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,