behave?)!

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The custard cooling post beating and sieving

Energy levels had waned by the time it came to rolling and cutting the ready-roll puff pastry! However, the repartee while I made pastry discs (all that making pastry animals paid off Mum!) and the 15-year-old inserted them into the buttered muffin tray was second to none!

Look, the result wasn’t perfect – I forgot to put the muffin tray on a pre-heated baking sheet so we had a bit of Mary Berry’s proverbial soggy bottoms. But they tasted great. And maybe this will be a moment that my 15-year-old will look back on warmly one day – I know I shall.

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