Friday, 30 October 2015

Balliol Veggie Bake

Now this recipe takes me back, my daughter was very young and it was one of her favourite things to eat. When grandma joined us for dinner she would often help herself to more of the molten cheese topping than might be considered fair and my daughter would watch her like a hawk as her grandmother dug down rather sideways more than vertically, scooping out more of the toasty cheese. I usually made up for it by transferring some of the topping from my portion to hers, smiles all around.
This recipe is ideal when you need to feed a number of people, easily 6-8 hungry souls in this case, on a tight budget. If you establish a good relationship with your local market greengrocer you'll find he or she will be happy to help out with vegetables at the end of the trading day that can be sold more cheaply, disfigured or uneven size for instance. Where better than the excellent covered market in Oxford.
Tinned plum tomatoes which are a store cupboard essential and almost always cheaper than pre-chopped, boost the savoury flavour. Personally I would never use fresh tomatoes unless you grow them and have a glut. The list of vegetables below is what I had available, but this can be made using a far greater variety, I had some cauliflower left over from the other day and I found edemame beans on offer in the supermarket yesterday. Use whatever you have available, but do begin with garlic and either onion or leek. Roughly 750g of mixed vegetables.

For this recipe you will need;
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
100g of onions
150g of potatoes
200g of carrots
100g of red pepper
100g of cauliflower
100g of edemame beans
1 tin of plum tomatoes
100g of red lentils
200g of bulgur wheat
1 tablespoon of bouillon powder or other vegetable stock powder
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of light olive oil
200g of cheddar or other hard cheese.

 In a large oven proof casserole, begin by gently frying the chopped garlic in the olive oil. Add the onions and after a minute or two add the remaining vegetables having cut them up into chunks. Add the tomatoes having squished them with your hands (a very satisfying job). Fill the empty tin with water three times and add. Add the stock powder, pepper and red lentils, simmer for ten minutes before adding the bulgur wheat, stirring to evenly distribute. Place the casserole with its lid, in a medium oven 160C and bake for an hour. Take the casserole out, remove the lid and sprinkle the cheese on top. Return the casserole to the oven without its lid, having turned the heat up to 200, 15 minutes should see the cheese thoroughly melted, bubbling and brown. Serve with a crisp salad, filling, delicious and above all inexpensive.

This basic recipe for what is in essence a soup thickened with lentils and bulgur to form a bake, can be varied considerably by the use of different vegetables but also spices and herbs of your choice. The stock can be varied, a great opportunity to rinse out the last of a jar of pesto or similar sauce and added to the 3 tins of water.
This dish is light on protein but you can always increase the amount of cheese if you wish                                                              

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Balliol Apple Cake

There are many apple cake recipes in Britain of course but I do recommend mine, not least because it is a recipe I had to make 5 times, tweaking with each version, before I came up with the final one. This cake is tender, light, moist and full of apple flavour. If you make the extra effort and make the candied apple click here for the recipe, you will be rewarded, however you can make the easier version, using fresh diced apple.

For this cake you will need

200g of self raising flour
130g of ground almonds
230g of light muscovado sugar
160g of melted butter
3 eggs
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of baking powder
300g of candied apple + 100g of grated fresh apple
OR 400g of diced fresh apple
2 tablespoons of demerara sugar

Begin by lining a 20cm by 8cm round cake tin, with baking parchment. Make the candied apple if using by following the recipe on the above link, you will need to use 400g of diced apples, 120g of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid but follow the instructions. The proportions are different when you make larger amounts.
Begin mixing the cake by melting the butter and allowing to cool completely, at least 15 minutes. Heat up the oven to 160C.
In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, muscovado sugar, salt and eggs until smooth. Add the ground almonds and mix in thoroughly. Finally fold in the flour followed by the candied apple and grated apple if using or diced fresh apples, Place in the prepared cake tin and sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of demerara sugar on the top. Bake in the center of the oven for and hour and ten minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted. Allow to cool completely before removing from the tin.

