Tourists throng the morning markets, cooing over the variety of strawberries available. For strawberry is no catch-all term in France. Each variety, from Seascape to Marras des Bois has its own characteristics, its own uses in the kitchen.
But while the tourists pile their baskets high with berries, shining aubergines, and slim green courgettes, the locals crowd around the fromagerie, queueing for trays of cabecous.
Cabecous are the small round disk of pungent goats' cheese popular in the Perigord. You will see them in lunch baskets, on assiettes des fromages, and being nibbled slowly over glasses of Ricard.
When cooked, the strong flavours of a cabecou sec mellow. Served with an onion chutney and a glass of Bergerac red, tarte cabecou is the perfect end to a morning spent patrolling the market for EU inspectors.
375g puff pastry (good shop-bought is fine)
4 cabecou of your choice
onion chutney or jam
beaten egg and milk for glaze (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 180º C.
2. Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a 1 euro coin.
3. Cut the pastry into four circles. The circles should be big enough for each cabecou to sit inside, leaving a 1 centimetre border.
4. Using a sharp knife, score a border around the cabecou, making sure not to cut all the way through. Remove the cabecou and use a fork to prick the area inside the border.
5. Put the pastry disks on a baking tray and bake for 7 minutes. When you take them out of the oven, the centres will have puffed up. Wait for the steam inside to cool, and press the centres flat. Take care – any remaining steam will be hot.
6. Spread a layer of onion chutney inside the border, and place the cabecou on top. Season as desired. If you have chosen to glaze your tarts, brush the border before baking.
7. Return to the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
Serve with a mixed leaf salad dressed in walnut vinaigrette. If you have chosen young cabecous for your tarts, a hazlenut vinaigrette would be a better match.