Jane Eyre: An Autobiography by Charlotte Bronte

I ain’t gonna deny it, Mr. Rochester is SEXY! Oh my lord almighty. Dark, mysterious, distant and yet romantic, rides a horse, is sarcastic, dresses in black. I could bang Mr. Rochester like a screen door from here til August……though it may also have to do with the fact that my very first big-screen Mr. Rochester was played by the ever-so-sexy Timothy Dalton, whom I adored as James Bond, and with whom I could have happily stayed in bed all day as his character Sir Malcolm Murray in Penny Dreadful.

1994545

Oh, the plotline? Ahem. (fanning myself)

2018-05-02 15.19.00_resized.jpg

It’s one trial after tribulation for poor Jane Eyre. Set in Victorian England, Jane Eyre is orphaned as a child, and goes to live with her horrible aunt and horrible cousins. She is later sent to a horrible boarding school with mostly horrible teachers and a horrible headmaster. She does become friends with Helen, who of course, dies horribly and leaves Jane alone. Jane grows up and becomes a model student, and has such good school credentials that she is able to apply for governess positions. She is hired to work caring for a little French girl called Adele at Thornfield Hall. The master of Thornfield Hall is the moody, brooding, sarcastic, attractive (of course he is!) Mr. Rochester. And the fun begins.

2018-05-02 15.26.36_resized

Jane finds herself falling in love with Mr. Rochester – who wouldn’t in that setting? – and they end up becoming engaged. But there is a mystery at the heart of Thornfield Hall, that being Mr. Rochester still has a wife, albeit a lunatic nutcase named Berthe whom he keeps in the attic with a nurse, medications, padded walls, etc., so she can’t escape and cause harm. But the truth comes out on Jane and Mr. Rochester’s wedding day.

2018-05-02 15.22.32_resized

If you have any kind of a heart or sense, you’ll figure out how it all ends. But as with all good books, the pleasure lies in the journey and not the destination. I’d held off reading it for many years, partly because I already knew the storyline from the numerous movie and TV versions out there, and partly because I was expecting lugubrious, long-winded prose that went on for pages before moving the story forward. Not so, and I was pleasantly surprised at how timeless the book is. Jane is a great character, self-aware and self-effacing, yet honest with herself and others.

2018-05-02 15.23.17_resized

Being set in Victorian England, the usual food mentions abound. Tea, bread, cakes, butter, eggs, roast beef, potatoes, etc. There’s a passage when Jane and Adele are waiting for a large party to start at Thornfield Hall, when Mr. Rochester has purposely invited Blanche Ingram and pretends to fall in love with her, to somewhat torture Jane. Jane and Adele await their summons as they enjoy a nice meal.

2018-05-02 15.27.08_resized

“Do you think Mr. Rochester will send for us by-and-by, after dinner?” “No, indeed, I don’t; Mr. Rochester has something else to think about. Never mind the ladies to-night; perhaps you will see them to-morrow. Here is your dinner.” She was really hungry, so the chicken and tarts secured to divert her attention for a time.

2018-05-02 15.21.43_resized

Not being a sweets person, I thought about savory tarts. Doesn’t that sound yum? Savory chicken tarts with mushrooms and tomatoes were what I decided upon, because those are three of my favorite things, and also because I was watching a rerun of those classic eccentric British cooks, The Two Fat Ladies, and one of them made mini savory tarts topped with tomato. So I was inspired to recreate it in my own way.

2018-05-02 15.19.31_resized

INGREDIENTS
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of butter, ice-cold and cut into cubes
1 egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon salt
Ice water, as needed
3 chicken thighs, poached
1/2 cup mushrooms
1 shallot
1 tablespoon each of dried parsley, dried thyme, dried rosemary and dried sage
2 heirloom tomatoes, room temperature
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

METHOD
For the tart pastry, add the flour into the mixing bowl of your most awesome red Kitchen Aid. Add the salt, and cube by cube, mix in the ice-cold butter with the pastry hook attachment so that it gradually amalgamates. You want somewhat of a rubbly texture.

2018-05-02 16.04.20_resized.jpg

Add in the egg and increase the mixing speed.

2018-05-02 15.23.49_resized

Add in a dash or two of ice water, and watch the pastry hook mix the dough until it forms a ball. You will likely need to increase the mixing speed but just watch. It’s like magic.

2018-05-02 15.24.10_resized

Dump out the pastry ball onto some plastic, mold it so it’s round, wrap it up, and refrigerate for at least an hour, if not more.

2018-05-02 15.24.44_resized

Poach the chicken thighs for about 30 minutes, and allow to cool before cutting into chunks.

2018-05-02 15.25.32_resized

Saute the mushrooms and shallot with the dried herbs and some garlic powder. Let cool, and mix with the chicken.

2018-05-02 15.27.25_resized

Roll out the pastry dough, and cut out small rounds. Press into a tart pan but don’t stretch the dough. (And you can see why no one has ever said to me “Vanessa, you should really give up your day job and bake tarts!”)

2018-05-02 15.29.18_resized.jpg

Fill each tart pan with a mix of chicken, mushroom and shallot, top with tomato slices and sprinkle over some cheese.

2018-05-02 15.16.39_resized

Bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese melts and gets bubbly and brown and luscious. Let cool a bit and remove from the tart pans. Then imagine Mr. Rochester himself feeding them to you, delicious bite by delicious bite. Oh my!

2018-05-02 16.47.38_resized.jpg

Advertisements

22 thoughts on “Jane Eyre: An Autobiography by Charlotte Bronte

    1. Well, there is something to be said for those brooding mysterious masculine types. The tarts really were yum, although I was the most proud of making the pastry, since I can’t bake to save my life. Thank you for stopping by and commenting, especially from someone who own writing I admire so much.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. “Bang like a screen door” πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ You totally just made my day with that comment. 😁 I can’t believe I haven’t read Jane Eyre yet. On my list. I need to read more classics this year. Awesome recipe too. I hardly ever make tarts and they look so beautiful. Will save the recipe for sure. 😍 Beautiful pics and great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jen! I think it’s an old southern saying because I seem to remember a family member of mine who lives in the South saying something like that about a good looking man. It just seemed totally appropriate. Don’t ask me why. The book was a great read, and like I said in the review, actually pretty timeless and easy to get through. So glad you enjoyed it. And the Tarts came out really good, although as you obviously see the pictures, I can’t roll out dough worth a damn. But they tasted good and that’s all that matters, right?

      Like

    1. Right?! Is it Timothy Dalton not the most smoking-hot thing you’ve ever seen? And seriously, as he’s gotten older it’s just gotten better. But to see him in his heyday as Mr Rochester, oh my God. I’m so glad you also see the intellectual side of Jane Eyre. Between the hot man and the good food, it is intelligent Book Lovers dream. LOL

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s