It's really important to allow the melted butter to cool completely before mixing in with the other ingredients, if you don't, the heat will activate the baking powder and you will end up with a cake that rises too soon then sinks.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Pecan & Cinnamon Brioche

I'm very fond of pecan & cinnamon Danish pastries, it occurred to me that they could also be made using my brioche recipe rather than a croissant dough. They can, here is photographic evidence and very very good they are too!

For this recipe you will need
1 portion of brioche dough click here for the recipe
2 tablespoons of date syrup
150g of pccan nuts
1 tablespoon of demerara sugar
2 teaspoons of cinnamon powder

2 teaspoons of date syrup
50g of icing sugar
1 teaspoon of water

Toast the pecan nuts in a moderate oven 180C for 10 minutes. Once cooled, process in a food processor along with the sugar and cinnamon on a pulse setting 4 or 5 times to just break up the nuts and thoroughly mix the sugar and spice.

At the point where the brioche dough is ready to be taken out of the fridge and shaped, roll it out on a lightly floured surface until you have a rectangle roughly 30cm by 40cm. Spread with the date syrup and sprinkle with the nut mixture. Roll up to form a long roll and slice into 12 to 16 pieces. Place in muffin pans lined with muffin cases. Leave at room temperature until doubled in size. I usually shape these last thing before going to bed and leaving them for 8 hours before baking them for breakfast, but of course my house is on the chilly side. Place in a hot oven 200C, turn down the heat to 180 and bake for 17 to 20 minutes. Mix the glaze ingredients and drizzle on the top, return to the oven having switched off the heat. Leave for 3 minutes.

Serve warm!

Apple Crumble Ice Cream

My friend Coral and I go scrumping at this time of year, so along with the apples I grow myself, I have an abundance of them. In the village there is an abandoned orchard with row upon row of old trees laden with large apples, sadly this year may be the last time we can bring back masses of the crisp fruit since the orchard is becoming increasingly taken over by the ubiquitous bramble.

I really enjoy making ice cream and have for some time wanted to create a recipe for an apple flavoured one. There is a fair bit of effort in making the two extra components that transform the ice cream into the completed apple crumble dessert, you can always chose not to bother making the candied apple and the crumble but do consider making the ice cream, the rich creaminess belies the fact that there is a large component of apple.

For the ice cream you will need;
600g of double cream
240g of caster sugar
500g of apples, peeled and cored
3 yolks from large eggs
1/2 teaspoon of citric acid
1/4 teaspoon of salt

Begin by dicing the apples. Add the citric acid or use the juice from half a lemon as an alternative. Add 200g of the sugar and cook over a very gentle heat for 15 minutes or so. The sugar will dissolve and the cubes of apple will change from opaque to translucent as the sugar and the heat draws out and drives off the water. Blend the cubes of apple along with all juices in a blender until it becomes a really smooth puree (always be careful blending hot ingredients, they expand and the lid can be forced off)
Make the custard base for the ice cream by whisking the egg yolks along with the 40g of sugar. In a saucepan, heat up the cream to scalding, just below boiling point. Add the cream to the egg and sugar mixture, whisking while you do so. Return the mix to the saucepan and over a very gentle heat, heat the custard until it begins to thicken, Do this slowly in order to avoid heating too much and causing the custard to split. Remove from the heat and whisk in the apple puree and salt. Place in a container and once cooled, leave to chill in the fridge  I usually leave mine overnight before continuing to churn into ice cream. I would suggest you do need an ice cream churning machine to make great textured ice cream, there are inexpensive ones on the market that require you to freeze the unit before churning. If you wish to make ice cream in larger quantities and often then it's worth investing in a machine that freezes while it churns.
Churn the ice cream and transfer it to a polythene container, pop it into the freezer to complete the firming process, ideally 8 hours.

For the crumble you will need;
40g of slightly salted butter
70g of plain flour
50g of sugar
Rub the ingredients together until you have a breadcrumb like mixture. Form into large crumbs by squeezing together a little before baking on a baking tray in a moderate oven 160C for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crumbs take on  a golden colour. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container.

