Can you smell the fumes?
I am quite the hoarder of kitchen miscellany. But my kitchen being the size of a galley, it's really a habit I can't afford. Every available surface is cluttered with gear - it's gotten so out-of-hand it's spilled out into the living room, haphazardly piled onto some shelves. So for the longest time, I resisted acquiring a nutmeg mill as a show of self-discipline, figuring that hey, every little bit counts, no? And today, I remain a proudly nutmeg mill-less cook. You see, I've since discovered through sheer chance that my Microplane grater can do it all, and if you ask me, do it better. The gratings fall from the razor sharp edges fine yet fluffy. This texture, as opposed to a powdery one, makes nutmeg taste, well, more like nutmeg.
If you pay heed to the Nigella-ism that nothing channels your latent domestic goddess like "trailing nutmeggy fumes of baking pie", then the custard tart literally (and conveniently) puts two and two together for you. I use pate brisee instead of pate sucree for my tart case, finding its crisp structure a better foil for the velvety filling, its slight saltiness a pleasing contrast to the sweetly eggy depths. For the filling, I stir together eggs, sugar, hot milk, and pure vanilla extract (you could infuse the milk with a split vanilla bean instead), omitting the cream many recipes call for as I find that with cream added, as much as I enjoy my first forkful, it gets too cloying to eat beyond the third. And having learnt from Cook's Illustrated's wonderful baking companion, Baking Illustrated, that the addition of cornstarch eradicates the dreaded rubbery filling perimeter issue, I now add a soupcon of the thickener. You don't detect it in the finished tart - the good team player that it is, it remains strictly backstage so the other ingredients can shine.
Custard tarts may seem plain, but there is goodness in their plainness. All that remains to be done is a fine showering of freshly grated nutmeg once you pull the tart out of the oven, as the heat immediately releases the spice's volatile oils, the very essence of nutmeggy-ness. Nutmeg's warm yet delicate perfume is the perfect added fillip to the soothing custardy blandness. How much, of course, is up to you - from a suspicion of nutmeg, as the French say, to imbueing the whole by infusing the milk right in the beginning. While good cold from the fridge, custard tart is at its baveuse, voluptuous best when it has nearly but not quite cooled, with just a whisper of lingering warmth.