My generation grew up with the plate salad as we liked to call it. And we did like to call it – we called it boring, monotonous, “rabbit” food. Deftly arranged lettuce leaves (only one or two types), cucumber and tomato slices (not even wedges – too hefty), spring onions (more recently rebranded as salad or bunched onions) and a radish flower for fancy occasions when you had both iced water and time available. A slice of boiled ham, tongue, tinned salmon or a Kraft cheese triangle if you were really lucky. New potatoes and a dollop of salad cream (runny mayonnaise for the uninitiated).
Before Christmas is a distant memory I decided to do a round up of my highlights and tips for bringing joy into the world – a post advent calendar, if you like, since moments of high anticipation and glad tidings need not be confined to the festive season.
How to describe a curd tart? It’s not the egg custard tart of my childhood which screams pasty as in pallid and not pasty as in pic-nic, although my mum and her mother could make an excellent home-made egg custard freckled with grated nutmeg. Not forgetting that it isn’t nutmeg unless it has been lurking in the bottom of the baking drawer for a good few decades. Nor is it the Manchester Tart from school dinners with a dollop of jam on top of solid day-glo custard and a smattering of desiccated coconut, and certainly not the unctuous and ubiquitous Portuguese Tarts that grace delis, cafés and food shops.