Christmas


Oh what a wonderful thing Christmas is. Not because of what is under the tree but for what it does for people. Children travel kilometres to be with parents and siblings.  Partners struggle to find a way to see both sides of their families while not spending the day apart. People put grievances behind them and come together and make it a special day. Nothing has the power on an annual basis to bring people together Like Christmas. I am one of the lucky ones who had all my immediate family sitting around the table with me as well as both my parents and my children’s partners.  This is reason to celebrate by preparing a special meal.

This year I served Cured Ocean Trout with Salad as an entree followed by Turkey and Ham, Roast Potatoes and Beans then for dessert Cherry Tart and Almond Ice-cream. My mother was kind enough to help me by bringing in a Terrine and a Mango Cheesecake. I was also lucky enough to have a friend bring me a whole cooked and basted Ham. Christmas catering is so much easier when you have magic helpers.

It was a wonderful meal and we all enjoyed ourselves.

Cherry Clafoutis Tartlets with candied almond ice-cream

Ingredients

70 gm (2/3 cup) almond meal
100 gm caster sugar
10 gm plain flour
250 ml (1 cup) pouring cream
120 gm eggs (about 2)
60 gm egg yolks (about 3)
300 gm cherries, pitted
2 tbsp kirsch (optional)
Candied almond ice-cream
200 gm flaked almonds
1 litre (4 cups) milk
250 ml (1 cup) pouring cream
200 gm egg yolks (about 11)
330 gm (1½ cups) caster sugar
200 gm blanched almonds
For greasing: oil
Sweet pastry
180 gm softened butter
75 gm icing sugar, sieved
2 egg yolks
250 gm (1 2/3 cups) plain flour

For candied almond ice-cream, preheat oven to 180C. Scatter flaked almonds over an oven tray and roast, shaking occasionally, until golden (4-5 minutes). Meanwhile, bring milk to the boil in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add flaked almonds, remove from heat, set aside to infuse (1 hour), then blend in a blender until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve lined with muslin, squeezing to extract as much liquid as possible and yield 750ml (discard solids). Add cream to yield 1 litre, adding more if necessary. Whisk yolks and 180gm sugar in a bowl until pale. Bring almond milk to the simmer then pour onto yolks, whisking continuously to combine, transfer to a clean saucepan and stir over low-medium heat until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon thickly (6-8 minutes). Cool in a large bowl placed over ice then freeze in an ice-cream machine. Freeze until firm. Meanwhile, scatter blanched almonds on an oven tray and roast, shaking occasionally, until golden (5-6 minutes). Keep warm. Combine remaining sugar and 100ml water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stir to dissolve sugar then simmer until mixture reaches 121C on a sugar thermometer. Stir through warm almonds until sugar crystallises (3-4 minutes), pour onto a lightly oiled oven tray and cool, then break into coarse pieces. Process in a food processor until coarsely ground, stir through ice-cream (reserve 2 tbsp for serving). Freeze until firm.
For sweet pastry, beat butter in an electric mixer until smooth, add sugar, beat to combine. Beat in yolks one at a time, then beat in 25ml iced water. Sift flour onto a work surface, make a well in the centre. Add butter mixture, rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Bring pastry together with the heel of your hand, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate to rest (3 hours). Roll out on a lightly floured surface to 3mm thick, line six 7cm-diameter tart tins, trim edges and refrigerate to rest for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C. Scatter almond meal on an oven tray and roast, shaking occasionally, until golden (2-3 minutes), set aside to cool. Combine sugar, flour and almond meal in a bowl. Whisk cream, eggs and yolks until smooth in a separate bowl, add sugar mixture, stir to combine. Set aside to rest (30 minutes).
Combine cherries in a bowl with kirsch, gently fold though batter, pour into tart cases and bake until golden and just set (20-25 minutes). Cool slightly, remove from tins and serve with candied almond ice-cream, scattered with reserved candied almond.
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Pear Thyme and Hazelnut Tart


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This recipe is not for the faint hearted! When I saw this gorgeous tart in June’s Gourmet Traveller, I knew I had to bake it, however it involves lots of steps so you have to be in the mood.  It is well worth all the work the filling is delicious and the poached pears are so fragrant. My tart ended up being deeper than the gourmet traveller example so had even more of the delicious filling. It is a good idea to start a day or two before and let the pastry rest for a day.

