French apple flan, my version of a bistro dessert

Classy comfort food.

Classy comfort food.

The week before last was a bad week.  Last week was worse.  My kids and dog were threatened with a firearm, then I discovered my daughter was the victim of some hate email, my dad had a bad round of chemo, but hey, we all laagered-up (that’s gathered around in a protective circle for you non-South Africans, and not lagered-up as in Castle Lager) and we dealt with it.  Or so I thought.  Obviously some of us are better at dealing than others and the residual fallout inevitably splashed over into the rest of my week.

In my heart of hearts I’ve always had this vision of myself as an elegantly clad Greta Garbo type.  Bizarrely, my husband has this same image.  And I say bizarrely because this elegant, organised alter-ego is diametrically opposed to the reality of my life.  I’m actually more Goldie Hawn than Greta Garbo, more Commedia del’arte than Film Noir.

I won’t go into all the sordid details, I’ll just hit you with the highlights.  Sunday afternoon, packed Deli, one of our regular customers happens to be sitting in the window overlooking the busy road.  He quietly informs me that there’s a bit of an odd situation going on with the parked cars.  A car alarm is going off and they have just seen someone disappearing into the car.  They think he could be hotwiring it.  Okay, I say, and I step outside to take a look.  So far this is all in the realms of possibility.  This is South Africa we are talking about.  I’m just going to check it out so I can ask around the deli if it is anyone’s car.  ‘Oh fudge!’  I murmer very quietly (not) ‘That’s my dad’s car!’  and I promptly abandon the shop and take off running up the road.  Now I’m not really very fond of running, and halfway there common sense starts to rear its unwelcome head.  What am I going to do if someone is trying to steal my dad’s car? 

I arrive on the scene and slightly apprehensively, peer into the car only to find one of our kp’s on his knees with a dustpan and broom in his hands, cleaning out the car for my dad.  ‘Oh, it’s you Alex’  I say, to which inane comment I get a perfectly reasonable blank look.  I turn around to go back to work, only to find the entire human contents of the deli on the pavement, with one socially minded gent running up the road behind me, ready to back me up.  Needless to say, his coffee went on my tab, and yes, I’m still blushing.

Monday was no less harrowing as we had to put our 15 year old siamese cat to sleep.  We were all still reeling, and after such a long week at the deli no-one had had time to go shopping for home.  The kids got home from school, we dug a grave next to our other cat in the garden and interred him with due ceremony and one of his favourite shortbread biscuits for the journey.  Then I got busy scrounging through a very bare larder in the effort to cobble together some sort of supper.  1 cup of jasmine rice, a few bits of salad, a small box of frozen shrimp and a package of frozen marinara mix.  Unusual finds really as we generally don’t eat frozen shrimp and/or marinara mix.  Still, neccessity is the mother of invention.  I picked some lemon thyme from my mom’s pot at the front door, heated some butter, put the rice on to cook and flung the contents of the freezer into the buttery pan. 

‘Oh fudge!’ I murmered genteely (again not!) ‘Look at this!  This is shocking!  There’s a massive rusty fishhoek in this marinara mix!  I can’t believe this!’  All wrapped up with a tracer (I think that’s what it’s called, I’m a cook, not a fisherman) and loads of fishing line.  My genteel murmer must have been reaching concert level decibals because my mom heard me from upstairs. 

‘What are you cooking?’  she called down to me.  ‘Don’t use the stuff in the freezer, that’s Tud’s bait!’

You can always rely on your family to back you up in a crisis.  But clearly mine didn’t fully appreciate how close to the edge I was.  Amidst their gales of laughter I flung ‘supper’ in the bin, stuck a few stale slices of sourdough in the toaster, and opened an emergency tin of pilchards in tomato sauce, before stomping downstairs to sulk. 

