Meet Lis Harvey. Lis recently attended Bent on Cookin' the Books at the Bent on Food Cookery School and took out the People's Choice Award for her Portuguese Custard Tarts. She's a passionate cook and food lover...
Introduce yourself and your family My husband and I moved from Sydney to the Mid North Coast 6 years ago and love it here. It was our tree-change for our retirement years, but we have been so busy we’re still looking forward to that elusive state! Three of our adult children live nearby – our two married daughters and their families live just an hour away so we get to see our six grandchildren quite often. One son is based in Sydney so we don’t see him as often as we would like so we really treasure our twice-yearly family get-togethers.
You're a passionate cook, how did you learn? I love food, and eating – a disadvantage when it comes to losing weight, but a great motivation for cooking! As a young teenager I helped my mum bake cakes – especially ones with chocolate icing because they were my favourite. I can distinctly remember our first cookery lesson at school: it was in Year 8, and we made rock cakes….and we got to take them home wrapped in a tea towel. And I often helped with desserts; blackcurrant and apple pie with home-made pastry was a favourite. I started cooking for myself in my second year at Birmingham University on a single gas ring: so my mum bought me “Cooking in a bed-sitter” by Katherine Whitehorn, who was a columnist for the Observer. It had lots of recipes for what she called one-pot meals and was a great introduction to ‘proper cooking’.
What inspired you to come along to Bent on Cookin' the Books? I’ve been to a few cookery lessons at the Bent on Food Cookery School, and each time I have learnt new skills and extended my repertoire. Bent on Cookin' the Books looked like being another opportunity to enjoy cooking, have fun, try something new and meet new people – and so it proved!
What made you choose to cook Portuguese Custard Tarts? I chose Portuguese Custard Tarts mainly because my husband (who doesn’t like sweet things) had one in a coffee shop a few months ago and reckoned they were pretty good: so I wanted to give them a go! I hadn’t had a lot of success with cooked egg custard previously so these certainly came under the requirements of being a challenge.
Do you have any tips to share with someone wanting to try your recipe? I found it helped to use the hand whisk a few times to make sure there were no lumps while I was cooking the custard – but not all the time because my whisk doesn’t reach into that bottom edge of the saucepan – the wooden spatula is better for that. Each round of pastry needs to be rolled out until it is 10cm in diameter - I used a flattened cup-cake liner to help me estimate the right size. And I used an ice cream scoop to deliver equal quantities of custard into the pastry shells. The tarts are baked for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry and custard are golden. At this stage I used the grill to get the burnt bits on the top of the custard: with the tin about 3 shelves down from the top of the oven, and I watched carefully and took them out before they burnt too much!
What was the highlight of Bent on Cookin' the Books for you? It was great meeting so many lovely people who share an interest in cooking – without being too ‘precious’ about it! And getting to taste the results of our experiments – although next time I will try and stick to smaller helpings!
The theme of the next event will be Christmas gifts and canapes. Any thoughts on what you might cook? It will need to be something that keeps reasonably well, and which is easy to show off in a package of some kind..… I’m the first to admit I’m really not good at presentation, so that will be a challenge in itself! At the moment I’m thinking of a few containers of a variety of spreads or pastes that would be easy to use for canapés or finger foods, or for using up some of the Christmas leftover cold meats.
Drop by the blog on Thursday to get your hands on Lis's Portugese Custard Tart recipe!
Click here for more information on Bent on Food and the
I'm linking up with Jess from Diary of a SAHM for