Sunday, 14 August 2011

Tarte de nata

Not much of a summer and no holiday plans made, we have to find ways of bringing sun in our kitchen. A few weeks ago we met a lovely Portugese woman who is an artist and lives in Brussels, she invited us for lunch and told us she would teach us how to make the Portugese custard tarts pasteies de nata. It rained again that day when we arrived in St Gilles, but what she made for us in her kitchen tasted of sun and the summer holiday we didn't have.

No better way to learn a traditional recipe than from someone who inherited it from her grandmother and mother. Ever since we first tasted pasteis de nata in one of the Portugese bakeries at the end of Portobello Road in London we have been wanting to find the perfect recipe, so we were like two groupies taking notes and photos in her kitchen. We have never been to Portugal - but it's high on our list. We never have tasted the pasteis de nata in their country of origine, but the bakery on Portobello Road looked very much the real thing with long rows of Portugese standing at the till, nata in one hand and strong espresso in the other.

Our Portugese friend gave a little twist to the traditional nata that are usually small tarts. Under the motto of 'the more nata the better' she had opted for a real nata pie, the XL version. How did she know we have such a sweet tooth when it comes to custard tarts...

Rita's tarte de nata

1 cinnamon stick
1 piece of orange peel
250 gr sugar
1,5 dl water
250 ml cream
250 ml milk
60 g corn starch
6 egg yolks
1 pack puff pastry

Heat the oven to 200°C. Add sugar to the water and bring to boil with the cinnamon stick and orange peel in. Let it boil for about 3-4 minutes.
Mix cream, milk and cornstarch in a separate bowl and add the egg yolks. Roll out the pastry in a pie tin and prick some holes in it with a fork.
Take the cinnamon stick and orange peel out of the water and pour the sugar water with the cream and milk mixture. Pour everything in the pie tin and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.

In the mean while our Portugese friend had put port and cheese on the table for starters. We normally have this at the end of the meal but we are such cheese lovers we can eat cheese anytime of the day (euh, but not Port in the morning of course!).

The cheese came from the area of Sieta, in the middle of Portugal, and it was delish. A creamy texture that worked wonders with the smooth port taste. We had to stop ourselves from eating more or else there was no more space left in our tummy for the nata!

We couldn't help but taking a peek at the bottles of olive oil and tins of tuna she has in her kitchen and we so loved the packaging of these two, worth a photo.

Lunch was a fried shrimp pancake and tomato and rice dish, and more tastings of tuna and cheese, while beautiful fado music filled the room. Close our eyes and we are in Porto.

A sweet cinnamon smell came out of the kitchen when the nata pie was ready. We should have waited a bit longer but we ate a piece still a bit warm, dusted with cinnamon powder. And then we ate another piece.

No more looking for the perfect nata recipe from now!

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