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.