For the candied apple you will need;
100g of diced apples
60g of caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon of citric acid

Again bring the ingredients to a slow simmer in a saucepan until the small dice become translucent. Transfer to a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake in a low oven 100C for 40 to 50 minutes or until the apples have firmed up. Allow to cool and chop up a little before storing in an airtight container.

To serve, simple place a scoop of the ice cream in a dish and sprinkle on some crumble crumbs and a sprinkle of the candied apple.

If you chose to make the crumble gluten free, use half GF flour and half ground almonds.
When you store the candied apple, you can add a tablespoon of calvados if you have some.......I dont, sadly!
This is the third flavour in the Cremonezi ice cream series, the first two flavours will be published before too long.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Cauliflower & Cheddar Loaf

I think a cauliflower is such a good vegetable, I love it roasted, cooked and served in a rich cheese sauce, in a creamy soup du Barie, curried, pureed and served with seared scallops, there are so many ways that deliver subtle but excellent flavour. As I was driving home from the market this morning I came up with this recipe. A couple of slices served hot with roast potatoes and peas with a mushroom sauce makes a good dish, I enjoyed a couple of slices at room temperature with my roasted beetroot click here for the recipe, delicious!

For this recipe which makes 2 loaves and feeds 6, you will need;
500g of cauliflower
300g of mature cheddar cheese
180g of breadcrumbs
6 eggs
2 teaspoons of Marigold Bouillon Powder or 1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper

Using a food processor, process the cauliflower until it resembles fine breadcrumbs, place in a large mixing bowl. Process the bread to form fine breadcrumbs, it's important to use good bread, ideally your own sourdough or at least a firm crumb loaf, 2 or 3 days old. Add to the bowl and add the cheese having grated it. Mix thoroughly along with the seasoning and the eggs. Divide between two 500g loaf tins, which should be lined with baking parchment.
Bake at 160C for an hour and 15 minutes, when the loaf should be nicely puffed up and a rich brown on top. Serve sliced either hot or at room temperature.

You can play around with this recipe easily by adding herbs of your choice, perhaps a teaspoon of toasted cumin seeds or varying the cheese.
A slice of this loaf can form part of a sandwich and can be easily brought back to life by frying in a little oil and butter and serving with a fried egg.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Balliol Fig Frangipan Tart

My fig tree has produced so many fruits this year,enough to not only enjoy fresh but also cook in one of my favourite tarts.

For this recipe you will need;
250g of sweet pastry, (I use Pate Brisee)
8 fresh figs
1 large egg
80g of butter
80g of caster sugar
150g of ground almonds
50g of self raising flour
50ml of amaretto liquer
1 teaspoon of baking powder
Apricot jam to glaze

Begin by lining a 20cm baking tin with pastry. I find if you do this the evening beforeand leave the tart shell in the fridge overnight, it bakes very easily the following day with minimum shrinkage. Prick the bottom and bake at 180 for 18 minutes. Meanwhile cut each fig in four. Mix together the other ingredients to form a soft paste. Take the baked tart shell out of the oven, place in the frangipan mix and then distribute the quartered figs evenly and in a rough pattern. Bake in a moderate oven, 180C for 45 minutes or until the centre of the tart seems well risen and firm. When cool melt 2 tablespoons of apricot jam sieve and brush onto the tart to glaze.

This tart works perfectly well with other fruits.
I served this tart this evening with my caramel ice cream.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Carrot Cake

Two things puzzle me about carrot cake, why is it that despite the fact I created this recipe for carrot cake 15 or more years ago, it's only now I am getting around to publishing it. The other thing is why despite being totally adorable, is Miranda Hart so down on carrot cake. . . . . even this one!
One slice may provide one of your 5 a day vegetables, sadly 5 slices don't provide 5 of your 5 a day!

Ralph finds Carrot cake can add unwanted inches to his thighs so he only ever eats one slice at a time.

There are of course many versions of this classic cake out there, the main difference between mine and all the others is mine contains chocolate, not much but just enough to add a depth of flavour. Use only the very best dark 70% minimum cocoa solids chocolate you can find, I use Indonesian Black - 100%. If you prefer pecan nuts to walnuts, simply substitute one for the other.