Recipe

Ingredients

for filling

80 gm of chilled butter diced

2 eggs, free range

1 egg yolk

110 gm raw caster sugar

scarped seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean

Finely grated rind of 1/2 orange

1 tsp of fresh thyme leaves

1/3 cup of plain flour

2 tbsp créme fraiche

Hazelnut Pastry

80 gm roasted hazelnuts

11/3 cups of plain flour

110 gm of pure icing sugar, sieved

125gm of chilled butter

2 free range eggs

Poached pears

400 ml semi dry white wine, such a riesling

400 gm of raw caster sugar

Thinly peeled rind and juice of 1/2 orange and 1/2 a lemon

3 thyme sprigs

2 cinnamon quills

4 ripe pears (such a josephine) peeled cored and quartered.

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For hazelnut pastry, finely process hazelnuts in a food processor, add flour, sugar and a pink of salt and process to combine. Add butter, process to fine crumbs then add yolks and process until dough comes together. Form into a disc, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at  least overnight.

For poached pears, bring wine, sugar, rinds, juices, thyme, cinnamon and 1 litre of water to boil in a saucepan over a medium high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add pears, cover directly with baking paper and weight with a plate, reduce heat to a simmer until tender (25 -30 mins). Remove the 6 pear quarter with a slotted spoon and pat dry with paper towel, halve length wise and set aside. Refrigerate remaining pears in syrup.

Roll pastry out on a lightly floured surface to a 3mm-thick round, then line a 23 cm diameter 3 cm tart tin and trim edges. ( I didn’t have a tin with these measurements so I just used another) Refrigerate and rest for an hour. Preheat the oven to 180C and blind bake the tart case until edges are golden. Remove paper and weights and then until light golden and crisp. (5-6 mins)

Meanwhile heat butter in a saucepan over a medium heat until golden brown and fragrant (3-4 mins) pour into a bowl and set aside. Whisk eggs yolks, sugar, vanilla seeds, rind, thyme and a pinch of sale in an electric mixer until fluffy (2-3 minutes) then whisk in flour on a low speed. Whisk in brown butter and créme fraiche and pour into pastry case arrange halved pears and bake until set.(45-50 mins)

Serve warm with a sprig of thyme and serve with extra pears with syrup and creme fraiche.

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Deconstructed Blueberry Tart with Coconut Cream


IMG_1812bI have noticed how many things have changed with blogging. When I first started, I was not offered free food samples, I was not invited along to restaurants, food shows, radio shows and other events. No one even knew I existed. It was just me and my computer. I have been writing about recipes and my travels for over five years now and it has just become more and more fashionable to be a food blogger.

I wrote up my recipes as a way of recording what I was doing. The fact that anybody was interested was a huge bonus. Then came Twitter and Instagram and on some days, I feel like it is all a big competition. Who has the most “likes” “followers” “visits”. I am not sure that I am ready to tackle all of this. Then there is the ethics of accepting gifts, and whether to make something with the product and promote it or not. I always try to make it obvious that I have been given the product but sometimes I wonder why I am promoting someone’s product? For all these reason and more I have not been posting weekly like a usually do.

So, I have decided to “Keep It Simple Stupid!” and get back to cooking and the recipes.

This recipe was inspired by some tart pastry that I made. I grated the zest of a lime through the dough and it made it fresh and zingy! Blueberries are in season and so cheap at the moment, so I included lots of these sprinkled on the top. I thought it made a nice change to make something everyone could dig into with a spoon. A share dessert.

IMG_1814bRecipe

Pastry

  • 225g / 8 oz plain flour
  • 110g / 4 oz butter
  • 80g / 3 oz sugar
  • a little milk
  • 1 large egg
  • zest from one lime

Method

 Crumb together by hand the butter into the flour, add the sugar then mix in the egg and enough milk to form a soft dough – add lime zest.

Roll this out to a shape that you are happy with. I pressed a few cookie shapes out of the sides too. Place on the middle rack of the 175C oven for 10-15 mins.

Coconut Cream

For the Coconut Cream you will need a can of coconut cream and 250ml of cream for whipping.

Method

Take the thick part of the coconut cream from the top of the can and whip it until it looks like whipped cream.

Whip the cream and then combine with a tablespoon of icing sugar.

To assemble

Carefully place a sheet of pastry on a board or platter. Place a big dollop of the coconut cream where ever you think it looks nice, and sprinkle blueberries all over it. Dust with icing sugar and serve with lots of spoons. Share and enjoy!

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