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.