For this recipe you will need;
275g of finely grated carrot
300g of Self Raising flour
400g of caster sugar
200g of chopped walnuts
250ml of vegetable oil
40g of grated dark chocolate
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of salt

Begin by lining two 20cm sandwich cake tins with baking parchment and turning the oven on to 180C.
Put all the ingredients in a food mixer and mix for a minute or until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Divide between the two cake tins and bake in the centre of the oven for 35 minutes.

When the cakes are completely cooled, sandwich together with a cream cheese frosting. I make mine from;
300g of icing sugar
100g of cream cheese
50g of unsalted butter

Chocolate cosmos from the garden with Lady Emma Hamilton.
Never use reduced fat cream cheese, it makes the  frosting far too wet because of the added water. As a rule I think reduced fat products are to be avoided, if I want to reduce the amount of fat I eat I reduce the amount of fat rather than buy adjusted products. Occasionally however I find you can reduce the amount of fat in a recipe without too much of a compromise. 

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Stock Pot Potatoes

Now I'm certain the French have a name for potatoes cooked in this fashion, I'm also sure they would never use vegetable stock. It's the time of year when I am digging potatoes from the garden and this year there seems to be a real abundance of them, enough to make me try cooking them in a variety of ways, I find this one of the most comforting and versatile.

For this recipe you will need;
1 kilo of potatoes
500g of onions
4 fat cloves of garlic
3 bay leaves
1 sprig of thyme
1 tablespoon of olive oil
knob of butter
400ml of vegetable stock
white pepper

Begin by slicing the onions, chopping the garlic and sweating them in the olive oil and bay leaves, over a gentle heat for 10 minutes or so until the onions take on a little colour.
Meanwhile slice the potatoes, not too thinly, I find 5mm minimum works well.
When the onions have taken on a little colour, arrange them in an ovenproof casserole layered with the potatoes. Pour the vegetable stock over the layers and pop the sprig of thyme on top, either put on the lid or a piece of kitchen foil and bake in a moderate oven, 170C for an hour. Remove the lid or foil and dot the top with the small amount of butter, bake for a further 30 minutes until the top has browned a little.

Caramelising the onions makes all the difference to this dish, adding a depth of sweet, onion flavour.
Add grated cheese to these potatoes when cold and you have an excellent filling for a quick pastie of pie.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Courgette Gratin

It's the time of year when there's an abundance of courgettes in the garden. A while ago I created a soup, Courgette & Camembert click here for the recipe and since I consider courgette and dairy are such a good match, I've created this recipe. I used Emmental cheese, its mild nutty flavour enhances rather than competes with the delicate flavour of the courgettes. Leaching some of the liquid out of the courgettes by salting before using in the recipe, ensures the gratin does not become too water-logged.

For this recipe you will need;
1 Kilo of courgettes
300ml of double cream
200g of Emmental cheese, grated
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
1 tablespoon of chopped basil
1 tablespoon of chopped spring onions
1 fat clove of garlic finely minced
20g of salt
1/2 teaspoon of white pepper

Begin by slicing up the courgettes and dusting them in the salt. Leave to drain in a colander for an hour. Rinse the cougettes quickly under a running tap and lightly pat dry with a clean tea towel. Chop up the herbs and spring onions and stir the minced garlic into the cream. Layer the courgettes in an ovenproof dish alternating with the herbs, grated cheese and garlic infused cream. Finish with a light layer of the cheese. Bake in a moderately hot oven, 180C for 40 to 45 minutes.