My sister has been dining out on this story all week, but I have only just managed to bring myself to repeat it, perhaps so you will understand why I completely and utterly failed to send in my entry for Johanna’s round of WTSIM… Bistro Food event.  She mentioned the dearth of desserts in the event, but the roundup was full of fabulous dishes so pop on over and check it out.  And anyway, although this is a French apple flan recipe, I’m not entirely sure it is Bistro Food.  It’s certainly the comfortingly country French version of a great British pub Apple Pie, and served while still warm with lashings of whipped cream, made me feel better, even after the fortnight from hell!

The recipe is posted to the sidebar (as usual), so enjoy.

13 Responses to “French apple flan, my version of a bistro dessert”

  1. on 16 Jun 2009 at 11:50 am johanna

    sure i’ll include it… too good to be left out and we were strangely lacking desserts anyway… will add as soon as i get a mo!

  2. on 17 Jun 2009 at 12:41 am Kit

    Sorry to hear about your hellish two weeks – the marinara bait mix must have been the real last straw – I would have been howling, not just sulking! Hope it all gets a whole lot better now.

    The apple flan looks wonderful.

    Kit’s last blog post..Winter in the Western Cape

  3. on 17 Jun 2009 at 4:19 am African Vanielje

    Thanks Johanna. It was a great roundup, and comfort food (aka bistro food) is my favourite.

    Thanks Kit. I’m the queen of sulk. Next to me my daughter is only a princess! Howling tends to cut the sulk right out from underneath you, but I hear you.

    The tart is plain, but yum. perfect comfort food.

  4. on 17 Jun 2009 at 7:18 am ilva

    I am having the first week you are talking about right now so now I know what to expect next week… I think I will make your apple flan to prepare myself!

    ilva’s last blog post..straight on

  5. on 18 Jun 2009 at 5:30 am flox

    Angel, you really do look like Greta ! (except when you were running down the pavement-sorry!)
    And you honestly are the very best at ‘cowboy food’ (even Ren says so)
    but I have to tell … the whole ‘bait dinner saga’ was so, so much funnier than you gracefully managed to type.
    I think it is the only reason I made it through the doldrums!!

    (the sister who fell off the couch in hi-sterics)

  6. on 18 Jun 2009 at 10:12 am African Vanielje

    Thanks Flox. Ilva, you may need to lay in a stock of chocolate brownies too. Good luck!

  7. on 20 Jun 2009 at 1:49 am Marla

    My oh my, what a week or two or three. Surely it can only get better. The post still has me chuckling and I think a flinging into the bin and a sulk were only fitting.

    Marla’s last blog post..Tuxedo Strawberry

  8. on 21 Jun 2009 at 9:01 am African Vanielje

    Thank you Marla. Support is so important! Note my sister’s (Flox) complete lack of remorse!

  9. on 21 Jun 2009 at 9:23 am Bellini Valli

    I guess that is why they call it the cycle of life because sometimes it leaves our heads spinning or reeling (pun intended:D)I feel for you Inge and you know that the rest of the month is full of promise:D

  10. on 23 Jun 2009 at 3:41 am African Vanielje

    Val, the month’s almost over, but thanks for the thought. SOmetimes a little wallowing is constructive and next month should be better. Anyway, if all else fails there are always chocolate brownies.

  11. on 23 Jun 2009 at 11:15 am Jeanne

    Oh, but you DO look like Greta Garbo!! And I’m sorry, but I do love that “marinara mix” story… You can always rely on your family to remind you of your mistakes 😉

    As for the threatening with firearm bit… and the e-mail hate campaign… WTF??????? You need to send me that promised e-mail!

    Jeanne’s last blog post..Saturday Snapshots #43

  12. on 24 Jun 2009 at 7:00 am African Vanielje

    I know it’s long overdue doll! On its way, I promise.

  13. on 22 Jul 2009 at 4:55 am Coffee & Vanilla

    That looks yummy! :)

    Have a nice day and don’t forget to try your luck in the quiz on my site, to win handmade hair cosmetics by Curl Harmony 😉


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