Elevenses

Elevenses

By
Jorge Fernandez and Rick Wells
Contains
3 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
ISBN
9781784880118

The mid-morning snack

Elevenses always seems like a peculiarly British thing, but with a little research it appears the phenomenon is widespread across many places and cultures. As with its afternoon equivalent, teatime, habits and expectations vary widely. Depending on what time your day starts, there is often that gap that somehow arises between breakfast and lunch; a gap that needs filling. Clearly for many urban workers coffee is breakfast, but for those who don’t have their fix first thing, ‘coffee time’ means around 11 o’clock. While a perfect flat white or ‘Stumpy’ on its own may do the trick, the need invariably arises for a little something to accompany it, which can be either sweet or savoury.

For Jorge, that ideal ‘little something’ comes in the shape of a Pastéis de Nata, the classic Portuguese custard tart, in part a consequence of many years living in the vicinity of Lisboa, the Portuguese patisserie in Golborne Road, Notting Hill. When freshly made, with crisp, flaky pastry and a slightly burned caramelised custard top, they can be seriously addictive; not unlike the perfect madeleine in that sense. One is never quite enough.

On the subject of addictions, one of the more curious food and drink pairings is coffee with a cheese straw. Why it works is hard to say, but it does. And if you’re feeling like breakfast was inadequate, the full-on toasted cheese made with Montgomery’s Cheddar and finely chopped leek and onion on Poilâne bread grilled to a crisp, also hits the elevenses spot.

Pastéis de nata

Pastéis de nata, the traditional Portuguese custard tarts, have been a feature of the Fernandez & Wells counter from day one. That’s not to say that they have been consistently present on our counters. Their addictive qualities, especially when served with a good espresso, became apparent to both of us while living for a time in the vicinity of London’s Portuguese communities in both Stockwell and the Golborne Road area of Notting Hill. They do, however, need to be fresh, and the pastry base suitably crispy – ideally with the custard having a slightly burned, caramelised top. Achieving this consistently is difficult, so we set about trying to make our own. First attempts with our ever-obliging baker Aleem were not a great success and it wasn’t until we had the idea of doing our take on a mince pie for Christmas that we had a breakthrough. The use of croissant dough for the base and the addition of spiced fruit mincemeat to the custard proved something of a sensation. This has now been adapted for our version of the famous nata. Absolutely perfect with an espresso.

Recipes in this Chapter

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