I found that after an hour, 150ml of liquid leached out of the courgettes.
You can use other cheeses, but personally I would avoid strongly flavoured varieties.
You can also substitute fresh thyme for the parsley or basil.
This dish is good hot with crusty bread or as an accompanying vegetable to a fish dish. It's also good cold as part of a cold buffet.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Florentine Torte

I was thinking how good Florentines are, a flat tuille type biscuits, studded with dried fruit, candied peel and nuts and once baked and cooled, lavishly dragged over melted chocolate. It occurred to me that I could come up with a torte that would similarly deliver all of the flavours. This is the result. For me the addition of candied peel (do please use whole peel which you chop yourself rather than the pre-chopped stuff you can buy) makes for an altogether more sophisticated flavour combination. I used candied pomelo peel which I make using my candied peel recipe click here for the recipe . Make this torte once, following the recipe and it could start you on a journey of invention, simply replace some or all of the dried fruit and nut ingredients with your own choice, apricots, white chocolate, pecan, glace ginger, are just a few ideas that would work.

For this recipe you will need;
250g of sweet pastry click here for my recipe
120g of caster sugar
120g of soft, unsalted butter
2 eggs
100g of Self Raising flour
70g of ground amonds

140g of chopped Medjool dates
70g of dried sour cherries
70g of candied peel
120g of dark chocolate, chopped
75g of roasted hazelnuts, chopped
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Begin by lining a 24cm flan tin with the pastry, prick the bottom several times with a fork and chill for 20 minutes in the fridge before baking in a hot oven, 200C for 12 to 15 minutes.

Prepare the filling by chopping up the dates, chocolate, hazelnuts and candied peel.

In a food processor, cream together the butter and the sugar, add the eggs and salt and process for a further minute. Add the flour and ground almonds and mix together on a pulse setting for 10 seconds or so. Finally add the remaining ingredients and pulse together just until all are combined.
Take the precooked pastry case out of the oven, leaving it in the tin, pile in and smooth out the filling, turn down the heat to 180C and bake for 40 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the tin and cooling on a wire rack.

Serve this torte warm if you like the chocolate to be molten,

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Slow cooked Broccoli & Broad Bean Bruschetta

Something on toast is so often welcome, so when I find myself struggling to keep up with the broccoli growing in my vegetable garden, I came up with this idea for a bruschetta topping. The slow cooking of the broccoli, adds depth and enhances the savoury note, the addition of broad beans which are also in season and Gorgonzola which is a constant store ingredient in this house, all make for a very delicious lunch dish for 4 or a starter for 6.

For this recipe you will need;
200g of shelled broad beans
300g of purple sprouting broccoli, roughly chopped
30g of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
 mint leaves
4 large slices of good sourdough bread, toasted
Marigold bouillon powder
50ml of Noilly Prat
Coarsely ground black pepper

Begin by frying the chopped garlic gently in the oil and 10g of the butter until it begins to take on colour. Add the Noilly Prat, 1 teaspoon of bouillon powder, if using, otherwise 1/2 a teaspoon of sea salt, 1/2 a teaspoon of pepper and the broccoli and cook on a low heat adding 50ml of water at the point where the pan begins to become dry. You will need in all at least 300ml of water. Cooking the broccoli this way retains all the flavour and produces a savoury, tender result. When the pan becomes completely dry and you begin to hear the sound of gentle frying again, turn off the heat and allow to cool.

Simmer the broad beans in salted water for roughly 5 minutes until they are just tender. Run under cold water tap to cool, before placing in a food processor with the mint and remaining butter and processing until you have a smooth, whipped puree. Season with bouillon powder or salt, pepper and process a further minute.

To assemble, spread each piece of toast with the broad bean mix, adding a portion of the cooked broccoli and topping off with nuggets of Gorgonzola, delicious.

You can always hold back a few of the broad beans and once cooked take their skins off in order to dress the final bruschetta, this produces a fancier look, but really, there are better things to do with 4 minutes.
I planted the broccoli the second week in May and I've been eating the stuff for what feels like weeks! The broccoli I'm planting this week I should be able to harvest much more slowly when the winter rolls in, hooray.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Check out if your country has already visited

As regular readers of my blog will know, I have taken to publishing an updated list of all the countries and sovereign states that visit Click here for the list   Do please check it out, contact friends or family living in countries not listed and encourage them to have a look, thank you, Tôbi.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Golden Sultana & Pecan Cake

