Sometimes you don’t know how things are going to end up.
When I was plotting Valentine’s Day a few weeks ago, I bought two teacups on eBay. I should say here that we aren’t terribly big Valentine’s Day revellers. No roses or chocolates or the like. But it’s nice to make use of a holiday from time to time. Last year, the kids and I concocted an elaborate three course meal. Well, it was salad, roast chicken and dessert. But dessert was a heart-shaped pavlova with pomegranate seeds on top, and the salad featured heart-shaped hard-boiled eggs. We had fun. And this year, teacups seemed to fit the bill.
I picked them to match our teapot – our very first wedding present and one that has travelled the world with us. There’s romance here, right? I imagined a Valentine’s tea party with new teacups and good things to eat. That sounds like love to me.
While I was in London, the idea developed further because I ate a tart. A perfect, tiny, meringue topped tart. Filled with passionfruit curd. How could this fail to be part on my Valentine’s Day celebration?
I thought that I might recreate this idea pie-sized instead. Maybe with a crumb crust underneath. The tea party might become dessert after our meal. The pie might be glorious. But when push came to shove – or more accurately when greedy me stepped into the kitchen – I found myself coveting the London tarts all over again and thought I should do my best to recreate them. Plus, if you have a 4pm love tea party, you might just need to deal with a few more tarts by the time you’ve finished off your supper a few hours later. Tarts might be magical that way.
I’d never actually made tarts before so I wasn’t sure how to get the pastry/filling/topping relationship right. I decided to make regular pastry, blind bake small circles in a muffin tray, cool, pick up the kids from school, get the kids home, let the kids make meringue (it’s something they like doing), then assemble and bake to brown the topping. Simple.
Except tart shells are finicky. With my regular pastry, the small cups puffed up too much, leaving little room for filling. I still wanted to be generous (greedy) with the curd, so spooned in too much. When I baked them again, it inevitably leaked out a bit, making them stick to the pan. A knife got most of the tarts free but I can honestly say they weren’t gorgeous. Lovely to eat, but best by candle light. I was frustrated by the whole thing and in no mood for a love tea party. So I kept the teacups in the cupboard and thought I’d bring them out when I was feeling more lovely.
We ate a few misshapen tarts at dinner (the ugliest ones) and I planned to photograph the only-slightly crumbled and odd looking ones later, thinking that I might want to share the story with you anyway.
Then there was the flood.
You see, the Spouse has been at the DIY cookbook some more and has been infusing coffee liqueur in our pantry cupboard. Post-dinner, post-tarts, it was time to transfer this magical experiment into a bottle. He set up a funnel and coffee filter contraption on the counter. I asked that he move the not-really-pretty tarts out of the way so that they didn’t get dripped on. Which he did. The filtering seemed to be a slow process, so he took a break from watching it and went to kiss the kids goodnight. Of course, while he was out of the room, there was a mighty crash and a yelling wife and coffee liqueur everywhere. Including on the tarts. I was glad that I’d put the left-over curd in the fridge. I helped mop up the disaster. I didn’t take photos.
And that was Valentine’s Day.
But, as I said, you never know how things are going to end up.
Saturday started with pancakes, as it does most weeks around here. But the Spouse had an appointment quite early so he wolfed down a couple and then left us at the table. We did our best, but couldn’t tackle the whole batch, so I used the leftover batter to make up mini-pancakes for later. Which then inspired our elevenses love tea party. A paper table cloth to doodle on and a big box of markers and paint, the leftover passion fruit curd slathered on said pancakes with extraneous butter, a new book of fairy tales dug out of the cupboard for my two reader kids to share, and hot tea in new tea cups. The neighbours just happened to pop in mid-pot-of-tea so we made another one, found more mugs for tea and lingered all morning, crunching passion fruit seeds and enjoying the day together. It was, appropriately, lovely.