There are times when I have to remind myself of two things, firstly, I hate waste of any kind, secondly, I do believe discovery requires a sense of adventure and courage.
I had in truth, left enough time to simmer the sultanas in the sherry and still get to watch the end, in my opinion the only interesting part, of Bargain Hunt. I hadn't of course factored in a phone call from the Chaplain. As I walked to the kitchen I was greeted by the unmistakable smell of caramelization. A moment or two later and I would have been greeted by smoke. I quickly tipped out the sultanas, now boiled down to a treacly syrup that was set to harden, out into a sieve and I took the dogs out for a walk while I reconsidered my plans for the cake I was making.
The sultanas undoubtedly tasted a little of treacle but the notes of the sherry remained so I forged ahead. I am pleased with the result and although I would urge caution when making this cake, I would also urge you to repeat as closely as you can the method I used.

Suriname brings the number up to 140! Welcome, welcome!
Welcome! The Solomon Islands brings the number up to 141.
Botswana, welcome now we have 142!
St Martin, you are very welcome, number 143!
For this recipe you will need;

250g of Self Raising Flour
250g of Light Muscovado Sugar
3 large eggs, I used duck eggs but large hen eggs are fine, weighing around 250 to 255g
250g of Unsalted Butter
200g of Golden Sultanas
110g of Pecan Halves
100ml of Pedro Ximenez or other sweet Sherry
200ml of water
1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Begin by simmering the sultanas in the sherry and water for roughly 30 to 40 minutes over a very low heat. As you see from the opening paragraph, you will need to watch these carefully until the liquid has almost entirely disappeared and a sweet dark syrup begins to bubble around the sides, strain the fruit and leave to cool. Toast the pecan halves in the oven set to 180C for 10 minutes.

Cream together the butter and sugar and salt, beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour and mix slowly to fully incorporate. Gently stir through the nuts and fruit and turn the mixture into a lined baking tin. I used a square silicon container, measuring 22cm x 22cm x 6cm. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes at 180C until a wooden skewer comes out cleanly when pushed into the center.

Leaving the pecans whole, halves as it were rather than pieces, means you get lovely big chunks of nuts in this cake.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Maple Pecan Brioche

I was trying to think of a variation on my brioche recipe to serve for breakfast on my birthday this year and I came up with this idea. For me there is just the right level of sweetness and although of course these brioche buns would look nice glazed, it would be in my opinion, a step too far. I also considered adding the customary cinnamon often found with pecan nuts, which I am now pleased I chose not to.

For this recipe you will need (makes 18);
1 portion of brioches dough click here for the recipe
30g of softened butter
40g of light muscovado sugar
100g of chopped pecans
1 tablespoon of maple syrup

Make the brioche dough; at the point where you take the dough out of the fridge and it is firm enough to handle, roll the dough out into a rectangle measuring roughly 45cm by 30cm.
Mix together the sugar, softened butter and pecan nuts to form a rough crumble. Brush the dough with the maple syrup and scatter the crumbled pecan mixture over the surface. Beginning at the long edge of the dough, roll it up into a tight roll. Slice it into 18 pieces and pop each piece into muffin tins lined with baking parchment liners.
Leave over night in a cool place before baking in a hot oven 200C for 15 to 20 minutes. If after 10 minutes the brioche appear to be browning a little too quickly, turn the temperature down to 180C.
Don't allow to cool too much before enjoying with large cups of Illy coffee.

If you do not have a cool spot to leave these for their final proving, prove until only doubled in size and bake immediately.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Balliol Date & Walnut Cake

This cake is very much the sort of thing the Chaplain enjoys with a pot of tea. Studded with toasted walnuts and chopped Medjool dates, it's ideal with a cup of Russian Caravan.

For this cake you will need;
200g of plain flour
80g of Self Raising flour
250g of softened unsalted butter
230g of caster sugar
180g of Medjool dates
100g of walnuts
80g of ground almonds
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Turn the oven on to 160C.
Begin by preparing a round cake tin 15cm X 10cm, line with baking parchment.
Toast the walnuts on a baking tray in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Break up into small pieces.
Chop the dates and sprinkle with a tablespoon of the flour in order to separate the pieces and keep the dates from sinking to the bottom during the baking.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, beat in the eggs one at a time. Beat in the ground almonds, salt and vanilla before folding in the flour, the dates and walnuts. Transfer to the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half until a wooden skewer comes out clean when pushed into the centre.

Toasting the walnuts makes a big difference so don't omit this step if you can help it.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Another Tart

I've always got on terribly well with tarts; a tart is essentially a pastry concoction with pastry underneath and no pastry on top, pastry on top would make it a pie. I'm very fond of this sort of tart, you roll out a large disc of pastry place it in a container with enough of an edge to form the side and fold over a little, fill it up with a choice of filling, bring the edge up and over and bake in the oven. The only thing that limits you is your imagination. Each season brings its ingredients. This tart is packed with mushrooms, sprouts, potatoes, chestnuts and cheese, a simple and rather small amount of egg and cream mixture binds it all together. Admittedly it takes a little time to prepare all the filling ingredients; I roast/fry them in order to maximize flavour. Then it's simply a matter of assembly.
This tart is delicious hot or served at room temperature, ideal for a picnic, it delivers on flavour and equally importantly, texture. It serves 6 extremely hungry people, 8 with a more normal appetite.

Bringing the number to 138, welcome The Isle of Man!
Nicaragua, welcome! now 139.

For this recipe you will need;

1 portion of shortcrust pastry made from;
250g of plain flour
65g of unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
60g of vegetable shortening, chilled and cut into cubes
100ml of chilled water
1 pinch of salt

For the filling
500g of button mushrooms
400g of cheese, a mixture in this case of cheddar, Jarlsberg and Lancashire
250g of small potatoes
250g of sprouts
200g of cooked chestnuts
3 eggs
200g of double cream
1 teaspoon of Marigold Bouillon Powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of olive oil

Begin by making the pastry. Pulse the flour and fat in a food processor until the fat is the size of peas. Add the water and pulse again until the pastry dough comes together. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and set aside to rest.

Cut the sprouts in half and cut the potatoes into similar sized pieces. Toss in a teaspoon of olive oil and half the salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven, 200C, for 10 to 15 minutes, turning the vegetables half way through to achieve even browning. Fry the mushrooms having sliced or quartered them, in half the remaining oil (half a tablespoon) and the remaining salt and pepper. Fry them for about 5 minutes, turning regularly to ensure even browning. Readers of my recipes will know I firmly believe in cooking mushrooms long and hard enough to bring out the most flavour. Finally fry off the chestnuts in the remaining oil, again cut up into small pieces. Fry for 3 or 4 minutes or until you begin to see the edges crisping and turning brown.
Prepare the cheese, I grated the cheddar, cubed and sliced the other two cheeses, so that in the finished tart you come across small nuggets of cheese.

Roll out the pastry and place in a container, I use my tart Tatin dish, 28cm across but any pie dish around 28cm to 30cm will suit. Then assemble the tart placing the ingredients in layers. I keep some of the cheddar to place on the top. Mix the eggs and cream, adding the Bouillon Powder and pour into the tart, it will trickle through the vegetables. Bring over the edge of pastry and finish by placing the last of the grated cheddar. Bake in a moderate 180C oven for 1hour to an hour and a quarter. Keep an eye on it and cover if the top looks as though it's getting too dark.

U.S. readers can substitute heavy cream for the double cream, it isn't as rich and I can't for the life of me understand why they don't sell double cream in the U.S. In the UK you can also substitute single or whipping cream if you want to reduce the fat content,.but really there is so little in the recipe I wouldn't bother.
Although the vegetables are cooked before placing in the pastry, the tart cooks for a long time in the oven because pastry loves long cooking, The result will be deliciously crisp and flaky.
Make twice the amount of pastry and freeze half of it, you'll then have a portion of pastry ready to make another tart when you've come up with an idea for the filling.
I used to use baking parchment in making this sort of tart but I think it served mostly as a helpful device for taking the hot tart out of the container.